1 Thessalonians 5:1-11: Christ Will Return
July 17, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
How then should we live? One of the great questions of our age — and any age. What is the right way to live given all that is going on, given the world situation, given our circumstances and the stage of history in which we live? The biblical answer to that question is wrapped in the two great moments of salvation history. First, the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And second, the coming return of Jesus. Because we now live in between these two events – in the “now and not yet” – we live with our eye towards the future return, and our life is shaped by that coming return of Jesus. There is no greater motivation towards holy living than the coming return of Jesus! Paul explains the implications of Christ’s return in three ways.
First, Paul reminds them of Jesus’ basic teaching about his return. Jesus, in summary, taught that no one knew when he was going to return. It is always a mistake to try to predict times and dates. Why? Because Jesus himself said, and Paul here confirms, that no one knows when Jesus will return. He will come like a thief in the night – and no one knows when the thief is going to come.
Second, Paul tells them that this return of Jesus will be a great and terrible surprise to people. They will think everything is fine. They will be saying “peace and safety.” They will be saying all is going well. And then suddenly – like labor pains suddenly come on a pregnant woman without much warning – Christ will return, and there will be no escape. Those who have rejected Jesus will now be face to face with the one they rejected, and what a terrible day that will be. Therefore, make peace with God now. Pray to him while he may be found. Trust in Christ for his salvation now, for he may return at any moment. Do not delay, but repent of your sins and put your trust in Christ who will forgive those completely who turn to him.
But, third, what then does the coming return of Jesus mean for Christians? It means that we aim to be sober, we put on faith and love, and hope like weapons of war. Because Christ is coming again, we have work to do. We must do all we can in the power of God to be holy. We must share the gospel of God before it is too late and darkness comes and no one can work anymore. And we must live now with great joy and hope, for we are children of the day, and Christ died for us that we may live with him forever. And so, therefore, we are to encourage one another and build each other up in our faith.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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