Waiting on Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)
One Sunday morning, Dad began his sermon by asking, “What would you do if Jesus were to come right now?” Herschel Webb, one of the members at the Camargo church of Christ, shouted out, “What could we do?”
Herschel was right—“What could we do?” There’s no way we can prevent Jesus’ return; the Scriptures declare Jesus Christ will return to this earth. Jesus will come in the same way the Apostles saw him ascend (Acts 1:11). The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven (2 Thess 1:7).
But, while we wait on Jesus, there are three things we can do:
We Can Wonder
We can wonder when our Lord will return.
The Thessalonians had no need that Paul should write concerning the times and seasons. These Christians had been instructed as to when Jesus would return. They knew that no one knew that hour.
That day will come as a thief in the night. No one knows when a thief is coming; no one knows when Jesus is coming. Luke 12:39-40.
Those in the world will be saying, “Peace and safety!” People will think all is well. They will think there’s no reason for alarm.
At that point, sudden destruction comes upon them—while the very words “peace and safety” are on their lips.
This destruction comes as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman.
There will be no escape. There isn’t any place to hide. It will be too late. Ronald Reagan once famously said to Quaddafi, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” On the day Jesus returns, we can neither run nor hide.
There aren’t any signs of Jesus’ coming. Every few years some religious groups pinpoints a day Jesus is going to return. Jesus said that we can’t do that!!
We Can Live, vv 4-8
We are not unaware. We know the Lord’s coming will be sudden. As we stay prepared for his coming, we have no reason for alarm at the suddenness of the Lord’s return.
We are of the light. We are sons of the light and sons of the day. “Light” and “day” here are used to mean that which is morally right. That we are sons of that which is right means that we belong to that which is right. Since we belong to the light, we should act that way.
We are not of the night nor of darkness. We don’t belong to that which is wrong. We should have nothing to do with that which is wrong.
Children of light. . .
- They are awake. Sleep denotes those who are spiritually lazy, lethargic. They don’t look at their own lives to see where they need to change, they simply don’t care. They think they have plenty of time.
- They watch. Those who watch are alert; they anticipate the Lord’s coming. Those who know Jesus is coming and they’ve taken appropriate action.
- They are sober. “Sober” denotes those who are free from excess, passion; they are self-controlled. Those who are sober strive to make their lives the way God wants.
Behavior of the night. Those who sleep sleep at night. Those who get drunk get drunk at night. Christians are to do no such thing. Christians are not to sleep spiritually. Christians are not to be drunk (spiritually or literally).
Behavior of the day. Those of the day are sober. Sober means:
- Putting on the breastplate of faith and love. Faith and love show that we are God’s children. Faith is necessary for Christians (Heb 11:6). Love is necessary for Christians (2 Pet 1:7; 1 Cor 13).
- Putting on the helmet of the hope of salvation. We as Christians have hope. We don’t doubt where we’re going to spend eternity.
There is right behavior for the Christian.
We Can Hope, vv 9-11
God did not appoint us to wrath. God never intended Christians to suffer wrath.
Instead, God appointed us to obtain salvation. This salvation is through Jesus because he died for us. Whether we’re dead or alive when he returns, we will live together with him.
We can take comfort in this. We are to comfort one another—we have reason for comfort; we have hope. We are to build each other up—we need to encourage one another to stay in the faith.
One day Jesus will return, but in the meantime, we need to anticipate his coming.
We need to live lives which look forward to that Day. Is your life looking forward to that Day?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.