Sunday, July 12, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 7: Coming

Day 7: Coming

One of the themes running through the letters to the Thessalonians is the Second Coming of Christ, also known as the Second Advent. There appeared to be great confusion in the Thessalonian church about Christ's second coming. Had it already happened, what about those who die before it happens, how to live while they wait for it, etc. While the second letter to the Thessalonians contains more direct details of the Second Coming (and we'll explore them in later words), it is interesting to note a pattern in the first letter regarding the Second Coming. At the end of each chapter there is a reference to the Lord's Second Coming.

"They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." 1 TH 1:9-10

"For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?" 1 TH 2:19

"May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." 1 TH 3:13

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." 1 TH 4:16-17

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." 1 TH 5:23-24

What is also interesting, for those of us who like finding patterns, is that these five occurrences at the ends of the chapters are the only places in the first letter where Paul mentions Christ's return. He will wait until his second letter to go into more detail about it.

Since the first occurrence is our verse for today's word, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, I'll focus on it. In Paul's description of the Christ-followers in Thessalonica, he says three things about them:
  • They turned to God from idols. The expression of their faith.
  • They serve the living and true God. The expression of their love.
  • They wait for His Son from heaven. The source of their hope.
In this verse Paul also clarifies who it is who is coming:
  • God's Son.
  • Whom He raised from the dead.
  • Whose name is Jesus (which means savior)
  • Who will rescue us from the coming wrath.
Paul uses both Jesus' human name and His name as Son of God, highlighting both His humanity and His divinity. The gospel message it that Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to earth to live among us. He was crucified on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, to rescue us from the power and condemnation of sin.. He died, but was resurrected from the dead, and later ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God. He gave us His Spirit to live within us and enable us to live for God, planting in us hope that inspires us to live this life in expectation of the life to come, and of the return of Christ, when He will make all things new again.

One of my favorite authors and commentators, John Stott, points out one more thing in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. He notes that "waiting" and "serving" are hand-in-hand here. He says,
"This is at first sight surprising, since 'serving' is active, while 'waiting'is passive. In Christian terms 'serving' is getting busy for Christ on earth, while 'waiting' is looking for Christ to come from heaven.Yet these two are not incompatible. On the contrary, each balances the other. On the one hand, however hard we work and serve, there are limits to what we can accomplish. We can only improve society; we cannot perfect it. For that we have to wait for Christ to come. Only then will he secure the final triumph of God's reign of justice and peace. On the other hand, although we look expectantly for Christ, we have no liberty to wait in idleness, with arms folded and eyes closed, indifferent to the needs of the world around us. Instead, we must work even while we wait, for we are called to serve the living and true God."

Today we continue to explore the study tool websites listed on my Internet Bible Study Sites chart. Head over to the Bible Study Techniques page for a look how I use the tools on the Net Bible site. As I said yesterday, these sites can provide us with tools similar to the Bible software that seminary students and pastors often purchase. Finding and learning how to use the tools on these sites opened the door for deeper Bible study for me, and they helped increase my love for studying God's Word.

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