Saturday, November 17, 2007

I Thessalonians 4:13-18


13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.

NOTE the term for death is sleep. This is quite normal and leads me to believe that those who die are asleep and not running around heaven cooking for God or playing golf with the saints. And, then when Jesus returns and resurrects those who are dead, they will awake from what will seem like a nap. They are in the presence of the Lord, but asleep. This makes a whole lot of sense for me!

This is a message of hope concerning those who have already died. There is still hope for them and we will see how that will work.

14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 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. 17 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.

NOTE that someday Jesus will return to earth and will bring all those believers who have fallen asleep in Him. There will be a loud command, a shout, a trumpet and at that moment those who have already died will be resurrected first. (Some think this is because they have 6 feet farther to go!)

THEN, those believers who are still alive when Jesus returns will be caught up or snatched up together with Him and them in the clouds. There all will meet the Lord in the air. And, from then on, all believers will be with the Lord forever!

Some believe this will happen before we go through the Great Tribulation spoken by the prophets. Some believe it will happen just a few years after the Great Tribulation begins (about 3 1/2 years). Others believe this will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation. I have an unshakable position. I believe Jesus will come before the Tribulation, but if not I will move quickly to the 2nd position of waiting for 3 1/2 years. Then, after 3 1/2 years, if Jesus hasn't shown up yet, I move quickly to that final position of believing He will come at the very end of the Great Tribulation. AND THAT IS UNSHAKABLE! i call it the PAN-TRIBULATION THEORY. It will all pan out in the end, no matter what I believe.

18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. THEREFORE, since someday Jesus will return and take us to be with Him forever, we are to take comfort in this and encourage one another.

You know what's interesting? The Moslems are hoping Jesus returns to bring peace to the world. The Christians are looking for Jesus to come back and bring peace. And the Jews are looking for the Messiah, whoever He is, to come and bring peace to the world's struggles.

However it all works out, I have always liked that bumper sticker that says, "Jesus is coming back and boy, is He mad!"

I Thessalonians 4:9-12


9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, dear friends, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

The trio continues with the "instructions". Here the topic is to love one another. Earlier the Thessalonians were told that they were being given instructions on how to live well for God and they acknowledged that they were living well, and they were urging them to do so more and more. Now, here with respect to love the same wording is used: we urge you to do so more and more.

NOTE that they were given the instructions to love one another more and more. FIRST--Make your ambition to lead a quiet life. Loving one another is a very simple thing. It has little to do with show and hype and hoopla.

SECOND--Mind your own business. Loving one another begins with you taking care of yourself. Interdependence in a loving relationship requires that each person has his/her own "business" to mind.

THIRD--Work with your hands, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. Pure dependence on another in a supportive relationship requires the ability to be independent.

I like this emphasis. You can love one another best, if you take care of yourself. Years ago I heard a teacher call this kind of thing a "value-for-value relationship." Here's what's interesting to me. We are "instructed" elsewhere in the Scripture that the Spirit of God places each believer in relationship with one another just as He desires us to be. The purpose for this dynamic is to build us all up together into a portrait of love. Now, the Thessalonians hadn't been taught this yet, however they were experiencing it in their walk with one another. I love this. They weren't loving one another because they were taught to do so. What they were experiencing together wasn't something that was "taught", but "caught." This is what is meant in the Bible as experiential knowledge. The love the Thessalonians were experiencing was not given to them by people, but they were "taught" by God to love each other. That's what I mean by "caught".

I have a question for you. Do you know what it means to really love one another or do you just know a lot about it? Have you learned it through books or teachings or have you been taught by God?