2016-10-02 - 1 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ The Comfort of the Return
There are at least two essential points we can take from this section. First, with the Thessalonians as our example, the reality of Christ's return must influence the way we live. Second, the hope of Christ coming should be a source of comfort and peace for us in a difficult world.
Christ's coming is to be the hope and comfort of both the church and the individual believer. But this knowledge, that one day we will stand before Christ, must motivate us to work at living the life He desires from us. It is the expectation of His imminent return which should be a focus of our day-to-day effort to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. Let us hear the words of Paul:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24–27).
As we strive to serve the Lord in His body, the church, we may find ourselves getting tired. We have to feed it, both literally and spiritually. We have to teach it, both the children and ourselves. Unfortunately, we also will find that sometimes we will have to clean up the mess it leaves. As we strive to please the Lord in this way, we will find ourselves becoming frustrated, and Satan will use this as a time to attack us.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
But we are called to endure:
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” … “For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” (Hebrews 12:7, 10).
Nevertheless, our joy and comfort are that while we are to endure, while we face attack, it is because the Lord loves us and is willing to make us His co-workers, to cause us to grow, that He allows us to face these things. But He is also the source of our strength,
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Praise the Lord we are not out here on our own, but are empowered by the one who holds up the universe!
Second, Paul closes this section with a word of direction. We are to encourage and comfort, one another with these words. The source of comfort, in the midst of suffering and loss, is the knowledge that we will never be separated from those who have gone “home” before us, and the knowledge the Lord is coming for us one day.
It is this knowledge that the Holy Spirit can use, to help us learn to endure. This life is but a short span, when compared to an eternity to be spent in God’s presence. With what great joy and anticipation, we can look forward to the time when we will be called up by the voice of Christ to leave this fallen world behind. And as Christ himself said to John:
“… “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
Conclusion: Yes we may have to endure, but as we strive to serve the Lord here, we will have the joy of seeing a healthy church, one that is committed to making its mark for Christ. And individually, we will be able to stand be for the Lord and hear Him say:
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).
Let us praise the Lord for His love of us, and His words of comfort and be able to say;
“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.