Paul closes this section again with prayer that God would continue to encourage and strengthen the Thessalonians in all they received and in all that they did. The important requests, which he had already praised them for, were continued growth in faith and agapé. As they stood firm before the Lord, their witness would go forth, and others would come to a relationship with Him.
Now the most important thing that we must take from this passage isn’t a system of eschatology, but that suffering and trials in our lives, in the church and in the world are not proof that the Tribulation is either here or coming. These are simply the products of living in a fallen world, one where the spirit of Antichrist is certainly active. One where apostasy and rebellion against the Lord is the status quo.
We, too, must never fall into the trap of allowing our circumstances to became the only basis by which we judge whither or not we are in God’s will. In fact, it is our response to circumstances which frequently demonstrates the reality of God in our lives, for ourselves and those around us. It is how we can stand firm, that may lead others to have that which we have a relationship with a loving eternal Father, a Father who desires only that which is good for us.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
And all within the church, be it ours or the church at large, must learn that our focus isn’t to prepare for the fulfillment of prophecy, or to escape from the difficulties of life, or to tout our own pet positions, theological, political, or social, but to
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).
The job of the church has never changed, and won't until the Lord comes, whenever that may be. We must go and give others the opportunity to accept the gift of salvation, therefore avoiding an eternity of suffering. We must strive to create an environment where these new believers have the opportunity to grow in their relationship with God, and in turn go out and reach others. This environment must be nurturing in the Word and in dependency on the Lord, for only then are we truly making disciples.
Nevertheless we are to look forward, with great anticipation, to the coming day when,
“… the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).
What a joy to know that one of these days we will see Him face to face, all our trials and tribulations will be over, and we will have the joy of hearing,
“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, in dependency on the Holy Spirit, strive to be worthy of hearing these words!
“Finally, brothers, rejoice.
Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace;
and the God of love and peace will be with you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.”
~ 2 Corinthians 13:11, 14