Faith demonstrated – Christ’s return

Published 2:54 pm Friday, June 25, 2010

Scripture: I Thessalonians 4:1-18

Aim: To help the pupil understand that Jesus is coming back to earth from Heaven in order to carry His Church (all those who have received Christ as personal Savior) back with Him.

Golden Text: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: And the dead in Christ shall rise first” (I Thessalonians 4:16).

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Jesus promised the disciples that after He had gone away, He would return in order to take His followers away with Him. “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2a-3).

When Jesus ascended into heaven, the angel assured the apostles that Jesus would return.

“This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

This message of the return of Christ was preached by the apostles and by the preachers of every generation since. The return of Christ for His church is as much a part of Christianity as the first coming of Christ, the death on the cross and the resurrection.

Although modern scholarship (so called!) denies the literal return of Christ, it still remains a vital part of Bible Christianity. Those scholars and preachers who believe the Bible to be the Word of God still believe, teach and preach the coming of Christ.

The scoffers will scoff and seek to intimidate those who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. That is nothing new. Peter wrote about such people in his second epistle, “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (II Peter 3:3-4).

Peter continues to affirm the coming of Christ, the judgment of the people, and the destruction of this present world in the rest of this epistle.

Now, let us look at Paul’s declaration of the coming of Christ for the Christians, the Church.

1. Paul points out that the Christian should live his life in such a manner that pleases the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:1-12). First, the believer should “walk” (live) and please God more and more (vs. 1). He is to be growing in pleasing God.

Second, the believer should live in the will of God (vs. 3-4). God’s will for Christians is that each one should be set apart from the world and sinful living to living a righteous and God-centered life (sanctification).

Third, the Christian ought not to defraud a Christian brother (or anyone else for that matter), but should love and seek to help, avoiding even despising others. To despise someone means that one despises God (vs. 8). Christians are enjoined to love one another (vs. 9).

Fourth, the Christian should take care of his own business and live honestly toward the unsaved (vs. 10-12).

2. Paul points out the basic facts concerning the return of Christ (4:13-18). First, when Christ returns for the taking away of the Church, He will bring the spirits of all those who saints who have already died (vs. 13-14).

Second, Jesus shall return with a “shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God” (vs. 16).

Third, the dead saints bodies will be resurrected from the graves (vs. 16b). The spirits of the dead will be joined to their resurrected body.

Fourth, the living Christians will be changed, will receive a new body.

Fifth, both groups, those who were dead and those who were alive shall both be caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds (vs. 17).

“So shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (vs. 17-18).

“Maranatha”! The Lord cometh!