The Marks of a Healthy Church Family
Clear Thinking About the End Which Leads to Christ-like Living in the Present
Ignorance is not Bliss - Always Being with Jesus Is
A Reminder that Holiness and Purity Matter
An Encouragement to Excel Still More in an Encouraging Way
Missing Each Other Without Missing the Mark
Getting The Most Out of Time In God's Word
Bible First, Bible Most
Get Used to Different
Leaders That Create Churches Others Are Thankful For
A Letter of Thanks to a Church to Be Thankful For
As you reflect back on the last week, were you more concerned about your popularity or the fate of the lost? What’s one way you can initiate with someone who doesn’t know the Lord this next week?
When and what is the Day of the Lord? When are the end times and what will they be like? As we continue studying 1 Thessalonians, Todd Wagner teaches through 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, teaching us that clear thinking about the end should produce Christ-like living in the present.
Good morning, Watermark. We are so glad you're here. If you are looking for Jesus, you have found the right place. If you want to be encouraged in Jesus, you found the right place. And if you're looking for your monk parakeet, also known as a green Quaker parrot, according to my ornithologist friend Jonathan Pokluda, who lives in Waco and has raised parrots his entire life, apparently…
This little guy right here we're going to use to set up our message today in a couple of ways. Before I get into the message, I just want to share with you that if you're as anxious to get inside of Watermark as my friend Monk was (that's what we're calling him), who knocked himself unconscious this morning trying to fly into our coffee shop…
He was captured by Joey Tisdale (credit to Joey), and then Jordan Thompson became the bird handler, who pushed him off to me, and pretty much, Caitlin Van Wagoner has been trying to socially distance from the bird as radically as possible ever since that particular moment. Well, I took her to Luke 10 and explained to her that it's our job to care for the bird and to have his specific needs met, because this is our suffering traveler in our ditch.
So, if you're looking for a green parrot, we have found it, and we'd like to get it back to you. Until then, we will care for it as well as we can. It really does set up where I'm going to go in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, which is why I thought I would bring him to you. Let me just say this. A lot of you guys haven't been banging on our coffee shop windows, but you have been emailing us and asking, "When are we going to get together?" and I'm going to give you a little bit about that in case you're as anxious as Monk was to get inside here.
First of all, obviously, we're trying to be good citizens and still honor, as appropriate, our governing authorities, even while we're making sure they won't treat churches differently than other gatherings. Right now, with a church of our size, it's tough for us to get together and welcome. They want us to limit it to about 25 percent. New information is coming out this week. Here's the thing: even then, they want us to social distance when we're not part of the same family with six feet between us and rows between us.
We've been surveying a large number of our members (if you haven't gotten surveyed yet, you're probably going to get there eventually), asking questions like, "When we gather, are you going to want people to socially distance from you or are you ready to run up and embrace them? Will you be offended if folks aren't wearing masks? Will it be a bother to you…?" Monk does not want to wear a mask, so Monk and I are aligned, but some of you may not be.
What I would say to you is that we're trying to make sure we serve our body well, even as we gather together. So, a lot of information is coming. If you're not a part of The Current, get signed up on The Current, because that's where information is being pushed out, not just weekly but as often as we have relevant information to share with you. We're so glad we can still gather in this particular way.
Let me remind you that the Scripture tells us, whatever your convictions are about how we should be interfacing right now, we should show preference to one another in brotherly love and outdo one another in the way we honor one another. So, continue to be gracious. Pray for us that we'd have wisdom. We thank God for those of you who continue to generously support the ministry so we can do things like this and all that we're doing in the middle of the week.
Re:gen is online. Our re|engage groups are still thriving. The Porch is still humming along. I have two individuals living in my house who are shepherding young high school and junior high students and one who's a member of a high school group, so I know the ministry is still thriving. We can't wait for us to be able to gather again in a way that authorities are saying isn't inappropriate, and we're watching carefully to make sure they don't think churches gathering is somehow a unique class.
So, when we're free to meet or if there are other problems we think in any way would violate what God wants us to do, we will be together right away. So stay tuned. All right. Let me pray for us, and as I pray, our tremendous bird handler, after years of having the Critter Man show up at his Christmas parties, Jordan Thompson, will come and remove Monk from my shoulder. I'll talk about him actually a little bit in the first couple of minutes of my message, and then we're going to be in 1 Thessalonians.
Watermark, I do miss being with you. It's not the same teaching to you through this lens, but I'm so glad you still give me the privilege to do this, and I'm praying that today would be really encouraging to you, because it's a passage that talks about the judgment that's coming, how those of us who know Jesus have escaped that judgment, and how we should live in light of that. All right? So, Jordan, come on over here while my eyes are still open if you want, and then I will pray. Let us know if we can get your bird back to you. Let's pray.
Father, I thank you for this morning. I thank you for the way that even as I saw this bird efforting to get into a place where we gather to be reminded of your goodness and, frankly, probably to get in to escape judgment from that hawk that lives here at Watermark, it's just a good illustration for us of how you, like a mother hen gathers her chicks, have sheltered us in the shadow of your wings. Lord, we love you. I pray you'd teach us what you want to teach us this morning.
We do long to see us be able to get back together even more in the ways we already are, but corporately in all the full expression of love for one another and in corporate celebration of you, but thank you, Lord, that we are still your church while we're scattered, and I pray as we gather in smaller communities we would be spurring each other on to love and good deeds and doing everything we're learning from the book of Thessalonians that you want for us to learn. Teach us now. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.
Well, we are in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5. In verses 1-11 we're going to look at this week, it talks about something called the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord is not a day. It's not a 24-hour period. The word day in your Old Testament, especially, typically shows up with a number in front of it, and when it does have a number in front of it, like "first day" or "second day" or "third day," I'm of the conviction that does represent a 24-hour day and not what's called a day-age theory.
There are other times you'll see day of the Lord show up in the Old Testament that it is representing not a day, but you might say that right now in the NBA it's the "day of LeBron," or since we have The Last Dance on ESPN right now, that was the day of Michael Jordan in the NBA. A day can represent a period. We had eight years of the days of Obama as president, and we're now four years into the days of Trump. You get my point.
Day can mean either a very specific 24-hour period, and that usually in the Bible is when it's accompanied with the word day (in the Old Testament that word was yom) and a number that goes with it, and then sometimes it just says "the day" and it's representing something much bigger. You're going to find this phrase day of the Lord today in our text, and the word day that's here is a day that judgment is coming.
I believe the reason Monk was so desperate to get into our building today is we have a couple of hawks that are always here that fly right by my office and sit sometimes right outside that window and feast on squirrels and different birds I see them chasing all the time. I think he was trying to escape judgment. I really do. Now, you don't need to come to our facility to escape judgment, but let me just tell you something: you need safety and shelter, and that safety and shelter is going to be found in Jesus.
So, what I want to do is read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. I want to show you where there is safety. I'm going to warn you, as Paul does in the first few verses here, about the trouble that is coming for those who don't know him, and then I'm going to remind many of us who know the shelter we have through the provision of Jesus Christ how we should then live in light of the coming day of the Lord. Let me comfort you or encourage you with these words. Here we go.
"Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day.
We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…"
My prayer is if you are destined for wrath that you would not be because you would place your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Not just you know the story, but there's a moment in your life where with great clarity and conviction you say, "I'm a sinner. It's appropriate that a holy God judge me, but it's also appropriate that the miracle of grace, that a merciful and kind God would make provision for me that I might be reconciled to him." Then it would be appropriate that you would respond to him in radical obedience and joy. That's why we gather this way: to encourage each other to do that.
This little section ends in verse 10 with saying: " [Jesus] _ who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep…" We'll talk about that again. It references back to what we studied last week. _Asleep there doesn't mean just at night in bed; it means in the grave. "…we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage [comfort] one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing."
I'm so encouraged with the way so many of you have been building each other up in the Lord in every way and encouraging each other to be steadfast and faithful during these days. I pray that today would make you even more so. This is a great text, because what's going to happen right here is in verses 1-3, Paul is going to write to a group of people who are experiencing some persecution.
We know that because when he wrote them back in 2 Thessalonians, a section we'll read from today in just a moment, they were thinking, "Oh my gosh! This persecution is the beginning of what Paul told us was going to happen, so these must be the last days." I'm going to talk to you today about date setting. I'm going to talk to you about what's called the eschatological calendar and what we know and what we should remain humble about and what Jesus would have us do.
So, a lot of ground to cover. I think you're going to learn a ton. I'm going to give you a lot of points, so get your pens out. I'll remind you that sermon notes will be there, and they'll be a great encouragement to you as you study that. I'm going to teach you some eschatology this morning, and I'm going to teach you how you should live today.
Now, as we do that, I'm going to juxtapose what we did last week in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that ended with the same thing. "Encourage one another. Comfort one another with these words." Those words were, basically, words around the idea of "Death is not the end." If people have trusted in Christ and died, they're not going to miss out on any blessing. In fact, they have the blessing of going to be with Christ immediately.
We're going to be reminded again today: to live is to live as Christ would have us live, to live as if Christ himself was alive because we're going to make ourselves available to him, and the same spirit which was radically and fully and abundantly alive in Jesus should be increasingly radically and fully and abundantly alive in us.
If people have died in Christ, they are with him. The resurrection body God will one day fully and perfectly give them isn't there just yet, but we know there's no such thing as soul sleep and there is probably some intermediate corporal existence to them. We will meet them with the Lord, it says in 1 Thessalonians 4, in the air. We shall always be with him.
You need to know this: when that event Paul described in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, where he says, "We who are alive and remain will be caught up together with those who are dead…" That word caught up in the Latin translation of your New Testament is rapturo. We get the English word rapture from that. Many scholars, myself included, would believe that's what Paul is describing right there. That would be the beginning of this thing called the day of the Lord.
So, let me give you some verses really quickly describing the day of the Lord, and then I'm going to show you a chart. Starting in Isaiah, chapter 2, I'm going to roll through some verses that describe the day of the Lord, and you'll get a sense that this is not going to be a great day for billions of people, and it's why God has not started it yet.
As it says in 2 Peter, chapter 3, "God is not slow as some count slowness, but he's patient toward you, wishing that none should perish but that all should inherit eternal life." God doesn't want any single person listening today to miss out on the blessing of the shelter, not of a building but of the grace Christ has bought on the cross so you can get away from the hawk of judgment. So come to him and find rest.
Those of you who don't come find shelter in the provision of Jesus, this is what the day of the Lord is going to entail. I'm going to read a few verses. Isaiah, chapter 2: "For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty [who doesn't think they need grace, who doesn't think they need a savior, that their works will be good enough or there isn't even a God] and against everyone who is lifted up [in their own mind] …" They're going to be abased.
Isaiah 13:6 says, "Wail, for the day of the Lord is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty." Wow. "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate…" I want you to see these words. These are powerful words. "…He will exterminate its sinners from it."
That is exactly what a holy God should do. If God is loving, he must be just. People all the time go, "I don't believe in God because there's no way God would let this world be the way it is. So he's incompetent and he's not strong." No. He's gracious, and he doesn't want you to perish in the coming judgment of the day of the Lord, which will come, as we already read in 1 Thessalonians 5:1, like a thief in the night, suddenly.
So you'd better be ready, and the way you get ready is to repent. "He who confesses and forsakes will find compassion, but he who conceals his transgression, or denies it, will not prosper," it says in Proverbs 28. Finally, I want to end with this. Ezekiel 30:3: "For the day is near…" It has always been near. It was near when Paul first preached to the Thessalonians, which is why they were expecting the imminent return of Christ, to be caught up with those who had already died to be with him.
"…the day of the Lord is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations." But as we're going to see in verses 4-11, it's going to be a time of rejoicing for us, but we have a responsibility, those of us who have heard a word from the Lord, who have heard that there is an ark of rest God has let us find shelter in. When you read your Bible, it always points to Jesus. It always runs to Jesus. The name Noah in the Old Testament means rest.
God had the one who was a herald of righteousness proclaim to others that they should repent and turn from their wicked ways and come and get on the ark where they would be lifted up on this instrument of wood to where salvation would be provided from judgment that would come. What does that sound like? Jesus came to give us rest and was lifted up on an instrument of wood, that all who come to him will escape the coming judgment of the day of the Lord.
Last week, we heard in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that we should not face the darkness of death without the hope of his coming. One of my good friends here on staff lost his mother this week, and he comforted himself and his family with the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. There's the summary of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: don't face the darkness of death without the hope of his coming.
This week, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, here's the phrase: do live in the light of his coming so you can bring hope to others. There they are. Those notes will be for you in the sermon notes. Don't face the darkness of death without hope, and, this week, don't face today without the light of the hope of his coming so you can bring hope to others. That's the charge. People need hope. They need to be woken up from their delusion that there is no judgment.
Here we go. Verse 1: "Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you." Why? Paul is saying, "I already taught you this. I've already brought you truth." If you've never learned this, then you've heard me say it to you, and the things I've shared with you today is exactly what Paul did. He read about the day of the Lord. He read about a coming judgment. He taught them about a holy God who judges sinners.
The Bible says in Exodus that God is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness, but it also says, "By no means will he let the guilty go unpunished." But grace to you through Jesus Christ, who, as he says down here in verse 10, died for us so that whether we are alive or in the grave, if we know him, we will live with him. This is a text that reminds you of where salvation can be found and reminds you what you should do in light of your salvation.
He's telling the Thessalonians basically this: "Look. I taught you about judgment and righteousness and faith, because ignorance is not bliss." Remember what we said last week? He said, "I don't want you to be uninformed." What happened is the Thessalonians asked Timothy some questions when he went back to follow up in their community, and one of the questions they must have asked was, "Hey, has the day of the Lord begun? I mean, there's persecution. Is this what you were talking about?"
Paul, in both his letter here and then in his second letter to them basically told them, "No. It hasn't started, but when it starts, you're going to know it, and it's going to be very clear." Ignorance is not bliss; it's the breeding ground for trouble. You already know what you need to do to escape the coming hawk of judgment, and that is to run to the provision of Christ. When you come there, you don't just learn stuff; you remind each other that things are true. You review.
This week, I was talking with my family about a time that I was in France and I got myself in a lot of trouble because I did not remind myself of the French I learned in Mademoiselle Patrique's two years of Honors French. When I was in France a number of years later, because I had not meditated on it, because I didn't really memorize it, because I was an idiot in high school and thought I'd never need it, I got myself in a lot of trouble.
I forgot the difference between diesel and gazole, which is terrible French even now. You can see why I didn't do very well. I would not have done well as a candlestick in Beauty and the Beast, and I didn't do well in ninth grade in French. You have to review. You have to remind yourself. It's why the Scripture tells us that the blessed person is the one who doesn't just read their Bible but who meditates on it day and night.
Paul, because he loves people, is taking them back to the text and reminding them what he taught them already, and that's all I want to do when I'm with you in this particular moment. You either use it or lose it. You either apply the Bible or it does you no good. You want to keep it in the front of your mind. Not only is ignorance not good; forgetting is not good, because now you're still going to face judgment but even with more accountability because God has already given you what you need.
He's saying in verse 2, "For you yourselves know…" Why? "Because I've taught you this." "…full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night." No phone call. No appointment. No notice. It's going to be begun with a violent snatching. That's exactly what it says in verse 17 of the text. We're going to be taken out, and we're going to be brought to be with the Lord, and the world is going to react in a number of different ways.
Probably one of the ways they're going to react is like, "Good! We got rid of those bigoted, intolerant, narrow-minded people who believe there's just one way to know God. We've been praying for world peace, and now we have peace because we can all get along and we can coexist under a world leader who will bring us and offer us peace." I think that's where we're headed. That's what the Scripture seems to indicate.
Men will always look to men. They'll look to self or others to meet their needs. The Bible says, "Cursed is the man who believes in or trusts in the flesh." So let us not do that. Verse 3: "While they [those who mock a holy God who's going to judge sinners and mock the gracious provision that was given through Jesus Christ] are saying, 'Peace and safety!' ['It's all good!'] then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape."
It's going to happen quickly. Even this little metaphor… It's kind of interesting. What happens when a woman gets labor pains? It's not long after that that the son comes, or the child comes. That's what's going to happen. When you start to see trouble… I'll read to you in a second a significant passage of Scripture Paul used as the basis for his teaching to the Thessalonians when he was there and is reviewing now in 1 Thessalonians.
Jesus tells us, and that's the phrase of Christ he used. All of these things…the wars and the famines and the earthquakes…are just birth pangs, and the Son is not going to be here yet, but it's all a part of the day of the Lord, the beginning. Let me show you a chart, in fact. I'm going to qualify in just a second a little bit about mapping out the return of Christ and being a little bit too dogmatic about it.
There's what's called a pre-tribulation view, a mid-tribulation or pre-wrath view, a post-tribulation view. There are people who are amillennialists and postmillennialists and all kinds of premillennialists, which is what the map I'm about to show you is, but at the end of the day, I'm a "pan-millennialist." It's all going to pan out in the end. God is going to take care of it. I want to get off the planning committee and, as 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, get on the welcoming committee.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't teach one another with what we know and rightly divide the Word of truth as best we can, and I'm going to do that for you today. Let me show you what I believe is a logical explanation for what I believe is a "rightly divided Word of truth" way of looking at the Scripture. I have brothers who I love who have a different perspective on this, but what I'm showing you right now is a fair and orthodox and consistent view of Scripture.
"Well, Todd, does that mean if I don't hold this I'm unorthodox?" Well, it doesn't mean you are a heretic. When you and I disagree on certain things, and this is not an essential of the faith… Paul is going to tell you what's essential is what you do with the faith you have, not that you get exactly right what Christ is going to do in his second coming.
Here is this little map. From the time of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection to the present is the church age. There's going to be a moment (1 Thessalonians 4 we just looked at)… There's this gathering or this being caught up, violently snatched, if you will, to meet the Lord in the air. The dead in Christ will rise first. Believers will give an account. People who have this pre-tribulation view with me would believe that's probably the time that rewards are given, and then we're going to return with Christ at the second coming.
There is the event when we meet Christ in the heavens, when we leave earth to go to heaven, if you will, to be with him. That's the rapture. The return of Christ, or the second coming, is not the rapture. That's when we are in heaven and return to earth. Let me just make one last thing clear for you. Biblically, heaven is where Jesus is. That's why the kingdom of heaven has come wherever you and I are.
Our families ought to be a little taste of heaven. We ought to be individuals… Because we're citizens of heaven, where we are, people go, "You know what? You Christians make everything better. We don't like the fact that you talk about a coming judgment. We don't like the fact that you talk about morality. We don't like the fact that you guys have convictions, but you know what? We love the way you love.
We love the way you care for people who are forsaken, the way you stand up for justice, the way you know you're blessed to be a blessing. Some of the goodness of God is seen in you Christians. You care for the least of these and the widow and the orphan and for one another. While the worlds war, every nation, tribe, and tongue get together, unified under the love of Jesus Christ, and do what the United Nations can't do: bring peace."
So, heaven is not an idea. Heaven is not a place. Heaven, ultimately, is a person, and when that person, Jesus, is present in us, it's going to bring peace and unity and love and goodness. In the future state, the eternal state, this earth we're on will be heaven, but it won't be an earth you recognize, because he's going to make all things new.
That's why it says the meek…those who trust in God…will inherit the earth, but this earth won't be this earth; it'll be better than Yosemite, better than Yellowstone, better than the most glorious sunset you've ever seen, and there will be no sin in you, in me, or in anything. It'll be better than Eden, and God will be with us, and we will love one another. It's going to be heaven on earth. It's going to be what God intended. We long for that day.
So look forward to that, and while we're waiting for this earth to be what Jesus wants it to be, what we should do is be evidence that God is going to do that, because just like this earth is going to change when Christ speaks his word to it, you and I should change. That's the but we're about to come up to here in verse 4. "But you're not like these people who mock at God. You're not like these people who deny morality. You're not like these people who don't need to depend on Jesus, and because of that, goodness has come."
We're going to see we have a really significant responsibility. What's our responsibility? Well, you remember? I said it once. I'm going to go back. Last week, we said in verses 13-18: we don't face the darkness of death without the hope of his coming. That's what I want you to see. And this week what we're studying is: we now live in the light of his coming so we can bring hope to others today. That's the application of this text. We comfort one another with these words.
Don't fret at death. Death isn't the end, and this week, don't act like you don't have a responsibility. We live in the light of the truth of the goodness of God and his coming return to recompense men according to his deeds so we can bring hope to others. If I had to give you a statement that would go with that, it would be simply this: clear thinking about the end should produce Christlike living in the present. There's your application. Clear thinking about the end, the day of the Lord, should produce Christlike living in the present. That's good stuff.
Back to the chart of end times. After this event, if we're correct, this rapture… That begins what's called the day of the Lord where God is going to unfold all kinds of chaos. I mean, it'll be a time of trouble like we've never seen. There's the tribulation period. It's a seven-year period. If you're really interested in this stuff, we did an Equipping class on the book of Revelation that we can make accessible to you.
I taught for 10 weeks on this when I went through the gospel of Mark. I taught the Olivet Discourse, and I talked about it in a series called The Last Things You Need to Know. A link to those messages will be in our show notes, and I'd encourage you to go look at it if you're interested in those things and get equipped. The big picture is that Christ is coming and his judgment is coming with him.
That tribulation period, which is what's called the seventieth week of Daniel (as you study that other series, you'll learn more about that)… The first three and a half years of it, there will largely be world peace, and then it looks like after a time, times, and half a time (one year, two years, and half a year, so three and a half years), right there in the middle of the tribulation period, it's going to be called the time of Jacob's distress when the abomination of desolation takes place.
That's when, when you study the book of Revelation, in Revelation 6, and really throughout the rest of the book it intersperses, you're going to find the seal judgments (there are seven of them), the trumpet judgments (there are seven of them), and the bowl judgments (there are seven of them). All that happens in the seven-year period of the believers giving an account, and at the end of that is the second coming, and we return with him.
There will be some people who have believed in Christ during that time, because there will be, I believe, 144,000 Jews who will be evangelists who will be protected by the Lord, and the gospel will go out and some will believe, but let me tell you what else is going to happen before we move into that millennial period, that thousand years. A quarter of the earth is going to be killed through wild beasts and hunger and the sword.
If it happened today, that would be 1.9 billion people. Before I walked in here today, I got a little notification on my phone that we just passed 300,000 people dying on earth with the coronavirus. That doesn't mean from the coronavirus. It just means they died and they had the coronavirus. So, 300,000 people in the last several months have died, and the whole world has shut down. Can you imagine if 1.9 billion people died when a pale horse rider was unleashed on the earth? That's the fourth seal.
The seventh seal is the first trumpet, and when you get to the sixth trumpet, a third of those who are remaining… That's another 1.8 billion people. In that three-and-a-half-year period, 3.7 billion people are going to die. It is the time of trouble like the world has never seen. The day of the Lord, as we already read in those verses at the very beginning, is a time of great horror, and it says at some point men are going to try to die and they won't even be able to die. They won't escape horror with death until they face the judgment of God.
I don't say this to scare you; I say this to warn you. That's what Paul said to the Thessalonians. It's what I say to you. Repent while there's still time. I want to read to you what another apostle said. This is an appropriate time for me to do that. I'm going to read 2 Peter, chapter 3, almost the whole chapter. I'm going to do it kind of quickly. You can go back there and look at it yourself.
This summarizes basically verses 1-3 in chapter 5 of Thessalonians. Peter, who was with Christ, who heard the Olivet Discourse, heard Jesus teach the same thing Paul heard, and they both were giving the message to the Thessalonians. I want to give it to you. When Peter was writing his believing friends, he said this:
"This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder…" What does that sound like? Just like Paul. Paul said, "No one needs to teach you, but I am going to remind you what I already said." "…that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles." What did he speak?
"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep [died] , all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.' For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water."
He's saying they forgot the first Noah. "But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire…" This time not the flood of water, because God put a rainbow in the clouds as a covenant, saying, "I'll never destroy the earth by flood again." But guess what. The next time the earth is judged, it's not going to be with water; it's going to be with fire from heaven. It's right now being kept for that day of judgment.
Verse 8: "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved…" Listen to me, friends. "…that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." Turn back to him before it's too late. Why?
Verse 10 says, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…" Have you ever heard that anywhere in Scripture before? "…in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat…" When I taught on 2 Peter a while ago, I made mention of the fact that when the atomic bomb went off, when the atom was split, there was a sound like a roar that went up, and it created, as we know, intense heat.
If you've ever read the book Hiroshima, you understand what happened when that bomb was unleashed in Japan. The Scripture says all things are held together by Christ, and when Christ lets the world no longer be held together in its atomic, most minute, ways, there's going to be an explosion, which is literally what the Greek would say is going on here in 2 Peter 3:10 when it says "with a roar," and that it's intense heat and it's going to go away. It's going to be burned up.
Peter is going to say in verse 11, "Since all these things…" Everything you and I think is so important…the houses we live in, the cars we drive… He says everything is going to be destroyed in this way. "Why are you rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic? It's going down. Don't give your time and attention to those things."
You should give your time and attention not to having a nicer house… I mean, it's not wrong to want to live in a place that's well kept, but don't make it your focus. What your focus should be is that you should be holy in conduct and godliness. That's what we're going to see in 1 Thessalonians 5:4 through the end of the chapter. "…looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…"
All right, Christian. Our good word is that clear thinking about the end should produce Christlike living in the present. That is the word of Peter, it's the word of Jesus, it's the word of your pastor, it's the word of Paul, faithful men, and you should be to one another, and you should build up one another and comfort one another and teach one another with these words so we are ready.
As we get ready to capture verse 4 to the end, I want to remind you of what I said last week, because there's an application here that I think is really encouraging. I made mention already about the fact that Christ is the one who was lifted up on an ark of a cross that we could find rest. Remember last week in Ecclesiastes 12:9-11? As Solomon wrapped up his book about the folly of trying to find life in anything other than God and a right understanding of him, he said this:
"In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. The words of wise men are like goads [to move us along] …"
I hope my words today have moved you to take seriously the coming of the Lord. There's nothing that needs to happen in any eschatological calendar for us to be snatched out and caught up with the Lord, and if you don't know the Lord, you're going to be left behind, and then the day of the Lord is going to commence, and it's not going to be pretty.
There's going to be one who's going to represent himself as God's servant who's not God's servant, who's going to be the Antichrist, and for a while, like all con men do, he's going to make things appear to stabilize and get better, and then he's going to say, "Hey, now that you've seen I can do good things, worship me. And if you don't take my mark, I'll mark you with judgment."
God says, "You let him mark you with judgment if you are not wise enough to repent today. You let him destroy your body, but you fear the one who can destroy body and cast soul in hell forever." The words of wise men are like goads, and I pray I'm goading you along to repentance and faith today. "The masters of the words of God are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd."
I just made a note to myself, and it was simply this: there is a storm of judgment that is coming, but there is a way to find salvation, not by trusting in a man who built an ark of wood that would cause it to be raised up against a raging sea but by trusting a man who hung on a wooden cross and was raised from the dead. There's a storm of judgment coming, friends, and there's a way to find salvation.
I pray that my handling God's Word is like a well-driven nail in your heart today and that just like people who would have trusted in Noah would have been raised up amongst a raging sea, you'll be raised up with Christ in hope. So, wise men (and that's what I want you to be) are like well-driven nails that hold together the ark of hope.
Church, we need to understand that these friends of ours who will not escape the coming judgment… There's going to be a roar, and it's going to be an intense time of consequence. We don't want that to be the fate that anybody we know and love or meet faces. This is 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1, verse 9. It says people who reject the grace of God that Paul preached about in Thessalonica and I'm preaching about right now…
It says, "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…" Wow. Here's what I would say to you and me as a result of that: we are individuals who should consider the fate of the lost, and we should lose all concern with the fate of our current popularity in light of what's at risk for them.
If you're pulling your punches talking about the kindness of God, the coming judgment of God, it would seem to suggest to me that you don't really believe there's a coming judgment. It would seem to suggest to me that you don't know the Father and his love for the lost. When we consider the fate of the lost, that they would be put to a place where they don't escape, I don't think we will concern ourselves with our popularity and what they think of us. I just think we'll be faithful.
The rest of the text in verses 4-11 is him saying, "Look. You're not like them who are in darkness, that the day would overtake us like a thief." We've already been told we're awake. We're clear-thinking. We know there is a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy, so we prepare ourselves for the God who wants to get rid of the Destroyer. When God comes quickly like a thief to destroy the thief and the band of thieves, we'll be found faithful.
"…for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness…" Remember what I said? We are to live in the light of his coming so we can bring hope to others. That's our job. We are people of the light. Look at what it says in verse 6. "…so then let us not sleep as others do…" He's not talking about death here. It's actually a different word. It's physical, like you're asleep, you're not awake.
Don't sleep on Jesus. Don't sleep on truth. Don't just let it go away, but let us be alert. Go read Matthew 25 in your devotional this week where he talks about the faithful bride and the faithful bridesmaids who had their lamps trimmed and were ready as evidence that they knew and loved the king. And be sober-minded. Can I tell you something? You're the designated ambassador. You think clearly. You're the designated speaker, evangelist.
You're the one who is to be like well-driven nails, so you're the designated truth-driver because you're sober. Everybody else is drunk on the illusion that there is no God and, because God has been slow in coming, that he's never coming. When they say this, as we've already read in 2 Peter 3, they forget he has already come once in judgment, and they mock him, but they will be silenced in their mocking.
Proverbs 9 says, "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it." You don't want to bear that judgment. You don't want to bear that judgment at all. So be sober. Know the one who is to fear. If you're listening to this and you don't repent and find Christ, and if God begins the day of the Lord and snatches the church out of here and then you become sober-minded, remember this: don't fear the one who can destroy your body (this is Matthew 10:28); fear the one who can destroy the body and cast the soul into hell forever. That's clear thinking, and it's certainly clear thinking now.
"For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night." We all know this. Right? All of us have heard our moms and dads say this, and I've said it to my kids. "Hey, nothing good happens after midnight." Why? Because individuals who are committed to evil wait for the righteous to go away so there's no restriction, no conviction on their commitment to seek that which destroys. They love the darkness, so they wait until there are no eyes on them. They wait until they can't be seen.
When we see people do brazen acts of incivility in the daylight, we're like, "Oh my gosh! That person isn't just evil; they've lost their mind." Which is, frankly, what I would say to us as a church. If we're people of the light and we still embrace evil, what are we doing? We're not people who wait for darkness or move in the darkness where we want our wickedness unrestricted and without conviction and without challenge. We're people of the light.
By the way, this is why the world doesn't appreciate us. I will tell you, especially my high school friends who are listening to this, when I came to faith in late high school and college, there were people who would say, in effect, "Wagner is judgmental" or "I don't like to be around Wagner," and I wouldn't even say anything. I just wouldn't do what they were doing. I didn't cuss. I didn't pursue and seduce women.
I would get up and walk out of the room when they would turn certain images toward others, and they felt incredibly judged by that, because the light of my love for good exposed their embracing evil. But you know what? Those same guys sometimes would come to me, like Nicodemus, in the night, and they'd knock on my door, and they would sit and say, "Hey, you know something I don't know."
As I said, if we don't have any concern for those who love the darkness, we'll continue to be concerned about our own popularity and being celebrated by the world, but the world is not going to love you if you love Jesus. Jesus said that. "A student is not greater than his teacher, and a servant is not greater than his master. If the world hates you, it hated me before it hated you." Are you concerned for your popularity? That seems to suggest to me that you're not concerned for Christ.
"For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith…" By the way, this is interesting. Paul uses the breastplate of faith and the helmet of the hope of salvation here in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 ten years before he wrote Ephesians 6. Paul didn't need to be strapped to a Roman guard to write Ephesians 6, which is what he probably was when he wrote that.
Paul saw Roman guards everywhere, and he said, "What protects them is that little helmet and that breastplate." He said, "Do you know what protects me? My faith and my hope. That keeps my head from being polluted into all kinds of different nonsense, and it's what's going to protect you." Friends, God has not predestined us for wrath, verse 9 says, but we have been saved from that. We've obtained salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or dead in the grave (as he harkens back to what we studied last week), we'll be alive together with him.
If you have friends who trusted in Christ, they are with the Father, they're with the Son, and if you've trusted in Christ and you're awake, you're with the Spirit, so Jesus ought to be alive in you. You want to be somebody who applies this, like it says in verse 11: "Therefore encourage…" That word encourage is the word parakaleo. It is the same word used of who the Holy Spirit is.
If the Holy Spirit is in you, you ought to come alongside people and call them to repentance and call them to holy living and help them be what God wants them to be. You ought to build them up, just as you also are doing. Let's go, church. Let's do it even more. I'll give you a parting salvo or two just for fun. We're right here at the end.
Watch yourself. Don't be looking for signs to try to read the tea leaves about "Is the rapture soon coming? Is it going to be not a pre-trib rapture but a mid-trib rapture?" Watch yourself. Be awake. Live in the light. Watch yourself, not signs. God is not going to check our charts when he comes back to see who was right about his coming; he's going to check our hearts to see who did right in light of his commands. That's some application for you.
Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as you're already doing. Our job is to get ready, and his job is to return. If we spend too much time worrying about when he's going to do his job, we're going to lose the opportunity to do ours. So let's go, church. Be faithful. I scribbled down for myself as a helpful note, "Being aware that the day of the Lord could happen any day," which is what Paul was convinced of, the Thessalonians were convinced of, and Watermark is convinced of.
Being aware that the day of the Lord could happen any day should be enough to compel us to be faithful and ready every day. Tons of application. Tons of truth. Read Mark 13. Read Matthew 24 and 25. Reread 2 Peter 3. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 so I can say to you, "You have no need of anything to be written to you, because you're awake, you're alert, and you're gettin' 'er done."
There are all kinds of folks like Monk, looking to make their way into a place where they can find rest. Jesus is their rest. You are his church. Take him in, care for him, and help him find his home. I love you, Watermark. Let me pray for you, and then we're going to pitch you to another song. What Paul, in effect, is saying right here to the Thessalonians is "Let it be real, man. Let your faith be real. Live in the light. You're not people of darkness." Let me pray for you.
Father, I pray that if there's anybody here who doesn't know of the grace, that they would have listened and hung to this point and that they would now repent and they would say, "Lord, I know why you didn't return as a thief in the night last night: because you love me and you want me not to perish but to come to everlasting life."
I pray that somebody would say right now, "Lord, I'm a sinner. I believe you're holy. I believe there's no way I could ever earn my way back to you, but you ran to me and you left heaven to come to earth and you were lifted up on an ark of wood where you became a place of rest for me. I confess my sin, and I make you my Savior, and I thank you that you lift me up from the judgment that is to come through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ."
Lord, those of us who are your church, who got to study this amazing text and corollary passage, we want to be like well-driven nails that speak up about who Jesus is and the work he did on the cross, that folks might find rest in him. Help us to live in the light, to be clear-thinking, sober-minded, faithful, not concerned with our own comfort or popularity but concerned for the lost and concerned for righteousness, that some heaven might exist on earth, and Lord knows we need it. Father, let our faith be real. Let us be yours. Be glorified in our lives. In Jesus' name, amen.
I love you, church, and I can't wait to be with you. I'm with so many of you throughout the week. I've been with folks all the time, and we continue to labor for you. Labor in love for one another. Be steadfast, immovable. Encourage one another. Build one another up. This is the day God has given us. Let us live in the light. God bless you, friends. Let it be real.
Have a great week of worship.