ISSUE: 2016, Volume 13, Issue 3
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Paul refers to the Lord’s coming in each chapter of 1 Thessalonians. He also presents five reasons we should be actively waiting for His coming. Two have been dealt with – service and reward, the other three will be dealt with in this article.
In chapter 3 verses 12 to 13, Paul reminds us of how important it is for believers to be caring people.
‘And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward one another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints'.
He speaks of the importance of not only having a heart of love for both believers and the unsaved (all men) but seeing that love increase and overflow. This is the Lord’s work, for it does not come naturally to any of us so we must be willing to allow His Spirit to create this attitude in us. The process is not only for the blessing of others but for the benefit of ourselves, that we might be blameless before God when the Lord comes.
We are reminded here that it is not only our service for the Lord that will be reviewed at the judgement seat of Christ, but our character as well.
1 Thessalonians chapter 4 is a very well-known passage in the Bible that provides some detail about the manner of the Lord’s coming for the believer. They were written as words of comfort and encouragement, v. 18.
In chapter 4 verses 16 to 17 we read, ‘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: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds’.
While the believers at Thessalonica waited for the Lord to come, some of them died. Those who remained were concerned that those who had died would not be involved in this great event. Paul assures them that this is not the case. Both those who have died (the dead in Christ) and those who are alive at the time will be taken up and we will all be together with the Lord.
This is something to look forward to, especially so for believers who have family members who belong to the Lord and have passed away, for it will be a wonderful time of reunion.
As Paul draws his letter to a close, in chapter 5 verse 23, he prays, ‘And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
His prayer for the believers is that they will be preserved blameless until that day. Blameless does not mean sinless, but free from causes for reproach and regret.
Notice this important reference to the unique and threefold nature of every person – spirit, soul and body. The word ‘preserve’ means to guard carefully. This is a reminder of the importance that we should attach to how we live so that there will be no reason for shame at the coming of Christ. It also highlights how our behaviour affects every aspect of our person.
So rather than just passively wait for the Lord’s coming, we should recognize the unique opportunity that we have between now and then to serve Him. We should allow the Holy Spirit to work upon our character so it is more like the Lord. We should seek to behave in such a way that we will be free from regret, 1 Cor. 3. 15, when He comes. We can also look forward to a time of reward and reunion with believers who have already gone to heaven.