A Greek Icon of The Second Coming, c. 1700
The man responded, "You bet I'm upset. I'm sick of all the bad news."
Trying to encourage the man, the waitress responded, "You've got to have hope!"
The man then asked this vital question: "How can you have hope in a world like this?"
I do not believe that this world offers us any hope. But Jesus does.
We come today in our study of The Apostles' Creed to this statement: "...from thence he shall come..." I believe the Second Coming offers us hope in a hopeless world.
The Second Coming of Christ is referred to over three hundred times in the New Testament. That is once every thirteen verses. We are going to look at one of the key passages in reference to the Second Coming. It is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The Church at Thessalonica was founded by the Apostle Paul and was born in the midst of persecution. The Jews of that city who had rejected Paul's message drove him out of town. Apparently, they continued to persecute those in Thessalonica who had become followers of Jesus.
Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonian Church a short time after his visit there. 1 Thessalonians is one of the earliest documents of the New Testament, if not the earliest. Paul wrote to encourage this fledgling church in the midst of their suffering. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Paul should focus much of his teaching in both 1 and 2 Thessalonians on the Second Coming. Nothing is more encouraging when you are going through a time of suffering then to know that it will someday come to an end. If we are to "get through the going through stages" of life we need a vision of the future that is powerful enough to pull us through our present suffering, whether our pain is large or small. As Hal Lindsey once wrote, "Nan can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air...but only one second without hope."
So let's read about the hope offered in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and tomorrow I will begin to comment on it....
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.