Summary Advice for a Local Church
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
August 28, 2022
A letter for all churches
-Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
-An enduring letter of encouragement all ages
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
Support spiritual leaders vs 12-13
-leaders who labor- servants, not just people with titles
-in the Lord- growing followers of Christ, true to the Bible
-who also admonish- speak the truth in love, no compromise
-recognize them openly- support practically, affirm openly
-regard them highly in love- build a Christlike relationship
-1 Corinthians 13 love!
Build up other believers vs 14-15
-warn the idle
-comfort the discouraged
-help the weak
-be patient with everyone
-suspend your right to pay back evil with evil
-do what is good for “one another” and everyone
Follow God carefully vs 16-22
-Basic steps to knowing God’s will: rejoice, pray, give thanks
-Depend on the Holy Spirit
-don’t stifle Him- quench, oppose, try to suppress
-“prophecies”= what God has said to us
-today we are highlighting God’s prophecies
-The Thessalonians did not yet have the complete Bible
-“test all things” God will never contradict himself!
-Pursue what is good; stay away from what is evil!
A final prayer and personal comments vs 23-27
-God of peace-
-sanctify you completely
-spirit, soul and body kept blameless- all, not part of our lives!
-at the coming of Jesus- HE IS COMING AGAIN!
-vs 24 Jesus will complete this work in us!
-Paul expresses his dependence on and affection for the church
-Paul sent this letter to more than one church body
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
-Will you submit your life to Jesus Christ today?
-Admit you are a sinner
-Believe Jesus died for your sins and was raised
-Commit your entire life to Jesus right now
-Will you continue growing as a follower of Jesus Christ?
-Follow God’s advice for your life and the church
-stop stifling what God wants to do in your life and in our
-re-surrender your entire life to Jesus right now
The Day of the Lord
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
August 21, 2022
Jesus is coming again!
-see previous message on 1 Thes 4:13-18
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Time and the seasons
-time and era- sequence and events
-Matthew 24:36 We aren’t supposed to know when
The day of the Lord will come vs 2-3
-Day of the Lord- Old Testament- day of wrath, judgment
-Acts 17:31 Jesus is the Lord (in charge of) this day
-This day is when Christ returns to judge the world
-thief in the night- unannounced, unexpectedly
-illust: no thief calls ahead of time to say he is coming!
-Matt 24:43; 2 Peter 3:10
-People saying “Peace and security” will be destroyed
-Destruction of unbelievers is as certain as birth when a woman goes into labor- unavoidable, no second chances
But you are not in the dark vs 4-5
-Paul is talking to followers of Jesus Christ (Christians)
-We will not be surprised when Christ returns
-Christians live in the daylight/light- fully aware
Let us stay awake and be self-controlled vs 6-10
-don’t sleep- don’t ignore the fact that Jesus is coming!
-be self-controlled (stated twice)- remain sober
-we must remain in control of our minds and bodies
How to remain awake and self-controlled
-put on the armor of faith and love
-this is how we stay awake and self-controlled
-our faith must affect every area of our lives!
-Christ-like love must define how we relate to others,
And how we take care of ourselves!
-put on the helmet of the hope of salvation in Christ
-facts must override our feelings!
-trust the facts of faith in Christ
-Christians do not face God’s wrath for their sins
-we obtain salvation because of our faith in Christ
“who died for us” – in our place, confessional truth
-we are saved from God’s wrath/condemnation of sin
-we will dwell personally with Jesus Christ forever
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up
-Christ followers must help one another until Jesus comes again
-encourage one another- cheer each other on to remain alert
-build each other up- we need others to help us when we are
down, when we slip spiritually, when we get discouraged
Wake Up! Trust in Jesus Christ Now!
-you don’t have to be surprised by or afraid of Christ’s return
1 Thessalonians 5, we're continuing a series of messages from this letter that Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit during the pandemic. It seemed as though all kinds of crazy stuff was going on. It was going on. It didn't seem - it was. We all faced major decisions. In the middle of that, was a little bit of an election that took place, and there was all kinds of other decisions that people were making. And just like any other place in the world, our church was no different. We had people that agreed to disagree and hopefully mostly agreeably, and it was just something we had to work through and navigate; who believed this, who believed that, who thought about this, who was trusting this? Sometimes it came down to who was listening to this particular group of news and this group of new. And it just seemed to all collide in the middle of us. We were no different than anywhere else. We had to navigate the waters of disagreeing agreeably.
And I want to say to you that I'm praising God and thanking God that the spirit of Christ prevailed. That all of us arrived eventually at the same conclusion, that God's bigger and more important than anything we agree to disagree on here on earth, amen. And I remember one of the elders said, "Make a decision, you'll be wrong, make it anyway." And we did. And we went through the trails of making decisions and trying to do what was right, but I'm telling you what, there are churches that died in the midst of the pandemic. There are churches that no longer exist. There are churches that are selling off property. There are things that are happening in other places in our city and in our region and in our country where their church, there's a sadness.
And I certainly know that we experienced loss in our church family as well. And we actually had people that when we stopped meeting, it sort of stopped being a habit, and that made me very sad. And then when we came back together and started meeting, it seemed like God replenished with different people and new people. And with the two services, we now are at the point where we did two services to stay apart from one another and to kind of bear the differences agreeably with each other and what was going on and how we did things. And then now it's like, it's by necessity because God has blessed us with more families and more individuals and more opportunities to serve and minister together and walk together in of spirit of Christ. And so by default, this building would not handle one service any longer, and so I thank God for that.
And we'll continue to - again, we're not presuming upon anything. We're just saying God did some positive things. And when I think of all the letters that Paul wrote in the New Testament that God's inspired him to write that we still have for us today to look at; this is one of the most encouraging letters you could read about the church. He continued to say, "You guys are doing this right, I know, but let me remind you to keep doing it, but you're doing, doing it right. Oh, you love one another, I don't need to remind you that. The whole region knows that. You're setting an example for believers all over the place." And I would say we are setting an example by the power of God, by the glory of God, for His credit alone, you all are setting an example.
And Paul is saying that to this church, and so I thought, what a great letter to write, to listen to, and to read and to understand to preach on, but a letter that might be similar in attitude towards that church as I have towards ours. And so, we've continued through that. We're in chapter five today. And last week we talked about the day of the Lord, how Jesus is coming again, and you can go back and listen to that and look at the notes online. Today Paul kind of wraps up his conversation with the church when he is talking about the day of the Lord; the day when Jesus comes again. And we want to talk about that, unpack that just a little bit and ask, are you ready? Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? Are you ready for it all to be over? Are you ready to answer to God for where you stand with Him in relation to have you put your faith in Jesus, or have you not put your faith in Jesus?
You know, we always hit what we aim for. Well, we work on hitting what we aim for. We more likely hit what we aim for. When we put our eye on the ball, we usually catch it with our mit. When we throw a baseball at a particular spot, we normally hit the spot where our eyes are looking, and our arm follows through with where we're looking. If you're target shooting with bows and arrows or a gun or a rifle; you aim, you look at, you pay attention to the bull's eye. We have darts in the back room, and there are a few places where you can tell where I have not... well, we need to do some drywall speckling. Anyway, it just is what it is. Keep your eyes on the road when you're driving. Don't text and drive.
Have you ever been with somebody, might have been me, "Oh, look at the farmland over there." And your car goes... yeah, thank you, John. I hear that. I hear that grown. And what you're looking at, you go towards. It is a part of life. In your calendar, how do you know where you're going this week? Now, if you're retired, you're laughing at us. "Ha-ha. What calendar? I don't care." But for those of us that still have one and we're working, or we got something going on, we look at the calendar, because we're not going to show up for the appointments we don't remember. We're not going to show up for the appointments we don't look at and make sure we're aiming for on our schedule during the week. And if we aren't careful, we will not do what matters most and what lasts forever if our eye is not on eternity.
Some of you may know this, or may have known a lady named D. Young, and D. Young on December 7th went home to be with the Lord. And yesterday or Friday, we had her graveside service or kind of a home-going, a small crowd of people. She was about 90 years old. I think she was 90 years old, and she knew the Lord. And she knows now what she did that lasted forever and what she did that didn't matter forever. And it's a sobering moment for us to come to a moment of reckoning, to understand that we all someday will face God for our actions. For the Christian, we will face God not to get into heaven, but did what we invest in, in our lives matter for eternity or not? And for the believer it's, I now have to pay for eternity for the sins that Jesus died for and I could have asked His forgiveness for, but I didn't. We need to have our eye on eternity, or we may aimlessly live life in such a way that what we do will not matter in eternity. It will matter, but it will matter in ways that we may not have planned.
1 Thessalonian 5, let me read for us 11 verses, unpack them, and let's see if maybe we can do something about what God tells us this morning before we leave and as we leave. "About the times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you don't need anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. When they say peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you brothers and sisters are not in the dark, for this day to surprise you like a thief, for you are all children of light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. So then, let us not sleep like the rest, but let us stay awake and be self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled and put on the armor of faith and love and a helmet of the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing."
I want to add that my intentions of going through this letter was more to talk about the encouragement, but it was to talk about the totality of that encouragement and how to encourage one another. It is not to join the chorus of people that are all talking about end times. We're talking about in times because oh, that happens to be the next chapter that we're talking about. And so, that's kind of want to make sure you're aware of that, that we need to listen to all of what God has to say, and so this happens to be the next in line of what we need to hear. 1 Thessalonian 5, Paul talks about the times and seasons, about the epics or the chronologically and the chiros, the seasons or the way in which things are going to happen; about the sequence of events and the events that actually will happen, I don't need to talk to you about.
Now, did Paul already talk to them about this or did he get wind that somebody had taught them more carefully about the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ? We don't know that for certain, but it seems that Paul is just reemphasizing what they already know. And I would say that in this room; there are people here, we know Jesus is coming again. I'm just reemphasizing what you already know and kind of filling in the gaps a little bit on some things that might be a little fuzzy or you might have possibly forgotten.
We're not here to put a circle on the calendar and say, this is when it's going to happen. We want to listen to Matthew 24:36, where Jesus said, "I's not for you to know the times or days." Acts 1, "The father knows that. I'm not here to tell you. I don't know. It's the father's business when I come again, but you will be my witnesses. You're going to keep on doing what I've asked you to do until it comes. He's coming, I'm coming, but we're not putting it on the calendar." I don't need to write you about this, you already know this, Paul is saying. And I might say the same to this church today.
Verse 2-3nd three, the day of the Lord will come. The day of the Lord will come. This day of the Lord; the Old Testament would talk about this day of the Lord is the day of wrath, the day of judgment, the day of reckoning, the day when all will be made right, and all the wrong will be dealt with. When I walk with victims of deep tragedy in our city and in our community right here in this church family, there is no interest of mine ever to see someone face eternity without Jesus. I just don't want that. In fact, that passage, I look all the time; I'm not really excited about the return of Christ coming like today, as much as I also know there's a lot of people that will miss heaven if He came today, and that grieves me.
I still have loved ones that refuse to trust in Jesus. I want them to know Jesus before Jesus comes again. I am looking forward to Him coming, I embrace the moment He decides to come; I'm not in charge of time, so when He comes, it'll be the right time. And I'm not arguing with God about that. That's not what I mean. I'm just saying that I'm excited to be there, but I'm also excited for there be a waiting period for a few more people to get in and to find the forgiveness and love and to live for Christ in ways that would bless them and bless others and be honorable to God. That's my prayer. But I also am going to say this; there are some wrongs that will be righted that on this side of eternity have never been righted by a jury of 12 or a judge that ought to have been righted. Justice will prevail.
And my eye is not on the judges and juries of our land, although I'm grateful for them. My eye is on the one who will make all things right. And that day of the Lord, for those that don't know Jesus, it ought to be a day of terror and of sadness. But for those who are believers in Him, our whole trust is in what God has been doing, is doing and will do for eternity. The day of the Lord will come. In the New Testament, it is announced in Acts 17, that Jesus is the Lord of the Lord of the day of the Lord. He's the one in charge of that, and He is the one who will judge. He even said in his own teachings as is recorded in scripture, that there'll be a separation of the sheep and the goats; those who trusted in Christ and those who did not trust in Him. There'll be a day of pulling the weeds from the wheat, the wheat and the tears. This is a common conversation that the New Testament fleshes out in the fact that Jesus will be overseeing this moment. And what is this day like? It's like a thief in the night.
Tucker! Ann and Tucker up front here, newly-weds. Not quite, but yeah, it's good. Isn't it awesome to be newly-wed? Isn't it awesome? By the way, I'm coming to your house. I'm free Thursday and I'm going to steal from your house. You have things - I saw your registry. I've been married 29 years, some of our stuff is worn out and I'd like to trade. So I'm not even bringing my stuff to you because you'd have to have a garage sale. I'm just going to take your stuff. Is that okay? I mean, I'm just letting you know I'm coming and I'm going to steal from you. So, I don't know what you're going to do about it, but I'm coming.
Does a thief do that? No. A thief comes when you think not because now Tucker is saying, "I'm going to prepare for this. I'm double locking the door. I'm buying a Doberman." He might buy a gun. I don't know what he's going to do, but I now know that I probably wouldn't... he'd be the last person I would go to. In fact, everybody in the room knows I'm free on Thursday. You're all shoring up your houses now because Tucker knows I'm coming, but Bob doesn't know I'm coming - whatever. Anyway, so a thief doesn't do that. Nor will Jesus say, "Oh, by the way, on Thursday I'll be here." He comes like a thief in the night. In a moment that you think not, it will be a surprise to those that don't know Jesus. It will be unexpected.
"There are people that are saying peace and security. It's okay, don't worry. For centuries He hasn't come back." These same naysayers had cousins and uncles that were saying, Jesus is not the Messiah that was proclaimed in the Old Testament. They had cousins that sat there on the day He was crucified and say, "If he's the savior of the world, why don't you get yourself off that cross?" And they were mocking him. And three days later He rose from the dead. One of the most identifiably provable historical facts in the world history happened. It split time in half AD, BC. It so rules our lives. Even people who don't trust in God are ruled by the rhythm of the fact that Jesus came, died and rose again; even if they don't believe it. And that fact, as fact and true as it was, as true as he ascended into heaven and the angel said he is coming again - He's coming again. He's going to come. And there will be people that will be saying, there's no way.
You can do whatever you want. You can ignore God in his rules. You can do anything. Do what you feel like doing instead of what God says to do, because it's okay, you're safe. You just need to join the right crowd of people so that you won't feel guilty about it. And they will be destroyed, it says. Sudden destruction will come upon them. As certain as birth when a woman goes into labor, he says like a woman in labor pains. We scheduled three of our kids. I mean, God did, but the doctor said we're going to make it kind of happen with drugs and medicine. It was wonderful. I could clear my calendar and I took my vacation days, and I just was relaxing to me.
Now you know how to pray for your pastor's wife that she gets a better husband. But our last one... was our last one? Came like - Jannie decided to come when she wanted to come and I got a phone call, like many of you did. How many got the phone call? I'm in labor. How many of you are like; "Whoa!"? And then suddenly everything changed. You can't stop it. Well, could we like wait till Thursday because I got some appointments today? No. Like, can I go unpack real quick? No. Once that begins, you can't stop it. Paul is saying just like a woman going into labor, you're not going to stop this; there's no second chances. There's no going back and saying, "Oh, B, B, B, wait, wait, wait. I was going to go and follow you Jesus." No, no, no, it's over.
Your opportunity to make a decision is before the day of the Lord, not the day of the Lord. But then Paul says, "But you're not in the dark believers, brothers and sisters." He's talking to the Christian. We're not going to be surprised when Christ returns. We'll be pleasantly... I think I'll be pleasantly surprised. I've been with two or three, maybe four people that were facing imminent death from this world and transition into eternity. And some over the last years or two of their life would just wonder how they could ever have received the grace of God and the forgiveness of their sins; my friend John, was that way. He was so in love with Jesus. I'd show up and he'd just honoring God with his life and praying for people. And he would use that prayer room when he was alive in our great room. There's a side room, it's a prayer room, and he was just praying to God.
And he tried to live his life for God and we'd joke around and stuff, and I'd be like, "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be more spiritual. Thank you, John, for reminding me of that." And yet even he would say, "I can't believe I get to go to heaven to be with Jesus. I'm a sinner. I've sinned. I don't deserve this. Why did you die for me, Jesus?" And he just would weep over that. He said, "How in the world Jesus, would me?" And I'm like, you? If you're struggling to figure it out, what about all of us that aren't as spiritual as you are? And even so, he knew he wasn't in the dark. He knew Jesus was coming again. And I know that when he met Jesus, he was pleasantly surprised to know what he believed in was true. "But you are not in the dark," Paul says. We live in the daylight. We are fully aware, but even as we are fully aware, he reminds us to stay awake and be self-controlled in verse six. "So then let us not sleep like the rest, but let us stay awake and be self-controlled."
There are times when we could oftentimes slow our lives down or do our lives according to the rhythm of the world instead of God's kingdom. Augustine in the first century wrote to the church, this book called City of God. And that city of God talks about the fact that we have a kingdom citizenship. We live in a kingdom of God as a Christian, but we also have a citizenship on earth. And our citizenship on earth ought to be affected by our citizenship in heaven and not the other way around. That how we live our lives, ought to be set to the temple of God and His word, and the power of the Holy Spirit within us; not the temple of the world. It has been said that if you went to New York City right now, and we're deposited there as a tourist, you would start walking faster because it is the fastest walking city in the world.
We went on mission trips there, and a few people can testify that their feet were about worn out when we got done. Amen. Few of you? Yeah, where's that bus and subway? I'm ready to stop walking. Fast-paced - you literally change your gate, your walking pace just by walking into that city. You don't change the city. That city changes you. And that's the way it ought to be for Christian; that our citizenship in heaven ought to change the pace of our life. And how do we do that? Well, Paul gives us some ideas. Don't sleep. Don't ignore the fact that Jesus is coming. Let's keep that in mind and not consume us to the point of like, I'm not... again, we don't know when hasn't come back yet. A few generations have passed obviously, and so still keep your life insurance, still get on that retirement plan. That 401k is going to be more helpful if He doesn't come back than if you thought he came back, let's not worry about it and He doesn't.
I mean, keep your job. Don't give all your furniture away, just live life, do what you're supposed to be doing and be excited when he comes the moment he comes, but let's be self-controlled. He says this twice, be self-controlled, really to remain sober, to remain in control of the way we act and live our lives; to be in control of our minds, our bodies, our attitudes, our actions. And how do we do this? He says, put on the armor, the armor of faith and love. This is in reference; He also talks about this in Ephesians. He fleshes this out a little more carefully in Ephesians talking about the armor, put on the full armor of God. And there are some things about the armor of God that we see that we can extrapolate.
Well, there's the breast plate and there's the different places of our body. And we know that it's a frontal armor. It's not behind us, so we're always moving forward in our life. We're not retreating backwards. We can talk about all that. But Paul doesn't seem to give us a lot of clues about it, and I think it probably not do justice to read too far into the analogies of the particular things he's saying here, but enough to say that we need to put on the armor. That is, our faith must affect every area of our life.
You need to take your faith to work with you. You need to take your faith to school with you. You need to take your faith to your neighborhood. You need to have a confidence in Jesus Christ, wherever you go. You need to have a confidence that you're trusting in him to direct your life, instead of letting the world direct your life. Instead of letting your attitude and actions or your flesh direct your life. Our Christ-like love; we must have the armor of love, unconditional favor of love, defining how we relate to other people and how we take care of ourselves. We need to look in the mirror and say, "I am loved by the Lord. Jesus Christ. I am a new creation in Christ. God loves me. And I should love me too." And I don't mean that in a self-service way, but some people, they don't love themselves. They hate themselves. They see themselves in a mirror the way God does is see them.
And you need to remember, that armor of love says that God loves you. And you must also love who God made in you and God is working a work in you. And then you must express that love in your relationships with other people. It must prevail among your family members. It must prevail in your neighborhood. It must prevail wherever you go; not just on Sunday morning, not just during connection groups, but all the time that you live your life. And put on the helmet of hope. Now, I'm going to go just a moment there. He does mention one particular piece of armor; he uses the word helmet. So I'm going to violate what I just said just a little bit, but this might be me, not the scripture, but let me say it. The helmet of hope; the helmet covers the head, right? And hope is something.... I mean, can you get through something if you have hope that there's a better ending at the end?
There was a study done. I was a psychology major in Ball State, and I was reading about this. All these students would come in, it's probably students that did this, and they had a bucket of ice water. And the goal was that they would put somebody in a chair and they put their bare feet in ice water and say I'd like for you to keep it in the water as long as possible. And they'd time them. Well, the first group they would bring in and they would just let them sit there, and they'd time them - time. And then the next group would come in, and every few moments they'd say, "You're doing okay there?" "Yeah, I'm doing okay there," and they'd time them. And then the next group would come in and put their feet in the water and there'd be people around them. "All right, you got this, come on, let's go a little bit more. Just keep a little bit more." And they would root them on. And there was different varying degrees of encouragement who lasted the longest? The people with hope. The people said, "Oh, we got someone around me encouraging me, get me going here. I'm going to get through this."
They suddenly had a goal in mind. They suddenly knew where they were... "Oh, I'm going to keep doing this." And especially if you said, "You know that last group didn't last very long. I bet you could last longer." Ooh, now I have a goal - and a little competition in there. It's human nature to give up sometimes. Not everybody has an internal hope clock. But if you've got Jesus, you've got hope. Your eyes on eternity; you know that whatever you do lasts forever that lasts forever, and whatever you're doing that doesn't - doesn't, and so you accordingly live your life and you have a hope and our hope must supersede our feelings because there are times when we doubt. There are times when we get down and our feelings betray us. We must trust facts, not feelings. But I feel like this. I feel like that. What does the Bible say? "Well, I don't know what the Bible says. I feel this way." Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Feelings are valid when they validate what the scriptures say and feelings are not valid when they don't. We trust what God says above how we feel.
You will be on a rollercoaster the rest of your life if your goal is to feel God, and to feel right. You will feel right often, maybe. I don't know. You may not. But are you living right according to the facts of scripture? Let your feelings catch up to the facts. Don't feel yourself towards facts because often our feelings will take us to things that are not factual. We trust the facts of faith in Christ who died for us. It's a statement of faith. It is a doctrinal statement. It is a statement that Paul mentions throughout. He doesn't flush it out in this particular passage, but it says He died for us, He died in our place. It is a statement of truth that we put our trust in that we don't have to pay for our sins. They're paid for. We don't have to wonder if we get into heaven. We are in heaven. We have a relationship with God. Our faith is in Jesus Christ, who is our anchor. On the other side of that veil, in Hebrews it talks about, he went through there to the holy of holies and he interceded on us. And he paid that all ultimate price once for all. And we put our faith in hope in that; not only we think are hope or not in what we feel about that.
And then he says, "We may live together with Him." In other words, our fellowship with Jesus will be with Him. And it said earlier in chapter four, that personal time with Him and those who've gone before us, as they're raised up and we are raised up and we join him together, we will never be separated from Jesus Christ. That's our hope. And so therefore Paul says, encourage one another and build one another up. Christ followers must help one another until Jesus comes again.
That that's why I always say - even yesterday I did a graveside service for somebody else; this was on Friday. And we're praying for Tien and her family and Mike for their mother's home-going Memorial tomorrow. And but I said, I said, you know where you find comfort in all this? You find comfort in a faith family. And I told them, non-partial [unclear30:44], one in town. I like one particularly, mine. And I hope you all come, but go somewhere. Be a part of something. You need a faith fellowship. You need people to encourage each other. And so well, we do this in our own home by ourselves. You need other family members. You need other people. Some of the best marriage counseling does not happen in my study. It happens in a small group when other couples get together and say, oh, you do the same. You have the same stuff we go, you have the same problems we have. Parenting gets better when you have other parents around you.
Being a single adult, you got the same struggles I've got; I got the same struggles here. We need one another. We need to encourage each other and build each other up. You can do this. Let's go! Friday night lights has started. And most of the teams, if not all the teams have practiced so hard and they're ready to go. And some of them they're still getting ironing out the details, but they have their plays down pat in their heads and they've got them on their arms and they're running the plays. And last Friday night was a day of reckoning for those teams to say who was more prepared than the others. But before the game, they probably had a pep talk in the locker room and they got around each other. And the coach said, "You're going to do this and we're going to do that." And he reminded him what he told him all season long, so far. And then you'd see some of the teams, if they were really united and he'd see them, the guys would be doing this thing, right.
And they started woohoo, and then all a sudden the stands are going, "Hey, where's my popcorn or whatever?" We're just there to watch a good game, right? And then they're all just Woohoo, and they go, whoa, and they're ready to go, and they break the huddle and they're ready to play the game while they do it together as a team, and they get stronger together. And I know our particular team at the last third quarter, they all come together. This last one, this is the last quarter, and let's all make this happen. It's rally cry, because they're in this together. They're not just a bunch of individuals. We're a team and we need one another. We need to show up for practice, working out each other's, and helping each other, growing our faith.
We need to be with each other on Sundays. We need to be with each other in rhythm during the week and in groups and do what we can. We need to be helping one another. We need me texting one another and helping each other, asking each other how they're doing. I need you to get in my face sometimes and tell me to get over it.
Even I, I'm still growing in my faith. I was going through something really tough. And last week somebody walked into my office and they said, "How you doing?" I says, "I'm having a cruddy week," and I let him have it. No, I told them what was going on. And he just walked with me and he encouraged me. And there were some things I was thinking, he says, "It's going to be fine. This will work out. Oh, that's not going to happen." You know the “what if” game that you lose every time you think it? And he was just there encouraging me. I needed that. So I need that, you need that; we all need that to be encouraged together.
So my final thought this morning is wake up, wake up. There are two kinds of people in this room right now. There's was a timeline on this stage and this meant I put my faith in Jesus Christ. It was my spiritual birthday. I trusted in Jesus as my savior and Lord, I said, Jesus, forgive me for my sins. I believe you died and rose again, come into my life and be in charge of my life. I now want to walk with you. If this is that, then there's people on this side that have not yet done that. They have not yet put their faith in Jesus. They may be close to it. They may be thinking about it. They may want to do it, but they haven't. They may be so far away from God. And that's not the case, but sometimes that's the case where someone says, "I hate Jesus. I want nothing to do with him. I can't stand him. I don't believe in him." There's other people; "Well, I'm courteous. You know, He might be real. And I know people that believe he is, so I'm respectful of that.
And then you got people that are, I want to know more and people that are just within moments of trusting in Jesus, but they're still on this side and the day of the Lord will not be a good day for them. It's a day of wrath. It's a day of reckoning. It's a day of paying for the consequences of not trusting in Jesus. But then there's those that have put their faith in Jesus, and they're on this side of the line. They may be a baby Christian, they may be brand new, they may have just put their faith in Jesus, they may have put their faith in Jesus a while back, and they never really grew a whole lot. And they're still just sort of sucking their thumb spiritually.
But they're on this side of heaven. They're on this side of trusting in Jesus. They've put their faith in Jesus and they, and you and I, and I would put myself in that category - can be confident that he who began good work in you will be faithful to complete it to the day of Christ Jesus. And I know whom I believe, and I'm convinced that he is able to guard what I've entrusted to him for that day. I'm trusting, not in me, but in Him, the one who saved me. And that day of the Lord will be, yes, a surprise, but it will not be a bad surprise. It will be a pleasant surprise. When all is said and done, I will be with Jesus forever.
And those of us that have trusted him are here. So my word to us as believers in Jesus; let's stay awake, let's stay alert. Let's stay sober. Let's stay right. Let's keep moving towards. Let's encourage one another. Let's live in the day and not in the night. And for those that are still living in the darkness, they're still not trusting in Jesus; my prayer this morning is that today would be the day of your salvation. Today you would put your trust in Him. Let's just stand to our feet right now, quietly and reverently as our team comes forward.
I just like to say a prayer out loud this morning. I don't do this all the time, but this morning I'd like to do this. Maybe this would be your prayer that you want to put your faith in Jesus. How do I do that, Pastor? Let me just lead you right now in a private prayer. You just pray to God as I pray with you this morning, just say to God right now, just in your heart of hearts. "Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you." Just tell him that in your heart of hearts, I believe you died on the cross and came back to life three days later. Just tell him that trust in him. Say I trust in what you did for me. Jesus, as best I know how I give you my life to do with as you please. I ask that you forgive me for all of my sins, everything I'm ever done; will you make me clean? Help me, Jesus.
And then just say, "Jesus, whatever you want me to do next, I'm willing to do. I'm trusting in you all the way." I don't know how you pray in your own prayer time with God, and maybe that's the word you've used in the past. But however, just get right with God. Get serious with God. The Bible says that those who confess Jesus openly and publicly are the ones that he will confess before the father. And the ones that refuse to confess Jesus publicly; He has no ability to confess you before the father. Why would you ever declare someone what they have never declared themselves to be? And so this morning, I want to invite you to take a connection card and put on it, "I've put my faith in Jesus. I've trusted in Jesus." Maybe come down and maybe we can talk about that this morning. I could chat with you up here in the front before you leave today.
Go to the back, Jerry, and Becky will be back there just to pray with you and encourage you. If you have questions you say, "Man, I think I want to do this, but I need to know where information." Please, no question is a silly question. The day of the Lord is coming, are you prepared? And if you're prepared, are you staying awake? Lord help us to honor you in whatever way you've called us to move forward in our faith today, in Jesus name.
Jesus Is Coming Again!
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
August 14, 2022
We believe in the real and personal return of Jesus Christ
-read belief statement
Why does this matter?
-they thought their loved ones had missed out on Christ’s return!
-we must all consider our appointment with death
-some people avoid talking about death (fear, distracted)
-death to some is popular, a way to escape
(possibly in pain, lacking proper information)
-The Bible says Jesus is coming again
-We must trust the whole Bible, or none of the Bible!
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
We do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope
-Christ followers have real hope!
-We follow someone who solved our greatest problem: death!
-1 John 5:11-13 …you may KNOW that you have eternal life
-Yes Christians grieve over death, but with HOPE!
Jesus died and rose again, and so will we!
-John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life…”
What believers experience when they die:
Jesus is coming back!
-This can happen at any time!
-Paul and the Thessalonians anticipated Christ’s return
-Acts 1:7 Jesus tells us not to worry about when
Paul tells us how (vs 16-17)
-The Lord will personally come down
-This will be noisy!
-A shout- a cry, command, announcement
-Archangel’s voice- Mark 8:38
-Trumpet of God- no one will miss this event!!
-The dead will rise first to join Jesus
-No description of how, nature of bodies,
-We who are alive will (also) be “caught up”
-Same word in Acts 8:39; 2 Cor 12:2-4
-Happens along with resurrected dead
-We meet Jesus in the clouds- Mark 13:26; Acts 1:11
-This is where we get the belief in the Rapture
-1 Thes 4:15-17 does not offer a clear timeline
-differing beliefs on the timing of the rapture come from
Multiple verses in the Bible
-Our church believes in the second coming of Christ and the
Rapture of His church, we agree to disagree on exactly
when this occurs in relation to the final judgment of the world
-see our Belief Statement about Last Things
We will always be with the Lord
-Our reunion with Jesus physically is forever!
Jesus is coming again!
Therefore encourage one another with these words
-Every believer should be encouraged by this promise!
-Every unbeliever CAN be encouraged: trust Jesus now!
-1 John 5:11-13
St Joe Community Church
Belief Statement about Last Things
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13.
1 Thessalonian 4, Jesus is coming again. Amen. He's coming again. As much as He came, as true as He came to this earth, as true as He died and rose again, as true as He ascended into heaven and people saw Him do that. A multitude of people saw this happen. He's coming again. The Bible is as true about His coming the first time as it is about His coming again that we've not yet known. The Old Testament was full of prophecy that said He was coming. He's coming, He's coming, He's coming. The God of the Old Testament, the same God of the New Testament; there's no difference, no change. The message isn't different. He operated in different ways and seasons, but God was the same when He started in Genesis, all the way when He said, Hey, there's something going to happen. And you can read there for yourself that He predicted. And then all the way through the prophets and all the way through the journey of the Israelite nation, as it foreshadowed the coming of Jesus Christ, that He would die and rise again.
And He did, He came, He died, He rose again, and He was sending into heaven. And just as He said that He is coming again, a second coming, we believe that as a church family. In fact, let me read for us the statement of faith that we all signed that says, this is what we believe about the end times. Last things is sometimes how it's said in doctrinal statements. And there are many scripture verses, and you can find this online. And if you go online to my Bible sermon notes, you'll find it at the end of my sermon notes this morning as well. God in His own time and in His own way will bring the world to its appropriate end.
There's going to be a final moment. I don't know when that is, but it's going to happen. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth. The dead will be raised and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to hell, the place of everlasting punishment. And the righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in heaven with the Lord. Multiple verses attest to that doctrinal statement. And yet - let's just make sure that we know that's a human statement about Bible truths. It is a finite statement. It's something that will pass away, but God's word will never pass away. But it's a way for us to encapsulate multiple verses in scripture for us to come together and say, we're united on this. We're not united on anything other than this, in other words; we're united on this.
And we together believe and agree together on this, where we disagree or we add to, or we say, well, I think there's another series of things that we may have different convictions and there are in this room, but we agree to disagree agreeably -we have the liberty to do that. But in all our beliefs, whether it is this true belief, this doctrinal statement that we all as members believe, or the things that we agree to disagree on, exactly how it's going to happen and eschatology stories of different systems of thought about how that's going to happen. We all operate out of love for one another because we can believe the exact right things and not have any love and it doesn't really matter.
And so this morning, I want to open up for us a passes of scripture that it's not mysterious, but it's a mystery. It's not something that is sort of this fantastical thing that I can't even understand it. We can't because it is otherworldly and the way it's described. And yet, wasn't the resurrection and other worldly thing. Isn't the coming of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, the God man, isn't that another worldly thing? And so too is this topic this morning.
Now, I'm just going to be honest. I had a lot of things on my plate this past week, a lot of things that were going on a lot of moving parts; things that were already scheduled well in advance, a bunch of things thrown in on top of that, and then a bunch of things thrown in on top of that. How many can relate? That's the kind of week you might've had. I'm just flat tired, and on Friday I'm going... I'm staring at this passage, I looked at it, I kind of studied a little bit about it, and I've read this and I was reading all the theologians and I'm trying to go back and get my commentaries. And I'm trying to put together, God, what do you want me to say? And there's this block party coming up. And I thought, you know what? I'm just going to pull out something that's real easy to preach on. I mean, I'm going to... Thank you, Darrell. There's nothing easy to preach on, but there's easier topics. Yeah. Topics I really love to talk about and that's why you let the Bible tell you what to teach, not just your feelings. And I was just going to say, well, I'll just push this off. Not skip it, but I'll do it another Sunday. And I know that Bill's wife Lynette, would've said, "That's going to mess up my journaling. Don't do that." See, she's got her journal down here. I knew. Testify!
And so, I'm staying on schedule and said, you know what? So I buckled down and I'm so grateful I did. And then this morning somebody came up said, man, I'm so glad you did that. And I feel so inadequate sometimes when I'm coming all the time, so many times - God, you've got to just speak through me. And He spoke this morning and it was confirmation that in spite of all of the midnight oil and the things that I was doing to get ready for this, God is in charge of this. And He was in charge of the time schedule. And if you're here today, you are here on the timing schedule of God, not mine. I was gone a couple of Sundays this summer, as somebody who thought you were going to get a new pastor. I don't know. So I was gone so often, somebody's going to put a for sale sign in my front yard. I mean, so I have pushed this off. This is the Sunday when this sermon comes, and it's, God's timing, not mine. And here we are, about the perfect timing of Jesus' return, whenever that is. And isn't this something that people are talking about.
For some, the Christians are like, "Oh, I'm just waiting for Jesus to return. I'm done with this world." How many kind of sometimes are that way? How many of you are tired of dealing with the sin in your life? And you're like, "I'm done. I'm ready for Jesus to come back." That's more me than about the times and the epics of what's going on. Some people are really into a timeline and they say, this is how it is. I always use that wall as if somebody someday, maybe they did have a timeline there maybe. I don't know, I'll go over here. And they have this whole timing of how the events are going to happen in the current geopolitical scheme of things and there's wars going on. And it's horrible. We need to keep praying for Ukraine. We need to keep praying for Taiwan, and we need to keep praying for these hotspots in the world. We need to keep praying for the church in the Middle East, where Christians are being martyred on a regular basis for their faith in Jesus. We need to pray for the church in China that is thriving under great persecution. And we need to pray for the church in America that is not thriving under great freedom to share our faith. Did you hear me? Sometimes freedom isn't always free spiritually. It's a cost.
This topic matters. We need to believe and trust in and look forward to the return of Christ because first of all, the Bible says, so it's going to happen. Now in this particular passage, it seems as though Paul was answering a question that was being asked of the church. They're like, "Hey, we've had some loved ones died. Did they miss Jesus? Because He said He is coming back." They assumed He was coming back. And because they so assumed it was so real to them that He was coming back, that the fact that He was coming back and their loved ones had died before He came back, it was a mystery to them. Are they going to miss it? Is that's it, they're dead and gone and what's going to happen to them? And Paul's trying to answer that for them.
This is in their temper in their first century moment in life, this letter was written to answer a question, but it's also an answer to a question to bring us hope in our circumstances because we must all consider our appointment with death. I jokingly said yesterday, Fair Haven Funeral Home sponsored us. We're going to have them come by, try out the hearse, go inside, sit down in it, lay in it, see if you like it. I mean, just like the show and tell at the police station; how many would've done that? Anybody here morbid enough to do that? Jean would've done it. All right, and we would've taken tons of pictures and said she is nuts. But we do have a picture of one of our elders laying in a hearse. I'm just going to tell you, I haven't shown it to his wife yet. No, we put it online, she said, look at this. And some guy had a used hearse that he... anyway, that's a whole nother story. And he looked pretty comfortable in there.
But we don't want to think about death. We pop into Walmart, we pop into the gas station. We pop into this or that. We pop to see a friend. How many of you pop into the funeral home? We don't. I just pop in. Now, I do. I'm morbid. I have friends over there. They work the funeral home. I was like, "Hey Mark, how's it going? Hey Britain!" I'm good friends with the four guys that own Fair Haven, and so I'll stop in just to say hi, Hey, let's go to lunch. I mean, you know, that sounds very, very sacrilegious, doesn't it? But you know what, it's part of life. But most of you are saying, "No, I don't normally do that." I make a plan to be at the funeral home because I have to think about what, death. And as someone who has lived more years than he is going to, I agree with you. I don't always want to think about that, but we got to. The Bible says in Ecclesiastic 7:2, "It's better to go to the house of mourning than it is to go the house of feasting."
Because if we're just having a party all the time, we're going to get to the end of our life, and did we live it the way God intended for us to? Did we fulfill the plans that He had for us? Did we do what He called us to do while He had us on His earth? Because once we're gone, we can't. We got to live it to the fullest, and not just eat, sleep and for tomorrow we may die; eat, sleep, go to party - party with a purpose. The block party, do the fun things in life with purpose. I'm not saying not have fun. I'm a fun guy. You all are a bunch of bullies. Tell you, that's just not right. I think I am, but I like to have fun. But man, if you just live your life, having fun all the time and you forget, what's really important, you're going to miss a lot of stuff. In a flash, my daughter's a senior, the last one. In a flash I take my daughter to go start her junior year this week at Purdue. In a flash, two kids are married. In a flash, it's gone in a moment. What are you doing with the moment you got? We got to think about the end times because how we end matters as much - it has to do with how we live right now.
And quite frankly, the Bible says He's coming again, so if we believe the Bible to save us from our sins, if we believe the Bible that Jesus died to pay for our sins on the cross, if we believe that He died and rose again, a fabulous story, an incredible story, a miraculous story. If we believe that we got to also believe what the Bible says about His return. He's coming again. He's coming again. And if a church doesn't believe that, if you don't believe that you're saying, I believe part of the Bible, not all the Bible. I'm saying, if you don't believe some of the Bible, you can't believe any of the Bible; it all stands or falls on itself. If something's not true, then God's a liar. Why would we trust God if He lied here and He didn't lie over there? That's a shifty guy to me, I wouldn't trust Him.
I trust Him to be true, and even if we don't understand it, even if we stare at it and go, what is that all about? We have to believe it as a fact, as much as we believe anything else that the Bible says. So let's read 1 Thessalonians 4:13, "We do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters concerning those who are asleep so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For we say this to you by a word from the Lord. We who are still alive at the Lord's coming, will certainly not proceed those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from the heaven with a shout, with the archangel's voice and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are still 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."
What is Paul saying here in this brief passage that is concise, it's not all inclusive, it doesn't give every detail, but it gives a lot of detail. First of all, we do not grieve like the rest who have no hope. Every time that I'm giving a funeral for a person who knows Jesus, who's gone home, they have gone home to be with the Lord. And while there's grieving, there's always going to be grieving when someone dies. Maybe not as much for some than others in terms of, I feel comfortable with where they're going. An elderly person that passes away, maybe they've been struggling, whether they be younger or old, they've been struggling with a debilitating illness. Or my grandma, I didn't weep uncontrollably at her death. I had an uncontrollable sorrowful moment when I realized she had so much dementia she didn't remember me. That's when I said goodbye to my grandmother. And so, I was not happy when she went home to the Lord, but I was grateful that she was no longer in the prison of a body that was no longer functioning the way she functioned when I knew her as my grandma.
We're going to grieve. We're going to be sad. That's normal. But we don't grieve like people who say that person I'll never see again. We're going to see him again. I say, see you later. How many have lost a loved one in heaven? You lost them in heaven, really? They're lost. I just absolutely tricked you just now. No one is lost if they're in Jesus. They're found in Jesus and they're forever with Jesus. And somebody asked me, you didn't get into the idea of where they're at before this all happens in this passage. No, I'm not going to. Well, we can talk later about that, but it says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Whatever that means, I don't know. We're not on pause, somehow we're with God, but in some other sense, we are. And there's conversation about that, but the quickest answer is, we're with Jesus when we go to heaven or when we die, but this is something that will definitely happen at a moment that we think not. Jesus died and rose again and so will we.
What does it say in verse 14, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again," and that if could also be a sense we believe, or in other words, of course you believe that Jesus died and rose again. Well, in the same way through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. We will rise again too. When we baptize people in our church, they are baptized, buried in the lightness of Christ, raised to walk a newness of life. We baptized by immersion by simple fact that the word baptism means immersion, but it's a word picture of a death, burial of resurrection. It's a symbolic gesture that I am buried with Christ raised to walk with Christ. Someday I will be buried if I die before He comes again and I'll be raised up just as Christ was raised from the grave. We symbolize that in baptism. We talk about that as a body of Christ. We are resurrected spiritually into a new kind of a person. We're transformed into the kind of person that God intended for us to be when we become a Christian. But there'll be someday when our body will catch up with what's happened already, spiritually inside.
You know when believers die they experience a freedom, a relief from the temptations, a relief from this earthly body. They receive fellowship with Jesus and all the other believers. And there was a man that died that he spoke to our church two different times. I went to see him just before he died at the age of 33 years old, I believe it was. And he's on he's deathbed, and I just had a few moments with him, me and somebody else. And he said, "You know, a lot of people want to go home to be with Jesus; a lot of times everybody said, 'oh, I want to go be with grandma and grandpa. I want to go be with mom and dad that died already. I want to be with my child that died.'" And certainly, I can't even imagine in those experiences what you might feel like, but you know what he said? He says, I'm telling you what; I want to meet personally the one who died for my sins. I want to personally say hi and thank you and follow at His feet and worship the one who bled and died for me. That's who I'm looking forward to seeing in heaven. I'm looking forward to seeing grandma, but I want to see Jesus. He is the king of Kings and He's the Lord of Lords, and He is the most important person in heaven that I ever want to see. And I'll see the others too, but it's because I see Him that I get to see them. Yes, because we all trusted in Him. He's our hope.
He's the resurrection in the life. That's what He said in John 11, "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will never die." Do you believe this Martha? He's about ready to raise Lazarus, and Jesus, almost like he's asking you, do you believe this? He raised Lazarus. You know, that was such a miracle, that Lazarus came back from death. In that same time period, not only are they trying to kill Jesus, but because Lazarus was a testimony to the power of the resurrection in Jesus Christ, they put a death warrant out for him as well. Let's see if we can kill Lazarus too. There's no indication that I can find in history that they followed through with that. But they were like, he is evidence that Jesus is somebody that is taking our power away from us, and we got to erase the evidence of his power.
This Jesus is the one who has life and death in His hands. Verse 15 kind of describes how He's coming back. Jesus is coming back. He's coming again. Acts 1:9-11 tells us that He had ascended into heaven, all this crowd saw Him; they're gazing up into heaven. Okay, he's gone now, what do we do? He had told them what to do, but they're just standing there. And it's like you got your orientation for your job, and then you're just looking at your boss and your boss's like, "Now go, go do what I said to do." This is kind of the church looking at this fabulous thing of Jesus going up into heaven. And while He was going, they were gazing into heaven and suddenly two men and white clothes stood by them. And they said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven?’" The same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven. He's coming back. They knew that from the very beginning.
And in fact, Acts 1:7, they were saying, 'When you're coming back? When's this going to happen?" And Jesus even said, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the father has set by His own authority." I'm not here to tell you how it's going to happen. And by the way, if Jesus didn't come to tell you how it's going to happen, this pastor not going to tell you how it's going to happen either. I can give you some ideas. I can point you some scriptures, but it's going to happen. That's what I can point to for sure that He's coming back and we must be ready.
Are you going to be ready if He came in a moment? Would you go to heaven or hell? In your trust right now where you're at - I'm not here to put anybody in stark fear, but you need a spiritual reality check is, have you put your faith in the one who can give you eternal life? Have you trusted in the one who, if He came in a moment, He would take you home to be with himself forever? Or are you still waffling, wavering or rejecting? So Paul tells us a little bit how verse 16 and following, and let me just break it down. He's going to come personally. He's coming down. It's him. It's not some mystical mist, you know. And people can have apparitions and ideas and mystical things that they've seen. There's a farmer in Iowa that probably had crop circles that he didn't see the teenagers go in and do that.
I don't know if it's true or not. I don't know. I don't have to believe in crop circles to believe in Jesus and have a life and hope. That might or may not have happened. UFOs - anybody seen something weird? Don't raise your hand. That you're like, I can't explain it. I've seen a few things; I can't explain it, but my faith is not based on that mysticism that I don't know. My faith is based on truth that I do know. And my hope is based on that. Not on something that somebody's told me that they might have thought of that they saw. And again, I'm not here to clarify it or disagree with that person. I'm just saying, I trust in what I know is true, and that is that He's coming again personally.
Oh, and it says here it's going to be pretty noisy; a shout, a cry, a command, an announcement, the archangel's voice. This is also referred to in Mark 8:38, the trumpet of God. Great instrument. We played trumpet in Ball State together; my wife and I did too. That's a great instrument, right. And God's going to blow His clarinet. I'm sorry for any clarinet people. No, He didn't say that. He said trumpet. I'm sorry. His bass guitar, maybe. No, trumpet. Anyway, now I'm stepping on everybody's toes this morning. But it's going to be loud. This is going to be noticeable. Now for the flat air society, they're like, "Yeah, He is going to come one spot where I going to see it." I don't know how He is going to do it globally. I don't know. I don't know how it's going to happen, but it's going to happen. And we're going to know that it happens. We're not going to miss it. Pull a prank on your friend, go to their door tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM and bang on it, "Hey, the rapture happened and we missed it." Don't do it.
Well, I know where I'm going, I don't know about you. We're just fine anyway. That actually happened to somebody and it was weird, so don't do that. But it says here, here's the timing, "The dead in Christ will rise first," be first to join Jesus, "and then we who are alive will be caught up with them together." Now, that, what the Bible says there's a sequence, the dead and Christ rise than us who are alive. But it also, the way it's worded to say, it's a simultaneous - in other words, Paul is addressing a problem that they had in their minds. Did they miss it? No, they're actually going to get ahead of the line. But it's not about who gets there first. We're all getting there together. We're all together going to be caught up.
Again, a fantastic, wonderful moment in this world event of history that's going to happen. And it says, we hear a lot "caught up" same word in Acts 8:39, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. In fact, Paul even used this word, "I was caught up into the heavenly," the third heaven, maybe your version says, and he had a vision from God. Maybe this was one of those visions. We don't know. He didn't quite explain what he learned or even how that meant, if it was an out of body experience, if God actually physically took him up there or not. I don't know. We know Elijah had a chariot come down, pick him up and take him home. That was kind of crazy. Enoch walked with God. He was no more. Walked with God, and he just walked right up into heaven with God. Wow. Wouldn't that be cool?
But you know, those are unique moments in history. This happened. What did Paul mean by that? We don't know what he meant by his experience, but he's using the same word that we are going to have this personal reunion with our savior Jesus. And this is where we get the belief in what's called the rapture. Does your church believe in the rapture? You'll notice that in our doctrinal statement, the word rapture does not appear. You know why, because the word rapture doesn't appear in the Bible. However, the concept of it does. That word meaning - a Latin word, meaning carrying off or a snatching away.
So yes, we believe in that, but we don't use that word because that's not a word - but we can use that word because it's interchangeable; if you want to put it in the terms of what we're talking about here in 1 Thessalonians 4. There's no clear timeline, by the way. Paul does not give a clear timeline. He doesn't say these are the world events that are going to happen when it happens. He just says it's going to happen. And he says we will be caught up with them. We wonder maybe even if Paul even thought that in his lifetime it might happen. There's some conversation about that. Or maybe he might, we, like whoever's alive at the time that it happens, it will happen, will be caught up with the dead in Christ.
Again, Paul isn't overly clear, but it seemed to make sense and it worked well for the people who were receiving the letter. And I think that if we don't make it too complicated, it's going to make sense to us as well as we trust the Holy Spirit and His timing in our life. See, our church does believe in the second coming of Christ. We believe that. He's coming again. That's what we urgently appeal to people; be reconciled to God, connect people with God, connect people with the body of Christ. There is no plan B or C or D. The plan A is the local church. And if you're in a local church, participating in and helping pursue the mission of God, to declare His glory to the whole world, by declaring the good news of Jesus Christ and making disciples and helping them to grow in their faith, that they might go and do the same with their friends and family that we might, all of us, have multi-generations of believers in our lives. Just as we might have children who are physically born to us, it is natural for us to have spiritually born people around us that we've led to Christ and we've grown in Christ. And it is unnatural for any of us to be spiritual orphans or to be spiritually childless.
In other words, who are you telling people about Jesus? And if you aren't, why aren't you because that's what God's all about. Connecting people with God, connecting people with himself, connecting people with the body of Christ. And that's why we say we are pursuing the lost and unchurch. We're unashamed to say we want to tell the whole world about Jesus Christ and we warmly welcome people who want to come in and transfer in and help us to do that who are already follows of Christ. Join us in the mission of what we're trying to do here, that we might see God be honored and glorified, and that we'll see multiple generations of spiritual babies growing up to become mature Christians, to see other people come to Jesus, spiritual babies, mature Christians. And that cycle continues until Jesus comes again, as we await the second coming of Christ and the rapture of His church.
And then it says at the end there, we will always be with the Lord. At that moment, there'll be no separation. Oh, they were clinging to Jesus when He was eating with them and talking with them and teaching them the last things and really investing in them for those several days that He was on earth as a resurrected body person, showing them His wounds, helping them to have clear evidence, evidence that was so clear that most of the people that trusted in Jesus were martyred for their faith. Some were tortured for their faith. There's tradition that most of the disciples died a horrific death because they clung to the fact that Jesus rose again and they were unwilling to renounce it to their peril.
And only one guy we know of that we know for sure was probably John who died of old age, but God used him in his old age to give us the revelation at the end of the Bible and gave us such great wisdom and ministry to the local church as he lived out his old age life, but most others were martyred for their faith. This was such a fact that was true to them. And they were looking forward to the return of Christ. They were looking forward to all that Jesus said was to take place through the church, through them and for the end of time. But even as they anticipated and they saw this separation from them and Jesus in bodily form, they weren't going to be with them, that all ends when it all ends. That all ends when it all ends. We're with Him forever. There's no more separation.
There's no more, well I'm going to go away for a while then I'll come back and be with you. No, that's over. It's done. And we're with Jesus forever, our savior. So Jesus is coming again. He's coming again. Do you believe that? Therefore, encourage one another with these words, don't be discouraged. In fact, I want to read a passage here to just keep us on track with this because some of you, you've got a timeline in your brain of how this is going to happen. "Now, pastor, I heard you say this, but do you believe this too?" Well, I might, but here's what I know. There's a lot that we agree to disagree on. And there's some basic things that I already told you we agree on with unity. And if you don't believe that, then you wouldn't want to be a member here because that's what we believe.
But let me just share a quote from somebody about this idea of the rapture of the church. It's an glorious event that we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We'll be in God's presence forever. There's far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God's intent. Rather, the rapture should be a comforting doctrine full of hope. God wants us to encourage each other with these words. And if you are looking at this as a discouragement, there's only one reason you should be discouraged by it. You're not going to be a part of it. There's only reason you should be discouraged by it, that you do not have hope in Jesus Christ. You have hope in a religious system; you have hope in some kind of a way of living that doesn't include surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. You don't have any hope and you should be floundering and you should be very unhappy about what I talked about today. But if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ - Paul said in Romans, "Whoever puts their hope in Him, will never be put to shame." His grip doesn't slip.
I've walked my toddler children across icy parking lots. And I can remember times when I said, let me hold your hand. I don't want them to hold my hand. It was too weak to hang onto when their feet slipped. And I've told my children this, and I hope you've told your children, this there's things you can't do for kids when they go places and do things and they've got to deal with real life grown up situations. But I've told my kids this and it's a word picture of God's love; there is nothing you'll tell me that ever stopped me from loving you. There is nothing you will ever do that will stop me from pursuing you. There was nothing you will ever do that will stop me from ever wanting to have a fellowship and a love for you. I will always be your father. I gave you my last name because I believe that that's who you were. You are mine. I am yours. And as your father, that will never... You can take away my name from you if you want to legally, but I will never take my name away from you.
Now, some of you, you never had that kind of a father. And it breaks my heart if that's ever the case. But it's a word picture of the father's love for us. He gives us a new name. He gives us a new life. He gives us a new way of living. He gives us a new heart. And I plead with you just as Paul did, I plead with you on Christ's behalf. Be reconciled to God, put your faith in Jesus this morning.
Let's stand together. Our worship team's going to bring one more song to us and help us to come and worship Him in music. But this isn't a time to show off how good we can sing in this room. It's a time for us to get serious with God. Be encouraged by these words this morning. If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, be encouraged that He's got you in the Palm of His hand, and that he's got a purpose and a plan for you, and you're saying, 'Oh, I better be ready for that moment." Well then, maybe it's time for you to surrender and get going with what God's called you to do and stop waiting for something else and go do it.
Maybe for you this morning, it's time for you to stop playing around with this thing about Jesus Christ. Put your faith in Him, or I'll be honest; there's some of you, "I don't have enough information pieces. I'm really confused. I've been given all kinds of other information and I don't know what to believe." Your best step is just to simply say that. Maybe your best step today, yes, put your faith in Christ. But yes, put your faith in Christ like saying I want to put my faith in Christ. Ask the questions. We're going back to school some of you, I don't have to. I'm back in school too. We're all going back to school, and what they say - the dumbest question is the question that you don't ask. There is no silly question. Use the connection card. Connect with us, email us, text us, ask us the questions. But I believe this, is that true? Well, I don't know about this, is that right? But I don't know about this, is this...? Help us help you take that step of faith that God's asking you to take today.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
August 7, 2022
God’s letter to our church
-The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write this letter
-2 Peter 1:21b “men spoke from God as they were carried
along by the Holy Spirit”
-2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is inspired (breathed) by God…”
-Read Belief Statement on “The Scriptures”
-Three questions when reading the Bible:
-What did it mean to the people who first received it?
-What are the timeless principles
-How must we apply those timeless principles in our current
Reputation inside the church 1 Thes 4:9-10a
-Paul complimented them on their family love
-Phileo- brotherly/family love
-This type of love within the local church is mentioned often in the NT: Rom 12:10; Heb 13:1; 1 Pet 1:22; 2 Pet 1:7
“Taught by God to love one another”
-God-taught, evidence of the Holy Spirit
-Hebrews 8:10-11 We have God’s laws written on our hearts
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20 We are the temple of the Holy Spirit
-love: agape, unconditional love
-1 Cor 13; Matt 22:37-39; John 13:34-35
“the entire region”
-Our love must extend to other believers in other churches!
-Our church networks with regional, state, and national
churches to share the Good News of Jesus Christ!
-Our church must love other churches in our city!
-We may agree to disagree on methods and specific beliefs
-We must always respect other churches, work with them
when we can
Reputation outside the church vs 10b-12
“do this even more”
-building our reputation never ends!
-one poor decision can erase a lifetime of good decisions
“seek to lead a quiet life”
-don’t give outsiders a reason to reject Jesus or the church!
-1 Peter 2:12- conduct yourselves honorably…
-The gospel is always offensive, Christians must never be!
-Paul may be telling them to stay under the political radar
-Context matters: they had no rights, we live in a Republic
-we are personally responsible to elect our leaders
-Jeremiah 29:7 Pray for the well-being of our city!
“mind your own business”
-Stop trying to fix people around us!
-Stop expecting unbelievers to behave like believers
-We are powerless to live a godly life without Jesus
-Paul is not saying we aren’t accountable to other believers
-Paul OFTEN told the church to correct sinful believers
“work with your own hands”
-Jewish mindset: manual labor is honorable and expected
-Greek mindset: manual labor is slavish, demeaning
-Paul’s pattern: full time support, part-time, voluntary
-2 Thes 3:10-13 don’t work = don’t get free food!
-Genesis 1:28 Humans are required to take care of creation!
“so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone”
-Why would people want to follow Jesus if His followers have poor reputations for getting along with outsiders and freeloading on people???
Do you naturally love other believers?
-Only Jesus can change our hearts to love correctly! Trust Him!
Do you have a good reputation outside of our church?
-A double life offends God and hinders our church’s mission!
St Joe Community Church’s Belief about the Bible
I. The Scriptures
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.
This letter to Thessalonians was written by Paul, but it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. And our particular subject matter today is Reputation Matters. It matters what the body of Christ is like inside the church, and it matters what people think of the body of Christ outside the church. And in these short few verses, we're going to unpack both of those things. We're going to talk about our love for one another in the body of Christ and our reputation, the way we act and live outside of the body of Christ. This is God's letter to our church. This isn't just a letter that was written to the Thessalonian. It's a letter that God gave to us. God inspired Paul and we've have some Bible studies that we've gone over that, and I'd be more than happy to sit down with you or others and our leaders in our church that can help you understand more carefully, this idea that - this understanding that this isn't just some history book; it's God's book for you and for me.
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul, just as in 2 Peter 1, it says that men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 3, all scripture is inspired by God. It's God breathed is what is says in that passage of scripture. We as a church, believe that the word of God is without any mixture of error, the perfect record of what God wants, not just for the time period that He gave it to, but for all time periods, until Jesus comes again and even into eternity, His words will never pass away. In fact, we know that the word of God from the Old Testament, as it proclaimed and as the New Testament, as it revealed, it all points to one person and who is that? Jesus. It all points to one person, the word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, Jesus Christ.
He was the word in the flesh. He is the final word for our faith and practice. And so is the word of God. As we study it together, we figure out what was it that Paul was saying, particularly to the people. So when we, when you're studying the Bible, you always say, what did the original hearers think about what was said? What was it like for them? Paul wrote in one letter, he said, "You know have somebody bring my coat to me." He obviously left this coat somewhere. Some of you do that here. And so he sent a letter and he says, "Hey, I need my coat. I'm kind of cold." Now, that wasn't obviously something... that was a particular thing. It was a personal request in the midst of a letter that God wrote to us, but that's, you know, take people, their coats. I don't know.
But in other words, that was some particular thing, but in the middle of that letter, and throughout that letter, there are timeless principles. So you have what it was it like back in how did they receive it. What are those timeless principles that were true for that church and for our church? That's the bridge from them to us. What does it mean to us today? What are the truths that will always be true that we must always think about? And then a Bible study, a sermon, anything that we do, it's not just about educating us about something, but about helping us to learn how to be different, how to apply it to our lives. How do I apply that to my life right now? What am I going to do about it? How am I going to live this out in my day-to-day life until I go home to Jesus or Jesus comes, whichever comes first?
It's God's letter to the church because it was timeless principles that will always need to be applying to our lives. Paul, in this letter is narrowing down. We talked last time about being pure in our lives, living a pure life. And now he's centering on the concept of family relationships in the church, spiritual family, the body of Christ. And so, I'm going to unpack it verse at a time, but I want to read the first couple of verses starting in verse nine, Paul says about brotherly love, "You don't need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. In fact, you're doing this toward all the brothers and sisters in the entire region of Macedonia." The reputation inside the church is important. We need to center on what the inside of this church is like. Our reputation inside here matters. And what does that reputation centered upon? It's centered upon our love for one another. Brotherly love! Brotherly love! Sisterly love you could say as well. Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. It's family love. We need to care about one another.
And Paul says, you don't need to tell, I don't need to tell you how to do this, you're doing it. And I would say in testimonies even this week, when someone's saying how they have been loved on by our church family in practical ways, I hear this a lot. So-and-so came by to see us or such--and-such, or this was given to us, or we had this situation and we were just encouraged, or we were stopped and we got a text message from somebody, or something happened. I see people loving each other on Facebook, where they like or love or happy anniversary or happy birthday, and that can be a very superficial thing. But then that just investment in caring about what somebody else is going through, that's love.
And I will say I'm very grateful to serve and to be the pastor of a church that knows how to do this as well. Just as Paul said about them, I would say to you, I don't have to tell you about this, you're doing it. Oh, keep on doing it. It's good stuff. This type of love within the local church is mentioned often in the New Testament; Romans 12, Hebrews 13, 1 Peter 1, 2 Peter 1. This is a common word for loving one another as family.
Now I didn't mean that you always like each other. Sometimes we don't like each other. Sometimes we don't like what each other do. We have differences of an opinion, which means you're wrong and I'm right. That's what opinion means, right? I mean, don't tell me you guys don't always - that you always like each other. Sometimes we don't. Some of you don't always like me. Maybe someone still doesn't like me. Oh, my feelings are hurt. It bothers me a little bit. Okay, don't I get you. Anybody that doesn't care what people think about them, there's something wrong with them. That's not cool. Everybody cares what people think about in some way, shape or form it. But love supersedes the like moment. Love says I'm going to lean into this person and see where they're at and help them and maybe go the extra mile and humble myself and say, how was I part of us getting sideways ways. We do the hard, heavy lifting, because we love one another we're family.
Someone say, we're all we got. Come on. Let's go after this. Some of you have even said, you love your spiritual family, and you find love from your spiritual family, more than your own physical family. In fact, some churches shy away from calling the church, a family because of the brokenness of so many families of the people that they're reaching for Jesus. They just don't. They don't get what that model and say, "Well, if you're a family, I'm in a family and I don't want that I'm coming here for not that. That's not what we mean and I hope you know that. This is like, oh, when I was pastoring my first church and I'm like, what? Late twenties, mid-twenties, and I got men in my church that are in their seventies. They've forgotten more scripture than I've learned. They've been after this a long time. They've got grandkids my age, and I'm supposed to be their leader? Defer to them as fathers in the ministry.
Please think of your tiny, your young pastor as a son in the ministry. Family love enables you to get through that chronological struggle in the family of God, so that a young leader can still be leading in a respectful familial way. That's the way it ought to be. You know, Bray, he acts a lot older than he looks. He's a young guy, but he's a mature young man, and he's going to lead people twice his age. And he already does in some situations. He does it in this room when he is leading us for worship. And he's due this respect that he's due because of what he does. But in no way is he going to say, "Well, I'm the leader, here's how it is." No, he's a brother in Christ. And he's a son in the ministry to some who could be his earthly father like me. And so, we have a spiritual family love for one another.
We need to have brotherly love. And Paul says, and you were taught by God to love one another. This taught by God - God-taught. It's one word - it's kind of a combination of words in Greek, which means there's an evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person when they're loving somebody supernaturally. Supernatural love causes us to go the extra mile for people when we don't feel like it. This taught by God moment, this is like - God... when the Holy Spirit comes into you and I, when we become a Christian, God writes the law of God on our hearts. This is no longer an external rule for us to follow. It's an internal drive that makes us want to. He changes our want-to. This is not a reformation. It's a transformation. This is not getting an upgraded software on our computer. It's an incredibly new hardware. It changes our heart makes it soft, makes us want to do the right thing. And when someone doesn't have that evidence in their lives, I wonder if they have a religion instead of a relationship. We need to make sure that as we're doing this, we're not trusting in ourselves. We're trusting in the one within us that's helping us to do this very thing.
I said a couple of weeks ago in 1 Corinthians 6, that we're the temple of the Holy Spirit, that's why we don't defile the temple we're living in. We're defiling God, himself, as the [hope11:43], the person that we're hosting within us when we do things that are unholy with our lives and our bodies. But then he says, you're taught by God to love one another. He switches words; love one another is actually the word love in this passage, in this particular verse is the word agape, which means unconditional, no strings attached kind of love; love that's not expecting something in return. [Unclear12:08] of love is that give and take. I love you, you love me, we kind of have this mutual partnership of love, but agape love is loving without any kind of expectation of a return on the love that you invest in that person.
You know, it's sort of like when you give a gift to somebody for their birthday, and then when your birthday comes around, they don't give you a gift. Well, that's not how the rules are played. If I give you chocolate, you give me chocolate. Karen, I bring you a donut, you bring me a donut on Friday morning, right? That's how that works. We have family love. Agape love says, Karen brings me a donut all the time and I never bring her one and she's still happy. She actually still would be because she's that kind of person. She's more spiritual than I am. But seriously, that's what agape love is. It says I'm giving you full love and care, and I'm not expecting anything in return. Who did that for us? It's a simple answer every time I ask you this morning. What's the Bible all about? And who gave us agape love? Jesus - every single time. It's Jesus! Who lives within us; the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ lives in us to show us how to love one another unconditionally, the way Christ loves us. That unconditional love was exemplified in 1 Corinthians 13, Matthew 22, John 13. And Paul says, you're not only loving one another in your local church, but you love is expanding to people throughout the region of Macedonia. What's the practical principle here? We need to love Christians besides just the ones that go to St. Joe.
We had a handful of people from out of town today that were visiting family. We got love on them, they got love on us. That's just how it goes. When people come here and are visiting, we love on them as they go back to somewhere else - when we are on vacation, we go to a church and that church is a church that's in love with Christ and love with people. It's a natural byproduct that they're going to love the people that come alongside and aren't going to be there all the time. Here's another byproduct of loving people; loving other churches around us and other Christians to go to other churches. I mean, I'm kind of personal to ours, but I'm telling you, there's some other good churches around here and you need to be up on everybody. And we don't need to be up on things that aren't right about things. But I'm just saying, you know, we are going to agree to disagree on things, specific things that we might do, and that's what makes each local church unique. But it doesn't mean, and it doesn't mean we are allowed to bypass loving one another. We got to love one another.
You know how many churches loved on us over the 20 years of our existence? 20 years ago, coming up in October 20 years ago, November actually, we had our first membership class in the basement of Cavalry Baptist church on St. Joe Center Road. We had organizational meetings in other churches because we didn't have a church building. We had churches that let us borrow baptismal tanks. We learned how to take a baptismal tank through a 36 inch door and bring it into the Carmike Movie Theater down by the screen so that we could baptize people, and then we put big old plastic out, big tarps out so that when people sloshed, when the pastor sloshed them we'd be able to clean it up better. And we had churches that let us borrow that. We built one, then we gave that away to somebody else and we got a building, but we've had dozens of churches. When we've had church meetings we needed a building, when we had weddings and funerals. And by the way, let's have a moment of silence for the place we can no longer visit, Carmike Movie Theater.
We have a couple over here that renewed their valves right there in Carmike Movie Theater. How many here got baptized at Carmike? Anybody here? Couple people did, maybe a few. I mean, it was a special place for us. If you've been there recently for a movie, it ain't so special now, but probably why it closed. But it kind of hit me like, wow, there's a lot of spiritual stories that took place there. But while we were there, we could only be there on Sunday morning, and other churches opened their doors to us. Blackhawk Ministries tapped us into a worship leader that we had for a few years. And we even used their choir room, their practice room for our band to practice on certain nights of the week. We had a key to the back door to Blackhawk Ministries down the street from us here. We had churches that gave us literature for our vacation Bible school or Bible study materials. They recycled the materials by giving it to us.
We had all kinds of people serving us and encouraging us. Why wouldn't we want to do the same for them and others? Thousands of churches voluntarily gave financially through the North American Mission Board so that I could be a full-time pastor right out the gate, the first three years of our existence 20 years ago. They loved on us. We got letters, cards, people praying for us, we benefited, and my prayer is that we will pass that love on to others for the rest of our existence until Jesus comes. And we'll do the same - loving on other churches, respecting other churches and working with them when we can and caring for the body of Christ, big church, even as we're taking care of business in this church. May our love bleed into all areas of Christian contact with other believers in the region and in the world.
And then, Paul kind of moves to a different type of reputation; that's the reputation inside the church. Now let's look at the reputation outside of the church, and he kind of in the middle of verse 10 - and by the way, the verses in chapters, Paul didn't do that in his letter. That'd be kind of weird, wouldn't it? But later on in history, people who were copying the Bible started putting these chapters and verses in here so that we could find each verse place in the Bible more carefully. And in the middle of verse 10, it sort of changes gears even though it's in the same verse, according to the way they organized it. But it's a different thought, because he starts looking outside. He said, "But we encourage you brothers and sisters to do this even more." And what does he mean by that? Verse 11, "To seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your own hands as we commanded you." And verse 12 was the results, "So that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone."
So what's he saying here? So the reputation inside the church is important. We need to show love for one another. But on the outside of the church, we need to be respected for the way we live our lives. Do this even more - building reputation never ends. One poor decision can cancel a lifetime of good decisions. People get fired overnight for stupidity, even though they may have done a long history of doing good things up until that moment. Old men and women lose their godly influence in churches when they get bitter and hardened in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pastors about my age get to that midlife and we go, is it really worth it? And we start slacking, and suddenly our decisions become kind of mundane and routine. And suddenly we're on the path of losing the reputation that we gained when we were zealous and energetic. There is never a moment when we're not building our reputation to outsiders for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The moment we can let down our guard about reputation is the moment we take our last breath on this earth. I'll rephrase my favorite movie phrase, "Reputation never takes a holiday" Mall Cop. Okay. Anyway, safety never takes a holiday. Okay, never mind. Maybe it's too old of a movie.
Do this even more. What's he telling them to do? Seek to lead a quiet life. And what's he saying here? Don't give outsiders a reason to reject Jesus or the church. Two things turn people away from the church. What is it? Usually their own problems, circumstances, physical illness, they'll say, "Well, who's God, he's going to do this to me or whatever" and then people in the church who do things bad to them or look like they don't get along. I mean, if we are bickering and fighting, who wants to be in this church? But if we're living a [duclicit21:40] life, who wants to be in this church? Well, they may practice it there, but they're not preaching... they preach it there, but they're not practicing it in their own homes.
Now, a wayward believer is no excuse for any believer to reject Jesus. When someone goes before God and he says, why did you reject me? They're going to say, "Well, Jimmy, over there was a screw up for the Lord Jesus Christ. I mean, he was a really poor example and he really turned me off to you." That ain't going to cut it. We're all standing guilty before God, needing holy God to forgive us through the blood of Jesus Christ, so there's no excuse for this. However, there's no excuse for us to give anyone a reason to not want to follow Jesus by our behavior and lifestyle outside the church.
There is one thing that ought to always be offensive to a person, and it's the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, by nature, we do not want to be told we're wrong, right? Do you like to be told you're wrong? How many of you love being told you're wrong? And the gospel tells us we're wrong. That we're sinners and we need forgiveness. We can't earn our way into heaven. We must trust in the work of Jesus Christ and what he did to pay for our sins. We have to trust that. And it goes against the grain of human nature; it goes against the grain of humanity, generally. It goes against the grain of America that says pull yourself up by your bootstraps because you didn't work hard enough. And I love the idea of the American dream around here, but I'm telling you what; when it comes to spirituality, the American dream is not what saves you. It's humbling yourself and admitting you need to be forgiven, you need to be changed; you need a change maker, Jesus in your life.
That is offensive. What you're doing is sinful and outside of God's boundaries, but God wants to forgive you; not justify what you're doing. So, we'll never get over that offensive truth. You and I, as a believer, had to face that offensive truth and receive it, accept it, and now live in it and understand it and appreciate it. God loved us too much to leave us where we found us, amen, but we should never be doing anything else in our lives that's so offensive. They may hear the gospel message through us and think that the gospel's not offending us or offending them; our personality is offending them. The way we're treating them is offending them. What we're doing is offending them and they mix the two up. And Paul says that ought never be. You need to lead a quiet life. "Conduct yourselves honorably," 1 Peter 2:12 says.
Now, Paul may have been saying stay under the radar politically, because right now remember we were persecuted. And if you listen to my other sermons, they had been persecuted so much so that Paul had to leave town quickly so that he didn't cause any more problems for them. And so, seek to lead a quiet life might have meant stay under the radar of the governmental affairs. Bless the city, but don't make a big deal about it.
Now, context matters. In our context, we are participants in this Republic and we have a responsibility, and I think we'll be answerable to God for how we used our freedom to choose who is elected and who's serving. And in fact, maybe we ought to serve and be a part of that. But the context in Paul's day had nothing to do with that. And by the way, we don't know for sure what Paul was saying about quiet life, so we don't even know if that's even what he meant, but that was something that is brought up occasionally when they look at this particular passage. We know way back in the Old Testament, when the Israelites were deported into a foreign city, and they thought, 'We're going to go back, we're going to go back." And Jeremiah says, "No, hang on. Build houses, plant gardens, pray for the wellbeing of the city within you." This is Jeremiah 29. Pray for the wellbeing of the city and do good and help that city prosper, the city you're in. So if you're planted here in Fort Wayne, make Fort Wayne better by the way, you live your life. Pray for Fort Wayne, invest yourself, do what you can do to make this place... bloom, where you're planted. I think we heard that from a speaker a couple weeks ago. Bloom where you're planted, make a difference where you are.
And then he says here, mind your own business. Stop trying to fix people around us. Now, men, I'm going to be honest, I'm a fixer. And your wives, if you're married, does not always need a fixer. Women, amen. Oh, I know I'm touching on toes here, but sometimes I have to ask my wife when she starts coming home with a problem from work or there's a problem from the school with the kids. And I'll say, "Okay," because used to be, I'd say, oh, I know how to fix that. I didn't, but I thought I did. And now I have to say, "I'm working on it. I'm getting better at it. I think." You can ask her later. Okay, is this something you want me to help you fix or I'm just here to walk alongside you with the problem? Most of the time, it's just walk alongside and listen. Occasionally she's like, yeah, I'd like some input, but ask permission.
And isn't that true with coworkers that aren't believers, you got all the answers, right? They're doing all kinds of crazy stuff and they're suffering the great, crazy consequences of it, and you have all the answers. You're like, well, you know, if you didn't do that, you wouldn't experience that. And you're like getting into their business. I never asked you. Now, there's a way to do that. You know, you can get alongside somebody, but you got to show them you love them and care about them before you start trying to fix them. I mean, and you're not there to fix them. You're there to be a conduit of God's blessing and love in their lives. You're not there to give them religion. You're there to connect them into a relationship. Mind your own business.
There's times when you just need to butt out. And quit trying to think that non-believers are going to act like believers. When you get ticked off by somebody at work, check yourself for a moment. Is this person following Jesus or not? No. All right, they don't have the intel inside like you have. They don't, so don't expect him to act like you're trying to act. And by the way, mind your own business. Paul is not saying in the church mind your own business; he's saying mind your own business as you're dealing with your affairs on the outside of the church. If that was the case, he's actually telling... he's getting in the church's business, telling them what to do in this passage. So we're not saying that we don't.... we're supposed to hold each other accountable.
Brothers and sisters, if you see your brother in sin, you're supposed to restore that person gently, but be careful because you might too also fall into that same temptation. We are supposed to hold each other accountable. We are supposed to get in each other's lives, and sometimes somebody's got to get in my face and say, "Greg you're being prideful, arrogant and foolish." Please do that if that's the case, because I don't want to suffer the consequences of being prideful, arrogant and foolish. That's what's signing up into the covenant relationship with the church is all about is I'm covenanting together to hold each other accountable to be like the body of Christ is supposed to be like to glorify Jesus Christ.
So, it's not talking - he's talking about more of an outside thing than he is the inside here. And then he says work with your own hands. He concludes with a conversation about working. Now, a Jewish mindset was that you would work with your hands; manual labor is an honorable and respectable thing. But in this Greek community and in the Greek mindset in general, working with their hands was demeaning or beneath them. Well, I imagine some of the people that were believers in Jesus Christ had lost their day jobs, their desk jobs, so to speak, and they're starting to have to work with their hands. There might have been a few that said, "Well, if Jesus is coming in any moment, what's the purpose in working?" Well, it's been 2000 years, He hasn't come yet.
I've never heard more clamor for the idea that Jesus is coming than I have in my lifetime than I have recently, maybe during the cold war era in the very, very, most tense moments of that in the early part of my life. But it's getting more and more that says, well, look - and we had our server last night at the Tin Caps, some of the guys went over there and she's from the Ukraine and she still got family over there, and we were talking about that. When I was at Whitewater rafting up in, - actually in Pennsylvania during our vacation three weeks ago. On the bus ride back to get to our cars, we were all crammed in together, and a Taiwanese student that was at Penn State, a PhD student was sitting next to me and she was talking about how China is.
I said, "Wow, you must be feeling a little tense right now." She says, "Yeah, we don't want China to get excited if Russia wins against Ukraine, they might get emboldened and come and invade us." It's a really scary moment in world events right now. And you probably have been reading in current times, there's some saber rattling, there's some missiles going over the top of Taiwan and some assertion of authority say, hey, you're one of us. And so, there's some crazy stuff going on. I says, was Jesus coming back, let's get this all cleaned up. It's Armageddon time. The chart on the wall says Jesus could come in any moment. The chart on the wall says He come any moment, but we do not know the times and dates.
Let's just say - I'm still putting away for my retirement in case he doesn't come back when I'm 75, okay. 80, 90, hopefully if I live that long. I still need a bank account. I still need to keep working. He might come back and that means nothing. Yay! But if he doesn't come back, I'm going to hurt if I quit my job. These guys might have thought no big deal. And Paul's like, "No, no, no, no. Keep working with your hands." In fact, in the second letter that he wrote to them, there were some people that were freeloading. And he says, 'If that person doesn't work, don't give them any food." Our reputation from outsiders should be that we're the hardest workers they've ever employed, amen, that we have the highest ethic of any employee that they have, amen. And that we are willing to go the extra mile, mind your own business, do the right thing, keep our head under the cover and just do the right thing. Stay under the radar. Don't try to be the Mr. Fix-it godly know-it-all with a big Bible that takes every five minute break to tell people about Jesus and not do their job.
Did pastors just say, don't tell them about Jesus? If you're being employed by somebody by the hour to do a particular thing, put a widget on a widget, for instance. And during the widget on a widget somebody says I want to know more about Jesus. If you can do that while you're widget on a widget, or you get your quota done, or you get your run finished and you have a break, go talk about Jesus. But if you say, "Oh, thank you, I'm going to be spiritual and get away from the widget on a widget and talk to you about Jesus," you're stealing from your employer. And what kind of a reputation is that? Your reputation is more than just talking to someone about Jesus. It's about your whole life. A person of integrity does the right thing and is an honorable worker in the workplace and a good witness for Jesus Christ when able and when their time permits to speak about Jesus.
But your authority to speak about Jesus will be granted to you when they see that Jesus is flowing into who you are and what you do. So this morning, I got a question. Do you believe that reputation matters? Because reputation matters. Bray is going to come up and sing one more song for us. He's going to help us sing one more song together. And I got a couple of questions before we end. Do you naturally love other believers? Do you have a reputation in our church for loving people? Only two reasons why that wouldn't be the case; one, you're a Christian in rebellion. Get right. There you go, we can go home now. Or I don't even know what that means. Find Jesus, He will show you how.
If you're looking for that relationship with Jesus Christ, I welcome you to put on your card today. I'd like to know more what it means to have this kind of love that you're talking about pastor, because I don't have it. But for you and I who are Christians, we know better. And if for our love isn't showing right now, it might be a recalibration moment for us to say it's time for us to say, God, I need more of what you want from me to be loving to people around me. And the next question I want to ask is do you have a good reputation among outsiders? Do the people outside our church know that you love Jesus and that you love them? I mean, I sometimes wonder if believers don't invite their friends who don't go to church to church because they don't look any different than their friends. That it would be foreign for them to hear from you something about God.
Now, I'm not saying, I believe that's true in this room. I'm just saying in general, our ability to help people find and follow Christ is based upon the reputation we have among people who don't know Him. And what's that like for you? I'm going to be honest. There are times when I'm working on the outside of this church and I do it a lot and you know that about me. I thrive on the edges of lostness, on the edges of crazy, on the edges of where people aren't yet following Christ. And it's really easy to start laughing at the jokes, even your pastor. It's easy sometimes to possibly once or twice change my language to fit where I'm at. And that ain't right either.
We chaplains can sometimes go into some dark humor moments with our fellow officers and first responders. And that really gets us through some of the worst crimes that you've ever seen in your life. But there's a line between dealing with it and disrespecting it. And I work on that, because I don't want my reputation to be that I'm just like them. I want my reputation to be that I'm representing Christ in their midst. I am the presence of Christ. Sometimes I never get to speak about Him, but I do want them to see Him, see Him through me. I pray that would be true for all of us and our reputation for Jesus.
Let's stand together. Let's just soberly, carefully, prayerfully and joyfully embrace what he would have for us. Reputation isn't built overnight. It can be lost overnight, but it isn't built overnight. And so for you this morning, you're like on an uphill climb and you're thinking, "I got so far to go, Greg, what are you talking about?" Well, the first step on any journey is the step you take today. So let's get on it. Let's take our step. Let's move forward. Let's talk to somebody. If we need some help, get a card and say I'd like some help. Talk to me, talk to your small group leader. Let's take that step and build our reputations by God's strength for His glory.
B: Bible book