Paul has a lot to say about the End Times, especially in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, he says, “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him: We ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily upset or troubled, either by a prophecy or by a message or by a letter supposedly from us, alleging that the day of the Lord has come.” The devil has twisted every truth in the Bible, but that should not keep us from believing the truth. When looking at End Times, we should not be troubled, but should find hope in the promise we have. Let’s look at what else Paul says.
When it comes to End Times, we do not rely upon human speculation because God has given us divine revelation. We have the Word of the Lord. Paul says he doesn’t want us to be ignorant about these things (1 Thess. 4:13) and that what he’s writing he’s doing so by the word of the Lord (1 Thess. 4:15). God has told us what we need to know for life, death, and eternity in the Holy Bible.
Paul says that one day “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thess. 4:16). The second coming of Jesus is the most mentioned event in the Bible. In the fullness of time Jesus came as a baby, lived, taught, died, and rose again. He walked on this earth 40 days and then ascended to the right hand of the Father. One day, at a time no one knows but the Father, the Father will say to the Son, go get my children! Paul said in Romans 8:17-25 that all of creation groans and labors with birth pains, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the redemption of our body.
He continues, “…and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16). Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” Jesus spoke, “Lazarus come forth,” and he came out. Christians buried in cemeteries all over the world and at sea will hear His voice and the dead in Christ will rise first.We are going to get a resurrection body. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.”
“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” (1 Thess. 4:17). “Caught up” are the two words used in English. There is only one word in Greek, harpazo. We get it from the Latin word rapere which means to grab, to take by force. It’s like Philip caught up by the Spirit or like Enoch before the flood. You say, Preacher, do you really believe in a rapture? You cannot believe the Bible and not believe in a rapture. The Bible is clear that Jesus is coming, the dead in Christ will experience resurrection, and believers who are alive will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.
One of the hardest things in life is saying goodbye. Whether it’s for college, deployment, because of a death, etc. Paul tells us that one day there is going to be a family reunion that all of hell itself cannot stop! Notice the words “with them” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
Paul’s writings are so practical. Here are ten takeaways he gives in light of what we know:
- Encourage One Another (1 Thess. 4:18)
- Serve God (1 Thess. 1:9-10)
- Be Joyful, Thankful, Prayerful (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
- Be Steadfast (1 Cor. 15:58)
- Take Communion (1 Cor. 11:26)
- Fight the Good Fight (1 Tim. 6:11-14)
- Be on Guard (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
- Preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:1-5)
- Live Right (Titus 2:12-14)
- Believe the Gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-8)
For the believer, we look forward to Christ’s return and to being with Him forever. Do you remember the song, It is Well with My Soul? “And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight. The clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul!” You are not looking forward to the Lord’s return unless you can say the next line: “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought, My sin, not in part, but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!” Are you ready?