Live in the Light
Living in light of Christ's return. The essence of the Christian life is to turn to God from idols, serve and wait for the return of Christ. Living clean and holy before God and others.
And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? Yes, that little greeting establishes the fact that this is indeed your good friend Bob Cook, and I do care how you are. I am back again, with you, thank God, for a few moments of sharing from the inerrant, infallible, eternal Word of God, The Bible. The older I get, the more I love this wonderful book because it speaks to my heart concerning things that will still be important a million years from now: the eternal truth of God. There’s always something new there for me and for you when we look at the Word, because the Holy Spirit teaches us when we look into God’s Word. Our Lord Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He shall teach you all things and bring to your remembrance whatsoever all things I have spoken unto you.” So, we love God’s Word and that’s why we share it with you.
We’re walking through 1 Thessalonians, you and I, and it occurred to me as I thought about what I might say today, that I hadn’t mentioned to you that every chapter in 1 Thessalonians has some reference to the second coming of Christ. In Chapter 1, “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from Heaven, even Jesus.” The second coming of Christ is part of the continuing experience of the Christian.
Two things: To serve and to wait. Have you adopted that point of view in your own life? That the important things in your life must be related to serving God and living in the light of Christ’s second coming? As you and I know, every major prophecy that needs to be fulfilled before the second coming of Christ, it would seem, has been fulfilled. Israel is back in the land as a sovereign nation. There is an unrest there as of a multiplying of earthquakes. There is an increase of overt wickedness. There is an increase of apostasy and godlessness. There is a visible slippage among religious people, not to say Christians, professed Christians, concerning the faith once delivered to the saints. There is a growth of world religions (the New Age religion, for example. They don’t call themselves a religion, but that’s indeed what they are) who end up teaching you that you are God. Why, that’s a throwback, isn’t it, to the Garden of Eden? “God doth know that when ye do this, ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Satan’s temptation was based upon a half-truth: That they would indeed gain knowledge but in disobeying God, they also gained death. Well, it’s a throwback to the garden of Eden, the New Age belief that you are God. Satan first had that ploy a great many years ago in the garden. It worked then, and unfortunately it’s working now. So, you have all of these things, plus perplexity, lack of trade, aporea is the word that is translated in Luke as “lack of trade.” What to do about the trade situation, the trade deficit that we have and the trade problems that other countries have is becoming acute, and it would not surprise students of world conditions that the next war were fought not over political issues, but over matters having to do with trade and trade balances.
Well, the prophecies that need to be fulfilled have been fulfilled. And so, it’s time for our Lord Jesus to come back again. Oh, I’m looking for Him, aren’t you? If you want to boil it down to the essence of the Christian experience, it is to turn to God from idols (that’s repentance in faith) to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from Heaven, being ready for whenever He may appear.
Oh, I want to be ready, don’t you? There used to be a motto, I haven’t seen it for awhile; it must have gone out of vogue. But there used to be a motto that people had in their homes: “Do nothing today that you wouldn’t want to be doing when Jesus comes. Say nothing today that you wouldn’t want to be saying when Jesus comes. Go no place today that you wouldn’t want to be found when Jesus comes.” It’s a pretty good idea, isn’t it? Yes it is.
Alright, that’s the first chapter: To serve and to wait. Then, in the second chapter, Paul says, “What is my crown of joy?” You are, in the presence of our Lord Jesus, when He comes. The crown, the reward, the payday for the Christian, turns out to be those whom He has won to the Lord Jesus Christ. Can you recall having prayed with anybody for salvation recently, or even at all, for that matter? The payday for the Christian turns out to be the second coming of Christ, when those you have won for the Savior, are identified as having been brought to Christ because of your ministry, your testimony, and your life.
I have to say this in fairness, that there’s many a person who has never preached a sermon and yet who has won, as we say, a soul. You never were able to come to a place where you said to somebody, “Will you now accept Christ as Savior?” But because you lived for the Lord Jesus Christ every day, and your life was true, and your testimony was consistent, and people could see that the Lord Jesus was real in your life, there will be people in Heaven who decided for Christ because they watched you. So be encouraged. Even though you may never have preached a sermon, your life, my beloved friend, is a sermon in shoe leather.
Converts are the payday. Converts are the crown of rejoicing. What is our hope, our joy, our crown of rejoicing? You are, he said, when Jesus comes. The third chapter talks about being clean and holy when He comes. “May the Lord make you to increase and abound in love, one toward another and toward all men, to the end that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. Paul says, “I want you to be kept clean.” Establish your hearts unblameable in holiness.
Now, unblameable means what people see; holiness means what God sees. And it has to be clean both ways, doesn’t it? And if you’re clean in God’s sight, you’re going to be clean in what people see. But he uses both words: unblameable (what people see in you), and holiness (what God sees in you; holiness before God.) And so, Paul says, “I want you to be kept clean until Jesus comes.”
Do you remember that old story of the old days on the trains when they didn’t have air-conditioning and the locomotive was powered by coal or wood? There was this young man who was on a trans-continental train going from east to west, and it was noticed that every little while, because the windows were open, it was unbearably hot, and smoke and dust and bits of cinders would be flying in through the window, and everybody was begrimed because of it. Every now and then the young man would go back to the washroom and wash up. Well, there was a seasoned traveler who said to him, finally, after the umpteenth trip that the boy had made, “Son, you don’t have to do that, just wait until we’re about to get into San Francisco. Then you can wash up.” Oh, the young man said, “You don’t realize, I’m engaged to be married and I’m going out to meet the lady I’m going to marry!” The man said, “That’s alright, you can wash up and you’ll be clean when you get there.” “Oh, no, I want to be clean all the way!”
That’s what God wants for you and me: Clean all the way, so that should He come at any time, we’re ready. And for that matter, if He tarries His coming until people look down and say “Look how natural he looks,” (I always smile at that. If I could, I’d sit up in the casket and say what did you expect?) if our Lord tarries His coming until physical death sets in, then what? Well, Professor Arlton used to tell his students, you want to live so that when your time comes, you don’t have any unfinished business. Clean all the way. That’s Chapter 3.
Then, in Chapter 4, Paul details what’s going to happen at the second coming of Christ. The trumpet shall sound, the voice of the archangel, the trump of God, the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. Dr. Pettingill used to say, “There’s no definite article in there. It’s “in clouds.” There’ll be clouds of believers, said he.
Well, maybe so. “Caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord (verse 18) and therefore, comfort one another with these words.” There’s comfort in the fact that the Lord Jesus is coming again.
We don’t sing songs too often, anymore, about the second coming. That seems to have gone out of style in many a hymnbook. I remember as a boy hearing the congregation sing, “Oh, Lord Jesus, how long, how long, ere we shout the glad song, Christ returneth, hallelujah, hallelujah, Amen. He is coming again, He is coming again, with power and great glory, He is coming again.” Do you remember some of those songs? Well, He is coming again, and the fact that you and I know as we read God’s inerrant Word, that the promise is there. There’s more said about the second coming of Christ in the Bible than there is about the first. He arrived the first time precisely on time and in the manner prophesied, so you can trust Him for His second coming. There is comfort in that, because you and I will be reunited with our loved ones, and we’ll be forever, it says, with the Lord. So shall we ever, forever, be with the Lord.
And then, Chapter 5, of course, talks about being kept. Time is gone, I can’t comment on it, but I thought I’d just share with you the fact that every chapter in this blessed book refers to the second coming of Christ.
Dear Father, today help us to live in the light of Christ’s return, I ask in His name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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