Read: 1 Thess 4:16-18
You will remember that these epistles were written to real people who were experiencing real problems in the real world. You might say that, they are a lot like we are. Their world, as well as ours, was hostile to their Christian faith. There are at least four reasons why Paul wrote these letters to the church at Thessalonica.
1. To assure them of his (Paul's) love and concern.
2. To encourage them to live holy lives.
3. To ground them in the doctrines of the faith, especially the doctrine of the 2nd coming.
4. To correct some weaknesses in the church.
Now that sounds like exactly what we need tonight, doesn't it? So let's listen tonight as Paul speaks to us about how we should living in this world in light of Christ's soon return.
I. Be Watchful v1-11
Note: There are many contrasts between the lives of the believers and the unbelievers. A few of those are brought out in this passage.
A. Light and Darkness
1. As far as the world is concerned, the coming of Christ will be like a thief in the night.
2. The unbeliever is in the dark.
3. His understanding is darkened:
(Eph 4:18) "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:"
4. He loves the darkness, is controlled by the power of darkness and is headed for eternal darkness.
5. BUT the believer is a child of light and therefore should live in the light ready for Christ's return. (v5)
B. Expectancy and Surprise
1. The unsaved world lives in false security, just like those on the "unsinkable" Titanic.
2. When the Coast Guard wired the Titanic several Iceberg warnings, the radioman ignored them and they finally responded with "Don't bother me! I'm too busy".
3. Less than an hour later, the Titanic was sinking.
4. The tragedy could have been avoided if only they had listened to the messages!
5. Paul gives two illustrations of Christ's coming.
a. The thief: shows the surprise of His coming. (v3-4)
b. The woman giving birth: shows the suddenness and suffering involved.
c. When Jesus returns and raptures away His bride, then the suffering of the tribulation period will begin ... the day of the Lord.
C. Soberness and Drunkenness
1. Christians who are looking for Christ to come will stay awake and alert.
2. It is a sad situation when a Christian allows himself to be drunk with the affairs of this world. (v6-7)
3. Then he isn't alert like he should be toward the things of the Lord.
4. The unsaved of this world are like drunken men, living in a false paradise and enjoying a false security.
5. But for every drunk, there is a hangover, a time when they must pay the consequences of their brief escape from reality.
D. Salvation and Wrath
(John 3:36) "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
1. But! God hath not appointed us to wrath!
2. The wrath of God will fall upon the unbeliever, but the Christian has salvation or deliverance through our Lord Jesus Christ. (v9)
3. Notice: Our salvation isn't dependent on what we do, but upon what Christ did!
a. He died for us...
b. …whether we wake or sleep...
4. There is reason to be comforted and to comfort others.
II. Be Mindful (12-16)
A. Toward the spiritual leadership.
1. The church family needs spiritual leadership, because without leadership the family can fall apart.
2. God ordained leadership for the local church. (v12-13)
3. Therefore there are certain responsi-bilities that the church fami1y have:
a. They are to accept them in the Lord.
b. They are to appreciate them for their work among the family.
c. They are to love then as brothers.
d. They are to obey them as leaders.
4. The result of the church family following their spiritual leaders will be peace and harmony in the church.
B. Toward one another.
1. It is not enough to have church leadership; there must also be a partnership with each member doing their part.
2. Paul points out some particular kinds of Christians who need the help of others.
a. The unruly: they are the careless who need to be warned when they get out of line.
b. The feebleminded: this term has nothing to do with mentality; it actually means the 'fainthearted'. They are the ones who are first to give up and quit. They need to be encouraged.
c. The weak: they are those who are not mature in the Lord. They need to be helped and supported until they can walk in the Lord.
3. Our ministry toward them needs to be patient and in proper attitude.
III. Be Careful in Worship (17-28)
A. Worship is the most important activity of a local church family.
B. We see here the elements that make up the worship ministry of a church.
1. Prayer (v17)
a. Prayer was an important part of the worship in the early church.
b. 'Pray without ceasing' refers to an attitude and relationship with God.
c. We need to continually keep the prayer lines open with God.
d. We should always be In proper fellowship with the Father, so that we can speak freely with Him at any time.
2. Praise (v18)
a. Thanksgiving is also a vital part of worship.
b. 'In everything give thanks' is not hard to understand at all.
c. When we fail to be careful to thank God for everything, we grow ungrateful.
d. It is wonderful when we receive some great blessing from God, but it is just as wonderful to know that He gives us all the little seemingly insignificant things each day.
e. If we win constantly remind ourselves of His goodness by thanking Him for everything, it will help us be a blessing to others.
NOTE: Ever see someone thank God for the food and then complain about it? etc.
3. The Word of God v19-21
a. The three exhortations in these verses go together and help us under-stand how the Holy Spirit works in Christian worship.
b. There can be emotion, commotion, but unless there is spiritual truth the Holy Spirit will not work.
c. We must allow the Holy Spirit to teach us and we must allow the Word of God to teach us.
d. When we have both taking place, then we can "Prove all things".
4. Godly conduct. v22-24
a. The purpose of worship is that we might become more like Christ in character and conduct.
b. Godly conduct is more than just the negative aspect 'abstain from all appearances of evil'
c. It is seen through the balance of negative and positive.
d. It isn't enough that we abstain from evil, we must be sanctified unto God for service.
5. Fellowship v25-28
a. This is one aspect of worship that cannot be overlooked.
b. Praying for one another, loving one another, and sharing the Word of God with one another is vital to our growth as a Christian.
Our walk as a believer is important not only to us, but to others as well. We are epistles open and read of all men. It is important that we watch how we walk in this present world that we might not bring reproach upon Christ. We must be watchful, be mindful, and be careful.