I Thessalonians 4:18
Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Kind of cryptic to pull that verse out and let it stand by itself, isn't it?
We're told to comfort one another....
In order to move in this manner (of bringing comfort) there must be someone or something that is bringing a sense of pain, confusion, hurt, etc....that is drawing us away from the truth of Scripture. There must be something that is steadily working to steal our peace.
Sometimes life has a way of making us uncomfortable. Especially when we try to live it in our own strength and ability. We see events happening around us that we are powerless to do anything about. So we gravitate to all the social media outlets where we can post or send our feelings and beliefs. We feel better about ourselves because we let the world know how we feel. But we really haven't addressed any of the problems that we see. They are still there, unfolding their darkness and message of despair. Yet Paul writes and instructs those in the church at Thessalonica to comfort each other with "these" words....What is He talking about?
Let's back up to Verse 16 and 17:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
You mean that I'm talking about the 2nd coming of Christ?
Well, not really...the second coming will involve Him actually sitting foot on planet earth. Here in this we see Christ in the clouds and those who are alive being connected with Him where He is.
All of this type teaching on the return of Christ has been some what divided into two camps.
1.) Those who focus solely on this part of Scripture, and as such, try to take the headlines and news reports to validate the fact that we are living in the last days. Sometimes there is hype and over statement in the teaching as if they have to kind of frighten those who are listening.
So are we in the last days? You bet.
But we have been in the last days since Jesus first came to earth and walked among us. I'm not saying that to debunk anyone's view. I'm simply saying that we've been in the last days for a while. As John Wimber use to say..."The one thing I'm sure of, is that we have been "Last-er" than ever before.
The second camp of teaching is to simply not teach about the return of Christ. The thinking is (and this is conjecture on my part) that life is hard......Jesus is going to return.....let's make the most of the time we have left to do the kingdom work. While I applaud this, I think by not teaching on it, pastor's tend to leave those under their care with only a partial view of the Kingdom. Maybe there is something to just putting your head down and moving forward daily without ever stopping to look up, or check the signs. Personally, I like to keep one eye here on earth, and one eye looking up for His return.
I think Paul wrote those verses in I Thessalonians to remind the people of Jesus' promise in John 14:3 - And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. There is hope in that verse. There is promise in that thought that Jesus has laid out. Here's the way I see it.
If I die...I'm going to where Jesus is. I win.
If I don't die and Jesus returns for His Bride (the church...the real church, not the "Play at it" church) then I win.
Some people try to pin me down in what I believe about the return of Christ.
"Are you a pre-trib rapture believer?"
"Are you a mid-trib rapture believer?"
'Or are you a "post-trib" rapture believer?"
I'm a Pan-Trib - rapture believer.
Pan-trib? what's that?
I don't know when Jesus return will take place....Pre....mid....or post....
But I trust Him enough to know that it will all Pan out.
Don't be ignorant of His promise to return, and don't fall in love with the world so much that you'd rather stay here than to go be with Him.