July 8, 2020
Thank you for your support in prayer each Wednesday as we pray together for our prodigals and for revival. I like the acronym that Rick Warren uses for HOPE —Holding On, Praying Expectantly. We hold on the promises of God, and pray in faith that He will answer! One of the promises that is clearly presented in Scripture is the Second Coming of Christ.
The word parousia is one of the main Greek words for “coming” and is found twenty-four times in the New Testament; four of them are in 1 Thessalonians. In each instance, Paul is referring to the return of Christ, or His Second Coming. According to Vine’s New Testament, it literally means "a presence.” The word is made up of two parts: para which means "with" and ousia "being" (from eimi, "to be”). It denotes both an "arrival" and a consequent "presence with.” Let’s look at the four occurrences of this word in 1 Thessalonians.
In chapter two, Paul says, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thes. 2:19-20). We learn here that when He, our Savior comes, we will be “before our Lord Jesus,” meaning we will be in front of Him. It seems that Paul is thinking about a time of reckoning or accounting, or a time of reward-giving. As he speaks to these believers, he stresses that they were his crown. The fact that they would be in heaven with him was all the glory and joy he needed. It reminds us of the importance of investing in the lives of others. It may be a soul needing to be saved that you expend personal time and effort into, and that soul is there with you before the Lord Jesus at His coming. Or, it may be a believer needing to be encouraged, and as a result of your willingness to build into their life, they also stand before Him with joy.
In chapter three, Paul says, “Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thes. 3:11-13). There is a definite correlation between our love increasing for one another and our hearts being established in holiness at the coming of our Lord Jesus. Our love for one another is rooted in God’s love for us. As we experience His love more deeply, we will be enabled to love others in the same fashion. This love produces purity, sanctification, and holiness within. The apostle wanted these believers to come before their Lord with hearts established in holiness. I hope the same for you and me.
In chapter four, Paul says, “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep…and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:15,17). Paul was clearing up an error that had been taught; he was reminding these saints that those who had already died in Christ would rise with those alive at His coming, and together they would meet the Lord. It is a comforting anticipation that we may be alive when the Lord returns and snatched into the air by His mighty power. One moment stuck in traffic, the next with the Lord. One moment on a bed of sickness, the next in His presence. One moment lifting our hands in praise, the next praising Him with all the other saints. The prospect is absolutely incredible. No wonder, Paul says, “Encourage each other with these words.”
In chapter five, Paul says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 5:23). Although we are in the process of sanctification here on earth, at the coming of Christ that process will be complete. It is God who sanctifies us now, and it is God who will present us fully sanctified at the coming of Christ. Sin will be forever eradicated. Failure will not be a part of our vocabulary in that day. We will be entirely and eternally changed into His likeness. This word “kept” means to be preserved or guarded. God will ensure this, and you can be confident in His faithfulness.
As we pray, as we live, as we seek to follow the Lord, and as we wait for His coming, may we do so with patience and devotion. He is coming!
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel