TipToe Christians - The Return of Jesus

Bible Book: 1 Thessalonians  4
Subject: Resurrection; Hope; Rapture; Return of Jesus
Introduction

One day Jesus is going to come for His people. He will ride upon the clouds and call all those who are saved to meet Him in the air.

There is the story of a little boy who had been to church and heard the preacher talking about such an upward journey. The next week he went with his father to a large building in downtown Atlanta. The elevator shot up at lightning speed, past the fifth floor, then the tenth, it shot past the fifteenth floor, and rising like a jet - up, up, up it went. As the elevator roared passed the fiftieth floor, the little boy looked over at his dad, gulped and asked, "Daddy, does God know we’re coming?"

The real question is, do people know the Savior is coming one day soon? It is God's plan to have us come to Him and one day He will call us to do so. He would have us to understand the nature and manner of the event called the rapture. Not everyone comprehends this subject properly, even if they are Christians. In fact there was a church in the Bible that needed instruction concerning the coming of the Lord.

The church at Thessalonica had problems understanding the return of Jesus Christ. They did not have the problems of Galatia - that of being legalistic. Nor did they have the problems of Ephesus – the church that worked hard but left its first love for Jesus. They did not have the problems of Corinth - that of being divided with different groups desiring to control the agenda of the fellowship. This church simply misunderstood the doctrine of the return of Jesus.

It is fortunate for us that Thessalonica had this problem, because this issue was part of the reason that Paul penned two letters to this church.

Let's look at the subject of Christ's return under four headings.

I. Grieving

It appears that the Church at Thessalonica heard that Jesus was coming soon and they apparently had prepared for His coming.  They got ready for Him to come, but He did not come as quickly as they had estimated, and that left them confused. They misunderstood time in its eternal sense. In eternal terms, Christ has been back in heaven less than three days, for we are told that a thousand years is as a day to the Lord. The Thessalonians became alarmed at what they saw as a delay in the return of Jesus.

Why were they so dismayed? The Thessalonians felt that anyone who died before Jesus returned had missed the kingdom and would not be taken to heaven. They had misunderstood the truth about the rapture of the church. Paul wrote to them to correct their ignorance.

The Thessalonians grieved over their loved ones like the world grieves when someone dies. Paul wrote to tell them not to grieve like the rest of the world. Now, understand this, Paul did not tell them not to grieve at all. When someone we love passes from this life, it causes us great emotional stress, even if we are Christians. However, we do not grieve as world grieves! Paul wrote to tell the Thessalonian Christians that the world has no hope following death. In fact, this world has no hope at all in its attempt to create a perfect civilization. That doesn’t mean that we are to be passive in seeking to make our world this best place it can be, for believers and unbelievers, but we are told that sin has scarred this old world and continues to rend hearts, homes and lives apart every day.

There is, however, hope for the human race and that hope is found in Christ. He makes our lives abundant now and promises us a utopia beyond this world.

In the 1800s people came to believe that the world could be made perfect. Then WWI came. After it was over, the people called it "the war to end all wars." Then came WWII with Adolf Hitler. The world is not getting better, it is the same as it has always been. Today we face terrorists who behead people, blow up women and children and are determined to make slaves of the entire earth. This world will never be as God mean it to be until Jesus returns. Indeed, a person who has life only in this world has a right to grieve.

The writer Everett L. Fullam pointed out that when an eagle senses it is about to die, it leaves its nest, files to a rock, fastens its talons on it, looks straight into the setting sun, and dies. He told how his father, who was a Christian, "saw beyond the sun" just before he died. Unexpectedly awakening from a coma, the dying man spoke appreciatively to each family member at his bedside. Then, noticing the tears coursing down their cheeks, he told them that if they could hear what he had been hearing and see what he had just seen, they would not want him to recover. Finally, gathering up his last ounce of strength, he exclaimed, "Rejoice with me! This is my crowning day." With that he died. What joy, what jubilation there is for the child of God who goes out to meet God! Only Christ can provide such joy in death.

II. Believing

Next we are told that the Christian believes some things that are very important. We believe! The Bible does not say we ought to believe, but that "we believe." We believe that Jesus died and rose again. We believe that if we are Christians. This is the foundation of the Christian faith.

The word "will" is used six times in just a few verses. There is no chance that Jesus will not do what he promised to do. There are some things that "will" happen. You can bank on it! You can believe it! You can put your faith in it!

The resurrection of Jesus is the proof of our resurrection. How do we know that we will be raised? How do we know that Jesus will come again? How do we know that our loved ones in Christ will be with us in the rapture? It is all based on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus rose and He is the first fruits of all those that shall be raised.

Note the word "sleep" which Paul used in our text for today. Does this mean that our souls sleep in the grave until they are awakened in the rapture? In the days of Paul there were two words for death. One spoke of a horrible death and the other spoke of a pleasant death. Paul used both. He spoke of Jesus with the horrible word for death. The death of Jesus was horrible! But when Paul spoke of the Christian's death, he spoke of it as sleep. He used a word to express the pleasant nature of Christian death. Jesus died in our sins, but the Christian simply falls asleep in the arms of Christ!

Those of us who have trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus, having confused our sins and recognized Him as Lord, will never have to die the way Jesus died. Paul was telling them not to carry their loved ones out to the grave while grieving like the world.

III. Leaving

Verse 15 - We are going to leave this world when Jesus comes for us!

A. The Return

Note the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The return of the Lord is going to be personal. "Jesus, Himself, will come."

Once the great preacher McCheyne asked several men in a room if they expected Jesus to come today. They said, "No." McCheyne said, "In such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh."

We are going to be leaving this world and we are to live in the reality of that truth. We must live daily as if this very day is the day our Lord shall come for us. The Christian should so deeply love the Savior that he is constantly watching for His return. He willingly treads the unpleasant roads of this life because of the glorious future that awaits him. An anonymous poet put it like this:

“One little hour of watching for the Master,

Eternal years to walk with Him in white;

 One little hour to bravely meet life's duties,

Eternal years to reign with Him in light.

 One little hour for weary toils and trials,

Eternal years for calm and peaceful rest;

 One little hour for patient self‑denials,

Eternal years of life where life is best.”

B. The Resurrection

The Lord Himself will come with a shout! Jesus had the stone moved and called Lazarus from the tomb. He will do that on the day of the rapture for all those who have trusted Him.

D. L. Moody said, "I am glad there's a depth in the Bible I know nothing about, for it shows its Divine authorship. A man once came to me with a very difficult passage and said, `Mr. Moody, how do you explain that?' I replied, `I don't.' `But how do you interpret it?' `I don't interpret it.' `Well, how do you understand it?' `I don't understand it.' `What do you do with it?' `I believe it!I believe many things I don't understand. In John 3, Jesus reminded Nicodemus that if he was unable to grasp earthly things, heavenly things would be far beyond him. Nature itself is filled with wonders we cannot fathom so how can we expect to know everything spiritual?'"

C. The Rapture

He will then call up with those who are raised the believers who are alive  in this world at the time of His coming. We shall be changed in a moment.

He shall come Fully! What do I mean? Just think of it like this...

1. ForceFully
2. RightFully
3. JoyFully

A true story is told about a distinguished man, the only white person buried in a Georgia cemetery reserved exclusively for blacks. He had lost his mother when he was just a baby. His father, who never married again, hired a black woman named Mandy to help raise his son. She was a Christian, and she took her task seriously. Seldom has a motherless boy received such warmhearted attention. One of his earliest memories was of her bending over him in his upstairs bedroom and softly saying, "Wake up, my boy! Mornin' is come." As the years passed, this devoted woman continued to serve as his substitute mother. The young man went away to college, but when he would come home each summer she would climb the stairs again - more slowly now - and call him in the same loving way. One day after he had become a successful statesman, the sad message came, "Mandy is dead. Can you attend her funeral?" As he stood by her grave in the cemetery, he turned to his friends and said, "If I die before Jesus comes, I want to be buried here beside Mandy. I like to think that on resurrection day she'll speak to me again and say, `Wake up, my boy, God's mornin' is come!'"

D. Reunion

We will meet in the air. We will meet the great believers of the past. All those who have trusted the Lord will meet in a great union. Most importantly, we will desire to see our Savior first of all!

E. Residence

We shall ever be with the Lord, and we shall occupy the Home He described in John 14.

The promise of Christ should improve us in several ways.

1. First, our Worship is Improved!

We are praising and worshiping the King of Kings who is coming for us one day. Our worship is improved greatly, if we understand the promise of His coming.

2. Second our Witness is Improved.

When we are aware and conscious of His coming, we know that our time is limited to share the love of God with those around us. We must work for the night is coming when on one can work for the Lord.

3. Third our Walk with Christ here and now is Improved!

The story is told about a school administrator who visited an one‑room country school many years ago. As he was leaving, he promised the children that he would come again, but he did not indicate when. He also said that when he returned, he was going to give a prize to the child who had the cleanest desk. After he left, one of the girl, who was notorious for her cluttered desk, announced that she was going to win the award. Her schoolmates laughed out loud at her statement. "Your desk is always a mess!" they said. Mary responded, "From now on, I'm going to clean it out every Monday morning.” One of her friends asked, "Suppose the man comes on Friday?" Mary quickly answered, "That's no problem, I'll clean it out every morning." Then her friends asked, "But what if he comes at the end of the day?" Mary was silent for a moment and then her face lit up. "I know what I'll do! I'll just keep my desk clean all the time!"

That's the kind of attitude Christians should have in the light of the promised return of Christ.

IV. Relieving

He closes the chapter by telling them to encourage one another! He told the story of the rapture to relieve their broken hearts and to lift their spirits. He told the story to relieve the pressure of this world upon their minds and lives. He wrote to them about the return of Jesus and all the promise it holds for Christians to relieve their feeling of hopelessness in this broken world.

Conclusion

Speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ's second coming, Roy W. Gustafson said that in southern England there is a village with the curious name of Tiptoe. It seemed natural to call it that because years ago before paved streets and sidewalks were installed, the muddy condition of the lanes in that area often made it necessary for the people to walk on tiptoe. Gustafson remarked, "The child of God who walks the streets of this life faces a similar situation. He is to go forward on the tiptoe of expectancy, not only because of his evil surroundings, but also because he is waiting for Someone who is coming very soon!"

Ruyard Kipling Wrote:

"When earth's last picture is painted

And the tubes are twistd and dried

When the oldest colors have faded,

And the youngest critic has died,

We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it -

Lie down for an aeon or two,

Till the Master of all Good workmen

Shall put us to work anew.

And those that were good shall be happy,

They shall sit in a golden chair,

They shall splash at a ten league canvas

With brushes of comet's hair.

They shall find real saints to draw from,

Magdalene, Peter and Paul,

They shall work for an age at a sitting

And never be tired at all.

And only the Master shall praise them,

And only the Master shall blame;

And no one will work for money

And no one will work for fame;

But each for the joy of the working,

And each in his separate star,

Shall draw the thing as he sees it,

For the God of things as they are."

The theology of that poem may be lacking, but the beauty of it speaks of the wonder of serving the Lord in the eternal world to come.

Are you ready, if Jesus comes today? You can be. Are you downhearted because of some issue you or your family is facing? Look up, dear Christian friend, Christ is coming for you!