24th Sunday after Pentecost 15/11/2020

Sermon- Pentecost 24- “Be Ready for the Lord’s Appearing,” Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Pastor Joseph Asher, 11/15/20, *IN NOMINE JESU*

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

The Day of the Lord

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at nightBut since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.  

I love how the readings all come together as we approach the end of the church year.  On the back of your bulletin insert, all three readings: Zephaniah 1, Thessalonians 5, and Matthew 25 together address the coming Judgement.  And the theme is the “Day of the Lord.”

You can see this clearly in the second line of the Zephaniah reading.  Here God’s Word declares,

For the Day of the Lord is near.

Of course, Zephaniah’s reference points toward God’s judgement upon wicked Israel and the coming destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 BC.  In just a couple of generations, a mere sixty to one hundred years, God’s Word was fulfilled when the armies of Nebuchadnezzar swept in with fire, sword, and death and stopped the wickedness of Israel.  Yahweh wanted repentance and faithfulness, but His people would not turn to Him.

Still, in this Old Testament prophecy, you can also see a glimpse of the Last Day and Jesus’ second coming.  Zephaniah’s warning from God has both a short view—the Babylonians—and a long view, God’s final judgement, and you can see Christ’s appearing in verses 14-15-

14 The great day of the Lord is near,
    near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;
    the mighty man cries aloud there.
15 A day of wrath is that day,
    a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
    a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness…

At the appearing of Jesus, all those who rejected Christ will indeed find this day bitter.  For in righteousness the Lord will condemn all those who have chosen rebellion and wickedness rather than faith in His Son.  And Jesus describes God’s judgement as a place which includes “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:30)  Hell is the place where there is distress and anguish and ruin 

and devastation.

And God’s coming judgement reality now takes us to 1st Thessalonians 5.  Here Paul begins to instruct the Church on the “times and seasons.”  And in the context of the apostle’s letter, we know that Paul will cover the END Times.  Verse 2-

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

The glorious appearing of Christ will be unexpected and sudden.  Just as a thief catches a household by surprise, Jesus will catch the unbelieving world by surprise.  Day-to-day life will be normal.  School will be in session.  Team practices and competitions will be scheduled and held.  You’ll be expected at work on the Last Day.  Texts and telephone calls, and the unending press of social medial will fill up life the way it always has, and everyone will respond to the final day as if they have all the time in the world.

But then Christ will appear.  And for all who have no faith or life in Christ, verse 3 tells us that destruction will come and there will be no escape.

For Christians, the Second Coming of Christ impacts out lives in two ways.  First, in the Holy Spirit’s power, we’ve got to do all that is necessary to stay strong in our Christian faith.  We’ve said it before…

  • Make worship your priority
  • Receive the Sacrament for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith
  • Stay in God’s Word with personal and family devotions
  • Go to Sunday school
  • Maintain strong fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ so that you can encourage each other in the Lord

And the second way that Jesus’ promised return impacts our lives is that we’ve got to do a better job of sharing the Gospel with our unbelieving family, friends, and co-workers.  We know the Last Day is quickly coming.  We know the love of Christ, and that life and salvation is found only in Him.  And we know that repentance and faith in the Savior is the only way to acceptable before God.  In Jesus alone we receive forgiveness, peace, and eternal life.

So we’ve got to communicate the Good News that Jesus died on the cross and paid for all sin, and that through faith in Christ, a great transfer takes place.  The Savior removes all our sin and unrighteousness, and He gives us all that He has- life, and joy, and peace.

Now at verse six, there is a shift in focus.  Paul wants us to examine our own lives as we prepare for Jesus’ arrival

So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 

Sober living?  Now that has a lot of meaning for us.  It isn’t only that as Christians, we are not to be impaired with alcohol and drugs, that’s part of it, but Paul’s meaning carries with it the message that we are to live our lives in alert expectation of Jesus’ Second Coming.  

In the domain of sports, you stay alert when you keep your eyes on the ball.  In life, you’re alert when you keep your eyes on your goal.  In the Christian faith, you are alert when through God’s Word, you know and follow Christ.

Asher/ p.3

And in Matthew 24, Jesus tells us to be alert to the signs of the times.  Christ lists these signs:

  • Wars and rumors of wars
  • Nations rising against nations
  • Famines and earthquakes 
  • Persecution of Christian believers
  • False prophets and teachers deceiving many
  • And finally, the general increase of wickedness is a sign of the times, because it indicates the Last Day is near.

Jesus said that all these things were the beginning of birth pains. The pain precedes the fulfillment.  And heaven and hell hangs in the balance with Jesus as the only Savior.  

But Christ also said we are not to be alarmed about the day of His return.  But instead, He says to His followers, Luke 21:28-

Stand up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Redemption- it’s not a word we use much these days.  To “redeem” means to “buy back.”  And Jesus bought us back from the slavery and death of sin.  It took the cross for our purchase.

And the great joy for believers on the Last Day is that when Jesus appears, our redemption is complete.

Our being “bought back” from sin started at the cross, with His blood, death, and Easter resurrection.  Jesus paid the price to save us, so when our Lord appears on the clouds, that will be the day of redemption… the day of the greatest joy of our lives.  For Christ comes in love to receive us to Himself and take us home to heaven.

So, how do we get ready for Jesus’ soon return?  Paul answers this question in verse 8-

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.

We’ve just recently observed Veterans Day.  Paul wants us to know that we are in another battle.  It is a spiritual battle with the highest of stakes.  What hangs in the balance is our soul and hope of salvation.  But in this desperate conflict, we have been issued armor.  God, Himself, has provided us with the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of the hope of salvation.  These are gifts to us in Jesus Christ.  For it is in the Savior’s strength at the cross and in the Easter resurrection that we win the battle over sin, death, and hell.

And because Christ is risen, we have the Lord’s glorious promise, verse 9-

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

+Sola Deo Gloria+

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