…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.
Therefore, comfort one another with these words.
I Thessalonians 4:17-18
From Acts 17, we learn Paul and his companions were only in Thessalonica for a short three weeks. They were forced to leave because of all the trouble going on there. In that brief time they founded a church and departed leaving it well taught, healthy, and vibrant. The first letter to the Thessalonians was penned by Paul from Corinth, because of his love and concern for the church there. It was quite likely the first writing of such letters we have in the New Testament.
First Thessalonians contains profound teachings on the gospel, lays out methodology for ministry, and useful counsel for the life of the believer. Yet its most distinguishing trait is the constant reminder of the very real and soon Rapture of the church.
Paul instilled into the minds of the Thessalonian believers that the return of Christ could come at any moment. These believers were exhorted by Paul, as we also are, to live with the soon return of Christ in constant mind. I remind you, Paul was only in their presence for three weeks. Many today, and I write of Christians, unfortunately believe that teaching eschatology (the study of end-times), is too confusing and complicated for both young and even mature Christian.
Paul certainly did not feel that way, he would bristle at such a discouraging thought. He included solid teaching on the very subject in his short three weeks with this new and young church. Why? When we live with the expectation of the soon return of the Lord it is both a tremendous comfort and powerful motivation for us to live our lives with the perspective and priorities which bless us and our God. How do I know this? The Bible says so!
Today it is not unusual, even in the church, to hear one say with a snicker—“Yes, I’ve heard it before, the Lord is coming soon… but I don’t buy it… it’s been two thousand years.” Peter addresses that very attitude—from I Peter 3:3-5 … scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts saying, “Where is the promise of His coming… all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” They willfully forget…
Resist those who might entice you to “willfully forget” the joy of living with an eye toward the Lord’s coming…soon! I encourage you to live your life with the wonderful expectation and anticipation of the soon coming of the Lord…it will do your soul well!