Hope in Christ’s Return

Hope in Christ’s Return

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul seeks to encourage the Thessalonian believers toward godliness.  He has reflected upon their conversion, he is aware of the trials they face, and he has exhorted them toward sanctification.  He knows, however, the tendency to lose heart.  And as these Christians are losing loved ones and even facing persecution, Paul urges them to the hope of Christ’s second coming.  It is really this message of hope and of encouragement that shapes the passage.  Paul, with this hope as the backdrop, encourages them with the coming resurrection, and he exhorts them to be ready for the Day of Christ’s coming.

He writes about the resurrection, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)  Paul is speaking to concern about loved ones who have departed, as some were possibly tempted to doubt the hope that they would share in the eternal hope promised in the resurrection of the believer.  Perhaps you yourself have lost a loved one in Christ, and it is difficult in the midst of the grief to have the confidence that they will rise.  Consider two questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  Question 37 asks, “What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?”  The answer provided is, “The souls of believers are, at their death, made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves until the resurrection.” The believer who dies, according to the catechism, is already present with Christ in glory.  But what is sometimes overlooked is this statement: “their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves until the resurrection.”  The body of the believer remains in that vital connection to Jesus Christ even in the grave—this union with Jesus Christ is the guarantee of the believer’s resurrection.  Christ has been raised; therefore, each of His people will be as well.  Question 38 of the Shorter Catechism goes on to ask, “What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?”  The answer is “At the resurrection, believers, being raised up to glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.” 

This is your hope—Christ has borne the judgment; therefore, you will be acquitted if you are found in Him.  And, you will be “made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.”  This is also the hope you have for loved ones in Christ who have departed. 

There is great hope in the resurrection.  We ought to look longingly toward the return of Christ.  But Paul also gives the exhortation toward being prepared for that Day.  The believer ought to look to their great hope of salvation in Jesus Christ and pursue likeness to Him as they await that Day. If you are not a believer, won’t you see this great salvation offered unto you by this Returning King, and look to Him? Then you will have a place to stand on that Day, and you will possess an eternal hope. We will discuss this further this Lord’s Day at 5 PM during worship at The Commons at St. Andrews.  For directions, click here, or contact us for more information.  You can also join us on FacebookLive@RiverCityARP or on YouTube

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

The Will of God for the Christian

The Will of God for the Christian

In the letter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul recalls the conversion of the Thessalonian believers.  He also rejoices that they are continuing to grow in their faith, and that they are being made more like Christ.  As we come to chapter 4, he continues commend them, but he also exhorts them to press on.  Specifically, he encourages his hearers toward both holiness and brotherly love.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul writes, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification….”  We often ask, “What is the will of God for my life?”  As the Christian writer Kevin DeYoung notes in his book, Just Do Something, we tend to overcomplicate that question.  We certainly ought to pray when it comes to major decisions and should always want to submit to the will of God, but Paul is making a point about what the will of God is ultimately for every Christian—sanctification.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks in question 35 “What is sanctification?”  The answer provided by the catechism is, “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.”  In other words, this means that if you are a Christian, God is at work in you.  You are not saved by your holiness; rather, you are saved by Jesus Christ who lived sinlessly on your behalf and who died bearing your sin and guilt.  But now that you are a Christian, God is at work in you to make you more like Jesus.  Do you love Christ more and hate sin more than you once did?  That is because the Lord God is at work in you.

Paul, knowing that God is doing this work of sanctification in the lives of his hearers exhorts them then unto holiness and brotherly love.  And those two things really go together.  As one is being made to be more like Jesus, they will love His people all the more.  Is your fellowship marked by brotherly love?  We will discuss these things more fully as we meet for worship this Lord’s Day, September 19 at The Commons at St. Andrews Church in Little Rock at 5 PM.  For directions, click here or contact us for more information.  You can also join us on Facebook Live@RiverCityARP or on YouTube

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

Lord’s Day Worship Location for September 19 and Hereafter

Lord’s Day Worship Location for September 19 and Hereafter

This week and hereafter we are meeting for worship at 5 PM at The Commons at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube. We are grateful to the Arkansas Dream Center for having hosted us so many weeks and are grateful to St. Andrews Church for their hospitality to us as well.