Sunday School Material
4-21-13: The Lord Will Return

(I Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-11; 4/21/13)

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is Paul informs the readers about the great hope that we have in being resurrected. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to live like we have hope in being resurrected.

(Click here for pdf version)

Body:

Read I Thessalonians 4:13-18

I. About Ignorance. In this section of our Sunday School material Paul informs his readers that when believers die, there will be a resurrection. Therefore, believers don’t have to grieve as those who have no hope.

When Jesus returns, those who fell asleep in Him will be raised first. And then those who are still alive will rise to be with the Lord. Believers are to encourage one another with these words.

Applications -

- Supportive and encouraging relationships. Notice in vss. 13, 18 that Paul refers to the readers as brothers and sisters. He doesn’t want them to be uninformed about what is going on. He wants them to encourage one another.

In like manner, believers ought to view and treat one another as loving siblings. “Loving siblings” is to create distance between it and sibling rivalry or estranged siblings. There is too much distance in many of our churches.

We don’t view one another as siblings, and consequently, we don’t treat one another as loving siblings. There are too many people making mistakes and suffering unnecessary anxiety because of the lack of siblinghood in our churches. Let’s work on developing supportive and encouraging relationships among believers.

We all need some encouragement from time to time, and church ought to be a place where we find it - not just from the pulpit, but also from our relationships with other believers. (Think about how the “Relationship Building Project” relates to this application.)

- The hope of being resurrected. Notice in vss. 13-17 of our Sunday School material that Paul talks about how believers die, but we die with the hope of being resurrected to be with the Lord.

First, what Paul calls sleep is a soft figure of speech (i.e., euphuism) for death. In other words, believers ought to expect to die. We would do well to make death preparations (e.g., insurance, will, living will, gifts to the church, etc.) that would take us beyond the scope of our lesson for today.

Second, believers have the hope of being resurrected to be with the Lord forever. Even though we cannot explain all of the details about death, resurrection, and being with the Lord, there is great comfort in having hope that goes beyond what we can see.

Third, because of our hope, we can choose to grieve differently than those who have no hope. “Yes” we may shed tears, but they are tears related to missing our saved loved ones, not tears related to something terrible happening to them.

Our tears are not as intense and as long lived, as those with no hope. Let’s work on making ready for our deaths, reaffirming our hope in being resurrected, and bracing ourselves for the death of other believers.

- Being right with God, instead of worried about the future. Notice in vss. 16-17 of our Sunday School material that Jesus is pictured as a commander of an army, when He comes back.

First, the military imagery here and the armor of vs. 8 kills the idea that God is a pacifist who never fights. And furthermore, when one doesn’t live by God’s will, there is the risk of confronting the militant side of God. 

Second, there is debate among scholars about the sequence of events with Jesus’ return. The Pastor believers that this text points to the Rapture and then there will be a second coming of Christ at the Battle of Armageddon. Others lump the Rapture and Second Coming together, as the Sunday School Commentator may be doing.

The more important issue is to make sure we are right with God through Christ, so that no matter what happens, God will take care of His own. Let’s make sure we are right with God through Christ, so we don’t have to worry about the future.

Read I Thessalonians 5:1-5

II. About Times. In our Sunday School material Paul talks about how the time and date of the day of the Lord is not known. For those who are not believers, it will come as a thief in the night, while others are declaring peace and safety. But for believers, the time will not be as surprising.

Applications -

- Trusting God more than the self-proclaimed prophets. Notice in vss. 2-5 that no one knows the exact time and day of Jesus’ return, even though they may say that they do. But we do know that He will return.

First, there are those who will speak as if they have some divine revelation. However, the reality may be far from what they are projecting. Thus, we should be skeptical of those who claim to have foreknowledge of the future.

Second, even though the details may be fuzzy, we should trust God and know that at the end of the day, Jesus will return. We can trust God with the details. Let’s work on trusting God more than the self-proclaimed prophets.

Read I Thessalonians 5:6-11

III. About Behavior. In our Sunday School material Paul goes on to talk about believers being awake and sober, instead of being asleep and drunk like others. Paul talks about putting in the armor of God. Paul wants the believers to encourage one another with the reminders that we shall gather together with the Lord, after this life is over.

Applications -

- Living like people of the day and light. Notice in vss. 6-8 of our Sunday School material that the people of light and of the day are to live differently than those who are of the darkness and of the night.

We are to be awake or alert. We are to be sober - emotionally balanced. We are to put on the breastplate of love and faith to protect our heart, lungs, and vital organs.

And we are to put on the helmet of the hope of our salvation to protect our brain, eyes, ears - our place of processing what is going on around us and the place where instructions are sent from for the rest of our bodies.

Let’s live like people of the light and the day. We are to focus on obeying God’s will, instead of being distracted by what others are saying and how things look.

- Joyful evangelism and edification. Notice in vss. 9-11 of our Sunday School material that as people of the light and of the day, we have been appointed to escape the wrath of God through salvation in Christ.

First, those who are not saved are doomed to deal with God’s wrath - Hell. The need for evangelism should be obvious.

Second, the grand privilege of being appointed to be saved should keep a smile on our faces and joy in our hearts. No matter how bad things get down here, we have an appointment to be with the Lord and the other believers.

Third, we are urged again to encourage one another and be a part of building one another up. There is too much apathy and in some cases malice, in our churches, for us to claim that we have mastered this part of the lesson. Let’s work on evangelism and edification with a joyful heart.

Conclusion: Let’s live like we have hope in being resurrected. God has much for those who obey His will.

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