We will start with 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 here in Part 2 of "Introduction to My E-Book, 'Introduction to The Mid-Week Rapture.' "
Let's go to 1 THESSALONIANS chapter 5; I'll quote and discuss the first four verses here. Then I'll quote and very briefly discuss verses 5, 6. "Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. [Why not? Because Paul had taught them quite a bit already.] (2) For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. [[It is very important to see that the Lord Jesus is not coming for Us like a thief in the night, like many teach He is. He is coming like a thief in the night for those who are living in rebellion against Him and who are not looking for, and ready for, His coming. Verses 3 and 4, which I'll read next, suffice to demonstrate that the Lord is not coming for Us like a thief in the night.]] (3) While THEY [my emphasis throughout this verse] are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon THEM suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and THEY will not escape. [[They will be saying things like "Peace and Safety" instead of repenting and submitting (in faith) to God and His new-covenant plan of salvation. They will not escape, but those who are ready for, and looking for, Christ's second coming will escape. Instead of facing God's destructive judgments, they will be glorified and raptured from the earth to begin to reign with Him.]] (4) But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief."
I'll give an important cross-reference, Revelation 3:1-6. "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars [The Lord Jesus Christ], says this: 'I know your deeds [or, works], that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. (2) Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds [works] completed in the sight of My God [[To the extent we really have faith, we will have works, the works that the saving grace of God in Christ, which includes the indwelling Spirit of God, enables us to do. Faith without works is dead; that is, it isn't real faith.]]. (3) So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. [[We don't hear the word "repent" near enough in our day. We should hear about the need for repentance when we become Christians and the need for repentance whenever Christians are living in sin. If we are in sin, we must repent; there is no other satisfactory answer. The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, has a lot to say about repentance.]] Therefore if you do not wake up [Christ warns these Christians at Sardis and all Christians in the same situation], I WILL COME LIKE A THIEF, AND YOU WILL NOT KNOW AT WHAT HOUR I WILL COME TO YOU [my emphasis]. (4) But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white for they are worthy [We are made worthy by the saving grace of God in Christ]. (5) He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (6) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' " There is a powerful warning here. The Lord Jesus warned those Christians that if they did not repent they would forfeit their place in God's eternal kingdom that is filled with His glory. If we look to God, He will give us the grace to repent.
Jesus said that if those Christians at Sardis who needed to repent did not repent, He would come against them in judgment like a thief (like a thief in the night; at an hour they would not know) and He indirectly stated that He would erase their names from the book of life, which would mean that they would no longer be His people. He said the same thing to many other Christians in the seven churches. You frequently hear it said that those Christians that Jesus threatened with loss of salvation never were true, born-again Christians, but that is clearly wrong. In verse 2 Jesus exhorted them to "wake up and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die." Those words confirm that they were still part of the true Christian church at that time. And the fact that the Christians who needed to repent at Sardis had soiled their clean garments through living in sin without repentance (unlike the few Christians at Sardis who had not soiled their garments), showed that they had become true Christians. I'll read Revelation 19:8, which speaks of the bride of Christ, "It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints [the righteous acts (and lifestyle) of the Christians during their lives on the earth]." If the Christians at Sardis who had soiled their garments would repent, which Jesus was calling them to do, they would cleanse their garments through the powerful saving grace of God in Christ.
The fact that that Jesus indirectly stated that He would erase their names from the book of life also demonstrates that they had become true Christians. Otherwise their names wouldn't have been in the book of life "from the foundation of the world." (See Rev. 13:8; 17:8.) I'll give one more example to demonstrate that the Christians who were called to repent, or forfeit their salvation, were true Christians. The fact that the Christians at Ephesus (see Rev. 2:1-7) had a lampstand demonstrated that they were part of the true Christian church (Rev. 1:20). However (even though they had so much right), Jesus warned them that if they didn't repent, He would "remove their lampstand" (Rev. 2:5).
I recommend that you read my paper, "Once Saved, Always Saved?," that is on my internet site. I tried very hard to give the balanced truth of what the New Testament teaches on this topic in that paper. Even though it is clear that there are a large number of passages in the New Testament that demonstrate that true Christians can lose their salvation, I don't have too much of a problem with that doctrine as long as it is not being abused, and there are many Christians who hold that doctrine who are not abusing it. An example of abusing the doctrine is when Christians disregard the powerful warnings to repent throughout the New Testament in passages like Rev. 3:1-6, based on the fact that they know (they think they know) that Christians cannot lose their salvation. As long as Christians who need to repent take the warnings seriously and repent, we don't have too much of a problem.
True Christians should not lose their salvation. I am much closer to Christians who don't believe true Christians can lose their salvation, as long as they aren't abusing the doctrine, than I am to Christians who very sincerely end up striving (striving mostly in the flesh) trying to please God and stay saved. They believe that they frequently lose their salvation, and they have no assurance of salvation. That is a miserable way to live. We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches!
I have observed over the years that large numbers of Christians are not doing much seeking God for the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches, because they assume that they have it already. All of us Christians (and especially ministers) need to humble ourselves before God and sincerely seek Him for the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. Every misinterpretation of the Bible hurts, and some are catastrophic.
Now I'll quote 1 THESSALONIANS 5:4 again and further discuss this verse, "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;" "The darkness" goes with Satan's kingdom of darkness, a kingdom of rebellion and sin, a kingdom not established in God's truth, righteousness, and holiness. The apostle Paul clearly states here that the day of judgment will not overtake us like a thief if we are living for God in His divine order (by grace through faith).
One reason that the day of judgment will not overtake us as a thief in the night is that God has told us several definite things that will come to pass in the years just preceding the return of Christ. For example (and we will talk more about all these things in some detail as we continue with this study), we will see the seven-year treaty that Antichrist will make, or confirm, with Israel. There may be some doubt at first about whether that particular treaty is the one spoken of in Dan. 9:27. But any doubt will be removed when things start taking place in sequence in accordance with God's prophetic word. For example, the three and one-half year ministry of God's two prophets/witnesses that we learn about from Revelation chapter 11 will begin at the time that treaty is initiated. The first six trumpets of the book of Revelation will sound and the prophesied events associated with those trumpets will all come to pass, in sequence, before the Lord returns at the sounding of the seventh, and last, trumpet in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. For one last example, Antichrist's abomination of desolation will come to pass in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem about a month before the Lord returns and the rapture takes place. We (those who are living for Him and ready for His coming) should know the approximate day of His return many days before He returns.
Now I'll read 1 THESSALONIANS 5:5, 6. "for you are all sons of light and sons of day [The light and the day goes with walking in God's truth and His righteousness and holiness.]. We are not of night nor of darkness; (6) so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober [or, self-controlled]."
In the next article we'll start where we stopped today. God bless you!
Let's go back to 1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-6, which we discussed at the end of our study in the last article. I'll read the verses and make some comments and add to what I said last week. I'll read from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, which I'll always use unless I mention otherwise. Frequently I'll make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]].
"Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need for anything to be written to you. [That's because the apostle Paul had already taught them about these things.] (2) For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (3) While they are saying, 'Peace and Safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (4) But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; (5) for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor or darkness; (6) so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober."
The day of the Lord, the day of judgment, will start when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth in the middle of the seven-year period known as Daniel's 70th week. As we discussed in some detail in the last article, verse 4 shows that the Lord is not coming for us as a thief in the night. However, many Christians believe He is coming as a thief in the night for us too. He is coming as a thief in the night only for those who are living in sin, without repentance. He is not coming as a thief in the night for those who are ready for His coming. How do we get ready for His coming? By believing the truth of the gospel and living the truth of the gospel, through the powerful saving grace of God in Christ. If we should sin, we must repent and be forgiven.
I'm going to turn to Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11. These verses will help us understand 1 Thess. 5:3. (Ezekiel 13:10 is a similar verse, but we won't look at that verse here.) I'll read Jeremiah 6:14, "They have healed the brokenness of my people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace." The backsliden prophets and priests in Jeremiah's day were telling the backsliden people of Judah what they wanted to hear, "Peace, peace," all is well, which contradicted what Jeremiah, who was a true prophet, was telling the people. Jeremiah was telling the people that they must repent, and that if they did not repent intense judgment would fall on them. But the backsliden people of Judah were clinging to false words like "Peace and safety!" (1 Thess. 5:3) instead of repenting, and some were plotting to kill Jeremiah. They didn't need to worry (they thought) because God will never let a bunch of pagan Babylonians come and destroy Jerusalem or His temple. The people of Judah didn't repent, and many of them were carried into captivity, and in 587/586 BC the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.
Now I'll read Jeremiah 8:11, "They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace." There can't be peace when God's people continue to live in sin.
I'll read 1 THESSALONIANS 5:3 again: "While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly [that is, God's destructive judgments will come upon them like a thief in the night], like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape." They will not escape, but we will escape. We will be glorified and raptured to meet the Lord in the air at the time He returns; we will escape all the wrath of God being poured out throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week, and (much more importantly) we will escape the wrath of the second death, which is the eternal lake of fire.
Now we will look at two important cross-references that deal with our escaping the wrath to come. First we'll look at LUKE 21:34-36. Jesus said, "Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day [He is speaking of the day of judgment that will begin when He returns to the earth.] will not come upon you suddenly [or, unexpectedly] like a trap [[(This double bracket continues for three paragraphs.) The NIV translates "unexpectedly" instead of "suddenly." For that day to come upon people suddenly (or unexpectedly) like a trap is the same thing as the day coming upon them like a thief in the night. But, as we have discussed in some detail, He is not coming after those who are living for Him and ready for His coming like a thief in the night. He has commanded us to get ready for His coming and to always stay ready for His coming. We are in a dangerous place if we are not always ready for His coming. We have been warned!
The Lord has commanded all Christians to always be ready for His coming; we certainly cannot wait for end-time signs to get ready for His coming. But He has taught us of several things that will come to pass before He returns. We learn in Matthew chapter 24 and in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, for example, that Antichrist's abomination of desolation will take place before the Lord Jesus returns to the earth with the clouds of heaven. And we learn from the book of Revelation that the first six trumpets will all sound before the Lord returns (in the middle of Daniel's 70th week) at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation. Also, we learn from Revelation chapter 11 of the three and one-half year ministry of the two witnesses (also called prophets) that will take place throughout the first half of Daniel's 70th week, in the days preceding His coming.
The Lord Jesus is not coming for us like a thief in the night, and end-times signs will precede His coming. But again, we cannot wait for end-time signs to get ready for His return. In Matthew chapter 24, for example, the Lord Jesus exhorted every Christian of every generation (not that He made it clear that there would be more than one generation) with the need to always be ready for His return. For one thing, if we are living in sin, He may come for us in judgment like a thief in the night at any time (see Rev. 3:3, for example).]]; (35) for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. (36) But keep on the alert at all times [always staying ready for His coming], praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place [or, things that are going to take place, and the NIV translates "that you may be able to escape." Those who are ready for His coming will escape all these things that are going to take place. For one thing, we will be raptured from the earth to meet the Lord in the air at the time of His return.], and to stand before the Son of Man."
The "Son of Man" is the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of being blown away by judgment when He comes, we will be glorified and stand before Him; we will even begin to reign with Him in a never-ending reign. Keep on the alert at all times, praying (looking to God in prayer and living for Him by His sufficient grace) that you may be able to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. We will escape, but as 1 Thess. 5:3 says, "they will not escape."
I'll read 1 THESSALONIANS 5:3 again, "While they are saying 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape." And I'll read LUKE 21:36 again, "But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength [be able] to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." They will not escape. He is coming after them like a thief in the night. We will escape. He is coming for us who are living for Him and looking for His return to bless us and to glorify us.
We will start with Revelation 3:10 in Part 3, which probably is the most important verse in the Bible that shows that we will be taken in the rapture before the time of intense testing that will take place throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week.