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The Church Is Watchful Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
August 17, 2020 1:00 am

The Church Is Watchful Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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August 17, 2020 1:00 am

The Christian knows that this present world is not his final home. In First Thessalonians we learn of the glorious return of Jesus to set right all that is wrong, and to take His followers to be with Him. As we wait, the church is called to be watchful.

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Let us run with endurance, a race that is set before us looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecta of our faith.

The Christian knows that this world is not his home. He's just passing through in First Thessalonians. We learn of a glorious return of Jesus to set right. All that is wrong and to take his followers to be with him.

As we wait, the church is called to be watchful from the Moody Church in Chicago. This is running to win with Dr. Irwin Leuser, who is clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line.

Pastor Luter, some would say that the church has been watchful for a very long time asking when will Jesus actually appear?

You're absolutely right, Dave.

And before I comment on that, I want to say you made reference to this song. This world is not my home. It's too bad that we don't sing those kinds of songs very often anymore. I grew up in a church and we sang that song often. And you're absolutely right. God has many ways of reminding us that this world is not our home. With regard to the return of Jesus, yes, the church has been watchful for 2000 years. But let me tell you this. There was a time during Old Testament times when people look forward to the coming of the Messiah. And it took hundreds of years, but it did happen. So at one time, all of those prophecies were future. And when Jesus came in Bethlehem, they were fulfilled. So eventually Jesus will come and we must be watchful. You know, we here at the Ministry of Running to win, we are totally committed to getting the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible. One of the most satisfying aspects of this ministry is that running to win is heard in the Middle East. Thousands upon thousands of Muslims are listening to the gospel, and it's because of people like you that we can continue this ministry. Thank you in advance for helping us. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? Endurance partners are those who stand with us regularly with their gifts and their prayers. Here's what you can do. Go to endurance partners, dot org. That's endurance partners, dot org. Or if you prefer, you can call us said one eight eight eight two one eight ninety three thirty seven. That's one eight eight eight two one eight nine DS3 thirty seven. And now let us focus our minds as we contemplate that glorious day when Jesus comes back to this world.

Fact, when God comes to church, we become witnesses for our Lord.

You say, well, God is always coming to church. Yes, most assuredly. But the work of the Holy Spirit oftentimes is not distributed evenly. There are times when God comes mightily in power and marriages that were thought to be hopeless suddenly are put back together through repentance and forgiveness and addictions that have been longstanding are suddenly. Their power is broken. When God comes, I've been wanting to tell you the story of what God did in Chicago here in eighteen fifty eight, and I thought that I would do it this message. But I've changed my mind. It is such an important story. I'd like to add a sermon to this series. And so there will be another message on when God comes to church and we'll pick up the last versus the first Thessalonians Chapter five. But also, I need more time to tell you about the Pern meetings that were held and the transformations that took place here in Chicago, which, according to one secular historian, was called the event of the century. So that will be next time in this series. Today, we're emphasizing how God came to Thessalonika nearly 2000 years ago.

The apostle Paul was there for three weeks and shared in the synagogues. And there were two categories of people that came to saving faith. One were the Jews who had Moses and the other were the Greeks who were schooled in Aristotle and Plato. Plato and Aristotle, despite their brilliance, were unable to lead people to ultimate truth, especially their relationship with God. And Moses gave the law. But the means of the gospel in the coming of Jesus Christ was predicted. But. Now that Christ did come, these Jews needed to understand that he was the Messiah. And it was these two groups that formed the church. You can imagine their divisions. You can imagine their different cultures, their different outlooks. But the gospel brought to them together. And then when Timothy went to Thessalonica to find out how the people were doing, he came back and told Paul they are doing very well. But he said they have some questions. And one of the questions that they had was, what about those who are dying among us? When the Lord Jesus Christ returns from heaven, what's going to happen to them? And if you have your Bibles and you turn to First Thessalonians, Chapter four, you'll notice that the apostle Paul answered. And a couple of months ago, I spoke specifically on this text. So I shall only refer to it. That's First Thessalonians, Chapter four. He says, Those of us who are living when Jesus returns, we will not precede go ahead of those who are dead. In fact, Paul says, I am showing you this by the word of the Lord that the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout of command, and the Dad in Christ shall rise first. If you have a friend or relative or a husband or a child who is a believer, they will rise. If the Lord should come this week or today, they will rise first, and then we shall all be transformed and given brand new bodies and pulses, we shall meet the Lord together in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord. So take heart. Those of you who mourn today, those of you who are lonely, those of you who are wondering whether or not you can continue to put up with all the trouble that is in this world. Eternity is coming and you as a believer, will be in the presence of Jesus. Now, having said that, in Chapter five, and that's actually our text today of First Thessalonians, Chapter five. Paul now goes on and tells what's going to happen after the Rapture. Remember the sequence, the rapture of the church takes place here. The church goes to heaven. And then there is a period of tribulation. And after that, Jesus comes in glory. And every I will see him. And when he comes in glory, he will establish his kingdom, but also his second coming. The second aspect of his coming is going to have connected with it. Judgment and all manner of different kind of events. Now, as you know, there are some people who believe that there is only one phase to the second coming and they try to collapse all of the scriptures into that one phase. I think it is much better to see the coming of Jesus Christ in two phases. First of all, the rapture of the church. Then you have the period of tribulation and what we'll be talking about today. The glorious return of Jesus and how we should live in the midst of that and then the establishment of the kingdom. That's the sequence I think Paul has here. First Thessalonians, chapter five, verse one now concerning the Times and the Seasons. Brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. I I'm just astounded at that. Paul was in Thessalonika only for three weeks and he taught them so thoroughly about the return of Jesus that he said, really, I don't have to go over this, but we will for the sake of review, because you already know about the future. And that shows you the emphasis that Paul put on the return of Jesus. He says, you know, the Times that is a chronos is the Greek word from which we get chronology, you know, the chronology and of the seasons, those special epics in which God works mightily.

And you know what it's all going to be about? How many of us know what it's all going to be about. Then he said The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. We'll pause here, think what is the day of the Lord?

The day of the Lord is mentioned 19 times in the Old Testament. It is always that time of judgment. It is a time when God works specifically with a nation, Israel, when he picks up the timetable of Israel's history because you know that the final scenario takes place in and around Jerusalem. And all of the passages in the Old Testament regarding the Day of the Lord are basically passages of judgment. Now, if you're here today and you are used to hearing only positive messages, only messages of. But the love of God and not the judgment and justice of God. This may come to you as a jolt, but let me read the book of Isaiah just a couple of versus to get you climatized as to what the Old Testament says about this Day of the Lord.

Behold, the day of the Lord comes cruel with wrath and fierce anger to make the land a desolation and destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heaven and their constellations will not give their light. The sun will be dark at its rising and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity. I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.

That's the day of the Lord in the Old Testament, taken from Isaiah Chapter 13.

The Bible says it'll come like a thief in the night. A thief coming in the night is never good news. This is not the good news of the Rapture. This is the good news of the return of Jesus in glory and in judgment. Not when he comes for his saints, but when he comes with his saints. And so Paul says this is the way it's going to be. Now, let me tell you where we're going today so that you can follow me all the way to the station, as it were. What Paul does now in the rest of the verses is he says that there are basically two classes of people. And as you look over this congregation, you notice all of our differences, differences because of our location, because of our skin color, because of our backgrounds, whether from wealth or poverty. There are many, many differences. But at the end of the day, there are only two categories of people.

And Paul is going to use this idea of light and darkness. He is going to talk about day people and night people.

Now, this has nothing to do with being a morning person or an evening person. Have you ever noticed how God, often in his infinite sovereignty in marriage, seems to put a day person with a night person and then he's up in heaven smiling and saying, work it out, folks, just work it out. That's what God does. This is a different kind of day person and night person.

The Bible says that when you are saved, you are translated from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of light. Paul says that he was asked by Jesus to preach the gospel. He says to turn to the Gentiles from darkness into light, that they might experience God's forgiveness and grace. So that's the motif.

It's a light and darkness motif. Now, as we go through this passage, I want you to answer this question. Are you a night person or are you a day person? And this will help us to understand where we are in the picture.

And for those of you who are investigating Christianity and you're considered to be a seeker, go through this exercise with us to help you to answer the question whether you're a night person or a day person.

And I'd like to give you four contrasts between night people and day people that arise out of this text. That's where we're going.

Now, notice, first of all, the first contrast is knowledge vs. ignorance. You'll notice, it says 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, by the way. Do you notice how Paul in this passage uses we they terminology? It's the light versus darkness terminology.

It's the day people versus the night people. First of all, he says the day will not overtake you like a thief because the people, the night people are going to be deluded when people say peace and safety. Now, let's get the chronology here.

You have the rapture of the church and then you have a period of time in which the nations prepare themselves as according to the scriptural pattern. And during that time of preparation, you have a man by the name of Antichrist who arises. The Antichrist is going to be charismatic. He is going to be persuasive.

He is going to be brilliant. And he is going to be satanically evil. He will guarantee Israel's security and the world will believe him. And everybody is going to say peace and safety. Everybody is going to say, at last we have we have it. And it's during that period of time when there is this false sense of security, that judgment will come. Now, even today, we can tell whether we are night people or day people by what we believe and how gullible we are. Night people believe in the big lie. The big lie mentioned in Second Thessalonians is basically the DHT of man night. People believe that man is God. Night people fall for New Age teaching. That tells us that we are essentially gods. It's the lie of Eden. You shall be like God, that we we run our own lives according to our own schedules.

We find our own truth. We find our own reality. And there is no God out there to whom we must answer.

And we're totally on our own. If you believe that, I can assure you that from the standpoint of the Bible, you're a night person, you're not a day person, because day people, day people have a different way of viewing the world.

And I've thought about this. Why is it that we as Christians view the world differently? A lot of it has to do with our perception of ourselves and others.

Night people think of themselves always as better than they are night.

People think to themselves, why should God ever judge me? What have I done that's so bad, especially when they compare themselves with somebody else. So night people are always thinking about the innate goodness of man.

And there is some goodness we're actually a mixture of goodness and badness.

But but nice people have a very naive view regarding human nature. They believe treaties. They they don't understand the subtleties of human nature.

We understand that we are desperate sinners and we have stopped self justification. If you're a light person, you're a day person. You've stopped self-justification because, you know, we stand in the presence of God and only Jesus is able to save us. That's what makes you a day person as opposed to a night person. Let's go on to a second contrast. The other contrast is surprise versus expectancy. You'll notice that Paul says in verse four, but you are not in darkness brothers for that day to surprise you like a thief because you are all children of light.

You see what the world says when they think of the second coming of Jesus. They don't believe it. They don't look forward to it and they don't think it's going to happen.

Because they believe in uniformitarianism. Haven't used that word in a long time, and I thought it would fit right here, uniformitarianism as as everything has been from the beginning. So it will continue to be forever and ever and ever.

Where is the promise of his coming? They ask for since the fathers fell asleep. All things continue on as they are. If you don't believe that Jesus is going to return to Earth, I can assure you you are a night person. Christians not only believe that Jesus is coming so that they won't be caught by surprise because they're expecting it. But they love his appearing. The apostle Paul says that there is a special crown, in fact, symbolically speaking, given to those who who love the appearing of Jesus. If you're here today and you don't really look forward to seeing Jesus and you really fundamentally do not look forward to his return and you just assumed that he not come back, you're a night person day. People have a love for Jesus that has been implanted in their hearts, that their conversion, which makes them view all of these things differently.

So that's the second contrast. Surprise versus expectancy. The next is soberness versus drunkeness. Notice that says for you are all the children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. Verse six. So then let us not sleep, as do others. But let us keep wake can be sober for those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk get drunk at night.

But since we belong to the day we put on the breastplate of love and faith and hope. So there you have it. You have you have drunkenness. Now, he's not talking about literal drunkenness, though that happens to especially if you're a dark person, that is to say, if you are a night person.

But he's talking about a spiritual drunkenness that is totally, completely indifferent.

My friend, this is Pastor Luser. Let me share my heart with you.

How easy it is for us to become indifferent and we become immune to all the things that God wants to show us because we are so absorbed by our surroundings. All the news that is on television, all of the things that we are bombarded with, it is time for you and me to focus on the return of Jesus, our love for him, and our commitment to live in the light and let it shine. That's actually the focus of our ministry running to win. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? Endurance partners are those who join hands with us. They become. I like to say, a part of the running to win family. And they support us regularly with their gifts and their prayers. Check it out. Here's what you can do. Go to endurance partners, dot org. That's endurance partners, dot org. Or if you prefer, call us at one eight eight eight two one eight nine 23 37. Your support is vital for the continuation of this ministry. And as we expand and share the gospel, you're a part of what we are doing. You are partners in this ministry.

It's time now for another chance for you to ask faster Luser, a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. All of us wish we knew more about what happens at the moment of death. Kroupa listens to running to win and wants to know this. When a Christian dies, do his body and spirit go straight to heaven? Or is there some sort of holding place until Christ's second coming?

Very interesting question. And of course, the way in which you phrased it, when a Christian dies, obviously their body does not go to heaven. If you've attended a funeral, you know that the body goes into the heart of the earth. Now there is going to be a resurrection. And at that time of resurrection, the body and the spirit meet. Until that time, the spirit evidently has the functions of a body being able to see and to think and to talk, because we know that the people in heaven today are communicating. But in a sense, they are incomplete until the resurrection of the body. Now, where does this spirit go? Does it go to some holding place? No, it does go to paradise. Remember, Jesus said to the thief on the cross today, you shall be with me in paradise. But and this is very important. Those who have died today, their spirits, though, in paradise. And we can say that they are in heaven with the Lord. They are not yet in the final heaven. That's why the Bible says in Revelation, chapter 21, verse one. And I saw and new heaven and a new earth coming down from God out of heaven. So when you read that passage, Revelation, Chapter 21 and 22, you get a picture of our permanent eternal heaven. And that is different from the heaven that the people are in now. So it's not a holding pattern by any stretch of the imagination. It's a place of bliss and wonder, but it isn't final. That's still on the way.

Some wise words of counsel from Dr. Irwin Lood, sir. Thank you, Dr. Luser, if you'd like to hear your question answered. You can go to our Web site at RTW, offer dot com and click on Ask Pastor Luter or call us at one eight eight eight two.

One eight. Ninety three. Thirty seven. That's one eight eight eight two. One eight. Ninety three. Thirty seven.

You can write to us at running to win 16 35. North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois.

Six oh six one for Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago.

Next time, more about the differences between day people and night people and why we need to shun the deeds of darkness. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Irwin Lewis, sir. This is Dave McCalister. Running to win is sponsored by the Budy Church.

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