First Thessalonians chapter 5 – 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. Now, if you remember from last week, our preaching series is entitled "One Another," and we're learning how we can relate with one another as we rightly relate with the Lord. And so, last week we learned about forgiving one another, and today we're going to learn, "What does it mean to comfort one another?" To comfort one another. And we're going to get to the admonition about comforting one another a little bit in the last part of the message.
The first part of the message is a little bit technical; we're going to talk about prophesy, and I'll give you some charts and some thoughts from Scripture about future events because God is showing us, in the text this morning, that one of the ways we comfort one another is to remember that Jesus Christ is coming again. And so, that's what we're going to learn today – about the coming of the Lord.
Now, if you don't have a Bible, I want you to find the bulletin – hopefully you got a bulletin – 'cause inside the bulletin you're going to see the verses, and it's really important to remember that everything we're preaching here at Lancaster Baptist comes right from the Scripture. So, I want you to see the Scripture and follow along with us.
All right, 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, and I'm going to read verses 1 through 11, if you'll follow me there, please. "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, 'Peace and safety,' then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of the darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of righteousness, of faith and love; and for the helmet, a hope of salvation.
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Wherefore, comfort yourselves together and edify one another, even as also ye do."
Well, let's pray together.
Father, we thank You for the infallible Word of God. We ask that You would teach us today about Your plan for the upcoming days and events, and that You would teach us to be comforted by Your promises. And I ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
You may be seated.
Well, we live in a society that is a constantly changing, very tumultuous society. Often there is uncertainty and pain, and sometimes with very little comfort. It might be a hurricane; it might be an earthquake or a tsunami; it might be something at work or even with your family, but there are discomforting days all around us. And I don't know about you, but I personally like to stay comfortable.
How many of you like to be comfortable? You like padded chairs and air conditioning. When I first started preaching in Lancaster, we did not have padded chairs; we had wood pews, and we had no air conditioning, but we still had fun. It was all right, but I like comfort as well. When I go to the dentist, I like the dentist to make me comfortable. How many of you agree with me on that? I just say, "Whatever you've got, I'll take it; I want to be comfortable." When I'm at the dentist, that always helps.
I was at a dermatologist's office this week, and dermatologists don't always make you feel very comfortable if they find something on your skin that they want to remove. In fact, I have figured out I could be a dermatologist. All you have to do is know how to use a blowtorch. [Laughter] Right? Just crank that thing up – [sounds like whhhh] – and start burning someone. You know? And I told the dermatologist – I said, "I'm going to be preaching this Sunday on comforting one another. So, how about a little comfort this way?" But she did not listen; she just took the blowtorch out and went to work.
I also had some blood drawn this week. And I don't – it's just my opinion, but I think sometimes the Filipino nurses have the most grace when it comes to that. In fact, this guy put that needle in my arm so quickly I did not even feel it. Now, either he was that good, or I'm that tough. I'm not sure which one it is – probably the second one. But – and then he said to me, "What are you gonna do this weekend?"
I said, "I'm going to go to church and worship the Lord."
And he said, "I'm a believer, too."
So, I figured, "Well, he must have the grace of the Lord doing that work." And he had a comforting manner about him. And I'm just saying that when we're having times of pain, we always appreciate someone that is sensitive to that and that has a spirit to comfort.
Now, people that go through trials in life, sometimes they look at weird places to get their comfort when they have pain and when they have problems. And some people look to Eastern meditation and some type of – some type of maybe yoga instruction and this type of thing. I saw a poster the other day, in a coffee shop, and it said, "Enter engineering with San Guru." And it talked about this guru and how he would help you get all your inner engineering taken care of. And I took a picture of – I took a look at him. I thought, "I think I'll pass on that one."
Some people try drugs, and when they're having a lot of pain or discomfort, they'll even become addicted to drugs. And some people try to buy their way out of their misery, and they go out and they get themselves in incredible debt just trying shopping therapy. And don't raise your hands, husbands; how many of your wives are excellent at that? So, all right, but the fact is that people try different things to hide their pain. Right? To mask their pain.
And many times, in seeking comfort, people go to the wrong place. Now, how many of you that are believers are thankful that we have the Spirit of God within us who wants to comfort us in our time of need? In fact, look in your notes. Just by way of introduction, some of you may not be familiar with the Holy Spirit's comfort. So, I want to mention that John 14:16 says, "And I will pray the Father" – this is Jesus speaking; He says – "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, neither know of Him; but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you."
How many of you remember that verse that says, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world"? Right? And that's talking about the Holy Spirit, and that He wants to come. And Jesus was saying to His disciples, "I'm gonna leave you. I'm gonna be ascending up into heaven, but I'll pray the Father that He'll send you a Comforter, someone that will not just be around you; He's going to be in you."
And when you are truly born again, the Bible says that you're born again of the spirit, and the Spirit of God dwells in you, and He comforts you when you have your pain and difficult times in life. And so, as believers, God says, "I'm going to give you a Comforter." But then God additionally gives us promises in the Bible that comfort us and that help us. And we're gonna study a few of those this morning.
The first thing I want you to notice in our notes this morning is the believer's conviction. God wants you to have a conviction in your heart that is a comforting conviction. Notice in verse 1 of our text this morning, the Bible says, "But of the times and of the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."
Now, every Christian understands, as you grow in the Bible, that one of the great convictions we have is that Jesus Christ is coming again. The day of the Lord is coming as a thief in the night. And we're not to be people that are, like, doubting what might happen or wondering what might happen. In fact, I want you to look real quickly at verse number 4. Notice what it says. "Brethren, ye are not in darkness, that ye should – that the day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are the children of the light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness."
Now I'm not talking about the false light of some yogi or some teacher. I'm not talking about the crystals that they have for sale in different markets. But when we talk about the light, what we're saying is that believers have the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit of God, that we are truly saved, and that we have an understanding.
Notice in your notes Psalm 107, verse 10, "Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being found [sic] in affliction and iron because they rebelled against the words of God." Those who sit in darkness are those who have rejected Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." So, when we read about those who sit in darkness, it is referring to those who have rejected Christ. But Isaiah 9 and verse 2 says, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath He shined."
So, when someone receives Christ as Savior, they see the light of His glory and His salvation, and His Spirit indwells in them, and we begin to develop new convictions; we begin to understand the happenings of our day in a different light because we're not of the darkness. We are of the light, the illumination of God; the Spirit of God enlightens us. And what does He show us? What is the conviction that comforts us?
Well, the first thing I want you to notice there in letter A is the imminent return of the Lord. You see, we are comforted in this fact that the Lord is coming again. And we believe that He is coming imminently, and this is a great comforting truth for us. The Bible says that we're to be looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. And that hope is comforting to our hearts.
Now, notice what it says in verse 2 of this chapter 5. It says, "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." Now, I want you to see a phrase, and we're gonna just take a quick minute to define it. The phrase is "the day of the Lord." And just bear with me; this might be a little technical if you're newer to the subjects of prophesy. And this isn't a prophetic message entirely, but I want to define "the day of the Lord" because the day of the Lord is really referring to an extended period of time and multiple events at the end of the world's time.
To give you an overview, look in your notes at 2 Peter 3:10. It says, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the Earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." By the way, the Jehovah Witness deny that. They say that this world will become heaven. How many of you understand this world is not heaven, and how many of you are thankful for that this morning? Strange, but it tells us this Earth will be burned up. We'll talk about the new Earth in just a moment.
Look at verse 11, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to His promise look for new heavens and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth the righteous."
So, in our text this morning, we see this phrase "the day of the Lord" is coming as a thief in the night, and there are several things that take place during this day of the Lord. It begins, of course, with the rapture of the Church or the catching away of the Church. But then notice, if you would, several things that will take place during that day of the Lord.
First of all, there will be what is known as the seven-year tribulation – the seven-year tribulation mentioned in Jeremiah 30, Daniel 9, Revelation chapter 3. There will be, at first, peace. The Antichrist will offer peace. "But then," the Bible says, "sudden destruction." There will be bowl judgments, vile judgments; there will be terrible wars and pain on the Earth during that tribulation.
At the end of the seven-year tribulation, there is the great second coming of Jesus Christ, Revelation chapter 19. It is the great day of His wrath. It is when the Lord returns. Maybe you've heard of the battle of Armageddon. The armies of the world come against the Lord, and we are to return with the Lord as His believers. That's the second coming of Jesus Christ.
It is followed by what is known as the millennial reign, the one thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ. Revelation 20 and verse 4, "They lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." And at the end of that thousand years, the Bible says, in Revelation 20 and verse 7 that Satan is defeated, and that he is cast forever more into the lake of fire. Following that, we read about an event called "the great white throne judgment." The great white throne judgment is a time when all who have rejected Christ will stand before the Lord for the final Day of Judgment, one of the saddest, saddest days in all of world history. That men and women who rejected Christ, the Bible says, will be cast into a lake of fire – Revelation 20:15; you can read that for yourself.
Well then we read, in the Scriptures, that there will be the renewing of the universe. We saw that a moment ago. The elements will melt; the old Earth will pass away; the new heaven and the new Earth will come. And that will begin what is called the eternal day of God. We talk about living in heaven forever, and that will begin the eternal day of God.
So, when we read about the day of the Lord, it is talking about these cataclysmic events, these amazing events that take place, with the coming of Christ to take the Church away, the time of the tribulation, the return of Christ with His Church to judge the world, to cast Satan into the fires of hell. And then we will live with the Lord for all of eternity. That's what is referenced by the day of the Lord.
Now, that's a lot if you haven't studied a lot about it. I'd love to refer a book to you that's over in the bookstore, a book we wrote many years ago called Understanding the Times. And it'll take every one of those topics I just mentioned, and there's a chapter on that topic, an entire chapter on each of those topics. The definition of the day of the Lord, it's a broad spectrum of events. And the timing of the day of the Lord is very interesting to me. Notice in verse 2 it says, "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." So, the coming of Christ for His Church is something that we refer to as imminent; it is something that is as a thief in the night.
Now, you might have an alarm at home, and you turn the alarm on, or you might have a dog like we did. We had a dog named Lucy. And Lucy was a great barker. We wanted Lucy to be out there and be ready in case someone came in the night. And unfortunately, about a month ago, we were walking out to go to church on a Wednesday night, and Lucy hadn't been feeling well, and it was about 15 minutes till 7:00. We were going to church, and all of a sudden, Lucy just fell over and died. And it was terrible. And my wife started to cry, and she said, "Lucy's my friend." I mean it was the most terrible thing.
And I didn't realize how much of a friend Lucy had become to Terrie. I mean – and Terrie was crying in church. I said, "Honey, stop crying in church. People are going to think we're fighting or something." You know? [Laughter] But Lucy was such a good watchdog. You know? And if anybody got near our house, she would bark and bark; then she would lick them. All right? So, she wasn't mean, but she was a good watchdog. Now, we have a new dog now. Someday I'll show you a picture. His name is Paddington. He doesn't bother barking; he just licks. That's all he does. He's a little puppy; he just wants to lick. So, he's not going to help us with the imminent showing up of burglars.
But, you know, when we think about a thief in the night, we think about the potential at any moment. So, we want to be ready for that. But the Bible says that suddenly Jesus Christ is going to come. Suddenly, He will return as a thief in the night. And the Bible says, in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, "And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from wrath to come."
"Imminent" means that Jesus could come at any moment. Now, look in your notes at 1 Thessalonians 4:16. It says, "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
Now, some of you are young, and you never think about these things, but those of us that are older, sometimes we go to funeral services. And as a pastor, we have a lot of those services, and I'm so thankful that when someone knows the Lord, we can stand up and say that they're ever with the Lord. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." And the Bible says for those of us that are alive and remain when He comes, that He will catch us up to be with Him.
It's something like this: if you could envision maybe a planter box full of bark and dirt, and inside there's some nails, and if I were to bring a large magnet over that box, suddenly the nails, which have the same nature as the magnet, would be drawn up to the magnet. They'd be caught up to the magnet. The dirt and the bark would remain below, but the nails would come up. And when Jesus comes again, He's going to attract and call all of us who have His Spirit in us; we're going to be caught right up to be with the Lord. It's an imminent event that we look forward to.
So, we have a conviction, as Christians. And our conviction is this: that this world is going to end not according to man's design, but according to God's design, and that Jesus is coming again for the believers, to take us away. That we're not going to see the wrath that's going to come upon this Earth. We're not going to see the wrath of eternity without God, but that we will be caught away with the Lord. And that's a conviction that we have that gives us comfort.
But notice not only the imminent return of the Lord. Notice, secondly, the empty promises of world power – the empty promises of world power. Now, notice in verse 3 it says, "For when they shall say, 'Peace and safety,' then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape."
Now, when Jesus Christ takes the Church away, the world leaders will say, "Peace and safety." The Antichrist, he's going to act like everything's fine, "Finally got rid of these Christians; they were the problem anyways. We're gonna have peace and safety." This is what the world will say. Notice it says in verse 3, "For they shall say, 'Peace and safety.'" And this is what world leaders like to say. Woodrow Wilson said, after World War I, it was "the war to end all wars." Right? This would end all wars.
And that's what every worldwide kingdom says – the Egyptian kingdom, the Assyrian kingdom, the Babylonian kingdom, the Persian kingdom, the Greek kingdom – all these large kingdoms, and they thought that they had finally brought peace to the entire world. Alexander the Great, the Roman kingdom from 63 B.C. to 476 A.D. And then there was Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. And then there was the Austria-Hungarian Empire. And then there was Ottoman-Turkish Empire. Napoleon. There was the British Empire from the 500s till about 1960 it began to kinda dismantle.
But all of these great world powers, none of them could bring world peace. And yet, the world leaders keep saying, "Peace and safety." And that will be the message of the first part of the tribulation. But the Bible says when they're giving that message, then suddenly destruction will come. Notice that word "destruction" there in verse 3. It means ruin. It is going to be a time of travail. It says, "As of travail upon a woman with child." In other words, it just comes suddenly.
We have four children, and I remember Terrie, with each of our children, saying to me – she'd grab me by the arm, and she'd say, "It's time."
Now, for me, it was like, "Yeah?" You know? "Time for what? A hamburger? A hotdog? What are you talking about?"
But in her body, something was going on, and she was saying, "It is time right now." Suddenly and with travail, she knew the babies were coming. Right? And God says that this moment is going to be a time that sudden destruction comes upon the world. And though the world leaders are saying, "Peace and safety," sudden destruction comes.
Now, our conviction – you say, "Well, where do you get comfort out of this?" We get comfort in the fact that the day of the Lord is coming, and that we are going to be saved from the wrath to come. That's our conviction. Notice secondly, this morning, not only the believer's conviction but the believer's caution.
Now, if we believe that Jesus is coming again, God says, "You need to get ready for that. You need to be prepared for the coming of the Lord." Look at verse 6, if you would. The Bible says, "Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober." Now, whenever you see the word "therefore," you gotta see what it's there for. So, what he's saying is, "Since the Lord is coming as a thief in the night," then he says, "therefore, don't fall asleep, but you need to be awake, and you need to be sober."
Verse 7, "For they that sleep sleep in the night, and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day" – remember, those of us that are of the day, that's talking about whom? The saved, right? If you're of the day, you are – what?
If you're of the night, you are lost. Right? So, let's review. If you are of the day, you are – what?
Saved. You have the Spirit of God; you're enlightened. If you're of the night, you're a nonbeliever; you don't believe any of this stuff. But if you're of the day – and this is what the Bible says here in verse 8, "Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation."
So, God says, "I want to caution you." He says, "I'm not gonna – you're not gonna be left behind." And He tells the church there in Revelation 3:10, the church of Philadelphia, He said, "This trial that's coming on all the world, it's not gonna come on you. I am gonna take you away before the tribulation."
But how should we live before Jesus comes? How should we live right now during this Church age or this age of grace? Well, there's two words I want you to see. First of all, he says, "I want you to awake. I want you to awake." And he tells us this in verse 6. "Don't sleep, as others do, but watch and be sober. I want you to stay vigilant."
God says, "I don't want you to waste your time. You that are of the day, you know there's a heaven; you know there's a hell. You know there's a reason to tell others about Jesus. You know there's a reason to live for Me. You know there's a purpose to this life. You know there's an eternal life. So, don't waste your life; don't waste your time. Don't sleep through this life, but watch and be very careful."
"Awake to righteousness," the Bible says, "and sin not," 1 Corinthians 15:34, "for some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." God says, "I want you to awake to righteousness. I want you to be alert in this day."
When I was a teenager, my parents were missionaries in Korea. Korea – South Korea is a very vigilant country. At any moment, they could have war. And so, we were always taught to be alert. In fact, sometimes they would have exercises. And one time they even closed the highway in front of my house and landed F-15s right on the freeway there. And sometimes at school, they would say, "Now, we're going to have a drill. In case there's a bombing, we want you to go to this building, or go to this part of the football field, or go down here and catch a bus. We didn't just have earthquake drills; we had war drills – right? – as school children. They wanted us to be alert; they wanted us to be awake.
And God says to us, "I want you to be alert and awake, because Jesus is coming. And I don't want you to waste your life; I want you to live your life on purpose." He said – also he says here, "I want you to be temperate. I want you" – notice in verse 6, he says, "Let us be sober." You see, when someone is drunk, they're not paying attention. When someone is drunk, they're not aware of what's going on around about them. Tonight, our youth pastor, my son Larry Chappell, will preach an entire message on, "What does the Bible say about alcohol?" And I encourage every one of you to come hear it. And it'll be a help to you as a Christian, our relationship with alcohol.
But the Bible says here that we're to be sober. Mark chapter 13 and verse 34, "For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh – at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning – lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping."
Now, ladies and gentlemen, listen to me this morning. Jesus Christ is coming again. He's like the watchman who's gone away. We don't know when He's coming back, but we want to be ready when He comes. We don't want to be sleeping. We don't want to be drunk on the pleasures of this world. We don't want to be living a worldly lifestyle that doesn't even think about the coming of Jesus. Jesus says, "If you confidently believe I'm coming back, then live your life with preparedness and be looking for my coming."
Listen, if you thought Jesus was coming tomorrow, and you had an unsaved friend, you might tell them about Jesus Christ. Or if you had some issue in your heart towards someone, you might want that made right before Jesus comes again. So, we're to awaken. And we're then, secondly, to prepare.
Notice in verse 8 it says, "Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." Notice the breastplate of faith. This speaks of salvation. Ephesians 6:14, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked."
Look at – you cannot look forward to the coming of the Lord unless you've received the Lord by faith as your Savior. So, put on the breastplate of faith, and then put on, the Bible says, the helmet of salvation. Ephesians 6:17, "Take the helmet of salvation, which is the sword of the Spirit, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." You see, this phrase is very interesting, in verse 8; it says, "The helmet, the hope of salvation."
Let me ask you a question. Do you have the hope of salvation? It means a confident expectation. Do you know that you're saved, your sins are forgiven, that you have a home in heaven? You see, the Bible says, "Jesus is coming soon. Make sure that you're saved. Make sure that you're spiritually awake and that you're spiritually alive." And so, there is the believer's conviction: that the day of the Lord is coming as a thief in the night. And the believer's caution: we need to be alert; we need to be saved; we need to have that hope in our heart that we know that Jesus is our Savior and that we're living for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We're not like a bunch of drunks, out of our minds, but we're alert to what's going on in this world, and we're living for the Lord. Is everybody with me this morning?
All right. So, we have the believer's conviction: Jesus is coming. And we have this believer's caution: that we don't want to just go through life, but we want to be alert and make sure that we're saved. And then notice thirdly, the believer's comfort. Now, I told you we'd get to the comfort as the application of the message. So, let's look at the believer's comfort today.
You say, "I don't hear a lot of comfort. You're talking about the end of the world, and you're talking about the tribulation. Where's the comfort?"
Well, let's look at this, this morning, verse 9, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath" – all right, let's stop right there. How many find comfort right there? All right, how many of you are glad that God doesn't say, "You're saved, but now I'm going to appoint you to wrath." It says, "God has not appointed us to wrath." So, letter A, we are preserved from wrath. God has not ordained that we should go through wrath. He has not ordained that the believer go through the tribulation or spend eternity in hell. God has not appointed us to wrath.
First Thessalonians 1:10, "And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." I'm thankful for a Savior who has saved me from the wrath to come. How many of you are thankful today that you are saved from the wrath to come?
So, first of all, we're comforted in that fact, that the world, though it will have a cataclysmic end, we, who are believers, are saved from the wrath to come. Secondly, we are promised eternity with Him. Now, notice this in verse 9, "God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." Have you obtained that salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ? God says, "I don't want you to have wrath. I don't want you to be separated from Me. I want you to obtain salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ."
Look at verse 10, "Who died for us." You see, when Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood, He shed His blood so we could be forgiven so that we did not have to suffer wrath, but we could spend eternity in heaven. Notice that in verse 10. "He died for us" – notice – "that whether we wake or sleep" – in other words, whether you live or die – "that we should live together with Him."
Now, let's read verse 10. Find that verse 10 in your notes or in your Bible; let's read it together. Okay? Ready, begin.
Response: "Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."
"We should live together with Him." Now, think about that phrase "to live together with Him." You know, friend, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And if you are truly saved, when your life ends, you're gonna be living together with Him. And heaven is a wonderful place. It's a gated community. [Laughter] It has streets of gold. There's no graffiti there; there's no gangs there. Heaven is a perfect place where Jesus is the light. There's a river in heaven.
My grandson asked me the other day, he said, "Papa?" He said, "You know that river up in heaven?"
I said, "Yep."
He said, "Do you have to wear goggles when you swim in that river?"
Heaven's a wonderful place. And I want you to get this in your mind, because sometimes we think, "Yeah, heaven, you know, it's kind of like a figment of our imagination."
No, it's a literal place prepared for us. Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you." And look at that verse 10, "That we should live together with Him." What a wonderful thought, that we will live with the Lord. So, He says, "I'm preserving you from wrath." And He says, "I'm promising you that you're gonna have eternity with Me."
Look in your notes at Philippians 3:20, "For our conversation is in heaven" – in other words, our lifestyle, our thoughts are in heaven – "from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." God says, "I'm gonna give you a new body. I'm gonna give you a new home. It's My promise for all who trust My Son as Savior, that they'll have everlasting life in heaven."
And by the way, you can know that you have this in your heart. You can know that you have a home in heaven. You might be visiting with us today, and you might think, "Whoa, this pastor's talking about tribulation and Jesus coming and going to heaven. I don't know that I am going to heaven." Well, I'm here to tell you you can know that you're going to heaven. And it's not because I said so; it's because the Bible said so. And if you don't know that you're on your way to heaven, I want you to settle that issue today according to the Bible.
Look what the Bible says in 1 John 5:13 in your notes there. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God." God says, "You don't have to guess about this; you can know it."
Let me ask you, friend, do you know if you died today that you would spend eternity in heaven? Do you know that? Because if you don't, you can settle that issue today. You can settle that issue today. God says, "I want to preserve you from wrath. I want to promise you eternity." And then finally, we can be comforted by His truth. We can be comforted by His truth.
Now, God says, "I want you to comfort one another." So, look at the verse with me as we close this morning. Verse 11, "Wherefore" – whenever you see a "wherefore," you gotta see what it's there for. In other words, since we've been saved, and since we don't have wrath upon us, and since we're gonna go live with Him – how many of you are looking forward to that? Can I get an amen?
We're gonna go live with the Lord, "Wherefore" – verse number 11 – "comfort yourselves together." Listen when you get together with Christians, you don't need to be sad and complaining, and we don't need to just talk about football or basketball. Listen, we can comfort and encouraging one another with the fact that, "Hey, we're saved. Our sins are forgiven. We're saved from wrath, and we're on our way to heaven."
And God says, "I want you to comfort one another with this." Now, the word "comfort" is a wonderful word. It's the word parakaléō, the Greek word parakaléō. It's the word that we use for the Holy Spirit, and this is what it means: it means to come alongside someone and strengthen them. And that's what the Holy Spirit does for us. He comes alongside of us, and He strengthens us. But this verse says, "Comfort one another."
Listen carefully now; God wants us, in the power of the Spirit, to go alongside others and comfort them. Tonight we'll have an offering for a church that was decimated last week in the hurricane. What do we want to do? We want to come alongside them and comfort them. You might know of a friend going through a difficult time, a Christian perhaps. And God wants us to come alongside of them and comfort them.
And as we close this morning, I want to give you five ways that you can comfort. Because the Bible says, in verse 11, "Comfort yourselves together." So, let me give you five ways that you can comfort those in your life. Notice, number one, you can do this by edifying them. It says, in verse 11, "Edify one another." That means just to build them up. That means to go to your teenager and say, "Boy, you did a good job today cleaning your room," or, "I'm proud of that report I heard on your good behavior," whatever. Edify them. You might go to a new Christian in the church, "Boy, it's good to see you back today; you're doing great." You're edifying them; you're comforting them.
Secondly, we want to remind one another of God's comfort. The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 1 and 3, that our God is "the God of all comfort." And we want to remind each other that we serve a God who is a God of comfort and a God who cares about us.
Thirdly, we want to pray for one another. You say, "Well, I can't maybe go visit someone in the hospital or something like that." But you can pray for them. "Pray for us," the Bible says, Hebrews 13:18.
Number four, you can remember. Remember God's promises, sharing God's promises with them. Second Peter 1:4, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature." There's so many promises to share with someone. You can share with them this promise, "My God will supply all of your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." You can share with them the promise that the Lord will never leave us. He'll never forsake us. And when you share these promises, they're very comforting.
And then let me give you one final one, number five, you can give something to someone. Give something. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Some of you say, "I'm not real good with words." But, hey, listen, maybe you could give a German chocolate cake. If we're gonna comfort, let's do it right, folks, come on. [Laughter] Hang in here with me, right? You – how many of you have heard the term "comfort food?"
Hey, you don't comfort people with carrots.
Right? If we're gonna comfort, let's do it right. Let's give some lasagna. All right. I'm just saying God says – God is commanding us, in verse 11. He says, "I want you to comfort yourselves together." You see, sometimes people have fear. They fear war. They fear crime. They fear a health diagnosis. And God says, "When you get together with your fellow believers, I want you to comfort one another. I want you to remind each other that Jesus is coming soon. I want you to wake up while you're in church and be reminded. Don't be like a drunken fool who doesn't know what's going on. You're not of the night; you're of the day."
We're on the winning side, folks. We gotta remember that. We gotta comfort one another with these thoughts and truths that Jesus is coming, and we gotta pray for one another, give to one another, counsel one another, encouraging one another – the Bible says, "Comforting one another."
And I want to encourage you, and I want to comfort you, but then I want to challenge you with this thought. There's probably someone that you know that's bearing a heavy burden today. I know right now of four members of our church in the hospital. And I know that they need the comfort of God in their life today. And I want to challenge you to do what the Bible says: comfort one another. And comfort one another with the truths of God, that Jesus Christ is coming again. Let's stand together, shall we?
[End of Audio]