First Thessalonians 005 – Before the Wrath1 Thessalonians 1:10b • Dr. Andy Woods • November 13, 2022 • First Thessalonians
First Thessalonians 005
Before the Wrath
1 Thessalonians 1:10b
November 13, 2022
Dr. Andy Woods
All right, Well, let’s bow our hearts for a word of prayer, and we’ll get started. Father, we thank You for today. We thank You that in a changing world, You are the same today, yesterday, today and forever. We thank- we’re thankful for the fact that You are the rock of all ages. That Your character is such that You change not. And You have given us eternal principles to live by. And an eternal principle by which we can enter into a relationship with You, by faith alone, in Christ alone. I do pray, Father, for the Illuminating Ministry of the Spirit as we’re seeking to teach Your word today in Your church to your people. It’s a task that really cannot be fruitfully or effectively done without the Spirit’s illumination. And so we’re just going to pause, Lord, for a few moments of personal silence so we can get right with you, if need be, by way of fellowship so that we can study your word today. I pray, Lord, for Your hand of blessing as we look into the Thessalonians book today. First Thessalonians and the Book of Genesis. Only You know the deep needs of people that are listening. And only You can surface those needs to minister to people. Or they need to be ministered to. And so we just invite Your work today whereby You do that. I pray for Your hand of blessing on Sugar Land, Bible Church, everything that’s going on here from sunup to sundown,
Even to the elder meeting that’s scheduled for this evening. And everything in between. And we’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name, and God’s people said, Amen. Well, let’s take our Bibles, if we could, and open them to first Thessalonians 1:10. And as you know, we’re in our teaching on the book of First Thessalonians. We’ve laid sort of the foundation for the background of the book. We’re really in that first section, chapters 1 through 3, where Paul is sort of trying to rehabilitate his reputation. That had been trashed by his theological detractors after he was forced out of town. And we think what Paul is doing in these first three chapters is he’s reasserting his ability and his authority to teach as an apostle. And then once he gets that issue taken care of in chapters 4 and 5, he deals with issues that the Thessalonians need correction on, need help with, etc. So one of the attacks that I think was waged against Paul by the unbelieving Jews. After Paul was forced out of the city of Thessalonica is the unbelieving Jews told the converts of Paul that their conversion really wasn’t true. You know that you just got talked into something. So Christianity isn’t true. It’s just, someone just came and gave you a speech and you kind of got swept into it.
But there’s nothing lasting that’s ever happened- that’s happening in your life, just nothing to see here, folks. Go back to daily life. And I think what Paul is doing here in the first chapter is he’s explaining to them, no, your conversion really happened. And he’s given a lot of reasons for that. The Holy Spirit has produced things in the lives of the Thessalonians that could not be produced any other way. And one of the things that the Holy Spirit very early on produced in the life of the New Thessalonians believers is, what we would call an eschatological hope. Eschatological means future. Coming from the word eschatos in Greek, which means end. Eschatological hope means there’s hope for the future because Jesus is coming back soon. A human being cannot live very long without hope. And that’s the danger of putting all of your stock into this world, because this world will take away hope very quickly. That’s why we’ve got a lot of nail biters right now concerning the counting. Vote counting and, you know, the missing ballots that show up and all that kind of stuff. And so it’s very appropriate, I think, for a Christian to be concerned about all of that. We should be. But at the same time, regardless of what happens with any human election, it doesn’t detract from your hope at all, because your hope is in Jesus. And if you don’t have that as the bedrock of your life, you’re going to go through life with extreme highs and extreme lows.
And you really don’t have a hope that’s enduring. So the Holy Spirit is trying to inculcate in the life of the child of God a hope that goes beyond the ups and downs of this world, and that’s what we call eschatological hope, and that’s what the Thessalonians had. And Paul mentions this in verse 10. Now, we did part of verse 10 last time, so let’s read it and do the rest of it if we could. But if you look at first Thessalonians one verse 10, Paul says, “And to wait for His son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” So when we started the Thessalonians book- First Thessalonians, we pointed out some unique characteristics of the book. And one of the things that’s very unique about this book is every single chapter ends with a reference to the return of Christ. So here we are at the end of the book or the end of the first chapter, I should say. And there’s your first example of it. He ends the chapter by making a reference. To the return of Jesus Christ. And keep in mind that the Thessalonians were maybe, Oh, I don’t know, six months to a year old at the time, in the Lord.
And Paul’s actually reviewing information he had already covered concerning the return of Christ. So there’s a mindset out there that in the church, particularly around new Christians, don’t mention Christ’s Second Coming. And obviously, that’s a silly idea if you just look at Paul’s ministry philosophy. Paul was very bold about mentioning the return of Christ, in particular the Rapture. To the point where these people are, what, just a year to six months old, maybe a little older than that, and Paul is reviewing here ground that he had already covered when he was with him in Thessalonica before he was pushed out ultimately into Corinth. So what we think verse 10 is speaking of is the first reference to the rapture of the church in the Thessalonian books. It could be the first reference to the rapture of the church in all of Paul’s writings. Because Paul, in chapter 4 verses 13 through 18, will take this concept of the rapture of the church and develop it in more detail. In first Thessalonians 4:13-18, which is our really our fullest expression that we have in the Bible of the Rapture. And of course, that takes place in chapter 4, not at the beginning of the chapter, not at the middle of the chapter, but where? At the end of the chapter. Because every chapter of this book will end with a reference in some sense to the return of Christ.
So one of the things you see developing here in verse 10 is something we mentioned before, the doctrine of Imminency. Imminency is the idea that there is no prophetic sign that has to happen before the rapture can occur. Why do we believe that? Because when Paul mentions the rapture here, he doesn’t say to wait for His Son from heaven after the Antichrist comes to power. After the church becomes apostate. After the Jews build their temple. He inserts no sign at all like that. And so he gives you the impression here and many other places that the rapture of the church is the next event on the prophetic horizon. And it could happen at any moment. Now the second advent of Jesus, which is different, which will take place at the end of the seven year tribulation period, that cannot happen at any moment. Because there’s a whole series of events lasting for seven years that have to transpire first. So the second advent cannot happen at any moment. There are basic signs that precede it. But the rapture of the church is very different because the rapture of the church can take place in the next split second. And this is basically what we call the doctrine of Imminency. So he doesn’t say, you know, he doesn’t give any warnings here about, oh, you better not take the mark of the beast. Which you would expect if this crowd was going into the tribulation.
He doesn’t tell them, Okay, here’s how you prepare for the tribulation. Get some weapons. Get some freeze dried food. Get some special bullets, as if any of that stuff is going to help you against the Antichrist anyway. By the way, I think it’s probably a good practice to be a prepper in these last days, but it has nothing to do with your eschatology. You’re not arming up for the tribulation. Paul here doesn’t say arm up for the tribulation. What he says is, Wait for His Son from heaven. Which is the doctrine of Imminency. Now, this chart here, second bullet point down, if you were to look at all of those different verses, James 5:8, First Corinthians 1:7, Philippians 3:20, First Thessalonians 4:13-18. Which I just mentioned. It’s all it’s always the same. It’s always the idea that here comes the Rapture. Wait for it. But there’s no prophetic signs inserted before the rapture can occur. So that’s what we mean by imminency. So we are not looking for the anti-Christ. We are looking for who? For Jesus Christ. And that becomes our motivator for holiness in daily life and evangelism. Because Jesus is coming back next. He’s not just coming back soon. That would be wonderful enough. But he’s coming back next. Any second. This could happen. And this is the only prophecy where this is true. All of the other end time prophecies are always sort of captured in some kind of time frame.
Giving you the order of those prophecies. Not so the Rapture. The Rapture could take place in the next split second. Wayne- Well, before I get to that, John 14:1-4, which is the first time Jesus ever mentions the rapture of the church. He says, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places’ if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” That’s the ascension. So immediately when the Ascension took place, Acts chapter 1, The imminency of the Rapture kicked in. And we’re studying the Book of Acts Wednesdays. I’d invite you to join us either in person on online for that study. Just getting into Acts chapter 1 next week, dealing with the ascension of Christ. But Jesus here gave a sequence. If I go and prepare a place for you, that’s the ascension. Then the next thing says- thing he says is, “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way in which I am going.” So look for the materializing of My coming for you at any moment when the church age is born. Acts Chapter 1 is when he ascended. The church is born in Acts Chapter 2.
And from that point on, the Lord wants every single generation to believe that they are the end-time generation. Because He can come back at any time for any generation of Christians, which means we have to be ready, what? All of the time. This is the doctrine of Imminency. So today and for the last 2000 years, this is the way the Lord has arranged it. Any moment in the church age, the Rapture can transpire. The Rapture can take place. Imminency. And there’s a very easy way to figure out, doctrinally, whether people believe in Imminency or not. You just ask him a simple question. And we send out theological surveys for our missionaries. We interview mission- potential missionaries to see if they’re doctrinally aligned with us. You know, some of you might be moving and in the process of shopping for a church. And you want to figure out, does this church believe in the imminency of the rapture? You just ask a very simple question. And you ask the person that you’re interviewing, Can Jesus come back today? Simple, simple question, right? And if they definitively answer yes, then they’re correct on the Rapture doctrine. If they start to hem and haw, So well, I’m not sure. And boy, things have got to go from bad to worse first or Look out for Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum, and they start going into all this stuff. You’re obviously dealing with someone that does not believe in the imminency of the rapture.
That Jesus’ is coming is not just soon, but it’s next. Wayne Brendel, formerly of Liberty University, in Biblioteca Sacra, which is Dallas Seminary’s academic journal, wrote on The Doctrine of Imminency. He says, Four criteria may be suggested, any one of which indicates imminence. I mean, how do you know if you’re dealing with a particular passage in the Bible that is teaching imminency or not? Number one, the passage speaks of Christ’s return at any moment. Well, that criteria- criterion is satisfied there in verse 10. Number two, the passage speaks of Christ. Return as ‘near’ without stating any signs that must precede His coming. Well, that criterion is satisfied. Number three, the passage speaks of Christ. Return is something that gives believers hope and encouragement, without indicating that believers will suffer tribulation. Well, clearly that criterion is satisfied. In fact, when you go back to John 14:1-4, what did Jesus say at the beginning? “Do not let your heart be troubled.” A statement that would make no sense if they have to go into certain prophetic signs first before the rapture can occur. What did Paul say at the end of Chapter 4, which is the most in-depth rapture passage we have in the whole New Testament? Verse 18. Therefore stay up all night and watch cable television and be really worried about the counting that’s taking place. No.
“Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” So you don’t, as a Christian, you don’t have to be paralyzed with fear over events in the world that are taking place because Jesus can come back at any second and rescue you from this earth. The link to comfort would make no sense if the church has to go through a series of prophetic signs first. So that is how you know you’re dealing with a New Testament Imminency Rapture Passage. Criterion Number four. The passage speaks of Christ’s return as giving hope without relating it to God’s judgment of unbelievers. So clearly, when you apply his four pieces of criteria, each criterion is satisfied there in verse 10. So it’s a very simple thing to understand. Because there’s a lot of acrimony and confusion out there on this. In fact, I’ve never seen Christianity more confused, angry and divided over this in my lifetime. There are people. Their whole goal in life, it seems, is to try to convince the church that they’re going into the tribulation. Mid-tribulationalist. You’re going through the first half of it. Post-tribulationalists, you’re going through all of it, comfort one another with these words. Pre-wrath, which is a terrible misleading name. I call them three-quarters rapturous. You’re going through 75% of it. And of course, the correct view we think is at the top there, pre-tribulationalism. And you just ask yourself a simple question.
Which of these teach imminency? I mean, which of these views teach that Christ can come back at any moment? Not number two. Nor number three. Nor number four. Only number one teaches that. So, you know, I was I get into these conversations with people, unfortunately. It’s the cross I have to carry, I guess, in life. And, you know, I just kind of reduce when they get all lathered up and start to sweat and you start to foam at the mouth and all this stuff. You know, just I just ask these people, I go, well, can Christ come back today? And one guy I was talking with said just categorically, No, He cannot come back today. Well, I’m sorry. The Bible says something completely different. He can come back today. I’m not saying He will come back today. I hope He comes back today. But the potentiality of the intervention of Jesus into human history to remove the church from the Earth is something that could happen with no prophetic sign whatsoever. So that is why you see the language here, To wait for His Son from heaven. Now you’ll notice it doesn’t say watch. It doesn’t say to watch for His Son from heaven. It says to wait. So why aren’t we watching? We are not watching because there isn’t any sign that has to precede the rapture. I mean, what would you be watching for? I mean, if no signs precede the rapture, it doesn’t make sense to watch the signs.
The New Testament exhortation is to wait for His Son from heaven. Now, this is- I know this ruins a lot of ministry vision statements and marketing marquees, and they call themselves Watchmen on the wall. You know, Pastor Andy, don’t you want to be a watchman on the wall? Well, I’ll tell you what. I’ll be a waiter on the wall. Can I do that? Because the command to watch is never given to the church, ever. It’s always to wait. Now to Israel there is a command watch. And you’ll see it in Matthew 24:42. By the way, Jesus in Matthew 24:42 is speaking to Israel in the tribulation. How do we know that? Back up to verses 15 and 16. “Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation which is spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)” We’re dealing with a context which is right, as you can see from the chart here, in the middle of the tribulation. And he is speaking to the Jewish people in that time period and telling them what to do. If you look at Matthew 24:16, it becomes obvious. Then those who are in Houston. “Then those who are in Judea.” Ah. There’s a specific audience that’s being addressed here. “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. He’s talking there about the Jews in the tribulation that see the Temple Temple desecrated, and they are to flee into the mountains, a place in Jordan called Petra.
And then look at verse 20. It’s so obvious he’s talking to Jewish people in this time period. “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter.” Why would- why would he say that? Because the Judean wilderness is difficult to navigate some parts of the year more than other parts of the year. “Pray that your flight will not take place in the winter, or on a Sabbath.” A Shabbat. What is a Sabbath? The Sabbath is a gathering of Jewish people, not on the first day of the week like Christianity meets, because Jesus rose on a Sunday, but on the last day of the week. So he’s dealing with people that are still under the Mosaic Law, at least in their mindset. And the whole focus here is Jewish. I mean, the church isn’t even mentioned here. To that group He says, Watch. Matthew 24:42 finally. Says, Watch therefore for you do not know what- what day- what. You do not know what hour your Lord is coming. Now, these are people that probably aren’t even saved yet. They don’t have a framework, necessarily a Bible prophecy. Some of them are starting to get saved. They’re starting to develop a framework. I don’t know how much theology you can learn as you’re fleeing from the anti-Christ into Jordan.
But to that group, he says, watch. Why would he say watch? Because that group is bracketed by a seven-year period that’s already been defined. The rapture of the church has already happened. They’re in the middle of this time period where there’s a covenant between the anti-Christ and unbelieving Israel. They’ve just seen the desecration of the temple and Jesus is coming back to the earth in his second advent three and a half years later. So obviously to a group like that, you’d say watch, because they have a bunch of prophetic signs that have to be accumulated sequentially before Jesus comes back to rescue them at the end of the tribulation. So it’s completely appropriate to tell that group to watch. It’s inappropriate to tell them, like the church, to wait. Because they have signs. The church, by contrast, has no sign for the rapture. So the church is not told to watch. What would you watch for? They’re told to wait. The only way you, as a member of the church age, should be watching is with the full canon of Scripture. You can sort of piece together the events that will take place after the church has been removed. Because it mentions a one-world system, a one-world economic system, the rise of anti-Semitism, all kinds of things that you can kind of see bubbling to the surface today. And from that, you can gather that the tribulation period is coming soon.
And if the tribulation period is coming soon, then the rapture is coming even sooner. So in that sense, I think it might be appropriate to watch, but not in the sense that- watch because sign A, B, C, D, E has to happen first before the rapture can happen. So that’s why there’s this distinction between some passages to the church that say wait and other passages to national Israel in the tribulation period that say, Watch. I mean, one group is dealing with time-finite bound prophecies that have to happen before the second coming can take place. That’s Israel. Another group like us has no such signs for the Rapture. So that’s why there’s this distinction between watching and waiting. Now, when people hear this, they’ve never heard this distinction before. They’re like, shocked, like, I’ve never even heard this before. The distinction between watching and waiting. And yet this is the type of thing that used to be taught in our Bible church circles constantly. You know, just because you haven’t heard something taught doesn’t mean it’s not true. The reason it hasn’t been taught is not because it’s not true, it’s just because of neglect of the church. But you go back into some trusted volumes like Lewis Sperry Chafer systematic theology created in 1947, and you just look up the imminent return of Christ. Well, there it is on the screen, Volume four, page 367.
How’s that for accuracy? And you’ll see him making this distinction. He says, Scripture which directs Israel in the tribulation, which is terminated by the glorious return of Christ as their judge and Deliverer, warns her to watch. And then he says, Over and against this, the Church is instructed to wait [and] to look for his return for her. And I gave you that whole quote, I think, last week, so I won’t reread the whole thing. But the reason I put up slides of quotes from traditional sources like this is just to demonstrate that I’m- even though you’ve never heard this distinction before, most likely in church, it doesn’t mean I’m just making up theology. It’s there. Dispensationalists have always taught this. And the reason most people have never heard the distinction between waiting and watching is it has just to do with the neglect of the church that hasn’t taught on prophetic subjects in any degree of detail. And if the shepherds of the church are not teaching on the subject, because a lot of them aren’t equipped to teach on it. Because they went into theological institutions that don’t emphasize it. You know, I was- I was, I heard of one gentleman who was in one of our big theological institutions, and it got to his last class of his last semester. And there’s like 30 seconds left in the class. And he raises his hand and he says, I’m about to get a degree from this school.
Can you help me, Professor, with eschatology? And the professor did something like this. Oh, yeah. Ok, ok. Real quick, as you’re leaving, let me give you five things about the return of Christ. And that was the height of his theological understanding of the end times. So that’s the type of person that fills the pulpit. I mean, he has a theological degree, right? He must know what he’s talking about. Well, not necessarily if he’s been trained poorly. And so how would a person with zero theological understanding of eschatology ever develop a distinction between watching and waiting? I mean, no wonder all of these parish church ministries have ‘watch’ in their vision statements and marquees. They’re confused. And they’re confused because the schools that taught their pastors are confused. And that becomes one of the reasons why we started to develop Chafer seminary. Where people can learn these truths. And one of our distinctive at Schafer Seminary is this, Who’s going to teach your kids? I mean, think about that. Who are you going to entrust to teach your children theological truths? Because those kids are going to become adults. They’re going to sit in churches and they’re going to sit under pastors that basically don’t have any idea what they’re talking about. And we’re losing a whole generation of truth simply through prophetic neglect. So just because you haven’t heard something doesn’t mean it’s not true.
The reason you haven’t heard the distinction between watching and waiting has to do with the neglect of the church, not the lack of truthfulness or veracity of the doctrine. So the church is told to wait. Israel is told to watch. And notice what Dr. John Walvoord says in his commentary on First Thessalonians on this verse. He says, It is significant that Paul, in such a brief period of ministry not only led them out of darkness but into the light, into the gospel, but he also faithfully preached to them the truth of the coming of the Lord. Paul was an evangelist unparalleled. He was a missionary unparalleled. But he was something else. He was a theologian, unparalleled. Because it’s not catching the fish that’s the hard part. It’s cleaning the fish. That’s the hard part. I mean, if you have the gift of evangelism- I wish I had it, I don’t. You can bring people to Christ very, very easily. But that’s like taking a child home from the hospital on the day of the child’s birth and just putting the child into the center of the living room and saying, help yourself to a ham sandwich when you get hungry. I mean, that is how sadly Christianity- Christendom treats new converts. They go to churches over and over again where they hear the exact same message. The message about salvation. The message about how to be saved. And most churches mess that up also.
So they’ve heard the same sermons over and over again, and yet no one is in the pulpit. A trained pastor, a prepared pastor, a gifted pastor to take the fish and clean them by teaching them the full Council of God’s Word whereby they can grow. And part of it, being a prepared pastor and a trained pastor, is learning how to make basic eschatological distinctions. That’s what Paul was doing with the Thessalonians as baby Christians. The Walvoord quote goes on and he says, By contrast today, some folks who go to church year after year after year never hear the precious truth that Christ who came to Bethlehem so long ago is coming again and that we can be looking forward for that wonderful return of the Lord for His own. So in verse 10, he reminds the believers in Thessalonica that they not only have turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God a present work. But they also have a new hope for the future. Now, notice here where grammar matters. I don’t like to just make grammatical points just for the sake of making grammatical points. I’ll make grammatical points when they’re pertinent to an understanding of the passage. And here’s one such occasion. To wait. Verb is in the present tense. What it actually should say is they were waiting. It’s not a kind of thing that, Oh, Jesus is coming back today. Ah, He let me down.
He didn’t come back today. I’m never going to think of His return again. This church under persecution, under duress, was constantly waiting for Jesus to come back. It’s an ongoing activity or mindset. And that truth was organizing how their lives should be lived. Because if the boss can stick his head into the office at any moment, rather than the boss saying, I’m leaving for six months. See ya in six months. If the boss can stick his head into the office at any moment it changes your work habit, doesn’t it? It changes your- or at least it should, changes your values, changes what you’re doing. Because the return of Christ, rapture, is any moment you’re in the presence of the Lord at the Bema Seat judgment, and you’re either rewarded or not rewarded based on faithfulness in this life. So if that judgment can happen at any second that controls what I’m doing right now. Well, maybe I shouldn’t watch that channel on TV. I mean, Jesus could come back. And see me watching that, that’d be kind of embarrassing. Gee, you know, maybe the Holy Spirit, when He brings someone across my path, maybe I should be a little bit bolder and share the gospel with that person. You know, because Jesus could come back and I might not have that opportunity a week from now. Gee, I’m in a conversation that’s sort of gossipy. Maybe I shouldn’t- maybe I shouldn’t talk that way because Jesus could come back and finding me talking that way.
This is what the doctrine of Imminency does. It has an impact that causes you to constantly reevaluate all of the choices you make. And that’s why everywhere this doctrine of Imminency is gone the result is always the same. There’s a greater fervency to live for God. There is a greater desire to evangelize. There is a greater, not lesser, a greater desire on holiness in the Christian life. And the imminent return of Christ is what stimulates much of it. That, beloved, is why Satan is trying to destroy this doctrine. And slander and malign people that teach it. Because Satan knows if the church stops believing this, the church will be different. Our habits will be different. Walvoord says, ‘To wait for His Son from heaven.’ The word ‘wait; is in the present tense. They had turned to God in one act, but there remain the constant, day by day expectation. In other words, they were constantly looking for the return of the Lord, the coming of the Lord for His saints. In one sense, it was a little easier for the Thessalonians to do that than us because they were under intense persecution by the very unbelieving Jews that drove Paul out of Thessalonica. And so they wanted Jesus to come back. Our problem in the United States, Paul Schaff at our men’s breakfast brought this up, is we have become so affluent that we don’t even realize how affluent we are.
The things that bother us and get us upset pale in comparison to what the Thessalonians were going through. And this may be one of the reasons why God, and I’m not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but God could be providentially allowing the United States to go into persecution. From the human level that’s, like, the worst thing we can think of. But it’s not necessarily the worst thing you can think of from the divine perspective. Because when this life is not panning out the way the American dream says it should pan out, and you’re still being held in solitary confinement because you wanted to exercise your First Amendment rights at a January sixth protest- something that I thought Americans could do that. I thought we could protest and voice our disagreements with things. I thought we were all covered by the Bill of Rights. Well, some of the J’ six protesters are in jail right now. Did you know that? And all of their constitutional rights are being denied. Right to counsel. Right to a speedy trial. Right to a jury trial before your peers. Well, why are their constitutional rights being denied? Their constitutional rights are being denied because they are domestic terrorists. That’s what they’ve been called. Grandmothers and grandpas with their red, white and blue blankets shivering out there in the cold are called domestic terrorists.
And once you call someone a domestic terrorist, now they’re being tried under the Patriot Act. Which, by the way, came into existence through Republican leadership. So don’t always think that the Republican Party is on your side on everything. And once you are called a domestic terrorist, then you can be put in a situation where the normal constitutional rights that you’re guaranteed as an American are no longer applicable. Just do a little reading. Read about Paul Manafort of the Trump campaign, who was put in solitary confinement. Solitary confinement. Here in the United States of America. I’m not a prophet, nor the son of the prophet, but it’s very obvious to me that the culture is turning. It’s turning very fast. And you know what, folks? That may not be the worst thing in the world at the end of the day, because when you’re under that type of persecution, you sure look differently or think differently about the rescue operation that Jesus promises for a generation of Christians. So obviously the Holy Spirit had produced this in them where they were constantly, day by day, looking for the return of Jesus Christ. Oh, come on, Pastor. Why do you always get so worked up about these doctrines? I mean, don’t you understand that these are secondary doctrines, the rapture? I mean, don’t you understand that these are essentials? I mean, didn’t Augustine- was it Augustine who said, you know, In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials charity, and in all things liberty.
Something like that. Well, of course, Augustine would say something like that. He didn’t believe in the millennial kingdom. And Christians in his day, that believed in a future millennial kingdom, called Chilliasts. He was saying, Oh, you just believe in a nonessential. Boy, what a great way to dismiss certain doctrines. You just call it nonessential. So let’s do an exercise. Let’s open our Bibles today to the non-essential section. Can we do that? I mean, this idea that this one’s important, but this one’s secondary is obviously a myth because the Bible never divides itself up that way. I understand that the primary doctrine for us, in terms of importance, is the gospel. I get that. But God doesn’t think that way. Obviously, the gospel is essential. But every time God opens his mouth and talks, that’s essential too because the whole Bible is inspired by God. I mean this essential, non-essential- and I’ve heard this forever from even some of the greats like Norm Geisler taught this. I remember early on as a new Christian listening to the Christian Research Institute, Walter Martin, who continues to be one of my heroes, as does Norman Geisler. They all taught, well, this one’s essential. This one’s not essential. They all taught it. And I believe that for a long time myself. It’s an ecumenical ploy. It’s designed to get Christians all on the same page.
And you just sort of lower the importance of certain doctrines that run the risk of dividing the church. John Walvoord was asked this. He was asked, you know, our talk about prophecy so much. Don’t you understand? It’s controversial. I mean, don’t you understand that it’s dividing Christians? And his answer was classic. He says, you know, the whole Bible is controversial. Every single verse, every single word, every single letter on the page is controversial. So if you’re worried about dividing Christians, there’s just huge chunks of the Bible that you have to dismiss. And what I want you to see is this doctrine of the rapture is essential. A because it’s in the Bible, but look at what else it says here in verse 10. “To wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead.” What doctrine is that? That’s the resurrection. “That is Jesus, who rescues us from the Wrath to come.” Notice that Paul links the Rapture to the resurrection. Christ’s resurrection is the first fruits. His resurrection guarantees all of the other resurrections in the chain, including when the church receives its resurrected bodies, church members, at the point of the rapture. And so the Rapture is connected to the resurrection of Jesus. And everybody says, Well, the resurrection of Jesus is an essential doctrine. And it is. But the resurrection itself is linked to the rapture.
And if the resurrection is essential and it’s linked to the rapture in Paul’s own writing then who are we to say and look at this and say, well, this one is not essential? I mean, you cannot do that in the middle of a verse and say, well, part of the verse is essential. The other part of it’s not essential. It’s all essential. It’s like dominoes in a row. You start to tamper with one of them and they all start to fall over. That’s what this essential non-essential mindset has done to Christianity because theology is a seamless tapestry. And whatever you’re doing in one area of theology is going to impact another without people even thinking about it. Because that’s how God has set up His word. And so Paul here specifically says that the rapture itself, “to wait for His Son from heaven” is linked to the resurrection of Jesus, “whom He raised from the dead.” That is Jesus. And everybody believes the resurrection of Jesus is essential. In fact, Paul, in First Corinthians 15:14 says, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain.” If you don’t have the resurrection of Jesus, you don’t have Christianity. And that doctrine is linked to the rapture which is a doctrine Paul taught brand new Christians. So obviously Paul thought it was essential and important or he wouldn’t have wasted his time with it.
So essential non-essential is a manmade scheme. It’s a manmade paradigm by people that are pursuing an ecumenical agenda where Christian unity, so called, is more important than truth. Christian unity is more important than truth. Well, what good is unity if you’re not unified around the right stuff? In fact, over in First Corinthians 11, I think it is, Paul talks about divisions happening in the body of Christ. And of course, the moment I say that I’m looking at first Corinthians 11 and I can’t find it, but you’ll read through that and you’ll find it in there. There it is. Thank you, Lord. Verse 19. He’s talking about divisions within the body of Christ, factions, the ecumenists. What’s worst thing that can happen? What does Paul say? “For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.” Paul says You know what, these divisions, that’s a good thing. So that those that are approved can become evident. So a division is not the absolute worst thing in the world that can happen. And our study in the Book of Acts will get to a division between Paul and Barnabas that was so severe related to John Mark and whether John Mark is going to go on missionary two or not. The Greek text uses a word of tremendous severity in terms of the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, and it was so severe that it caused a split.
Now, is that the worst thing in the world that can happen? No, Luke records that because now we don’t just have one missionary team, but two. And God used a split to cause it. So this idea that you pursue unity no matter what and Truth takes a back seat is not biblical. There’s a pastor and this is what he said. If you post your eschatology on your website you’re in sin. If you post like- we must be in terrible sin in this church. If you post We’re dispensation, we’re pre-millennial, we’re pre-tribulational and we get that conclusion from a literal grammatical-historical method of interpretation. Then you are in sin because you’ve just caused a rupture in the body of Christ because a lot of Christians don’t agree with that doctrine. So tone it down. In fact, one Christian leader I’m specifically thinking of at a prophecy- or not a prophecy conference, but at a conference at a Q&A, told his people under his influence that were promoting prophecy to tone it down. Tone that stuff down. Are you kidding me? I think we ought to tone it up. Because the highest value at the end of the day is truth. And that’s what you should be unified around. I’m not in favor of being personally obnoxious. Believe it or not. I’m not in favor of doing things that are obnoxious, that irritate people.
But, folks, we’ve got to stand on the truth at some point. And let God take care of who’s going to agree with us and who’s not going to agree with us. I mean, that’s a decision I had to make coming to this church probably from day one. Because it’s like no matter what I said or did, one group of people would be upset. Then you say something different. The next Sunday, another group of people is upset and you’re kind of tempted to sort of know, Gosh, I’m destroying this church. It’s been through enough. Can’t we all heal? Can’t we all get on the same page to quote that great theologian Rodney King? Can’t we all get along? And I just made the decision, You know what, Lord? As long as you got me here, I’m going to try to teach the truth in love. And I’m going to let you decide who’s going to be here and who’s not. Which is an issue I can’t control anyway. I have no control over who’s going to listen, who’s going to come, who’s going to leave. You have to, at some point entrust those issues to the hand of God and you have to be committed as a pastor to teaching the truth in love. So this is not a non-essential doctrine. This is an essential doctrine because it’s linked to the bodily resurrection of the dead, which everybody agrees is an essential doctrine.
And what does he say here at the end of the verse? “Who rescues us from the wrath to come.” The Greek word for wrath is orgé. You can think of a lot of sexual terms that come from the word orgé. Orgy and the like. What is orgé? Orgé is passion that’s out of control. It’s passion that has no limits on it. And here it’s not being used in the sexual sense. It’s being used in the anger sense. And it’s talking about a time in history where God’s wrath will be unleashed on planet Earth. And there will be no limitation on it whatsoever. The anger of God. The wrath of God. Notice he says this wrath is coming. So it’s not an option. Gosh, if we all vote a certain way, maybe we can avert it. You can’t avert it. It’s inevitable that it’s coming. But the promise is that you will be rescued from it. So the orgé of God is the revelation of the seals the trumpets and the golden bulbs of wrath encapsulated in the seven-year tribulation period. And Jesus is causing all of it. Because, according to Revelation 6:1, He is opening a seven-sealed scroll. And every time he peels back a scroll. Another form of judgment hits planet Earth. So when Paul talks about the wrath to come, this is what he is speaking of.
We’re going to get a more of a description of it in First Thessalonians chapter 5. You’ll see more of a description of the wrath to come. And we’re going to get more of a description of it in Second Thessalonians two. But this is what he’s speaking of, the eschatological Wrath of God. The church is promised in all of these verses in the first bullet point an escape from that time period. The other verses in the bullet point below clearly tell you when this orgé where this wrath is going to be unleashed. And those all deal with events in the tribulation period itself. So what’s going to happen? Seal judgment number one, the Antichrist comes forward. Seal judgment number two, war breaks out all over the planet. Seal judgment number three, Widespread famine. Seal judgment number four, 25% of the world’s population will be destroyed. Now, what is everybody upset with the virus? Deaths of what? Less, far less than 1%, Something like that. We’re dealing with something here where 25% of the world’s population is just killed and it’s Jesus causing it. Because he’s opening the scroll, which is launching these things, then this period will be marked by martyrdom. It will be marked by cosmic disturbances. To the point where when it’s falling on the pagans, they’re finally figuring out what’s happening. And they say this in Revelation 6:16-17. “They said to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the sight of Him who sits on the [throne] and from the wrath-” there’s orgé, “Of the Lamb; for the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” And Robert Thomas in this quote explains grammatically that this is a description of things that back up to the beginning of the chapter. It’s just at this point, the pagans are figuring out what’s happening. He says, mankind in his rebellion correctly analyzes the cosmic, cosmic and terrestrial disturbances as part of the Great End time Day of Wrath, from the one sitting on the throne and of the lamb. The verb elethen (has come) is an aorist indicative, referring to a previous arrival of wrath, not something that is about to take place. Why bring this up? Because there’s people today running around. Saying the first five sealed judgments are not the wrath of God. They call that tribulations caused by Satan. Not the wrath of God. Well, I’m here to tell you that that is the wrath of God. Because, number one, Jesus is causing these things by opening the seals. Number two, because of the grammatical structure of the passage, the statement of the unbelievers, although they’re finally figuring out this is the wrath of God, what they’re saying is this wrath started at the very beginning of the chapter. So you don’t have to see the word wrath prior to Revelation 6:16 to believe that that’s the wrath of God.
It’s there. It’s true. The word doesn’t show up till later, but I’ve explained why. That’s when the pagans figure out what’s happening and the statement ‘this is the wrath of God’ is a conclusion that goes back to the beginning of the chapter. The Noaic flood. Was that the wrath of God? Well, I think so. Find me the word wrath in Noah’s Flood. It doesn’t say it was God’s wrath, but we all think it was God’s wrath because God caused it. So there’s a deception going on where people are saying, well, the wrath is not mentioned until later. So the first part of it is not God’s wrath. So we’re going to be here for part of it. Comfort one another with these words. We’re going to be here for part of it. And I’m here to tell you that that’s false doctrine. We’re not going to be here for any of it. Because all of it is the wrath of God. The Greek here reads Ek. And not para/en. So if Paul were saying we’re going into it, he would not use the word Ek, he would use para/en, you’re going in it and you’re going to be sustained through it. If we’re going into it, then the doctrine of Imminency is destroyed. Because now there are signs that have to happen before the rapture can occur
If we’re going into it, then why doesn’t Paul say, prepare for the tribulation? Now when you get beheaded, you know, put your head down a certain angle because it’s going to hurt a little less. I mean, there’s no instructions like that. I mean, why isn’t the church instructed on how to handle this time period? Well, the answer is we’re not going into it. What Christians experience today is the wrath of Satan, the wrath of man, the wrath of the world system, which can be very, very severe. But we’re dealing here with the wrath of God. That’s the form of wrath that you are not a candidate for as a believer. One other fast thing. “Rescues us-” That’s our verb. From, there’s Ek. “From the wrath.” There’s orgé. Paul uses that identical sentence structure. Deliver, same word for rescue, Ek. But here he doesn’t use orgé. He uses death. And he’s talking about how the Lord delivered him from death. Second Corinthians 1:10. Many people wanted to kill Paul. And God delivered him supernaturally so that he could get his ministry accomplished. And he talks about this in Second Corinthians 1:10, where he says, “Who delivered us from so great a peril of death.” So there is rescue. There is the preposition Ek. And there’s what he was spared from death. When it says- when Paul says I was spared from death, he doesn’t say, well, I died about 25%.
He was kept totally, completely out of death. God rescued him so that he could get his ministry accomplished. And when that same grammatical structure shows up in first Thessalonians 1:10, there’s the word rescue, there’s the preposition Ek, there’s what we are rescued from the wrath of God. In no form or substance is he saying you’re going to go through 25% of it, 50% of it, 75% of it, all of it, any more than Paul in Second Corinthians 1:10 is saying, I was spared from death 25%. I was spared from death 50%. I was half dead. Or I was three-quarters dead. Ludacris. So when that identical structure shows up in first Thessalonians 1:10, what he is saying is, just as I was kept completely out of the prospect of death so that I could fulfill my calling in spite of many people that were trying to kill me. The church itself will be completely and totally kept out of a time period that’s coming called The Wrath of God. Where Jesus opens a seven-sealed scroll and the wrath of God pours forth upon the earth. So why believe in Pre-tribulationalism? It says Ek rather than para/en. It’s the only doctrine that teaches imminency. There are no instructions for the church to prepare for the tribulation period. Lots of instructions about how we’re to endure Satan’s wrath. The world system’s wrath and man’s wrath.
Lots of instructions there. Not a shred of Scriptural evidence concerning how we are to endure God’s wrath. And the grammatical structure of First Thessalonians 1:10 mirrors Second Corinthians 1:10, where Paul says, I was completely and totally kept out of death. And this is what the Thessalonians had developed in terms of a mindset. They had this eschatological hope. I mean, as bad as it got for them, and it did get difficult. They understood that this was as worse as it could be. Because something far worse is coming. And you see how laughable titles are in modern-day Christianity. Like your best life now. For the Thessalonians, they were saying the opposite. This is as bad as it could get. So as a Christian, you might be under tremendous duress today. But the perils that you go through in this life are as difficult as it will ever get for you. Because you are spared from the wrath of God which Paul says is to come. So I hope that encourages you. Let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for Your truth. Grateful for Your word. Grateful for its promises. Grateful for verse 10. Help us to rightly handle it n this time of confusion and this- these last days, we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said. And happy mini intermission.