First Thessalonians 021 – After the Rapture (part 2)

First Thessalonians 021 – After the Rapture (part 2)
1 Thessalonians 5:4-8 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 9, 2023 • First Thessalonians


First Thessalonians 021 – After the rapture (part 2)

1 Thessalonians 5:4-8 • Dr.  Andy Woods • April 9, 2023



Let’s open with a word of prayer.  Father, we’re grateful for today, grateful for this morning, grateful for this particular Sunday, the highest and holiest of Sundays on the Christian calendar.  That’s when we celebrate the risen Christ.  We thank the Lord for the fact that You are not just a dead Messiah, but You are alive.  You’re at the Father’s right hand, and You live, which means You’re alive if You live, You live to make intercession for us.  So as we celebrate this particular time of the year, on this particular day, I pray that as the Scriptures are taught, in both Sunday School and the main service that follows, that Your name would be lifted up and glorified.  We do ask, Lord, that many, many salvations would occur today, and people would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we seek to study Your Word this morning.  We do, Lord, invite the illuminating ministry of the Spirit, whereby He guides us into all truth.  And so in preparation for that ministry, we’re going to take a few moments of silence, a personal confession of sins, if need be, not to restore position, but to restore fellowship, so that we might receive from You completely and wholly today.

We’re thankful, Lord, for Your written Word.  We’re thankful that in a changing world You change not.  And You are the same yesterday, today, and forever.  You desire, Lord, today to speak to Your people through the teaching of Your Word.  Only You can take the areas of truth and apply it to the deepest needs of the soul.  And so we ask for You to do that great ministry today.  We ask it in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said amen.


Well, very good.  Well, happy Resurrection Day to everybody.  And if we could, we’re going to be doing a resurrection sermon in the second session.  But this morning here in Sunday School we’re going to continue our verse by verse look at 1 Thessalonians.  So if you can locate 1 Thessalonians 5:4.

As we mentioned before once you get to 1 Thessalonians 4:1, the apostle Paul is no longer dealing with the past.  He says, “Finally then, brethren, …”[1], so that’s a transition and prior to 1 Thessalonians 4:1, he was sort of rehabilitating his reputation as an apostle which had been torn down by his detractors.  It’s hard to spiritually correct people when you don’t have any credibility.  So his credibility has been dragged through the mud so to speak.

And once he’s successfully rebutted or defended himself against at least three false charges brought against him beginning in 1 Thessalonians 4:1, through the end of the book he has been dealing with or is beginning to deal with issues in Thessalonica, the church he planted, that he knew they needed understanding on.

So he’s dealt with immorality as circumstances have been reported to him, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.  He’s dealt with laziness, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12.  You know, people sort of using the coming of the Lord as an excuse not to take on basic responsibilities.

And then he has moved into presenting a balanced eschatology, 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11 dealing with the rapture of the church at the end of Chapter 4.  And after he deals with the rapture of the church, he then begins to sort of broaden the discussion to talk about what the world is going to experience subsequent to the rapture of the church.


And this is where he begins to deal with a subject called the Day of the Lord.  He dealt with that last time as we covered it in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3.  He explained the Day of the Lord, what the world is going to experience post-rapture.

The Day of the Lord is, well, all you have to do to understand the Day of the Lord is to go back to the first reference in the Bible to a day.  The very first reference to a day in the Bible is in Genesis 1:5, where it says, “There was both evening and morning.” So, the evening, or the dark part of the day, is first, and then the morning, the breaking fourth of the dawn, is the second part of the day.  And that’s basically what Paul says is coming to the earth post-rapture.  There’s going to be a terrible time of darkness.

We know from Daniel’s prophecies that it’s going to stretch seven years, Daniel 9:27.  And then we understand from the book of Revelation, as the book of Revelation fills in more details about this coming time period, it’s going to be characterized by the seal judgments, the trumpet judgments, and the golden bowl of wrath judgments.

And then what will break forth is the dawn, or the morning, which will be the kingdom age when Jesus returns at the end of that seven-year time period and establishes His glorious kingdom upon the earth.  That thousand-year kingdom will then merge into the eternal state.  So that is my understanding of the Day of the Lord, the way it’s being used here.  A time of trouble followed by a time of blessing.

So he has explained all of this, and he has made it pretty clear, I believe, and I think he’ll continue to make it clear, beginning in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11, that the believer, the Christian, the member of the church age, which is us, are not going to be in that terrible time period.  Because when he talks about it, he switches from you or we, as we saw last week, if you look at 1 Thessalonians 5:3, he switches to they, “While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” …”

Back when he was talking about the rapture, he kept saying we, and then he switches from we, first person plural, to they, third person plural, and that becomes one of the proofs of many that you can cite, indicating that it is not God’s purpose for the church to go into this terrible time period.  The part of it that we will be involved in is the breaking fourth of the dawn at the end of that seven-year tribulation period, when we return with the Lord Jesus, having been with Him in the Father’s house for seven years, we return with Him to rule and to reign.

APPLICATION (1 Thess 5:4-11)

So having described the Day of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, now he begins to apply these truths to the Thessalonian Christians.  And notice what he says there in verse four.  He says, “But you,” see the switch of pronouns there?  He’s gone from “we” end of chapter four to “they” beginning of Chapter 5.  Now it’s obvious he’s switching to a different subject when he says “you.” In other words, he’s applying this truth to the Thessalonian Christians.  In other words, how would this relate to us?

“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; …” in the night. (1 Thess 5:4)  So you see the word “but” there in many English translations.  That’s a contrast.  In contrast to what the world is going to experience during this time period, here is God’s program for you.  So he’s gone from “we” to “they” to “you,” and so that’s an application for the believer.

You’ll notice he calls them brethren, and when he refers to them as brethren, he’s not necessarily talking about the fact that they’re all fellow Jews, because the audience that he’s writing to is a Gentile audience, as we’ve talked about.  When he uses the term “brethren,” he’s using it the same way Jesus used it in Matthew 12:46-50, when Jesus was told, “your mother, brother, sisters, etc. are waiting for you,” and He said, “Well, who is my mother?  Who are my brothers?  Are not they the ones that do the will of my Father who is in heaven?” So “brethren” is a clear reference to the Christian who will not be involved in this terrible time period, but he’s trying to explain how it relates to the life of the Christian today, because there is still an application for us.

“But you, brethren, are not in darkness.”  Why does he call it darkness?  Because that’s the Day of the Lord.  The Day of the Lord begins with the nighttime.  That’s a reference to “day,” going all the way back to the first reference to “day” in the Bible, Genesis 1:5.  “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4)

What does he mean here when he says “day?”  He basically is speaking of the Day of the Lord.  The Day of the Lord is articulated there in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” So when he says day, he’s referring to this time period called the Day of the Lord.

And then just sort of finishing out Verse 4, he says, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;”  You have to understand that from the perspective of the unsaved world, when this time period arrives, it’s going to completely and totally take them off guard, even though they’ve been warned about it.

Jesus drew a parallel between what the world will face when the Day of the Lord hits planet Earth and the days of Noah.  Jesus said in Matthew 24:36-39 concerning the days of Noah, He says, ““But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.   So if you want to understand what the Earth is going to experience when the Day of the Lord hits, all you have to do is study what the world was like just prior to the flood.

“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark.  And they, (Who’s the “they”?  The “they” is the unsaved world) “they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

So that’s why this time period that’s coming, this seven-year tribulation period, is basically analogized here to a thief in the night.  When a thief breaks into your house in the middle of the night, as we’ve said before, he doesn’t text you in advance and say, “I’m coming at 2.37” or whatever, 2.37 a.m.  I mean it’s a complete and total surprise.

Thief in the night imagery doesn’t go with the rapture because the rapture is the blessed hope.

Someone that does that kind of thing is actually relying upon the element of surprise.  A thief in the night imagery in the scripture is always negative, contrary to what a lot of popular Christian teaching does on this subject that tries to present the thief in the night as the rapture.  Thief in the night imagery doesn’t go with the rapture because the rapture is the blessed hope.  How could the blessed hope be a thief in the night?

The thief in the night is a time period of judgment.

What is the thief in the night though is a time period of judgment that just like that overtakes the world suddenly like birth pangs.  Once the birth pangs begin, they’re irreversible, and it overtakes the world suddenly.  There’s absolutely no escape.  In fact if you look at the end of 1 Thessalonians 5:3 it says “… they, [that’s the earth dwellers] will not escape.”  And that’s what it was like in the days of Noah when the flood hit and that’s what it’s going to be like on planet earth when the seven-year tribulation period finally hits planet earth.

So obviously we’re not in that time period yet, praise the Lord, but the world currently is being ripened for judgment.  All you have to do is look at the news to see that.  In fact, it’s very difficult for me as a human being to see really anything that keeps God’s hand of grace on our country, that really should know better because of our Christian heritage in the United States.  We ought to know better.  And I can’t think of a single thing that’s mentioned in God’s Word that we have not publicly and flagrantly rejected and violated.

I mean, if there was something left for us to do, I’d like to know what it is.  I can’t think of anything that God says don’t do that we’ve gone ahead and become public about it and says we’re going to do that.

So, you know, the only thing that keeps God’s hand of blessing on our country in any way is His grace.  The problem is, Genesis 6:3, God says, “My spirit will not strive with man forever, …”.  In other words, you reach a point in your rebellion against God, rejection against God, where you even exhaust the patience of God Himself, and judgment breaks forth.

It’s a lot like water building up behind a dam.  That water can only build up so long before the dam gives way, and eventually the dam breaks and the water comes forth.  That’s essentially a pretty good explanation of what’s happening in our world right now.

The wrath of God is being stored up.  The world itself is being ripened for judgment.  What will precede that time period is the rapture, but after that time period is over and the church is removed from the earth, there’s literally nothing left to hold back God’s hand.

What is holding God’s hand back right now is his promise that we would not fall into wrath.  We’re going to see that in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, by the way.  God has not destined us for wrath.  So as long as the church is present, God’s wrath can’t be poured out.  But once the church is removed via the rapture, and it’s kind of interesting that Paul is developing these in chronological order, Chapter 4 rapture, Chapter 5 Day of the Lord.  I mean the last time I checked Chapter 4 comes before Chapter 5.  Rapture first, Day of the Lord second.

Once God’s people are removed, then God doesn’t have to keep His promise anymore to exempt us from divine wrath because we’re not on the planet anymore.  And so there’s nothing left then to hold back the judgment of God which springs forth just like the flood came.  And when it came, although the world had been warned, they’re just going to be completely taken off guard by it and surprised by it.  It’s going to be like a thief in the night.


Now you go down to 1 Thessalonians 5:5, but he says, “for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;” So what is our status in the world before this time period comes?  Well, we are sons of the light, sons of the day.

Didn’t Jesus tell us that in the Sermon on the Mount?  Matthew 5:13-16, “… You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; … “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” So here Paul, probably picking up on themes in the Sermon on the Mount, describes our status in the world before this time period comes as we are sons of the light and sons of the day.

Paul in the book of Ephesians Chapter 5 talks about this issue constantly.  In Ephesians 5:8 he says of the Christian, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.”

What do you do as a child of light?  Well Ephesians 5:11, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, …”  So why would I participate in the deeds of darkness?  The deeds of darkness are contrary to my status as a Christian as a child of light.  “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;”

So as children of light we are not to be involved in the sins of the world, the sins of the flesh, the deeds of darkness, but rather what we are to do is we are to turn the search light of truth on those things and expose them for what they are.

And let me tell you something, when you turn the search light of truth on something or someone, the people in darkness don’t like the light.  They do not want to be exposed.  And they often times end up attacking the light bearer.

That’s why Christians are martyred all over the world, you know, even as I speak, because they have this function of being children of light.  And how could we not be children of light?

Didn’t Jesus Himself say in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.” In fact, that whole verse, John 8:12 says, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.””

Now, all the way through John’s gospel – which is probably the most evangelistic Bible book that we have.  I mean, it was intentionally written to evangelize the lost.  John, in his purpose statement at the end of the book, in John 20:30-31[2], says that.

And that’s important to understand because you’re going to have people in your life, I mean, even during this season, the world calls it Easter, I prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday.  Can I get an amen on that?  Amen.

Even during this season, what we’ve done with most of our holidays, whether it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving, instead of commemorating the Biblical significance behind those holidays, we’ve turned them into a family time.  If you just look at all the commercials that play, it’s all about families reconnecting and having a nice meal together and all this kind of stuff, which is all well and good, it has its place, but sometimes what happens is the tail starts to wag the dog.  And you get so caught up in family tradition that you forget what’s the holiday about to begin with.

So the nice thing about these holidays is you’ve got people in your family, many of whom may be unsaved, wanting to know why you keep taking your Christianity so seriously.  I mean, what time are you going to be back from church?  I hope the preacher doesn’t preach too long at church.  We’ve got family supper ready, family reunion, don’t be late.  Sugarland Bible Church teaches too long, so maybe you can go to the other church down the street where it’s three points in a poem, in and out, like In-N-Out Burger kind of thing.

And so you’re around all these unsaved people and they’re wondering, why do you take this Christianity thing so seriously?  And some will actually ask you, do you have a book of the Bible I could read just to figure out what it is you’re into?  And you have to have enough sense as a Christian to send them to the right book.  I mean, I wouldn’t send them to Leviticus if I were you.  Leviticus is a great book, but send them to the book that’s specifically written to evangelize the lost, which would be John’s gospel.  I mean, that’s just a fantastic, that’s why it was written.  It’s a fantastic book to expose unsaved people to the claims of Christ.

John’s gospel, Jesus makes seven “I am” statements

And John wrote it so that people would understand who Jesus is and then believe in Him for eternal life.  But all the way through John’s gospel, Jesus makes seven “I am” statements.

  1. I am the bread of life (6:35)
  2. I am the light of the world (8:12),
  3. I am the gate for the sheep (10:7; cf. v.9),
  4. I am the good shepherd (10:11, 14),
  5. I am the resurrection and the life (11:25),
  6. I am the way, the truth and the life (14:6), and
  7. I am the true vine (15:1; cf. v.5).


And also all the way through John’s Gospel he mentions seven signs that Jesus did.  The first one is he turned the water to wine at Cana of Galilee.  The seventh sign, John 11, which we’re going to reference today in our sermon, He resuscitated, I think it’s not really a resurrection there because we think Lazarus died again, but Jesus resuscitated him from the grave.

So the one I just want to call your attention to, obviously in the sermon today we’re going to call attention to No. 5, where Jesus claimed to be the resurrection and the life when he brought back Lazarus from the grave.

John 8:12, I am the light of the world.

But the one I’m focusing on here is No. 2, I am the light of the world.  God is light.  This is why Satan, who tries to imitate God, 2 Corinthians 11:14, comes as an angel of light.  He comes sort of as the false light, thinking he can deceive people that he’s the true light.  When he’s not the true light.  All he could really do, Satan could do before he fell, the way he’s described in Ezekiel 28, is he could sort of refract the different colors of the rainbow, the way he is designed, and he was beautiful when you held him up or looked at him relative to the light of God.  But the true light is not Satan.  The true light is Jesus Himself.

That’s why when you get to the end of the book of Revelation, we’re going to try to make reference to this also in our sermon, Revelation 21 and Revelation 22, the eternal state, it specifically says there that there’s going to be in the eternal state no sun or no moon.  Why would you need those things, because Jesus is there, and Jesus is the true light.

That’s why when you study the creation week, Genesis Chapter 1, Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  And then Verse 3, “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.”

Now the sun and the moon and the stars, Genesis 1:14, do not come into existence until Day No. 4.  So if the sun, moon and stars don’t come into existence until day 4, how in the world can you have light on day 1?  Well God is saying I’m the source of light.  I don’t need some kind of independent source to bring light to the world.  I am the light.  And that’s really important to understand because throughout the ages people have had a tendency to worship the sun, S-U-N, instead of the Son, S-O-N.

And God says right at the beginning of his book, the Bible, and right at the end of His book, the Bible, get the order right.  Don’t worship things, you know, instead of Me.

In fact, in the book of Deuteronomy 4:19, Moses warned the children of Israel, ““And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.”

In other words, Israel and paganism would have a tendency to worship the starry hosts instead of God.

And to remedy that, God says, “Check the order.” Go back to Genesis 1, “Light came into existence before the sun, moon, and stars on day four.” Check the record book, go to the last two chapters of the Bible, and you’ll see in Revelation 21:23[3], I think it is, and Revelation 22 around Verses 4 and 5[4], that the eternal state will not need the sun, moon, and stars because God Himself, Jesus Himself is the source of light.

So Jesus is light.  I am the light of the world.  It’s interesting how God Himself is described as light in many, many places.  1 Timothy 6:16 of God, it says, “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, ….”

1 John 1:5, “… God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

God is light.  Our identity as Christians is we are sons of light.

So since all of this is true, God is light, God is the source of light, then you start to understand our identity as Christians that we are sons of light.  That’s our identity.  That’s who we are.  And so our function is not to go into the darkness and participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather our very presence will expose darkness.

You know, that’s why you can be in a secular environment and people will tell a joke that’s a bit dirty, and then they’ll see you and they’ll say something like, “Ah, you know, I’m sorry I said that.  I shouldn’t have said that.” Why would they say that to you?  Well, because they themselves sense what you are.  You’re a light bearer.  I mean, your very practice and presence demonstrates that to them because you’re connected to the ultimate source of light, Jesus Christ.

So this is the kind of thing Paul is getting at here when he tells us that we are sons of the light and sons of the day.  And then he says in 1 Thessalonians 5:5, “… We are not of night nor of darkness;”  Unlike the world, we see light, we see spiritual light, we see spiritual truth.  The unsaved world doesn’t see it.

In fact, these are all the descriptors of Satan as the ruler of this world.  I’ll draw a couple to your attention.  One is 2 Corinthians 4:4, of Satan, the god (little g), “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

If you’re not a Christian, you’re actually in a state of blindness, in a state of darkness spiritually.  I mean, you can’t even see the gospel.  Why is that?  Because Satan has blinded the minds of the unsaved.  This is why trying to intellectualize people into salvation oftentimes doesn’t really bear a lot of fruit.  Because you can argue, you can philosophize, you can have all kinds of shout outs on social media, you can go back and forth with people all day long debating atheists, and at the end of the day really nothing is accomplished.

And the reason nothing is accomplished is because the people you’re trying to talk to are blind.  I mean, you are trying to get them to see something that they can’t see.  Any more than you can take a person that’s physically blind and try to point out the colors of this or the colors of that, they can’t see it.

So obviously what has to happen to them is something supernatural has to happen to them.  The supernatural thing is the convicting ministry of the Spirit which brings them to the point of decision.  That in essence is what they need.

And so this is what Paul is talking about here when he’s contrasting our status as children of light to the world which is in darkness and of the night.  Another one of these I’ll draw your attention to is 1 John 5:19.  John writes, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”  That’s the state of the world.  Lewis Sperry Chafer used the analogy here of a mother rocking her newborn to sleep.  That’s what Satan, as Chafer described Verse 19 there of 1 John 5, that’s essentially what the world is like.  It’s just being rocked to sleep.

They cannot see what you see.  They cannot understand what you understand because you have a spiritual quality to you that they don’t have.  You’re connected to God, they aren’t.  And so when you interact with the unsaved person, you have to just understand that that’s what you’re dealing with.  You’re not dealing with someone that’s less intelligent than you.  You’re not dealing with someone that has a lower IQ than you.  You’re not dealing with someone who’s not as smart as you.

What you’re dealing with is someone that literally cannot see what you very plainly see.  And as you get into conversations with them, you just have to say, “Lord, there has to be something supernatural here that’s going to help this person.” And that’s where you begin to pray for the convicting ministry of the Spirit that Jesus said is dispatched into the world to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

Paul goes on there in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 in describing our position as children of light relative to the unsaved world as children of darkness who are going to be totally overtaken by this Day of the Lord if they are not saved.  Our destiny is different.  We are not going to be overtaken by the Day of the Lord the way they are as a thief in the night because we can see, and they can’t.

So how are we to act in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8?  “so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”

So you’ll notice the descriptors that are used here.  There are certain activities that you do at night and there are certain activities that you do in the day.  So we should not be involved by way of spiritual analogy in activities that are done at night because the night is not for us.  The night is for the unsaved.  So we are to not sleep.  Now I had a very good night’s sleep last night so we’re obviously not talking about physical sleep but moral sleep, spiritual sleep.  I’m not to go back to sleep spiritually speaking.  I am not to get drunk, which is an activity that people do at nighttime.

But rather I’m to be involved in activities that are acceptable in the day, in the daylight.  I should be alert.  I should be sober.  Because alertness and sobriety is a daytime activity and that’s what I ought to be involved in because I’m a child of light.  In fact I’m connected to the One who claimed to be the light of the world.  I shouldn’t be involved in moral sleep or moral drunkenness because that’s what people do in the nighttime.  And Paul has just finished telling me that I’m no longer, as a Christian, a child of the night.

This is actually the argument that Peter used in Acts Chapter 2 relative to those that were attributing the languages spoken by the apostles to drunkenness.  It says in Acts 2:13, “But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.””  Peter says Acts 2:15, ““For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day;”  In other words, you’re ascribing a nighttime activity to something that’s happening right now at 9:00 in the morning.

So by way of analogy, we shouldn’t be involved in nighttime activity.  I shouldn’t be asleep, and I shouldn’t be in a state of drunkenness.  But I should be in a state of alertness.  I should be in a state of spiritual sobriety.  Because after all, that’s who I am.  That’s my identity.  That’s your identity as a child of light. 

Continuing on with 1 Thessalonians 5:8, he says, “But since we are of the day, let us be sober, [now notice this next little part there in Verse 8] having put on …” and Paul starts to list some things that sound a lot like Ephesians 6, the full armor of God.  “… having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”

Now just focus on this little part here, “having put on.” When you study the book of Ephesians, it’s just an absolutely fascinating book because it destroys every teaching philosophy you hear in modern day Christianity.  Where it’s all about application.  In fact, a lot of Christians will actually tune the preacher out until he gets to the application part.  Okay, that’s for me.  I need to pay attention.

You’ll notice that the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1-3 gives no application.  None.  And that’s a long sermon, Chapters 1-3.  It’s not until you get to Ephesians 4:1where he says, “Therefore,” and when you see the word “therefore” in the Bible, you have to ask, “What is the word therefore there for?”  And it’s to transition us out of knowledge into application.

He doesn’t get to application until after Ephesians 4:1.  It’s at that point he gives 35 imperatives, which are Greek commands.  In Greek, that’s an imperative.  In other words, Paul never applies spiritual truth to people unless they understand their resources in Christ.  That’s what he does in Chapters 1 through 3.  He doesn’t tell them to do anything until they understand who they are in Christ and their riches in Christ.

And only after he accomplishes that, does he then move into application.  So if Paul started to apply commands to the people before they understood who they are in Christ, he would be destroying them.  Because the Christian life is not difficult, as some have called it, it is impossible.  You cannot live the Christian life on your own power.  The only possible way to live the Christian life is through the power that God gives you.  And you cannot understand the power that God gives you unless you first understand who you are in Christ Jesus. 

So this is very different than modern day preaching philosophy where it is all about application before meaning is developed.  Now this is resurrection Sunday and over in 1 Corinthians 15 is the resurrection chapter.  And you’ll notice that 57 verses in that chapter there are no applications.  Paul does not get to the application until Verse 58, the very end of the chapter, after he’s covered 57 verses.  Where finally he gets to an application at the end, 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

In other words, what Paul the apostle has done here is he has not applied the biblical text at all until he’s spent 57 verses covering meaning.  This is what Paul is doing in Ephesians.  He doesn’t tell them to do anything until they understand their identity and their riches and their resources in Christ Jesus, and then and finally then does he get to the application.

But you’ll notice that once you learn to a certain point there is an application.  There is something for us to do.  Now it comes at the right point.  It comes at the right time.  But it’s there.  Because a lot of people have this mindset that well I’m just going to let go and let God.  I don’t have to do anything as a Christian.  Well that’s not true.

There is an application, but the application comes strategically in Paul’s teaching after you understand who you are in Christ Jesus.  Then comes the application and the application is I’ve got to take this truth that I’ve learned and do something with it and to discover what you’re supposed to do you look at the application section and there are a lot of things for us to do.

Pray without ceasing (1 Tess 5:17).  God’s not going to do that for you.  He’s empowered you to do it, but you have to through volition take an action step.  Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as is the habit of some (Heb 10:25).  I mean God’s not going to do that for you.  He’s not going to wake you up in the morning and get you all dressed and transport you automatically to church.  You’ve got to take some action steps to get that done.

Study and show yourself approved as a workman who need not be ashamed but rightly handles the Word of God (2 Tim 2:15), the reading of the scripture.  God’s not going to do that for you.  You have to take an action step and be involved in daily Bible reading or you cannot grow as a Christian.

One of the great application points there in Ephesians 6 is put on the full armor of God.  he doesn’t say, “Okay, just sit there and relax.  Let go.  Let God.  here, I’ll put on the pieces of armor for you.” It’s an actual command that the Christian is supposed to follow.

So there are authentic, legitimate commands in the Bible and yet you have no ability to fulfill those commands unless you first understand who you are in Christ Jesus.  That’s why Paul teaches the way that he does.  I mean if you were to listen to Paul teach you would hear some sermons probably that had no application in them whatsoever.  And then you would hear other sermons later on in the process that was nothing but application because Paul was expecting us to apply what we know.

So that’s why going back here to 1 Thessalonians 5:8 he says, “Having put on.” Now I’ve got to do something.  I don’t do it through my own strength.  I don’t do it through my own power.  But I need to do something.  So what are we to put on?

Having put on, and as I mentioned before this sounds a lot like Ephesians 6, a section of the Bible that I call Dress for Success, the full armor of God.  And we’ve done teachings on that in Ephesians 6:14-17.  Put on the belt of truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, put on the sandals of peace, put on the shield of faith, put on the helmet of salvation, take hold of the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.  you know these are things that I have to actively appropriate moment by moment by faith.  God is not going to do these things for me.

So in the same way there are some things I need to put on.  Number one, going back to 1 Thessalonians 5:8, I need to put on the breastplate of faith.  Now it’s kind of interesting in Ephesians 6:14 it’s not called the breastplate of faith; it’s called the breastplate of what?  Righteousness.  But I think it’s talking about the same breastplate.  Because without faith you can’t have righteousness.  In other words it’s at the point of faith that you receive the righteousness of God.  Philippians 3:9, and says, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through [anybody know the next word?] faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”

That’s how you face the devil every single day.  Because the devil is in the business of trying to convince you that you’re unworthy to be used by God.

You wake up in the morning, Satan will whisper that in your ear.  You put your head down on the pillow at night, he’ll whisper that in your ear, and he’ll tell you that all day long.  Who do you think you are?  Accusation, accusation, accusation.  You’re unworthy.  Yeah, I know the Holy Spirit told you to share your faith with your family members and unsaved loved ones, but who do you think you are?  They’re not going to listen to you.

Well, that’s where you actively put on this, what is called here, the breastplate of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, righteousness that has been accessed through faith, and you just mentally rehearse that I’m just as righteous as Jesus.  That’s my position.  God looks at me as if I’m just as righteous as His Son in a positional way.  And you start to appropriate that mentally every time Satan comes at you with an attack.

You’re learning the art of spiritual warfare.  You’re standing in the midst of satanic opposition.  He starts with faith here because Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is [what?] impossible to please Him ….”  Our whole Christian experience begins with faith.  And you have to put on the breastplate of faith or the breastplate of righteousness by faith.

And then Paul mentions here, going back to 1 Thessalonians 5:8, “… having put on the breastplate of faith and love …”  I would see another piece of armor here.  The breastplate of love.  Why does he focus on love?  Because love is the goal of our instruction.  1 Timothy 1:5, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

You’ll notice it doesn’t say the goal of our instruction is learning truth.  It doesn’t say the goal of our instruction is using your spiritual gifts in a way that you can become famous.  It doesn’t say the goal of our instruction is winning an argument.  It doesn’t say the goal of our instruction is learning the fine art of apologetics.  It doesn’t even say here the goal of our instruction is evangelism.

Now all those other things that I mentioned may have their place, but that’s not the goal.  The goal of our instruction is love.  In other words, if everything that we’re studying and everything that we’re learning is not making us more of a selfless person, which is what agape love is, the word here is agape.  It’s not eros, romantic love.  It’s not phileo, brotherly love.  It’s not storge, family love.  It’s agape, selfless love.

If we’re not advancing in the direction of agape love, then what’s the point of it?  We’ve missed the point.  And there are many times in my life where I’ve gotten irritated with something, bothered by something, I’ve become argumentative with somebody, and I’m reminded of this passage where I just have to dial back and say, you know what?  I’m moving out in a direction that’s really not appropriate because everything I’m supposed to be doing, I’m supposed to be doing out of love because the goal of our instruction is love.  So you put on this particular breastplate by asking yourself with every single motive, everything you do, “Am I really doing this out of a loving motivation?”

Peter here describes our practical sanctification as follows.  2 Peter 1:5-7 he says, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence [see that?  In other words, I’ve got to do something with the truth I’m learning.], in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, [what?] love.”

Notice how it starts with faith.  Because without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Heb 11:6)  Notice where it all ends, in love.  That’s the high point.  The goal of our instruction is love.  Here is what 2 Peter 1:5-7 looks like if you were to look at it as a graphic[5].  It begins with faith, and it ends in love.  Because the goal of our instruction is love.

Do you see how everything that God is, he wants to reduplicate in us?  God is light, we saw that earlier, and He’s made us children of the light.  Well here’s another example, 1 John 4:8 says God is what?  Love.  It doesn’t even say God is loving.  I mean it doesn’t even say God has the attribute of love.  It says God is love, just like God is light.

Hey, what is God like at the end of the day?  I mean who is God?  God is light.  So we’re called to be children of the light.  God is love.  So we are to put on this breastplate of love.

And then the last one that’s mentioned here is the helmet of salvation.  And you’ll recognize that from Ephesians 6.  “But since you are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and a helmet the hope of salvation.” (1 Thes 5:8).  Ephesians 6:17 says, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

What exactly is salvation?  Well, salvation has three parts to it.  Justification, sanctification, glorification.  Justification, the past tense of salvation.  Sanctification, the present tense of salvation.  Glorification, the future tense of salvation.  Justification, being saved from sins penalty, it takes place in an instant at the point of faith alone and Christ alone.  Then God moves us into sanctification where we are gradually being delivered from sins power as we learn to walk by God’s resources.  And then at the point of death is the future tense of our salvation where we will be out of these bodies, either at the rapture or death, and we won’t even have the ability to sin anymore.  And we will be ushered into glorification.  The future tense of our salvation.

So you have to be careful with this word salvation in the Bible.  It doesn’t always mean the same thing every time it’s used.  Notice what Paul says in Romans 13:11 he says, “… for now salvation is nearer than when we believed.”  So he’s obviously using the word salvation in a futuristic way here.  He’s speaking of glorification.  Because he says, “Now salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”  Well, obviously, when they believed they had the first tense of salvation.  But he says, “Now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed.” And he’s speaking there of glorification.

So whether you realize it or not as a Christian, you are actually on a fast track into glorification.  In fact your glorification is so secure that God describes the Christian as if they’re already glorified.  Do you guys feel glorified?  Probably not.  I don’t feel very glorified today.  But God looks at me as if I’m already glorified.

Romans 8:29-30 it says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

Now isn’t that interesting?  Even though we’re not yet glorified, the deal is so certain, we are so secure that God looks at us as if glorification has already transpired.

So with that being said, what does it mean here when it says, “the helmet of the hope of salvation” (1 Thess 5:8)?  What Satan will do to you, over and over again is he will try to convince you that you are not a Christian.  He will try to convince you that you are not saved because you sure don’t act like it.  And as long as you are devoting all of this time and energy to the fact that, “Am I a Christian?  Am I not a Christian?”, it’s energy that could be spent in more productive areas.

So God wants you to know as a birthright that once you trust Christ, you are saved, your salvation is secure, you have 100 percent assurance of it, and you wake up every morning and you acknowledge that truth.  You put on the helmet, the hope of salvation, which protects your mind.  That’s what a helmet does.

Because Satan is after the mind.  If Satan can influence your mind, he can control, essentially, an influencer whole being.  So Satan says, “you’re not saved, you’re not a Christian, how could you act like that?  Who do you think you are stepping out in the things of God?”

And that’s when you put on, you’ve got to do something active.  You put on the helmet of the hope of salvation.  You remind yourself of Romans 8:29-30, that God looks at you as if you’re already in phase three of salvation, glorification.  And as you do that, as you actively put that on, you’ll notice that Satan’s arrows against your mind start to lose their power.

So Paul has really given us a wonderful treatment here, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8 concerning how we are to act as children of light in a world that’s very, very dark.  So with that in mind, let’s pray.

Father, we’re grateful for this word and truth, grateful for the knowledge You’ve given us of the time period that’s coming upon the earth.  We’re grateful of the fact that we are not in the darkness, but we are of the light.  And we ask this week that You would help us to walk these truths out as children of the light.  I just pray that Your people would be especially strengthened today for the warfare that’s in front of them on this particular special Sunday, Resurrection Sunday.  We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, in God’s people said, amen.


[1] All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. 1995. La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

[2] “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

[3] Revelation 21:23 (NASB95)

And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

[4] Revelation 22:5 (NASB95)

5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.

[5] See video First Thessalonians 021 – After the Rapture (part 2) at 00:55:39 for graphic.