Article 52

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What we Believe






"The Day of the Lord"

I Thessalonians 5:1-2.

"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."

The apostle leaves no room for doubt here. He was sure that the Thessalonians had an accurate or well-rounded knowledge [they knew perfectly] of the stealthy manner in which the day of the Lord would come upon the unbelieving inhabitants of this world (5:1-3). He was also sure that the believing Thessalonians would not be so overtaken by that day, as the unbelieving world would be (5:4). But for what reasons was Paul so sure of this? How could he have such confidence?

One reason is that the Thessalonian believers, while in this world, they were not motivated by the same uncontrollably frivolous mind as the unbelieving world. These believers could have a watchful eye with a mind free from the intoxicating ways of the unbelieving. Thus these believers found protection for their spiritually vital inward parts through faith in and love for God, and the protection for the mind itself was the very hope of final salvation from this world (5:4-8). We find this so because a second reason given is that God has appointed His people, those in Christ, believers, to actually obtain salvation, that is, to live together with Christ and not experience the wrath of that day to come which is the day of the Lord (5:9-11). The third reason (which is actually the first one Paul stated in this letter) is the actual resurrection of the dead in Christ, immediately followed by the catching up of those resurrected believers and those believers yet living, whom God shall then gather both together with Christ to be with Him forever. This event is in fact the initiation of the day of the Lord (4:13-5:11). So again to say even further, Paul acknowledged that the relationship between the coming of day of the Lord and the coming of Christ for His saints, along with its stealthy manner, was well known by these believers (5:1) although he did give them further instruction concerning those who slept in Christ and the certainty of their resurrection in Christ (4:13).

This great truth is clear that while the believer (those in Christ) shall escape, for God has so ordained their escape by Christ who died for them, yet the unbelieving world shall not escape the sudden (unexpected) destruction (ruin or punishment, cf. I Cor. 5:5; II Thess. 1:9; I Tim. 6:9) to come upon them. And how is it that the believer (not just the Thessalonian believers) shall escape? They and they alone shall be gathered together, whether by the resurrection of the bodies of those who sleep in Christ or by the transformation of the bodies (cf. I Cor. 15:50-52) of those yet alive in Christ, to meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever while the prophesied judgment begins to fall on this unbelieving world. The truth of scripture is clear by our Lord’s own words that when this event takes place not all humanity shall be so gathered but some shall be taken and others shall be left behind (Matt. 24:40-41; Lk. 17:20-37). This is clearly indicated here by Paul as well, and those who are to be left behind shall not escape the coming judgment.

There should be no doubt here that Paul was not speaking to the Thessalonians about a general resurrection and transformation of all humanity to then stand before Christ and be judged as saved in Christ or lost apart from Christ. Those left behind at the beginning of this event are left behind to undergo the judgments associated with the day of the Lord to be carried out upon the inhabitants if this earth (I Thess. 5:3; Rev. 6:12-17; Isa. 2:10-3:26; 13:6-22; 34:1-17; Zeph. 1:7-18, etc.). These passages clearly show that the day of the Lord is an expression used by God to define a period of time concerning judgment against the infidels of this world. The day of the Lord will culminate with a final judgment against this present earth and the works therein with the new heavens and the new earth coming down from God out of heaven according to the promise of God (II Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 21:1-3). The only "general" resurrection and judgment, which is to take place, is that before the great white throne of God (Rev. 20:11-15). Of this event it is said of all those present concerning heaven: "and there was found no place for them." All those there shall be: "…judged every man according to their works." The clear inference at this event is that all who are resurrected and then judged (no transformation of any living persons is taught at this event) here will be cast into the lake of fire. No believer wants to take part in that event, nor will they!

It is sad but true that many of those believers to whom God has given knowledge perfectly (accurately) about this event are mocked and ridiculed by other professing believers, or even worse. When we seek to comfort one another and edify one another with these words we are accused of promoting "our own brand of prophecy" or we are accused of trying to "sow discord among the brethren." Some have even accused us of being pharisaical and self-righteous or of even having left the true message of Christ for freewill doctrine. In spite of these harsh and mean-spirited barbs, and sometimes in spite of even being denied fellowship in the gospel of Christ, yet the believer pushes forward with a certain and confident hope in the promises of God in Christ. I, along with many others, long for the day of the Lord and that final union, so to speak, in which the people of God in Christ of the past ages will be eternally joined with Christ in bodily presence. I also long for that day when even those who mock such an event, and who even mock those who find great hope in it, will by the grace of God in Christ take part in that event and be glad for it. Thank God for His free grace.

Let us never be so intimidated that we cease to obey the scripture in comforting and edifying (building up) one another with these words. If we do become so intimidated then we have allowed ourselves to be robbed of our obedience to scripture itself and thus robbed of the united comfort afforded in such obedience. Christ shall return for us according to His own promise and in delivering us He shall then begin to judge and avenge the blood of His saints on this world of infidels (Rom. 12:19; Rev. 6:9-11; Rev. 19:1-3). Since glorified saints feel this way and long for this then let us not be ashamed of the same feelings or longings! This will be for the actual salvation of the saints and an avenging on the saint’s behalf. This we long for in Christ. God has promised the return of His Son for us and for the punishment of this world culminating in eternal glory for us in Christ. Let us then "look for such things" (II Pet. 3:14).

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