1 Thessalonians 1:7-10
So that you were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.…
I. THE CERTAINTY OF THE ADVENT. Of this, according to the unbroken statements of the New Testament, there is not the shadow of a doubt; but I would observe —
1. The time of the coming is an uncertainty. If you examine a few of the statements with reference to that uncertainty, you will find a statement in the New Testament as to that coming being a thing near. In the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, the fourth chapter, and the fifteenth verse, you read — "For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep." Whereas, in the second Epistle, the second chapter, and the third verse, you find the statement which implies that that coming was not immediate: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first." You will find in the Epistle to the Hebrews the same apparently contradictory statements. Then you find in the seventh verse of the fourth chapter of the first Epistle of Peter — "The end of all things is at hand." Again, in the third chapter, the ninth verse, of the second Epistle of Peter, you find the apostle speaking of the Lord being "long suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish." You have the same apparent conflict of statement in our blessed Lord's own words. Thus in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, and the thirty-fourth verse, He says — "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled;" which seems to intimate a near approach of the second coming. Then you find in the nineteenth verse of the twenty-fifth chapter, in the parable of the talents — "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them." Again there is another class of statements which expressly and distinctly aver that the time of the second coming is left in uncertainty. Thus, you find in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, and the forty-second verse — "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." And you find a still more remarkable statement in the Gospel of St. Mark — "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, Hot the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father;" that is — the Lord Jesus in His human nature was not at that time acquainted with the day of His Second Advent. What, then, is the result which the Word of God seems intended to produce by this apparent conflict of statement? I believe the result which it intends to produce is this — that we should be always on the watch for the second coming of our blessed Lord. There is a tendency in some minds to anticipate that coming, to affirm and believe that that coming is immediately at hand. The Christians at Thesalonica were in danger of thus putting away temporal duties, and neglecting the present calls of life, in order that they might be ready for that which they immediately expected. There is a tendency in other minds to defer and put off that day, to think that it is sure not to take place soon; and thus to live an indolent, a listless and a comparatively indifferent life, as regards that grand object of our hope. Now, if we read the New Testament aright, and if we receive the impression which these various passages are intended to leave upon our minds, with reference to the certainty of the fact and the uncertainty of the coming, I believe that the effect produced will be to make us feel that the Lord's coming, though uncertain at any moment, is possible at any moment. It will produce that state of expectancy, and that state of preparedness and desire with reference to it, in which our Lord sees to be the fittest condition for the spirits of His people to live and be.
2. The grand object presented. I can hardly read without emotion of the anticipation of the first Advent, on the part of the pious Jews, who preceded that advent. But how much grander and more sublime is that which is the object of our hope — the Second Advent; the Lord Jesus coming, not in humiliation, but in glory; not in weakness, but in power; not to suffer, but to reign I And when we think of all the attendant circumstances which are predicted — the rapture of the saints, the descent of the Lord from heaven, the Judgment, the binding of Satan, the renewal of this earth, and all those grand scenes to be produced by His glory — who can look at this great object of our hope without feeling his spirit awed and solemnized, without feeling that we have presented to us in the Bible one of the sublimest and most glorious objects which it is possible for the mind of man to conceive, as that upon which our hope is to rest, as that to which our expectations are to tend?
II. THE INFLUENCE WHICH THIS HOPE IS DESIGNED TO EXERCISE.
1. Holiness. "Every man that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as he is pure." Now, it is impossible for a person who is living in daily anticipation of the second coming of Jesus, impossible for a believer in Christ whose mind is constantly turning towards that glorious appearing, to do otherwise than endeavour to have his moral image conformed, as highly as it can be, to the moral image of Him whom he is expecting; and that it lies in the very essential nature of man, that if in love and hearty faith he is expecting the coming of the Lord, he must seek to purify himself even as his Lord is pure.
2. Gratitude and love. There is a very emphatic word at the close of our text, where the Apostle says that we are expecting Jesus "which delivered us from the wrath to come." Consider what that wrath is! Who it is that has delivered us! CONSIDER HOW He has delivered us — not by handing over some mercenary ransom, but by giving Himself to suffer and to die; and that it is through this purchase Christ has paid that He has accomplished this mighty deliverance; and then say whether the anticipation of meeting Him must not produce, in the mind of him who has this hope, an earnest feeling of gratitude and devoted love to Him, to whom he owes his salvation and his glory.
3. Unworldliness. If a man is living in anticipation of the advent of Christ, it is impossible for him to be so wholly immersed in the cares and pleasures and businesses of this world, as is the case with too many professing Christians. If we were certain that the coming of the Lord were nigh at hand, would any Christian be unduly en grossed with the things of the world? No. "Use the world, and not abuse it."
(E. Bayley, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.