The book of 1 Thessalonians deals a great deal with the future and certain coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians does, too). Each chapter, in fact, has something to say about it. Personally, I enjoy how each mention builds upon the previous.
1 Thess 1:9-10
… and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
It’s truly great that we have the knowledge of His return and can “wait” for Him and that we have the assurance that the believer has been “delivered” from God’s coming wrath when He judges mankind. But I have to say this verse doesn’t really assure me that there’s something very positive to look forward to. It only indicates something not negative. There’s erroneous teaching out there saying our end is annihilation, that we simply cease to exist. That would mean deliverance from the “wrath to come,” wouldn’t it? But that’s not really something to look forward to if you ask me. It could be something to wait for. But not much to look forward to.
1 Thess 2:19
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
OK. So now we’re getting somewhere. It’s certainly not annihilation we’re waiting for. We’re given some hope here that there’s something pretty positive to wait for. We’ll be in His presence at His coming. That’s sure something to look forward to. We wait for Him and what we have to rejoice over is that we’ll be in His presence. That’s great! … Well. Maybe it’s great. …. I guess I’m just a little bit of a worry-wart, but at this point I’m thinking about all the reasons I don’t deserve to be in His presence. I mean, what’s going to happen when I get there and I’m in His presence and every crummy thing I’ve ever done or thought I’ve had comes to my mind? When I behold His sinless, glorious self, will I sink in fear unable to move and remain that way for as long as I’m in His presence? Maybe the joy of being in His presence will only last as long as it takes me to realize just what I actually am by nature, an undeserving, pathetic sinner.
1 Thess 3:13
… to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
Whew. Another relief. Not only do we have His return to wait for and the knowledge of being in His presence, but in His presence our hearts will be established unblameable in holiness. No need to fear being in His presence. … Uh, but wait a minute. … This is all great. really, … it is. But what happens after some time passes? How long could something like this possibly last? And then what?
1 Thess 4:17
then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
“And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” It will last forever. We wait for His return. When He comes, we’ll be in His presence. In His presence our hearts will be established unblameable in holiness. And it will last forever. Praise be to Him! …. But wait. I’m really sorry. I don’t mean to be a pest. I really don’t. It’s just that I’m a really skeptical kind of guy and this all just sounds way too good to be true. What’s the catch? …. There’s always a catch. I need to do something to get this “great deal,” right? A deal like this just can’t really exist. … Can it?
1 Thess 5:23-24
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole, spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.
No catch. “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” And none of it depends on me! None of it. He’s coming. I’ll be in His presence. My heart will be blameless. I’ll be with Him forever. … And He, the Lord Jesus Christ, is able and faithful to do it all.