1 Thessalonians 3, the bible reads in verse number one, "Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone and sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlaborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know."
Now in this passage, Paul starts out by talking about the fact that they were a little bit concerned when they heard about the persecution that the Thessalonians had been going through. They were afraid that they might have been moved by those afflictions. That persecution, that pressure that they were under with all the tribulations that they endured, what if somehow shaken them from their steadfast position? He wants to make sure that they're standing strong in the faith and that they're not letting the afflictions move them.
Now, go to Psalm 62. Back in Psalm 62, David says something similar about not being moved. This is something that throughout the bible is mentioned. Psalm 62 beginning in verse number one, the bible reads, "Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? Ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah. My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved."
David is talking about how the enemy is going to attack him, but because God is there to defend him, because God is the rock and the salvation, he says, "I shall not be moved." Something similar is said Psalm 16 when David said, "I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."
The bible says in the New Testament, the steadfast, "I'm movable," always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. God doesn't want us to be moved. God doesn't want the world to push us around. When persecution comes, the enemies goal is to move us, to push us around. Instead of us just taking our directives from the word of God and doing what God wants us to do, and when we something in the bible, we just do it. No. The world wants to intimidate us, scare us, push us around. God says, "I'm your defense. Don't let them move you. Don't let them push you around."
Paul is a little bit concerned about the Thessalonians just hoping that they are steadfasting their faith. He said, "When we could no longer forebear," in 1 Thessalonians 3:1, he's saying, "You know, we couldn't handle the suspense any longer. When we could no longer forebear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone, and sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlaborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith."
Now, the word "comfort" there, look at the last four letters of comfort, "fort" like a fortress. The word "comfort" in the bible means to strengthen. He's saying, "I wanted Timothy to strengthen you and to establish you to get you unmovable," because he's saying, "I didn't want these persecutions to affect your Christian life." He says, "That no man should be moved by these afflictions for yourselves know that we were appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know."
Now, I'm going to get a little more into that but flip over to Acts 14:22. Acts 14:22, Paul said that he had already warned them in the past, that they had an appointment with tribulation, that they had an appointment with affliction. He said, "You know that we're appointed to these things. I already told you when I was with you," but Timothy needed to come and tell them that once again.
Look at Acts 14:22. It says, "Confirming," confirming, and this is very similar to the word establishing, comforting, strengthening. He says, "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
This is a common theme with the apostle Paul that he's warning people about the fact that they're going to go through tribulations and afflictions. He says, "You need to confirm the souls of the saints. You need to strengthen them and let them know that we are going to go through much tribulation before we enter the kingdom of God."
Flip out to John 16 and we'll find the words of Jesus Christ himself teaching the exact same thing. Now, I'm not going to turn there but in Matthew 13, we find the first mention in the New Testament of the word "tribulation". In Matthew 13 when tribulation is mentioned, it says this, "Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended."
We're talking about a Christian that does not have root in himself. He's not rooted and grounded. What's another way of putting that? He's not steadfast, he's not unmovable. So this Christian, because he doesn't have a root in himself, he endures for a while, but when tribulation or persecution arise because of the word, by and by, he's offended.
Now, look what Jesus says with that in mind in John 16:1, "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service, and these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me, but these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them, and these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you."
Now, here he's saying, "I'm telling you this so that you won't be offended." People are going to be put in prison. People are even going to be killed for the cause of Christ, and he's giving this warning because he doesn't want them to be offended. Isn't that exactly what it said in Matthew 13? Tribulation and persecution comes, they get offended. Paul sends Timothy and says, "Establish them, strengthen them, confirm them, warn them that there are going to be afflictions. Warn them that there are going to be tribulations, that way they're not going to be moved by them."
Now, what is the bible teaching us in all these scriptures? That when we know that something is coming, it's easier for us to withstand. You see, if you go into the Christian life not expecting persecution, not expecting any affliction or trouble, then when it comes upon you, you're caught unawares. Go to 1 Peter 4 if you would. You're caught off guard and then you fail to stand in the evil day. That's why over and over again, Jesus warns, Paul warns, Timothy warns and says, "You're going to go through hard times," because it's a lot easier to deal with hard times when you're expecting them than when they come at you unawares.
Too many Christians today are not being warned about the persecutions that Christians of all generations have endure and especially, they're not being warned that Jesus taught that in the last days, there would be a time a persecution such as was not since the world began. No, no ever shall be. He said, "Then shall be great tribulation." He said, "In those days shall be affliction such as was not from the beginning of time to this time."
I mean, over and over again, there are warnings about the fact that all Christians are going to be persecuted. The bible says, " Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," but then also, there are all these warnings about the great tribulation when people will be delivered up and put in prison, killed, et cetera. These warnings keep coming over and over again in the bible.
Look at 1 Peter 4:12, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." Don't think it strange because everybody is going to go through it. If you serve God, you will go through trials and tribulations. You will be persecuted for the cause of Christ if you do anything great for God.
Now, back to 1 Thessalonians 3 with all that in mind, because all this teaching is very consistent when we look at the teachings of Jesus, when we look at the teachings of Paul, they're very consistent about this thing of tribulation, that it's something that we all go through as believers.
In Revelation 1, Paul said ... I'm sorry. In Revelation 1, John said, "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." He said, "I'm your companion in tribulation." You know what that means? "I'm going through tribulation, you're going through tribulation. We're all going through tribulation, okay?"
Now, people will look at all these scriptures and here's what they'll say, "Well, of course, we go through everyday type of tribulations but we're not going to go through the great tribulation." They teach this thing called the Pre-tribulation Rapture that says that we're all going to be removed from this earth before the great tribulation.
Now, stop and just use a little bit of logic here. If all throughout the New Testament there are just scriptures and scriptures and scriptures telling us about the fact that we're going to go through affliction, we're going to through tribulation, warning us, preparing us, why would then God remove us before the great tribulation? There's nothing like that in the bible. There's nothing that says, "Hey, before the tribulation, we're going to be taken out of here."
In fact, just search for the words before the tribulation, you won't find anything like that, but then search after the tribulation, and if you search after the tribulation, you know what you're going to find? A reference to the rapture. It will say, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days," and then it describes, "Jesus Christ coming in the clouds, the trumpet sounding and him gathering all his elect," but people don't believe that even though it's crystal clear in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, they don't believe that.
Instead, they've come up with this teaching called the Pre-tribulation Rapture, meaning, that the rapture can take place at any moment and that we will be removed from this earth before the tribulation. People will say this, "Well, why would God allow his people to go through the great tribulation? Why would he do that to us? Why has he been doing it to us for thousands of years? I mean, he said, 'I was hated of the world, you're going to be hated of the world.' We're going through tribulation, you're going through tribulation, so why would the great tribulation be any different?"
Then another thing that they'll pull out is this thing of, "Well, God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ," and they say, "See right there, we're not appointed onto wrath," but here's the thing: Is tribulation the wrath of God? No. All the scriptures that we're looking at that talk about tribulation and affliction which are synonymously used in Matthew 24 and Mark 13, did any of those sound like we're talking about God pointing out his wrath on anybody? No.
Tribulation, trouble, affliction is something that comes from the world. The world brings affliction on God's people and troubles and persecution and tribulation. That's what we're talking about. When we look at the period of the great tribulation, it's a time when the anti-Christ will be in power and when believers will be persecuted because anyone who will not worship the beast and take the mark of the beast in their right hand or in their forehead will be killed or will not be able to buy or sell, and will go through trials.
God's wrath is not poured out until after the tribulation. The bible is real clear about that because after the tribulation is when the sun and moon are darkened. In Revelation 6 when we see the sun and moon being darkened, that's when the wrath of God begins.
Just get this in your mind, the sun and moon being darkened ends the tribulation according to Matthew 24 and Mark 13, and the sun and moon being darkened begins the wrath of God according to Revelation 6 because as soon as that sun and moon are darkened it says, "The great day of his wrath is come." What does it mean "is come"? Why not "has come"? It says "is come" because it means it just arrived right now. "The great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?"
If the tribulation is before the sun and moon are darkened, and God's wrath starts to be poured out after the sun and moon are darkened, then how can they can the same thing when they're on two different sides of the sun and moon being darkened? Now, what's interesting is that in this passage, we find that exact pattern in chapter three, chapter four and chapter five of 1 Thessalonians.
Everybody knows that 1 Thessalonians 4 is the most famous rapture passage, and in chapter four, it describes Christ coming in the clouds, but here's what's interesting. Look at chapter three and verse number three, "That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." Pay attention to that word "appointed". "For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know."
According to chapter three, we're appointed to tribulation. That's what it says. Then if we look at chapter four, we see a description of the rapture. Then if we look at chapter five verse number nine, it says, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." Isn't it interesting how this is laid out? Chapter three, we're appointed to tribulation. Chapter four, the rapture. Chapter five, we're not appointed to wrath. That's the pattern.
Tribulation, then the rapture, then God pours out the wrath which we're not appointed to because we've already removed at that point. See how consistent the bible is here? It's funny how all day long, those who believe in a pre-trib rapture will keep repeating this verse, "Not appointed to wrath, not appointed to wrath," but they never even touch chapter three, appointed to tribulation. That wouldn't really go well for their doctrines, would it? "That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation," but that appointed with affliction and tribulation is overlooked and all we want to talk about is that we're not appointed to wrath, not appointed to wrath.
You see, this is why it's important to study the whole book of 1 Thessalonians and not just take that rapture passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 and just isolate it. You have to study the whole thing and then it all fits together and works together to teach us the truth.
Now, let's go back to chapter three here. It says in verse number five, "For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith." He's saying, "You know, I wanted to check on you guys. I wanted to know if your faith is holding up or if you've buckled under the pressure, if you've been moved by the afflictions."
"Lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain, but now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith."
What's he saying? "We wanted to encourage you. We sent Timotheus to establish you, to confirm you, to strengthen you," but he says, "You ended up encouraging us. We were going through our own affliction and distress, and we heard the great report about how you were holding up, and how you were unmoved, and how you had such great faith in the Lord, we actually ended up being comforted by you. We have been strengthened by you. We were encouraged when Timotheus came unto us and told us how steadfast and unmovable you are."
Now, it's funny because there's a guy named John MacArthur and he's a big false teacher. He's one of the biggest proponents of this pre-tribulation rapture teaching. John MacArthur said, "If we're going to be here for the tribulation," he said, "then why did the apostle Paul never want us in any of his epistles, why is there no warning in any of the epistles that we're going to through this. Wouldn't there some kind of a warning?"
Wait a minute. What is this? Isn't this a warning that we're going to go through tribulation? He said there's no warning. Isn't it interesting that the same false teacher, John MacArthur also said just a few years ago that if you receive the mark of the beast, you could still go to heaven, you could still be saved. Isn't that interesting? The same guy who's telling, "Oh, there's no warning about the tribulation. Don't worry about it. You're not going to be here. You're going to be gone. Don't worry about it." Then he's also saying, "Hey, by the way, you can take the mark of the beast and you're still saved. You could still get saved after you take the mark of the beast," he said.
This way he said, "I don't see why not." Yeah, I can see why not because the bible says, if you take the mark of the beast, you're damned. The bible says, if you receive the mark of the beast, you're going to drink of the wrath of God. You're going to go to hell and fire and brimstone. "I mean, but I don't see why not. Why not? Take the mark of the beast. You can still be saved. By the way, there's no warnings in any of the epistles of Paul about the tribulation."
Who you're going to believe, folks? It's right here in front of you. You're looking at it. It's right there but it's encouraging that they were withstanding the trials and persecutions and afflictions.
Look what it says in verse eight, "For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?"
Now, God himself and our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way unto you. He's saying there when he says, "Perfect that which is lacking," that helps us to understand the word "perfect" a little bit in the bible, because the word "perfect" in the bible, a lot of people when they see the word "perfect", they think it means sinless or without flaw. That's how we often use that word today. Actually in the bible, the word "perfect" means complete, entire or lacking nothing.
He said that he wanted to perfect that which was lacking in their faith. He's saying, "I'm very encouraged by all the great reports that I'm hearing about your church," but he said, "I've been wanting to go down there and kind of just perfect some of the things that were lacking in your faith and help you grow more in the Lord," and he's been praying that God would direct his way unto them.
He says in verse 12, "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you." He's saying, "I want you to love one another," and that's something that Christ often taught, and he says, "Not just love one another but also to love people that are not saved."
Now, obviously, we love the brotherhood and we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, but it's also very important that we love the lost, that we love the unsaved. The love of Christ is what constrains us to go out and reach the lost with the gospel and win souls onto Christ and not to just love the brotherhood here, but also to love the unsaved enough to go out and preach the gospel to every creature and win them unto Christ.
He says, "I know you already have love one for another and that you already have love for the lost," but he said, "I want that love that you already have to increase and abound." He says, "Even as we do toward you." The standard for love there, Paul is saying, "I'm your example. I love people and I want you to love people the way that I love people." Ultimately, the apostle Paul really isn't the final standard toward love. Where is the final standard? Obviously, Jesus is the one who has the greatest love. God's love is the pattern.
The bible says, " Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," and obviously, Jesus laid down his life for us. The bible says, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." If we want to learn about the type of love that we should have, it's all based upon the love of God. The love that he has is the pattern for the love that we should have.
Now, some people will try to take this scripture right here and try to use this to teach that basically, we should love every single person in the world even like a pedophile or like horrific sons of the devil type people and they'll say, "Hey. Well, you know, we need to love every single person on this earth." Here's the problem with that. The bible actually teaches that there is a time to hate. There is a time when actually God's love runs out with people.
Now, most people have this teaching that God loves everyone equally and unconditionally, but that's really not true because of the fact that the bible talks a lot about that there are people that God hates. Just go back if you would to Hosea 7. I'll show you this in the bible. There are a lot of place that we could go in the bible to see this.
For example, the bible says in Psalm 11:5, it says, "The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth." The bible says that there are people who God's soul hates them. It talks about how he hates the workers of inequity, the bloody and deceitful men that are abhorred of the Lord.
The bible also says in Psalm 1:39, "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies." Now, that's not just David talk, that's the word of God. That's the Book of Psalms. Keep in mind that in the New Testament, we are commanded to sing psalms. The Book of Psalms is not outdated or relegated to the Old Testament. No. The Book of Psalms is a timeless book of songs that we sing unto the Lord. Psalm 139 is even still a song in many churches. We don't sing it in our Baptist churches but we need to start singing it because then maybe people wouldn't forget that the doctrines of the bible are sometimes a little more complex than they want to think.
They want to think that basically, everybody is just loved by God unconditionally no matter what they do. Actually, the bible teaches that there's a line that people can cross where they're no longer in the love of God. Now, those of us that are saved, the bible says, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Once we're saved, once we've believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall not caught into condemnation. We've been passed from death unto life and who shall separate us from the love of God? I'm persuaded that neither height, nor depth, nor principalities, nor powers, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
God also loves the unsaved. He loves the lost. The bible says that God commanded his love toward us and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God also loves the lost, but there comes a point where God's love does run out with people.
Now, the proof of that is that people go to hell. That's not a loving place. That's a place where they experience the wrath of God. Look at Hosea 9 and the verse that I want to show you is verse number 15. In Hosea 9, the bible reads, " All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters."
Isn't the bible pretty clear that God used to love these people because he says, "I hated them," but then he also says, "I will love them no more." What's he saying, "I loved them but now I'm now to the point where I love them no more. Now I hate them." Basically, people can get to a point as an unsaved person where they push it too far, they reject the Lord too much and God gives them over to a reprobate mind. The bible teaches that those are haters of the Lord. The bible teaches very clearly that he will at some point love them no more.
There are people who cross the line just like somebody needs to tell John MacArthur that when an unsaved person gets the mark of the beast, they just crossed the line where they can't be saved anymore. It's too late, and God warns people in Revelation. Once you take that mark, you're done. You have sealed your faith. God warns people in chapter 22 of Revelation that once you tamper with God's word, you're done. He said, "If you take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away your part out of the book of life and from the Holy City and from the things which are written in this book."
God told the Pharisees, he said, "You've crossed the line because you blasphemed the Holy Ghost." He said, "You have no forgiveness in this world, neither in the world to come." So it is possible, and if you would go to 2 Chronicles 19, it is possible for people to cross the line with God where they're no longer in the love of God, where God no longer loves them.
Now, people will say, "Well, God loves everybody and God's love is unconditional." Wait a minute. That's not what the bible says, because the bible clearly said here, "I will love them no more. I hated them because of their wickedness." People can push it too far.
Look at 2 Chronicles 19:2, "And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, 'Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.'" The bible is saying here that if we love those who hate the Lord, God's wrath will be upon us. We need to be careful that we don't fall into this thing of loving all people and all creatures all the same unconditionally.
That is actually a teaching of Eastern Mysticism. Read up on Hinduism, read up on Buddhism. They teach that we're all the same, and we're all one with the universe and they try to teach you that you must love every person alike. I'm sorry but a violent pedophile is not someone that I love. As David said, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in Psalm 139, "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?" Then people today would fault you for saying the exact same thing.
Even though David, the man after God's own heart said that he hated those who hate the Lord, and God sanctioned that by putting it in the Book of Psalms and ordained for that to be sung in New Testament churches in Ephesians 5 and in Colossians 3. Then right here, he rebuked someone saying, "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord."
Over and over again in the bible, it talks about the fact that for example, "God so loved the world," but see, he loved everybody at some point. He died for everybody. Everybody has a chance to be saved, but that doesn't mean that a person can never cross the line where it gets too late for them. The bible is real clear on a lot of places that they can cross that line where God will darken their heart and blind their eyes and that there are people according to John 12 that cannot believe because their mind has been darkened, and their heart has been hardened because they've crossed this line.
People will look at 1 Thessalonians 3 sometimes and try to use that to negate all those scriptures that talk about hate. Why? Because in 2015, hate is a dirty word. Any kind of hate is bad. No hate allowed, but is that teaching coming from the bible or is that coming from the world? See, the world has this agenda to demonize bible preaching and they call it hate speech. If you speak out against another religion, they will call you hateful. If you speak out against homosexuality, you're hateful.
This is their buzz word that they've been brainwashing people with over and over again. They say, "You need to love everybody. You need to love these violent pedophiles called homosexuals and you need to love these people." Wait a minute. What did the bible say? Over and over again, it talks about the fact that there are people who hate the Lord and are hated of the Lord. The bible even talks about that we should not love those who hate the Lord.
Now, your average unsaved person doesn't hate the Lord. Ninety-five percent of unsaved people don't hate Jesus. They're just not saved. They're ignorant. We need to get them the gospel. There are some people actually hate the Lord, and they've crossed the line with that.
Now, this is what the verse says. It says in 1 Thessalonians 3, "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you." Now, let me just point out three things about this verse. First of all, it says, "The Lord make you do increase and abound in love." First of all, you can only increase and abound in that which you already have. If the church increased in number, that doesn't mean the church was founded. That means the church was already there and then it increased.
Number one, it says that our love would increase and abound. The love that we already have that it will become more bountiful. Then it says, "In love one toward another," that's talking about to the fellow church members at Thessalonica. It says, "One to another," that's toward their fellow church members. Then it says, "And toward all men even as we do towards you." The context there when it says, "Toward one another and toward all men," he's saying, "Love the people within the church, love the people outside of the church. Love people that are saved, love people that are not saved." He's not saying love every single person. That's not what's being taught here.
Then the last part of the verse, the third thing I want to show you, it says, "Even as we do toward you." What is our pattern when it comes to love? It's the love of Christ. It's the love of God. We should love even as he loved. Here's the thing. That means we love who he loves in the way he loves and that's the pattern. If God is saying that he does not love every single person but that there are some people who he loved in the past but they've crossed the line, then that's our exact pattern.
God doesn't tell us, "You love these, I don't love them but I want you to love them." I mean, do you really think that's what God in heaven is doing? I don't love certain people that love violence, that are reprobates. I don't love them but I want you to love them. Would that make any sense for God to not set the example. When he says, "No, increase and abound in love one toward another and toward all men, even as we do." That's the standard. That's the pattern that we should follow.
If you're trying to be more loving than God, something's wrong with that picture. There's an agenda and you say, "Well, why even talk about this, Pastor Anderson? Are you afraid people are going to be too loving or something?" Because here's the problem. There's a teaching in the bible that says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
The problem is that what we're being brainwashed with in today's America is basically, we're being confronted with some of the sickest, worst human beings, just the most disgusting perverts and they're being lifted up in the media and we're being told, "Be a good Christian. Love these people." What they want to do is they want us to allow literal child molesters and pedophiles into our church and it's all in the name of love. Well, yeah, I mean, we got to love these people.
See, they perceive love as give these people a hug, bring them in, sit them down with us, be their friend. That's not what God wants. He doesn't want us to be benefiting the haters of the Lord. There are certain people that are enemies that we need to just be aware of and stay away from. We need to keep our children away from violent predators and not just say, "Oh, well, we just love everybody. Just bring them."
Here's the thing. How could you love someone who is a mass murderer or someone who is a child molester? That's sick. God says of these people that they're abhorred of the Lord. He says these violent, bloody, deceitful predators are hated of his soul. If they're hated of my soul, then I'm following in the footsteps of the Lord himself and also of David, the man after God's own heart, and also of the teachings of the scripture.
We just want to be careful that we never just take one verse and try to run with it as a proof text. See, sometimes people will just look for a verse in the bible somewhere, the proof text, that convenient little text that they can just grab a hold of and try to twist it from its original meaning. What's the intent of this verse? The intent of this verse is saying, "Hey, you're a loving church. I want your love to increase." He's saying, "I want your love to increase within the church and toward those outside the church." That's the context. Not, "Hey, I really want you to love violent child rapists more." That's not what this verse is teaching. Anybody who sees that in this verse is warping scripture at that point.
You know what? I happen to believe that the whole bible is God's word, all of it. Therefore, whenever we have a few ideas that seem to be contrary, over here, God's talking about love, but then over here, he's talking about hatred and wrath and so forth, we have to figure out a way to balance these truths, and get to the heart of what God wants us to do and to believe as Christians and not just pick the one we like.
If we have two things that seem to contradict in the bible, we don't just pick the one we like. No, we realize that they're both true, and then we reinterpret them based upon how they could both be true, not just pick one and throw out the other.
You see, modern Christianity just wants to ignore all the verses about God's hatred and they want to ignore all the verses about the hatred that God's people should have for those who are reprobate. See, they just want to just ... They don't even interpret them different than I do. They just don't interpret them. They just avoid them and stay away from them. Whereas, if we're going to believe that the bible is God's word, we can't just take the positive parts, we got to take all of it, all of it.
What's this verse teaching? God wants us to increase and abound in love one toward another. It's very important in our church that we love our fellow church members, and that we realize that we're a family and that we're brothers and sisters in Christ, and we need to continually try to show love to our fellow church members, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Then how do we love or how do we show our love toward all men? We do that most effectively by preaching the gospel because the bible says, "The love of Christ constraineth us."
Christ died for all because all were dead. So the love of Christ is what compels us to go out and preach the gospel. The bible says, "Of some have compassion, making a difference. Other is save with fear pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." When the bible tells us that we should have the love of Christ toward all men, it means that we're going out and attempting to get all men saved. That's what the bible is teaching.
We go out and knock every single door. We go out and talk to every single person we can and we strive to get every single person that we possibly can save. "Is it too late for some people?" "Yeah." "Are some people just not going to listen?" "Yeah, but we do our best. We try to go out and talk to everybody before it's too late, before they breathe their last breath or before it's too late for some other reason, but we go out and we try to get them saved."
When the bible says that we're supposed to love those outside the church, love the unsaved, he's not saying hang out with them and participate in their sin, and delight in worldly entertainments and so forth. What he's teaching is that we should love them enough to give them the gospel and love them also. You have to just be kind unto them, help people out that are in the church when they are down on their luck, they need groceries, they need help with something. We could step in and help people and then also, unsaved people outside the church.
We see people that need a hand, maybe they need some fix on their car, they need some work done at their house, maybe they are just down on their luck and need a few bucks or whatever, that we would actually reach out and help people and also give them the gospel, so that they can see the love of Christ in us. That's what's being taught in this scripture.
Now, look at the last verse of the chapter, verse 13. It says, "To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." Now, this is a very important phrase here, "At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." Now, what's the bible saying here? That we will be established, unblameable in holiness before God and it says, "At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints."
Think about this. When is that going to happen, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints? Whenever that happens, that's when we want to appear before him unblameable in holiness. Isn't that what it says? Now, those who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, here's what they'll say, and they have a cute way of saying this. They'll say, "Well, at the rapture before the tribulation," they say, "At the rapture, Jesus Christ comes for his own and then at the second coming, he comes with his own." Who's ever heard that before?
They try to differentiate between the rapture and the second coming. They say, "At the rapture, he comes for his own and at the second coming, he comes with his own." Let's see if that's really true. Flip over to chapter four where we have the famous rapture passage. It says in verse number 13, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
Now, does this sound like he's coming with his own there? Yeah. For them to say, "At the rapture, he comes for his own and at the second coming, he comes with his own," this is the rapture passage and he's coming with them because it says, "That they which are asleep in Jesus will God bring with him." Then it says, "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." Oops! I thought that the rapture and the second coming are two different things. No, because right here, the rapture is being called the coming of the Lord.
We know it's not his first coming because his first coming happened at Bethlehem's manger. Unless this is coming 1.5, this would have to be the second coming. I mean, look, it's not that complicated. First coming, Bethlehem's manger. Second coming is when he comes in the clouds at the rapture. "Oh, but that's not the second coming because he didn't touch all the way down." Hey, so who defines the second coming, you or God? "I mean, he didn't touchdown. He didn't touch the ground." Well, who defines the second coming? What gives you the right to put all this stipulation? "Well, you didn't touch the ground."
Hold on. What does the bible define as the coming? According to the bible, coming in the clouds is coming. So the bible says, "The coming of the Lord," and what's he talking about? The rapture. Let's read it. It says, "We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
Now, some people would say this, "Well, wait a minute. It says, "The dead in Christ are going to rise first." I thought he's bringing them with him? How does that work? Here's the thing. He's bringing the souls and the bodies rise. That's why it says both. That's why it says that when Jesus Christ comes, then it says, "Those which are asleep in Jesus will God bring with him." That's talking about the souls from heaven. He's going to bring them with him.
Then it says, "The dead in Christ shall rise first." That's talking about the dead bodies that are in the ground. Basically, the body rises. The souls are brought with it and then in a moment, in a twinkle of an eye, they're changed. Then we which are alive and remain, obviously, he's not bringing with him because we're already here. Body, soul and spirit is already on here. We which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
Two things I want to point out about the famous rapture passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 is that number one, it's called the coming of the Lord, and that makes it the second coming. I don't care what anybody says about whether he touched down or not, it's still called the second coming, even if he just came in the clouds, gathered the saints and took them to heaven. That's called the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Now, they'll try to take you to Revelation 19 to show you the second coming of Jesus Christ, but guess what? You're not going to find there. You're not going to find that being referred to as his coming. You'll not find that referred to as the coming of the Lord. That's very important doctrinally. That will eliminate a lot of confusion about scripture once you understand that the coming of the Lord Jesus and the rapture are the same event, and that the Revelation 19 event at the Battle of Armageddon where Jesus on a white horse is a different later event and that is not the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's not referred to as such.
The first thing I want to point out there is that it's called the coming of the Lord. Then the second thing I want to point out is that those which are asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. He's going to bring with him the saints.
Now, go back to 1 Thessalonians 3:13 with that mind. It says, "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." Now, what event is that referring to? That's referring to the rapture. The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, that's what they called it in chapter four, with all his saints, "That's all those which are asleep in Jesus which God shall bring with him," which makes sense because we want to be unblameable in holiness before him when he comes. When he appears, we want to be found in him in righteousness.
Now, if you would go to Jude, the book right before the Book of Revelation, Jude, and we'll see how consistent the bible is on this subject. Look at Jude and in verse number 14 it says, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, 'Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.'"
Now, think about this. It says here, "The Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints," that's those that God's going to bring with him. The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints, 1 Thessalonians 3:13. What does it say he's coming to do? "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds."
What's it saying? That when Jesus Christ comes back with his saints, when Jesus Christ comes in the clouds and the bible says, "These which are asleep in Jesus will God bring with him, and then once we're caught up together to meet him in the clouds." What's he going to do after that? He's going to execute judgment upon the ungodly world, also known as pouring out his wrath.
Isn't the bible just consistent over and over again with the timeline? It's always tribulation, then the rapture, second coming of Christ, whatever you want to call it, and then there's the executing of judgment, the pouring out of his wrath, the punishing of the earth. It's always consistent. It's always in that order. You'll never find a teaching in the bible that mixes up this order and has people being raptured before any of the tribulation. You'll never find scripture that teaches that the wrath of God is being poured out during the tribulation. That's not what the bible teaches. It doesn't start until after Christ comes in the clouds. Very clear, very consistent throughout scripture.
As we study 1 Thessalonians, it becomes clear that 1 Thessalonians chapter four has to be understood within the context of the whole book. Then 1 Thessalonians itself has to be understood in the context of the whole bible. In order to get a clear understanding of any subject, whether that subject is the love of God or whether that subject is end times bible prophecy, whatever the case may be, we need to take all of scripture into account because all scriptures given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction and righteousness that the man of God may be perfect. What's perfect mean? Complete, thoroughly furnished into all good works. We need to have a complete understanding of all things, and we get that complete understanding through reading the entire bible.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much for your word, Lord, and we thank you for this great book. Father, we pray that you please just help these words to sink down into our ears, Lord, so that we can become unmovable. Help us to be like those Thessalonians that would not be moved. Lord, if we are the generation that faces the events of the great tribulation, I pray that you would strengthen us in the inner man that we would be able to withstand in the evil day, and to be able to stand up to the persecution that comes and wait patiently for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.