The Christian’s Hope, Part 13

In this week’s message, SAVED! WHETHER ALERT OR ASLEEP (1 Thes. 5:7-11) we looked at a second application of “comfort” to God’s children (1 Thes. 4:18; 5:11). After a brief discussion of “the day of the Lord” which will follow the church’s removal from the planet (1 Thes. 5:1-3), the Lord turned back to the church (i.e. “But you…”) with additional “comfort” and exhortation (1 Thes. 5:4). Not only are Christians as the bride of Christ guaranteed He will return for us removing us from the earth- out of harm’s way- in the rapture and transform our bodies into “immortal” ones like His at that time (1 Thes. 4:15-17; 1 Cor. 15:51-54, etc.), but the Bible shows us here GOD WILL LOSE NONE OF HIS CHILDREN when He comes! (1 Thes. 5:10). It is with both of these truths that Christians are to “comfort… one another” as we navigate the difficult world around us (1 Thes. 4:18; 5:11; Eph. 5:14-16, etc.).

The Holy Spirit continues here to encourage Christians who are physically alive to remain “ALERT” for Jesus’ return (1 Thes. 3:1-4:12; 5:6-10 NET). The word, once again, for “sleep” here in chapter 5 is not the same Greek word used for “sleep” in chapter 4 (koimaō) which means to die physically. Here it is katheúdō, and it is for a Christian who is living a life of sin that is unresponsive to God. It is referring to a “carnal,” wayward, Christian who is living independently (i.e. not by faith) from God (1 Cor. 3:1-15, etc.). We see this is true even in our English translations in verse 6 which reads, “let us not sleep [katheúdō], as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thes. 5:6). “Sleep” here, once again, is not physical death but being spiritually apathetic- SLEEPWALKING- on the part of the Christian with respect to the things of God. It is willful, unconfessed sin from a life that is carelessly lived (1 John 1:9; 2:15-17, etc.). We see katheúdō also used in the book of Ephesians for Christians (saved people) as well:

  • “’…Awake, you who sleep [katheúdō], Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.’ See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit…” (Eph. 5:14-18)

In verse 7 God then shows a contrast between us and the world. “Night” is the time when people customarily get “drunk,” but we are children of the day! (1 Thes. 5:5, 7). Unlike the world which lives empty lives being spiritually dead (i.e. Eph. 2:1-3), we are spiritually alive and should therefore live differently! (1 Thes. 5:6). The word for “sleep” here again in verse 7 is katheúdō meaning to not be awake/alert (Rev. 2:4; 3:15-21, etc.). Instead, we are to be “sober” (1 Thes. 5:8). This is the second time God has called us as His children here to sobriety in this passage! (i.e. 1 Thes. 5:6). The Lord would not do this unless there was the possibility we as Christians could become apathetic and spiritually drowsy (1 Cor. 10:12, 14, etc.). God does not waste any of His Words and means what He says (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19, etc.). Because ‘the day’ of Christ’s return for the church is approaching, it is time to wake up, clean up, and dress up, meaning we need to put “on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thes. 5:8; Eph. 2:10; Heb. 10:24-25, etc.). “Faith and love” go together as the “labor of love” (God’s love inside of us) is supernatural and cannot be manufactured by human strength or ability (1 Thes. 1:3; 5:8; Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 13:12, etc.). It comes only from God inside of us- the hope of glory (Gal. 5:17; Col. 1:27; Eph. 3:16-21; John 15:5, 11, etc.).

“The hope of salvation” which we are to guard our minds with is knowing who we are in Christ Jesus as God’s child (1 Thes. 5:8b; Eph. 2:8-9; Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:19-20; Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:11, etc.). Our identity in Christ CANNOT be forfeited because salvation is “by grace… through faith… [and] is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8-9). No one can therefore “snatch” (BTW this is harpazō in the Greek) us “out of [the] Father’s hand” (John 10:29). That is, nothing, not even Satan, can forcibly take us (the word is ‘rapture’ here) away from the Father’s hand because we are secure in Christ’s eternal love (Rom. 8:31-39, etc.). Knowing we are saved by grace “WHETHER WE ARE ALERT OR ASLEEP” (that is katheúdō- this is the third time God has used this word in chapter 5 for a Christian living a life independently from Him) will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (1 Thes. 5:10 NET; Phil. 4:6-7, etc.). That is the point of the passage and this is truth here we are to “comfort each other and edify [i.e. build up] one another” with (1 Thes. 5:11). “God did not appoint us [that is, any of His children] to wrath, but to obtain salvation [to the uttermost] through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 5:9; Rev. 15:1, etc.). Because Jesus took all of God’s wrath in our place at the cross (GRACE) we are now “justified by His blood [and] we SHALL BE saved from [all future] wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thes. 1:10; 1 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rev. 16:1, etc.). This means if you are God’s child, because you are saved by GRACE, you are going to go up in the rapture whether you are living for Him or not (1 Thes. 5:10 NET). Grace, when properly understood, teaches us to live for Him because it helps us see how much He loves us and how good He is (Rom. 6:1-2, 15-16; 2 Pet. 3:17-18; Titus 2:11-14, etc.). The only question for us today is, “Ready or not?” Will we be ready to meet the Lord “in the air” when He comes for us? (1 Thes. 4:17; 1 John 2:28; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; Heb. 4:12-13; 1 Cor. 11:31-32, etc.).