1 Thessalonians 1 v 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead
This remarkable episode in Jerusalem early in the life of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ sets the scene for us this morning in our consideration of the way that the Gospel came to the people of Thessalonica.
Peter the disciple describes the Gospel like this in verse 26 of Acts 3.
It is a POWERFUL MESSAGE. God raised up His Son Jesus Christ. He raised Him up to be a Prince and a saviour.
It is a PRICELESS MESSAGE. Because it is to God’s people and cannot be bought nor earned.
It is a PURIFYING MESSAGE – because it involves a turning away from sin and iniquity by a supernatural move of the Holy Spirit.
It is a PERSONAL MESSAGE – when Peter spoke he said it was to every one of you. The personal general call of the Gospel is to all men everywhere – that they should repent and believe.
It is a PRESENT MESSAGE – it is for now – now before it is too late.
The greatest person in the universe offers the greatest gift that can ever be given – salvation from hell; deliverance from sin and a certain knowledge of living forever!
This glorious Gospel came to the pagan idol worshipping people of Thessalonica, in Macedonia, when Paul, Silas and Timothy came to them and spoke of Christ and His love. We have been thinking about it in verse 5 – 10 of 1 Thessalonians 1. We are reminded of the process with five letter D’s –
1. The DEMONSTRATION of the Power of God in this Gospel – verse 5
Our Gospel came to you.
2. The DEFINITE evidence of grace that followed in the lives of the Thessalonian Christians – verse 6
You welcomed the message – you received it.
3. The DECLARED examples and sincere effective witness of the new converts – verse 7 – 8
God’s message rang out from you – you passed on the Gospel.
4. The DEDICATION made in true repentance – verse 9
They turned to God from idols.
How excited Paul was as he reflected on what had happened at Thessalonica. We can feel the pressure rising as he reaches the fifth aspect – which comes as a climax to the others – the fifth D is
5. The DELIVERANCE accomplished
Past, Present and Future – verse 9
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
Here it is – the final piece of the picture of how the Gospel came to them – Demonstration of Power; Definite evidence; Declared example; Dedication made and now
It began with Christ and it ends with Christ. It began with His person being preached in the synagogue. It ends with the facts about how this affects the deliverance of the believer from the death due to sin to the life through deliverance. What a climax this is! What a glorious saviour Jesus is.
Hebrews 13 v 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
We can see the yesterday – the past - in verse 9
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
We have thought in detail about the manner and mode of the coming of the Gospel to Thessalonica. Men and women heard the preaching of the Gospel and under the powerful influence of God the Holy Spirit, turned to God and forsook their idols; turned to Jesus and abandoned their gods. They were transformed – changed – converted. That was in the past – it was history – significant history – but it was yesterday!
Do you have such a history my friend? Was there a time, a day, a moment, when you are sure that you passed from death to life? From darkness to light? From Sin to God? From preoccupation with yourself to a turning whole heartedly to be taken up with God and His son the Lord Jesus Christ? Every true believer in Thessalonica could say, “Yes” – he or she had such a history. Every true believer in this congregation can and should be able to say that this has happened. It is the nature of the Gospel to have this experience. So many people seem to have a past that they want to forget. People have skeletons in their cupboards. They are aware of the mistakes of life – but God makes us aware of the sins and iniquities of our lives too and they make us uncomfortable. Yet the Good News of the Gospel can deal with such a past no matter how grim it is. And the Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who can deal with the sinful past of anyone who humbly and sincerely comes to Him with a repentant heart, ready to forsake sin.
This then was their PAST. But we will not want to stay in the past. It is true that the past is important – but we are also people of the present. Jesus Christ the same yesterday and TODAY! So let us come to verse 10 and ask a question of these Thessalonian Christians.
You have been saved and all your sins are dealt with through the blood of Jesus Christ. What next? What are you doing now?
And their answer according to verse 10 is this – WE ARE WAITING!
10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
So – you are waiting for Jesus Christ! What has that to do with Deliverance Accomplished?
It has everything to do with it! And we can learn how, by thinking about the attitude of these newly converted Christians living in the PRESENT TIME of their day.
1. They were waiting.
The word for wait here is a translation of a Greek word that only occurs here in the New Testament – the word is ANAMENO – and is only used here in the whole of the New Testament. It communicates a particular kind of waiting – a serious abiding; a waiting involving sincere patience and a confident expectancy. Wherever else it is used in Greek literature it means this – to await something with patience but also with expectancy and certainty. There was an eager, keen anticipation on the part of these Christians in Thessalonica.
As a boy I used to like the month of April. The evenings were getting lighter, the weather warmer and by April Fool’s Day, I began to be eager and expectant – 3 weeks to go! Presents – cake – a party or an outing – anticipation of an event that I knew was coming. Oh the waiting became harder and harder. They say that anticipation is better than realisation. But when you are a boy waiting impatiently for his birthday, that kind of philosophy falls on deaf ears!
The Christians at Thessalonica did not have a date! Yet they were expectant! Something was going to happen. Someone was expected to come! They were so sure of the coming of this person that some of them stopped work – gave up their jobs in order to be ready for this event! We know this from something that Paul says later in this letter that is in a form of admonishment.
Chapter 4 v 11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
They had to be told to go back to work!
The event was the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. They really believed that He would come back in their lifetime. And that His return would bring them DELIVERANCE – more on this shortly.
I wonder how many of us really like waiting? Queues in Tesco? Traffic lights? Exam results? In this instant age we do not seem to be very comfortable with waiting.
Sometimes we receive something for which we have been waiting. When it arrives we often say, “It was worth the wait!” Or perhaps a relative is coming to visit you and you haven’t seen the person for a long time. You know that he is on his way – but his journey will take a long time. The joy of seeing that relative when he arrives once again is worth the wait.
This is how it was for the Thessalonians. For whom were they waiting with such expectancy?
The verse tells us.
2. They were waiting for God’s Son to return to earth.
The eternal Son of God who is called this in John 1 v 1
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men…
The one whom God calls His own Son in Romans 8 v 32
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Whom He calls His only begotten Son in John 3 v 16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Who is also called by the Father His only beloved Son in Matthew 3 v 17.
This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.
Who is simply called “the beloved” in Colossians 1 v 13
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: literally the “Son of His love.”
They were waiting for the Son of God. We are told more about the Son of God – that He is the Son from heaven.
3. They were waiting for His Son from heaven.
This is another Name for the Lord Jesus Christ – “God’s Son from heaven” – actually in the original – from “the heavens.” The heavens are said to be God’s dwelling place.
Matthew 5 v 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 12 v 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
It was from heaven that the Lord Jesus came down,
John 3 v 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but (except) he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
This Jesus Christ descended to become God incarnate, in order to live and then die on a cross for His people.
In His ascension He “Passed through the heavens” –
Hebrews 4 v 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.
Then Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 v 10 that
He ascended far above the heavens;
and Hebrews states in Chapter 7 v 26
For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; Hebrews 8 v 12.
The heavens are where our Lord Jesus Christ is now!
Romans 8 v 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Hebrews 9 v 24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
The heavens are the place where we who believe in the Lord Jesus are going to spend eternity –
2 Corinthians 5 v 1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Our Saviour is there now, preparing it for us – and it is FROM there that he will come again –
1 Thessalonians 4 v 16 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: 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.
Which is exactly what these believers in Thessalonica were waiting for! John Calvin says about this thought of heaven and the believer’s future –
“Christ is to be waited for from heaven because there is nothing in the world to make us confident and remain firm! There are only trials here on earth which may overwhelm us – but not there – in that glorious place where Christ is!”
But we remain in the present to think about the next part of what they were waiting for –
4. God’s Son from Heaven whom He raised from the dead.
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead,
The Greeks had a wonderful way of expressing things in their various words. When we think of raised we are fairly limited in the mental pictures that give us the sense of raising. We think of lifting up an arm or leg; we imagine a flag or banner raised over a building; we might imagine a bridge being raised to allow ships to pass on the water that flows beneath it.
But the particular Greek word used for RAISED in this sentence is this – EGEIROH – which is linked to a noun AGORA – meaning marketplace. Now what connection would raised and market have? Only this – that when you go to a market, you go with the intention of gathering certain goods and lifting them up and carrying them away bringing them home.
This is what the Lord God did with our dear Saviour, His son – after He had been crucified, bearing the sins of His people, after He had laid dead and cold in the tomb by the garden, on that glorious resurrection morning Jesus was gathered up, collected from the tomb, raised to life from where He had been. The Lord Jesus told His disciples this was what would happen using the same word in Matthew 16 v 21
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
He would be gathered up.
What a wonderful word this is! But further the same word is used to describe the raising up of believers –
Matthew 27 v 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
And in 1 Corinthians 15 we find the same word 6 times in three verses –
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
If we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ we will be gathered up by the Lord God one day!
Are we waiting like this my friends? Are we waiting to be gathered up? Oh no, it is not morbid to be thinking about waiting to die – we are all dying anyway – as soon as we were born we began to die – the cells in our bodies will not last for ever. We have a temporary existence in these bodies – and there will come a time when we will all find our souls separated from our bodies. Some like to ignore this fact – but both those who believe in Christ will be raised and those who do not. We need to face the present reality of all this – we are waiting for that universal event – none shall escape it. We are waiting in the present – but we need to be ready for the future – for eternity. Are we ready?
Waiting has been a fact of life for thousands of years. The Jewish people were those who believed that they were waiting. The Old Testament tells us over and over again what they were waiting for – their Messiah – the promised one. At the beginning of time this Messiah had been promised back in Genesis 3 v 15
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
But now the whole world should be waiting and ready for the Messiah to return – for he came 2000 years ago – and He will come again. This is the message of the New Testament. Early in their Christian lives the Thessalonian believers began to wait – for Christ the risen Lord to return.
I am waiting for the dawning Of the bright and blessed day, When the darksome night of sorrow Shall have vanished far away When forever with the Saviour, Far beyond this veil of tears, I shall swell the song of worship Through the everlasting years. I am looking at the brightness, See, it shineth from afar, Of the clear and joyous beaming Of the "Bright and Morning Star." Through the dark grey mists of morning Do I see it's glorious light; Then away with every shadow Of this sad and weary night. I am waiting for the coming Of the Lord who died for me; O His words have thrilled my spirit, "I will come again for thee." I can almost hear His foot fall On the threshhold of the door, And my heart, my heart is longing To be with Him ever more.
The Past – Jesus Christ saved the Thessalonians, The Present – they are waiting for the Son. What then can we say of the FUTURE?
5. They were also waiting for the Future – DELIVERANCE BY THE Son.
The new believers at Thessalonica had in one sense been delivered from their sins. At conversion every child of God is delivered from the penalty and power of sin as the Holy Spirit baptises them and transforms them.
We know that this deliverance is brought about by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.
Romans 8 v 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Again we can learn more about Paul’s message to the Thessalonian Christians from the construction of this sentence in the Greek – we have
v 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us
Jesus the one who delivers us – Jesus the deliverer!
Literally “Jesus the deliverer of us.”
Jesus will deliverer us from the curse of sin which in these old natures of ours still gives us such trouble.
Jesus will deliver us from pain and sickness and death – all will be gone and we will have new eternal bodies that know nothing of the struggles that face us today.
Jesus will deliver us from the wiles and tricks of Satan and his hosts.
Jesus will deliver us from the world and its fruitless attractions and bring us to glory with Him. Oh what a deliverance awaits us!
And the wonder is that He has already secured it – only the final details have to be worked out – which means for us that process of death (unless He comes while we still live.) Death is the journey that we undertake in order to realise the deliverance. And we have to wait for that in God’s perfect timing.
Let us pause for a moment before we draw to a close with a final point – to marvel at this mighty deliverance that the Lord Jesus has obtained for us. He humbled Himself and became a man. He endured hardship and pain and suffering. He had to put up with his creatures’ unkindness and hatred. He grieved over people’s refusal to believe in Him and come to His Kingdom. He sank to the very depths of human suffering and misery as He died on the cross – all to deliver His people!
Oh my friends – is there not a danger that we take Him for granted? Is there not a sense that we accept and receive the benefits of our salvation without a sincere and humble sense of our utter indebtedness to this mighty saviour who gave His life to deliver us? Paul asked a question in His letter to the Romans 7 v 24
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
The answer is in the next verse -
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
He is the deliverer – and He can deliver the vilest of men and women from the penalty of sin – death and hell!
Have you been delivered my friend? This life, while you are still in the body, is the only opportunity there is to believe these matters about deliverance – and to know them in your soul. Because as the last part of this 10th verse tells us – there is a sting in the tail – there is a solemn warning to all.
6. There is a WARNING of wrath to come.
10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
There is a wrath that is coming! It is certain! The Greek makes it this plain – wrath that is, not maybe, or could be, but wrath that is definitely and most surely coming to this world. The Bible makes it so clear that there is an event fixed in future time that is known to God the Almighty creator. It would need several sermons to go through all of the scriptures – but make no mistake – there is wrath coming! Wrath is anger. Wrath is indignation. Wrath can refer to vengeance. The Bible speaks of the wrath or anger of men; of governments – as in Romans 13; the wrath that is contained in the law when it is broken – they are known as the terrors of law in Romans 4 v 15; and even our Saviour expressed wrath in Mark 3 v 5
And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.
But the wrath that is spoken of here is the wrath of God in His purpose to judge the world of its unbelief and unrighteousness. It is a very solemn thing to have to speak of God’s wrath. Many preachers avoid it perhaps because they want people to listen to them again on other occasions. Yet it is vital that all hear with their ears that there is a wrath to come! God’s wrath is not a sudden anger that reacts to man’s particular rebellion. This wrath is long term – it is a sustained condition of God’s attitude towards sin from the beginning of sin when man fell into sin. There has always been wrath against rebellion. There will always be that wrath against sinners and sinful angels. Sin has provoked God to feel His wrath. It is a pure wrath – a holy wrath – and the final expression of it is yet to come! The last book of the Bible describes it like this –
Revelation 16 v 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
Revelation 19 v 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
This wrath has been revealed through God’s messengers and recorded here in the Bible. Paul says in Romans 1 v 18
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
So it is not hidden – it is not secret wrath – God has made it plain – very plain that He is angry with sin and those who commit sin!
What a desperate situation then is before us in the future. We have to look forward to a day when God will fully express His wrath in the terrible things that he has promised to do – including the destruction of this world as we know it. Wrath to come! Are we concerned? Are you alarmed my friend that God is angry with your sin? What hope do you have for the future?
The Christians at Thessalonica had a wonderful hope! They had believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and were trusting Him to deliver them FROM the wrath to come. For the gospel message is that men and women and boys and girls can be rescued – will not have to personally face the wrath and anger of God to come. They had been delivered in THIS life – and they were waiting for the Lord to come to complete that deliverance in the life to come. That is why they were eager.
Are you eager for Christ to come my friend? Do you long for the day when He shall appear and bring to an end the world and the universe?
Or are you still someone who does not believe that there is any end to this world? That everything will continue as you know it today? That there is nothing to be concerned about because you do not accept that there is any wrath to come?
If this describes your attitude this morning my friend – beware! Look out! If this Bible message is wrong then you don’t have anything to worry about. But since this message is God’s word to you this morning unless you are trusting in the deliverance that Jesus Christ obtained for sinners on the cross – by appeasing the God of wrath – by paying with His life the sacrifice for sin on behalf of those who would believe in Him – unless you believe this – then the wrath to come will mean for you what Jesus said it would –
Luke 13 v 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
But God’s word has this promise this morning –
Romans 5 v 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Oh my friend why suffer the wrath of God in hell when you can look to the Lord Jesus Christ and, repenting of your sins, trust Him with your life – for now and all eternity!
Then you too can wait for God’s wonderful holy and glorious Son from heaven and appreciate the deliverance of your soul from the terrible wrath to come.