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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 11: Epistles to the Thessalonians.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

The reception of Paul's epistle was to them a great event. Written communications passing between friends were of very rare occurrence in those times. There was great joy in the church as the epistle was opened and read. What consolation was afforded them by those words which revealed the true state of the dead. Paul therein showed them that those who should be alive when Christ should come would not go to meet their Lord in advance of those who should be asleep in Jesus. [p. 113] For the voice of the archangel and the trump of God should reach the sleeping ones, and the dead in Christ should rise first, before the touch of immortality should be given to the living. "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."

The hope and joy which this assurance gave to the young church at Thessalonica can scarcely be understood by us. That letter, coming from their father in the gospel, was believed and cherished by them, and their hearts went out in love to him who had brought them the precious light of truth. He had told them these things before; but at that time their minds were grasping doctrines new and surpassingly strange to them, and it is not surprising that the force of some points had not been vividly impressed upon their minds. But they were hungering for truth, and Paul's epistle gave to their souls new hope and strength, a firmer faith in, and a deeper affection for, the Redeemer who had brought life and immortality to light through his death.

The darkness that had enshrouded the sepulcher of the dead was dispelled; for they now knew that their believing friends would be resurrected from the grave, and enjoy immortal life in the kingdom of God. A new splendor now crowned the Christian faith, and they saw a new glory in the life, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Paul wrote, "Even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." Many interpret this passage to mean that the sleeping ones are brought with Christ from Heaven; but Paul designed to be understood that in like manner as [p. 114] Christ was raised from the dead, so will God bring up the sleeping saints with him from their graves, and take them with him to Heaven. Precious consolation! glorious hope! not only to the church of Thessalonica, but to all true Christians who live upon the earth.

Paul had previously so fully canvassed the subject of the signs of the times, showing what events would transpire prior to the revelation of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven, that he did not consider it necessary to enter largely upon those particulars again on this occasion. He, however, pointedly referred to his former teachings on that subject: "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you; for yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them."

The careless and unbelieving close their eyes to the evidence which Christ has given to warn men of his coming. They seek to quiet all apprehension, while, at the same time, the signs of the end are rapidly fulfilling, and the world is hastening to the period of the revelation of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven. But those who receive the light of truth as it shines upon their pathway, are not in darkness that this great event should come upon them unawares. Paul teaches that it would be sinful to be indifferent to the signs which should precede the second coming of Christ. Those who should be guilty of this neglect, he calls children of the night and of darkness. He encourages the vigilant and watchful with these words: "But ye, brethren, [p. 115] are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."

The teachings of the apostle upon this point are especially important to the church in our time. Above all others, those who are living so near to the great consummation, should be sober and watchful. The watchful Christian is a working Christian, seeking zealously to purify his life, and to do all in his power for the cause of God. As his love for his Redeemer increases, so also does his love for his fellow-creatures increase. He has severe trials, as did his Master; and, like him, he is to some extent a man of sorrows, mourning because of the abominations done in the land. But this grief does not sour his temper, nor destroy his peace of mind. His afflictions, if well borne, refine and purify his nature. He is thus brought into closer fellowship with Christ; and inasmuch as he, through fierce opposition, is a partaker of the sufferings of Christ, he will also be a partaker of his consolation, and finally a sharer of his glory.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

The above page was found at https://www.TruthOrFables.net/books/sketches-from-the-life-of-paul-11-b.htm on May 21, 2024.

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