God Has Not Destined Us to Wrath

By Colton Corter

One of the most important things to know about the Second Coming of Christ is that it doesn’t matter when it happens. That, coupled with the fact that Jesus is coming back, make pretty good baseline eschatology. What if the point of the return of Christ was not about trying to discern the end times? What if we talked less about being “Left Behind” and talked more about the gospel of the glory of the blessed God? I believe Paul is telling us to do just that in 1 Thessalonians 5.

[1] Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. [2] For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. [3] While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. [4] But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. [5] For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. [6] So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. [7] For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. [8] But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. [9] For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, [10] who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. [11] Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 ESV)

Paul is writing to the Thessalonians about the Day of the Lord. This is just another way of describing when Jesus returns for His ransomed bride. He admits that there is no need to write anything to them concerning the day of the Lord because they already know that it will come “like a thief in the night.” He is not saying that no one will know when it happens. Rather, Paul is hinting at the abruptness of the thing. Men will think they have peace and then all the sudden the trumpet sounds and the Lord descends. God is coming back to judge the sin of those who remain in rebellion from His great glory and honor. What a fearful day for those who have not come to trust in Christ! But Paul tells the Thessalonians that they can say on that day, “even so, it is well with my soul.” In other words, Paul is saying that it will not be a cause of alarm for them. Friend, if the Second Coming terrifies you, if you have no since of anticipation for that day, you very well may not know the Lord. That day will be one of great joy for the Christian, as we will see Him, no longer through a glass darkly, but face to face (1 Cor. 13:12).

In light of this reality, Paul calls the Christians to live faithful lives. Our response to the Second Coming is to faithfully await it and to joyfully take the gospel to the ends of the earth. God’s sure victory does not excuse unholy living. Far from it! In fact, the fact that we will see Christ should increase our longing to treasure Him above all else. We can suffer well, having put on the “breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” We already have Christ. It matters little when He comes. I hope it is soon. But we waste our time trying to figure out exactly how it is going to happen. That is not to say that studying eschatology is a fool’s errand. All truth is God’s truth and is profitable for our satisfaction in the God who is there. Some schools of thought are extremely hurtful to the Christian. One such school is that which focuses on the event of the coming of Christ and not the Christ that is coming.

Paul is freed from endless speculation and worry about the end times simply because of God’s saving grace. Look at verse 9. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is breathtaking. Paul is not concerned with getting the date of Christ’s return just right because He has been shown the surpassing worth of Christ in the gospel. He knows that whatever happens, He is secure in Christ. A false gospel will never comfort the soul in those days. What is your hope? Why should you escape the wrath to come? Nothing but trust in the wrath-bearing death of Christ and His righteousness to be received by faith. We can live holy lives, even in the midst of turmoil, because God has not given to us what we deserve. A sovereign God who has committed to work all things for our good and His glory has marked out our lives. He died for us so that when He comes we might have complete joy, unencumbered by the sin that clouds our vision. Then we will stand in awe of His beauty and will begin the song we will sing for all eternity: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.” Marantha. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!


 

Colton Corter is from Arkansas and is a student at SBTS. You can follow him on Twitter @coltonMcorter

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