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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October 2014

What would you do today if you knew that Jesus was returning tomorrow? Would you throw caution to the wind and try some death-defying stunt? Would you spend all your money at your favorite restaurant? Would you gather your closest loved ones and tell them you loved them? Would you go evangelize all your neighbors? Or, would you just carry on like it was any other day?

Would you believe that the authors of the New Testament believed that Jesus could return al any moment? Faithfully they heeded Jesus' words, "Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come" (Mark 13:33). In these words Jesus is telling his church (us!) that we should be ready for his return at any moment! Despite what comes up in popular theological discussions, we are not to go sit by, idly waiting for x number of signs to occur before Christ returns. We need to be ready now!

Unfortunately, this view is not the most popular view at the local Christian bookstore. Rather, in many Christian circles (though not nearly as many as you might think) it is believed that we are to be looking for certain signs of the end. It is taught that, after certain geo-political events take place in the Gaza strip, Jesus will secretly return to "rapture" his church out of the world, causing those "left behind" to endure the greatest tribulation the world has ever seen. Upon the conclusion of these wrath-filled seven years, Christ will return publicly to set up a 1,000 year reign in Jerusalem. Towards the end of this peaceful era, the devil will rise up for one last terrifying battle in which he and his minions will be conquered once and for all. Then will begin the new heavens and the new earth.

This all sounds thrillingly adventurous. In fact, popular books like the Left Behind series have sold millions upon millions editions promoting this end-times doctrine. What is more, none other than Nicholas Cage will be starring in the Left Behind movie to be released this month, only adding to the hype. However, though this way of understanding the end times is both provocative and engaging, this teaching is unbiblical.

So, the timing could not be better that as Left Behind fever is once again placed in the Christian spot-light, the good old lectionary has us working through one of St. Paul's earliest letters, I Thessalonians. In this book, St. Paul is dealing with a church that is confused about the end times. Not only will the apostle show us how we are to trust God's promises and actively serve His creation as we await Christ's second coming, Paul will also show us how Christ will return to judge the living and the dead once and for all in a very public way. He will teach us not to await raptures and tribulations, but he will point us to Jesus and the resurrection of the dead.

Please be sure you join us this October and November as we hear God's Word to us from the book of I Thessalonians. I pray that as we study this marvelous book we would be encouraged to walk in a manner worthy' of God (I Thess. 4:1) as we faithfully wait for Jesus our Savior (I Thess. 1:10)!

P.S. If, in light of the new Left Behind movie, you and your friends have questions about the end times, be sure to invite them to church for this series AND join us for our Revelation study on either Sunday mornings at 9:15 am or Wednesdays at 10:00 am & 7:00 pm.

Pastor Bob

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Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email