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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, May 20, 2018

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words”
(I Thessalonians 4:18).

The Apostle Paul gives us a description of the “rapture” in these verses. And then he gives our text,

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).

The Greek word translated “comfort” is from “parakalěō.” It means “comfort” and “encourage” (NIV).

Now the whole passage is from verse 13 through verse 17. This passage gives the “rapture” of Christians at the end of this age. The Christians in Thessalonica were going through persecution from Roman pagans and unbelieving Jews. Some of them had died. They died martyrs’ deaths! The people in Thessalonica were troubled by this. So Paul told them about the “rapture” to encourage them. Dr. Thomas Hale gives us this explanation of the “rapture”:

“Those who are alive at Christ’s coming will be caught up and taken to heaven. At that time those who are living will be joined with those who have died...Therefore encourage each other with these words” (The Applied New Testament Commentary; note on I Thessalonians 4:17, 18).

I will preach on this passage, and tell you about the “rapture” in more detail at another time. My purpose tonight is to show you that one of the main reasons for Bible prophecy is to comfort and encourage us.

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).

I. First, the signs of Christ’s coming give encouragement.

During my youth the world became chaotic. It was the 1960s. There was the ever-present fear of an atomic holocaust. At any moment the Soviet Union could drop bombs on our cities. The Vietnam war raged on and on. I was afraid I would be drafted and sent to die in the jungle. The war was endless and meaningless. I wanted to finish my bachelor’s degree in college. At the same time there were the riots. The rioters burned down much of Chicago during the Democratic Convention there. John F. Kennedy was assassinated. So were Bobby Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and George Wallace was crippled for life by an attempted assassination. Then there was the rise of the drug culture, Woodstock, and the Beatles, and Eastern religions, and great attacks of demons and Satan. As the Hippies would say, “It blew my mind.” It was a time of overwhelming chaos and fear.

In that wild time, my mind and heart were stabilized by the “signs” of Christ’s coming.

Dark was the night, sin warred against us,
   Heavy the load of sorrow we bore;
But now we see signs of His coming;
   Our hearts glow within us, joy’s cup runneth o’er!

Stand and sing the chorus with me!

He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!
(“He Is Coming Again” by Mabel Johnston Camp, 1871-1937).

You may be seated. Here are some of the “signs” that encouraged me!

1. The State of Israel, established in 1948, with Jewish people world-wide returning to their God-given homeland.

Jesus said, “They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). “Behold, O my people, I will...bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12). “In the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people” (Ezekiel 38:8). President Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel a few days ago. The Jews returning to Israel is a strong sign that we are moving fast toward the end of this age and the second coming of Christ!

Hallelujah! Christ is coming again very soon!

He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!

2.  The “sign” of an increased persecution of Christians and Jews.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated [by] all nations for my name's sake” (Matthew 24:9). The Muslims’ goal is to destroy Israel and kill the Jews. In America, the ACLU is doing everything they can to silence the churches and weaken Christianity. There’s the increased popularity of “replacement” theology – which says all the promises in the Bible are for the Christians – but all the curses are for the Jews! Thus many of our Reformed churches are embracing a strange form of anti-Semitism. God help us!

This prophecy encourages us, because it is being fulfilled before our very eyes! God is sovereign!

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).

Sing it!

He is coming again, He is coming again,
   The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
   With power and great glory, He is coming again!

You may be seated.

3. The rise of the end-time apostasy.

“That day shall not come, except there come a falling away [“the apostasy” – Criswell] first” (II Thessalonians 2:3).

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax [grow] cold” (Matthew 24:11, 12). This refers to the godless churches of the last days. The end-time apostasy is demonic in origin, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared” (I Timothy 4:1, 2). The apostasy of the last days comes from unconverted ministers who reject the Bible. The “new theology” and the “new morality” are products of this apostasy, which has destroyed the churches, filling them with lost people. It began with the ministry of Charles G. Finney and has grown until it now controls nearly all the mainline churches, and affects even more conservative churches. “The apostasy” finally produces “the great whore” of Revelation 17, “which is apostate Christendom, headed up under the papacy” (Scofield).

Current trends show that only about 4% of teenagers will be evangelical Christians by the time they are adults – which means that the 34% of evangelicals today will decline to only 4% in the next few years. “We are headed toward a spiritual catastrophe” (Dr. Jack W. Hayford, August 16, 2006). See “The Great Evangelical Recession” by John S. Dickerson. “Six Factors that will crush the American church.” That is the subtitle of Dickerson’s book. Today 88 percent of teenagers raised in Christian homes do not continue as Christians after they graduate from high school. Soon our nation will be run by them – and it will be a totally pagan America!

II. Second, the application.

A few evangelicals are talking about the horrible situation that lies before us. But they don’t know what to do about it. I am convinced that nothing practical will be done. Our civilization will fall apart. Our young people will become savages. Unimaginable horrors await us.

We must prepare ourselves to live as a small minority, attacked on all sides by rampant hordes of pagans every bit as savage as the pagans of Rome who attacked the early Christians. Please turn to I Thessalonians, chapter one, verse five.

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power...” (I Thessalonians 1:5).

The time is short. You must not fool around and “play” at Christianity. Young people, don’t just receive the words of a Bible study. Look for a real conversion. Look for a real Christian life!

Now look at 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” (I Thessalonians 1:9).

Turn to God from the idols in your life. Serve the living God with every fiber of your being.

The time is short. The Antichrist is coming.  It may cost you your life to be a Christian! Turn from your idols now! Serve the living God now! Look at verse 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” (I Thessalonians 1:10).

Wait for God’s Son to come from Heaven – Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath of God which is coming. Read “Tortured for Christ” by Pastor Wurmbrand. Live like a person who expects to suffer for Christ. Come out from the lost world. Yes, invite lost friends to church. But if they won’t come, drop them like a hot rock. Make the saved kids in our church your friends. Gather together in prayer. Bring in names when you go to evangelism. Live for God! Live for Christ! Live for this church! The time is short. Judgment is coming! “Prepare to meet thy God.” Do it now, before it is too late! Charles Studd was right –

Only one life,
   ‘Twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ
   will last!

Give yourself to Christ – don’t hold anything back. Jesus loves you! Jesus loves you! Jesus loves you!

Turn to hymn number 5 on your song sheet. Stand and sing it! Sing it! Sing it!

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, And drives away his fear.
And drives away his fear.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build, My shield and hiding place,
My never failing treasury, filled With boundless stores of grace!
With boundless stores of grace!

Jesus! My Shepherd, Brother, Friend; My Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, Accept the praise I bring.
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart, And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art, I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy name Refresh my soul in death,
Refresh my soul in death.
   (“How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” by John Newton, 1725-1807;
      to the tune of “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned”).

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Christ Returneth” (by H. L. Turner, 1878).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words”
(I Thessalonians 4:18).

I.    First, the signs of Christ’s coming give encouragement.
1.  The State of Israel, established in 1948, with Jewish people
      world-wide returning to their God-given homeland,
      Luke 21:24; Ezekiel 37:12; 38:8.
2.  The “sign” of an increased persecution of Christians and Jews,
      Matthew 24:9.
3.  The rise of the end-time apostasy, II Thessalonians 2:3;
      Matthew 24:11, 12; I Timothy 4:1, 2.

II.   Second, the application, I Thessalonians 1:5, 9, 10.