We are entering the section of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology that is titled, “The Doctrine of the Future.” And there is no greater future event than the actual, physical return of the Son of God. It is the Omega event, if you will. When will this event happen? Not sure, no one knows. It may be today, however, our text says that when it does happen, it will be unmistakable.
The author of the above verses is the Apostle Paul and he is writing to the church in Thessalonica around the year 50 A.D. As Paul states in verse 15, this declaration of Jesus’ return is “by a word from the Lord.” Therefore, this information that Paul is passing on is not something he made up. It was given to him by Jesus himself.
As we know, all Scripture is from the Lord, so why does Paul feel the need to make this statement in this particular section of Scripture? I believe it is because of the purpose of these words. In verse 18 it says, “therefore encourage one another with these words.”
The promise from Christ of His return is fundamental for our Christian hope. It is a promise that we should all cling to. “These words” spoken to us by Jesus help us in times of trouble. If you recall, prior to Jesus’ arrest, as He says His temporary goodbye’s to His disciples, Jesus says in John 14:1-3, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me…I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
When Jesus sees the troubled hearts of His servants His solution is to set their eyes upon His second coming. Christ desires his followers to be eschatologically (future) oriented in our Christian walk. The physical return of Christ to the earth at the end times is what produces in us a peace that surpasses understanding. It settles our troubled hearts.
We see this most readily in the book of Revelations. The book of Revelations is a book of war, Satan verses the Church, and it is the return of Christ that is the climax of that war. It is the final nail in the coffin of Satan, sin, and death. And John, as he writes to the seven churches, and the Universal Church throughout time, wants us to hear and say the same words that John uses to close the book, “’Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).