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    SERMON FIVE

    THE CHURCH NOT IN DARKNESS

    TEXT: But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:4.OFH1 48.1

    For the consolation of those in the church whose hearts might bleed with bereavement, the apostle undertakes to dispel their griefs by removing their ignorance concerning those who sleep in Jesus. He addresses the church, at Thessalonica thus: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [go before] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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.” Chap. 4:13-18.OFH1 48.2

    The apostles would not have the church ignorant concerning the dead. He would have them instructed relative to the hope that may be cherished of those who fall asleep in Jesus. The church believes that “Jesus died and rose again,” and that God “brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ.” Very well; “So them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” As certainly as he brought his Son from the dead, and took him up to his own throne, just so certainly will God also bring from the dead all who sleep in Jesus, and will take them up to Heaven, and place them on the throne of the Son.OFH1 49.1

    The day named in the text is not the day of the believers’ death. The apostle, in giving instruction for the comfort of the church under bereavements, does not point to death as the gate to endless joys, through which the pious dead immediately pass to God’s right hand, where there are fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. No. They sleep in Jesus. And their slumbers will not be broken till the last trump shall awake them. The apostle looks forward over the still-remaining long period of the slumbers of the just, to the descent of the Lord from Heaven, the resurrection of the righteous dead, and the change of the living righteous to immortality, as the glad hope of the just of all ages.OFH1 49.2

    These (not the terrors of death and the grave), are the grand events that introduce the glories of the life to come. To these, the prophets, Christ, and the apostles, have distinctly pointed as the consummating events of the believers’ hope, and the source of their anticipated joys. After spreading before us these events which introduce the burning glories of the day of God, the apostle concludes his remarks upon this branch of the subject by this remarkable sentence: “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” Thus the apostle distinctly states the manner and object of the second advent of Jesus Christ, and treats the doctrine as if it were a legacy to the church, given to be a source of consolation and comfort, especially to those mourning in consequence of bereavements.OFH1 49.3

    He continues: “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, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4. Paul here speaks prophetically, and describes the state of things just prior to the end. He designates two classes by the words ye and they. The word ye represents those whom he calls brethren, who are well instructed relative to the times and seasons, and therefore are awake, and waiting and watching for their Lord. The word they represents those who treat the subject of the coming of Christ as not worthy of their especial attention; therefore, while some are sounding the alarm, they see no evidences of the soon coming of the Lord, and are saying, Peace and safety.OFH1 50.1

    The apostle continues: “Ye are all the children of the 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. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken, are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verses 5-9.OFH1 51.1

    The two classes, the position of each, and the destiny of both, are distinctly stated. Certainly those who teach that the day of the Lord will come on all as a thief in the night, have not fully examined the subject. For their especial benefit, we will repeat the points of difference, thus:OFH1 51.2

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