Commentary on "Final Events (1 Thess. 5:111)"
Day 6: Thursday, August 30, 2012 - Encourage One Another (1 Thess. 5:911)
Today’s text is 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11:
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 ESV)
The lesson discusses “hope” and “wrath” and acknowledges that God’s wrath is actually real—but the author fails to accurately explain that wrath. He says, “And in Christ he has provided the protection we need so that we not experience destruction in the judgment. This is why Paul thought that the wrath of God, rightly understood, was a reason for encouragement rather than fear.”
The lesson asks what the essential message is in these verses. Paulien makes the point that the “good news” about God’s wrath is that God has provided protection so we don’t have to experience destruction in the judgment.
This explanation is completely unbiblical. Jesus said that those who believe His word and the One who sent Him do not come into judgment at all (Jn. 5:24). He further says that the one who believes in Him “is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18).
Those who believe in Jesus and accept His blood as payment for their sin are not judged. They do not appear at the great white throne judgment. They will have a judgment for rewards (1 Cor. 3:7-10), but even if their works are burned up, they will be saved. Salvation means we do not go through judgment because the Lord Jesus experienced all of God’s judgment and wrath for our sin.
Paulien is asserting typical Adventist dogma: everyone goes through the judgment, and only after that will anyone know whether or not they are saved. This is blasphemous. Jesus’ full atonement on the cross covers all our sin when we believe and are born again. Jesus’ completed work is enough.
If we fail to believe, however, if we do not trust Him and are not born again, we are judged...in fact, we are born judged. We are by nature objects of wrath (Eph. 2:3). Unless we believe and are born again, we have no hope of escaping God’s wrath. We are born under judgment and live under judgment until we believe.
The truly glaring omission from this lesson is any comment on verses 9-10: For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
This text very clearly says that those who believe and receive the blood of Jesus as payment for their sins LIVE (present tense) with Him, whether they are awake or asleep. These words are words every Adventist understands: “awake” means alive in our bodies; asleep means dead. Paul is saying that if we are in Christ, whether we are alive or dead, we LIVE with Him.
Adventists say these words are figurative or metaphorical or even foreshadowing. They say that when a believer dies, the next thing they know is that they’re with God. They also teach that when a person dies, his body goes to the ground, his spirit (which is only breath) goes to God, and the person ceases to exist until the resurrection. God, with His huge mind, remembers them and puts them back together.
Yet Scripture tells us something different. The plain meaning of these words is that when believers die, they live with Christ just as living believers live with Him. Of course, Adventists do not understand living believers living with Christ either, because they have no conception of the human spirit being made alive with Christ’s actual life and literally being hidden with Him in God. They understand the text in Ephesians that says we are seated with Him in heavenly places to be just metaphorical, a positional promise that means we’re there in His heart and someday we’ll be there in person...but the Bible says we ARE THERE when we believe (see Eph. 2:6).
Paul is reassuring the Thessalonians that they have no need whatsoever to fear: they have been made alive by the Holy Spirit through faith in the Lord Jesus, and whether they are alive or dead, they will live with Christ. Moreover, they will not come into judgment, and God’s wrath is not for them. They do not have to be alert and urgent in order to avoid God’s wrath. Rather, they have already avoided it; they just need to be awake and sober so they can respond to circumstances as they unfold with fearless authority in Christ.
In Christ, the future is absolutely secure, and there is no hiatus between life and the resurrection for the essence of us: we live with Christ eternally when we know Him.
Copyright 2012 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised August 27, 2012. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Camp Verde, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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