I. If asleep, you will miss out
II. If alert, you will win out
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not
need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will
come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and
safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a
pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in
darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all sons
of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the
darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be
alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those
who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us
be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope
of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to
receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that,
whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact
you are doing.
In the name of Jesus Christ, whose work of salvation is definite and whose return
is certain because his Word is sure, dear Christian friends,
Most young children do not keep a schedule for themselves— a social calendar if
you will—, but they know two dates very well: their birthday and Christmas! “When do
you go back to school?” “Um, I don’t know.” “When does your basketball season
begin?” “Couldn’t tell you.” “When is your doctor appointment?” “Not sure.”
“When is Christmas this year?” “Friday, the 25th of December, of course, and I
can’t wait!” “When is your birthday?” “Monday, January 11! I’ll be 10!”
These days are memorable to a child because they come every year, the dates are
reinforced by parents and family members and advertisers, but especially because of the
gifts they get on those days. If you mention either date, you see the child’s face light up
with excitement and anticipation!
Today, we focus our attention on a day that should bring excitement and
anticipation to every Christian child and adult. It is Judgment Day— the day God will
judge all people, condemning those who rebelled against him in unbelief and rescuing
2 those who trusted in him for forgiveness and salvation! But because it has yet to occur
and has no date on a calendar and there is no wish list of gifts connected to it, it is easy to
forget and easy to misunderstand its meaning.
Let’s make sure we keep that day in the forefront of our thoughts so we remain
ready for it. Be assured of this: THE DAY IS COMING! I. If asleep, we will miss out II.
If alert, we will win out.
You and I can be described in the same way the Christians in Thessalonica were:
you are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We follow him who is the Light of the
world, our Savior Jesus! We trust he has crushed the prince of darkness and released us
from the dark abyss of hell due us because of our sin.
With such a glorious title bestowed on us, I am confident you know that Judgment
Day is a real thing and that it will come like a thief in the night. As Jesus tells us, “No
one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but
only the Father” (Mt 24:36). So, like Paul told the Thessalonian Christians: Now,
brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, because you,
brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
So, why any more talk about Judgment Day today or ever? For the very same
reason Paul had more to write to the Thessalonian Christians: While people are saying,
“Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a
pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
I don’t want you to become apathetic or complacent! I don’t want you to think it
could never happen during our lifetime! I don’t want you to fall asleep and miss out!
What are some reasons you sleep? Obviously, because you are tired, but also
because sometimes you are just lazy or you are sick. Those might be the same reasons
why we fall asleep spiritually.
Every year, it happens among our confirmation class. After two years of
dedicated Catechism instruction, after a public promise to remain faithful to God’s Word
and Sacrament, and after receiving Holy Communion for the first time, laziness kicks in
and one or more individuals slough off on their studies in Scripture and are absent from
the Lord’s house and Table. They figure they know what they need to know and they just
need a break. I’ve seen the same with our adults, too. Spiritual laziness can bring on
Spiritual sickness can do the same. Your healthy faith given you at your baptism
breaks down through the trials and tribulations that torment you. Your strong faith built
up in you by the Holy Spirit weakens because you have disconnected from the Word.
So, please remember our esteemed title conferred on us by God himself at our
baptism! We are sons of the light and sons of the day! We do not belong to the night
or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be
alert and self-controlled.
For if alert, you will win out! For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but
to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether
we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
God’s plan is for us to be in heaven with him, whether that happens on the day we
die or on the day this world dies. His plan is perfect, having been carried out perfectly by
his perfect Son, our Savior Jesus! His perfect plan involves our imperfect efforts, not as a
3 way to earn our place in heaven, but as a way for us to express our appreciation for the
salvation he has won for us and to encourage others on the path that leads to heaven.
But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and
love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. When people look at your
life and listen to your words, do they see you dressed in the armor of God? Do
unbelievers notice your helmet and breastplate as they remain “naked and afraid”? Do
fellow Christians identify you as compadres wearing the same uniform?
Be self-controlled. So often, we want to control someone else’s life, but the
better thing would be to learn to control our own. Sometimes, it is the only thing we can
As a parent, we teach our children what words and actions we do not tolerate in
our Christian homes, but then we set an improper example by speaking and doing the
very things we say are wrong. As a spouse, we blame our marriage partner for not loving
us anymore, never considering what we did to stop loving him/her. As a friend, we
demand loyalty from those we hang around with, but then betray them whenever the next
best thing comes along. Controlling our own emotions, actions and words and submitting
them to the will of God will please him and help others to do the same.
Put on faith and love. Just like you might wear a shirt with a name brand on it,
let the name of Christ be emblazoned across your life as you live according to your
Christian faith and as you implement your Christian love into the lives of others. Your
faith and love will lead you to repent when you have sinned. Your faith and love will
lead you to forgive another when he has sinned against you.
Share the hope of salvation. It is obvious this world is full of unbelievers. They
need to know Jesus just as much as you do. They need to be filled with the peace, joy,
comfort and hope of salvation that you have through Jesus.
Your fellow believers do as well. We could all use a little bit of good news these
days! Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you
It may not be as memorable as your birthday or as special as Christmas, but the
Day of Judgment is coming! If asleep, you will miss out, but if alert, you will win out,
because Jesus says so!