Now, we turn to the scriptures to reveal another "World Divided", which is an extension of the idea above - this time based on the concept of "light" and "darkness":
"Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
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.
But you brothers, are not in darkness so that this day would surprise you like a thief. You are sons of light and sons of the day.
We do not belong to the night or to the darkness." (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5)
"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Lets see this stark contrast in two types of people: Those who belong to the "light" as contrasted with those who belong to the "darkness". This could also be stated as a contrast between church saints and the unsaved.
It is also important to keep in mind that the "Day of the Lord" is a reference to the Tribulation, a time which will be defined by and characterized by darkness (Amos 5:18).
Look at the contrasts revealed by this passage:
1. Paul used the pronouns "ye", "yourselves", "you", "we", "us", and "our" to refer to the church saints. By contrast, he used "they" and "them" to refer to the unsaved. The direct address "you brothers" underscores this contrast.
2. The church saints are not "in" darkness - a darkness we know biblically as a place known to be ruled by evil (Eph. 6:12) and a darkness that creates the inability to see reality, the true purpose of life through God etc., and therefore oblivious to the coming judgment.
By contrast, church saints are not in the sphere of darkness, as our alignment with God - who represents light (1 John 1:5) - and through Jesus who is the light of the world (John 8:12) has created a scenario in which we live in the light and are destined for the light.
As stated by Renald Showers in "Maranatha: Our Lord Come" (full reference below) we see the following quote as it relates to the Tribulation which is coming suddenly and unexpectedly like "a thief in the night" to those in the darkness:
"it appears that in the second half of verse 4 Paul was saying that as a result of church saints being delivered from the sphere of darkness and placed into the sphere of light, the coming-as-a-thief phase will not overtake them. Since that phase will be characterized by darkness, it is reserved for those who are in the sphere of darkness, not for those who are in the sphere of light. Amos 5:18-20 indicates that darkness will be the total nature of the Day of the Lord for the unsaved. Thus, it is upon "them" (the unsaved in darkness), not "you" (the church saints in light), that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the sight with sudden destruction."
3. Outcome: Saved vs Unsaved. In this passage, Paul makes one point abundantly clear: The "unsaved" will be overtaken by and, by definition, will experience the Day of the Lord, also known as the Tribulation. By contrast, the "saved" are appointed to a completely different destiny.
And how does one obtain this different destiny? Or better stated, how does one escape this coming Tribulation?
"God did not appoint us to suffer this wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
In other words, God hasn't appointed us to experience this coming wrath (the Day of the Lord), but to obtain salvation through Christ Jesus and therefore also be spared from this period.
It is also well worth remembering this fact, and I'll let Mr Showers give us the exact quote:
"Because Christ's death for church saints caused their salvation from the future wrath of God, and because Christ's death has already been accomplished once for all (Rom. 6:9-10), the salvation of church saints from the future wrath of God has already been obtained. Their future experience of this already obtained deliverance is certain."
For the well-meaning folks who believe we will suffer through the Tribulation - one must ask - did Jesus not already suffer God's wrath on our behalf?
We know that answer. Of course He did. The apostle Paul makes that case above in a clear, concise way.
The bottom line? Once again, we see a stark division in all people in these last days:
One group who is destined for darkness and another group, who, through their salvation, based on Christ Jesus are living in light and destined for the light.
Those who are in the light are not "appointed" to suffer the coming Tribulation (aka the "wrath" or "the Day of the Lord") because we have received the gift of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Its that simple. We see a world divided into two groups and this contrast couldn't be more stark.
Its worth adding a couple of additional scriptures which further confirm this point:
In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Paul again gives us instructions for these last days:
"...and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."
"Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth" (Revelation 3:10)
How many times do we have to be told?
As a follower of Christ Jesus - we are afforded the incredible grace that Christ Jesus gave us on the cross. We won't experience God's coming wrath to an unrepentant world - Christ already did that for us. Additionally, we've just seen three specific scriptures which confirm that important point.
How will the church saints be delivered from this coming wrath?
"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
And the beauty of this study is this: Jesus described the exact same scenario in John 14:1-3
"Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God; trust also in me.
In my Father's house there are many rooms;
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go there to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back and take you to be with me
that you also may be where I am."
God's wrath is most definitely coming to this earth and this entire process is described in Revelation 6-18. Fortunately, God's wrath was already taken on the cross, by Jesus, for all who believe.
The scriptures above describe the plain fact that Jesus will come and gather up His bride prior to this wrath that is coming upon an unrepentant world - a world of darkness - a world that we will be "rescued" from according to the scriptures.
We can only thank God for His incredible grace and mercy.
Maranatha! He is coming soon!
(ref. "Maranatha Our Lord, Come! A definitive Study of the Rapture of the Church" Renald Showers. 1995 by The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. Fifth Edition 2002.)