Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians 1 - Comfort

Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians was written a few months after his first letter.  They had misunderstood Paul and thought Jesus had already come back and had stopped working and were just waiting for Him.  He describes the second coming and reminds them to keep working until He comes and not be idle.  They were confused and life was very hard.  We lose sight of God and His plan for us when we’re confused.   Being in submission to Christ helps you not live deceived and fearful.  When in hard times and you decide that God is not here and doesn’t care, you have vulnerability. 

What afflictions have you suffered?  Maybe you don’t think you have, but evil forces are working against you and your commitment to Christ impacts others.  You will be judged by others by your religious principles.

Paul thanked God for the faith of the Thessalonians that was growing more and more.  He also thanked God for the increasing love they had for each other – (2 Thess. 1:3).

Is your faith growing stronger?

God is just.  There are 2 kinds of judgments:
(1) Punitive Judgment is for the unbelievers.  It will be dreadful and to be endured in a conscious state.  It results in everlasting life away from the power and love of God.
 (2) Evaluative Judgment is for believers.  It is based on how well we have served Christ as believers.  It’s also known as Rewards.  When God judges sin, it’s a rest and relief for believers.  Romans 8:1 - “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  

Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels.  He will punish those who don’t know God and don’t obey the gospel – (2 Thess. 1:7-8).
The saints (believers) will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God – (2 Thess. 1:5).  He will give relief to those who are troubled – (2 Thess. 1:7).
He will be glorified in His holy people and be marveled at among all those who have believed – (2 Thess. 1:10).
Jesus will punish those who don’t know God and don’t obey the gospel.  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from His glory – (2 Thess. 1:8-9).

Principle:
Christ’s return means comfort for believers and judgment for unbelievers.

Paul prays constantly for the Thessalonians that God may make them worthy of His calling and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of theirs and every act prompted by their faith.  He prays the name of the Lord Jesus be glorified in them – (2 Thess. 1:11-12).

Do you have opposition to your faith?  If not, examine your life.
How is God’s character being revealed to you?
How are others seeing you live your faith?

The Day of the Lord is in the future and Paul wanted them to know that.  They thought they missed the rapture.  We need to know what the Bible says so we are not deceived.

2 Thessalonians 2 - Confusion

Paul tells them that 3 things must happen before Christ’s return –
(1) the rebellion occurs - a "falling away" or "a departure from faith".
(2) the revealing of the man of lawlessness -  the Anti-Christ will come to power
(3) the restraint of lawlessness is removed - refers to governmental authority.

There will be a rebellion and the revealing of the man of lawlessness (which is the Anti-Christ) – (2 Thess. 2:3). In Matthew 24 we learn that many false teachers and false prophets would come claiming to be the Messiah, you will hear of wars and rumors of wars, nations will rise against nations, there will be famines and earthquakes.  All of these are beginning of birth pains.  Christians will be persecuted and hated because of their belief in Jesus.  The abomination that causes desolation would be revealed – (Matthew 24 and Revelation 13:3-6).

The man of lawlessness will be revealed and doomed to destruction.  He will exalt himself over everything and will set himself up in the temple as God.  The man of lawlessness will be overthrown by Jesus with His breath and be destroyed by the splendor of His coming.  The man of lawlessness will work in accordance with Satan displaying all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.  – (2 Thess. 2:1-12).  He is the Anti-Christ, the beast coming out of the sea – (Revelation 13:1-8).

God will send a powerful delusion to cause unbelievers to believe the lie of the man of lawlessness, because they have not believed the truth and have delighted in wickedness –
(2 Thess. 2:11-12).  People today refuse to open their eyes and accept God’s truth.  They don’t think knowing God is worthwhile.  They are full of pride, envy, murder, strife, all kinds of wickedness, faithless, ruthless and the list in Romans 1 goes on.  If you refuse to listen to the truth, you will be deceived by Satan and won’t even know you are deceived. 

How can you avoid being deluded?  You can prevent believing the lies of Satan, if you will just know the truth.  Study the scriptures and stay close to God.  By knowing the truth we get to know God more and we’re equipped to discern good from evil.  We should stand firm and hold to the teaching of Jesus and remember that God loves us and is always there to give us eternal encouragement, hope, and strength – (2 Thess. 2:15-17). 

God chose you through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and through belief in the truth.  He called us to this through the gospel that we might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Our responsibility is to believe the truth, stand firm and hold on to the teachings of Jesus – 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15.  Jesus has already done all the work.  All we have to do is believe.  “Share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” in verse 14 means we will be raised to eternal life with Him and share His inheritance in heaven and we will see God.  We are secure in Him because He chose us to be saved from the beginning. 

Principle:
Be focused on truth and surrender to God’s Spirit and live in hope rather than fear of Christ’s return.

Believers are exempt from the Anti-Christ.  What gives you comfort and security?  Have you been taught something that makes you afraid?  If so, examine that against scripture for truth.  Deception manifests fear.  Pray that you be responsible with truth that God gives you.

2 Thessalonians 3 - Correction

Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for him that the message may spread rapidly and be honored and that they may be delivered from wicked and evil men.  Paul is confident that God will do what He says.  Are you?

Who will you pray for? 
Who will you ask to pray for you?

Paul warns them against idleness and that idleness make them busybodies.  When he says they should not associate with people who do not live according to the teachings they have received, he is saying don’t engage in their wrong doings.  They should work for a living or not eat.  They chose not to work, which is a matter of willingness not ability.  We should admonish our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ when needed, but remember everyone should be treated with love and respect.  Be firm, but loving.  If your heart is not in the right place, it could be damning. 

Is your heart right to admonish someone? 
Are you open to being admonished?

Principle:
A believer’s lifestyle should help, not hinder the spread of the gospel.

Are you living as a busybody?
How are you spending your time? You should be living with urgency and commitment and with confidence.

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