THE BOOK OF SECOND THESSALONIANS
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Paul continues, from First Thessalonians, his discussion of the parousia, the coming of the Lord. He tells us that the Day of the Lord will not come until certain events have transpired. He exhorts us to work hard and not be moved by anyone claiming that the Day of Christ has already come.
Table of Contents
THE BOOK OF SECOND THESSALONIANS
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (II Thessalonians 2:3)
Paul, Silas, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: (II Thessalonians 2:1)
“To the church of the Thessalonians.” I think it is important to remember that the Bible, including the New Testament, is written to God’s elect. Because the New Testament contains many severe demands on our conduct, there has been a significant effort to claim that these severe demands are addressed to the Jews, or to the unsaved. The truth is, they are not addressed to the Jews or to the unsaved, but to the people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Also, there are passages that state we place our salvation in jeopardy if we continue in sin. This concept, that our salvation can be jeopardized by our sinful behavior, is rejected vehemently by numerous Christian leaders and people. So the claim is made that the passage under consideration is speaking to Jews or to the unsaved.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
The claim is made that Paul is showing that an unsaved person will not inherit the Kingdom of God because of how he or she behaves.
But the letter to the Galatians is addressed “to the churches in Galatia.”
Now, Paul says “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
We agree: because this is how unsaved people live, they will not inherit the Kingdom of God; for there is no sexual immorality, impurity, or debauchery in the Kingdom of God.
Without doubt this is true, and all would agree I am certain.
The question is, what if a Christian practices sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, faction, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like? Will he or will he not inherit the Kingdom of God?
If we say, yes, he will inherit the Kingdom of God because he is saved by grace, then we are contradicting the Apostle Paul who stated “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Are we saying that a Christian can be sexually immoral, impure, dissipated, idolatrous, practice witchcraft, be filled with hatred, discord, and jealousy, given to fits of rage, and still inherit the Kingdom of God? Wouldn’t we be contradicting Paul?
Well, suppose Paul is referring to the unsaved. Then, it seems to me, Paul is implying that if the unsaved do not behave in this sinful manner they will inherit the Kingdom of God. Perhaps this in fact is true, although no matter how godly an individual is he or she cannot, once Christ has been presented to him or her, reject Christ and be accepted by the Father.
In any case, the issue of the Kingdom of God is that of righteous behavior.
Sometimes it is maintained that a true Christian would not do these things. However, if we are acquainted with Christian people we know that some practice these very behaviors.
Are we to say these people are not actually Christians? If such is the case, the ranks of Christians are fairly thin.
It either is true that Divine grace invalidates the clear statement of Paul that “those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God, or else it is true that people who “live like this” are not actually Christians. One or the other must be true, unless we are willing to accept that Paul was writing to warn Christian people that if they continue to walk in known sin they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Most Christian teachers of our day will not agree that once having “accepted” Christ we then can be lost because we did not continue in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of God. Whether or not we obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, we can never be lose our salvation, appears to be the majority view.
How this “once saved always saved” doctrine has gained the popularity that it has I am not able say, since it is not a scriptural position. If it were true, then all of Paul’s exhortations in the Book of Second Thessalonians can be disregarded safely. In fact, there is no need to even read this letter.
Sometimes it is maintained that if we do adhere as much as we can to the commandments of Christ and His Apostles we will gain a reward. If we do not, if we continue to live according to our sinful nature, there may be no reward for us, but we will be saved in any case.
Now let us think for a moment about what we mean by “being saved.” We mean we will go to Heaven where all is joyous and peaceful. So why worry about having a reward? All we want is to be left alone to enjoy the wonders of Paradise.
But what if enjoying the peace and beauty of Paradise is itself the reward for diligently obeying the commandments of the Lord? What then?
What if not diligently obeying the commandments of the Lord means, as in the parable of the talents, we are cast into the outer darkness? What then? Or is the parable of the talents addressed to the Jews or the unsaved? Not likely!
If we maintain that we can “believe in Christ,” and then live in the ways of Satan, and still inherit the splendor of Paradise, because we have been “saved,” then we do not understand what salvation is. Salvation is not movement from a place of trouble to a place of peace. Salvation is a change in what we are so we bring peace and not trouble wherever we may be.
Perhaps you have known of people who bring trouble wherever they are. Such an individual would bring trouble into the Kingdom of God, unless he was saved from his troublesome disposition. Does this make sense to you?
A person in whom the Kingdom of God is mature brings peace and blessing wherever he goes. A person in whom the sinful nature is predominant bring misery and destruction wherever he goes. Anyone with experience in the world knows this is true.
Therefore salvation cannot possibly consist of a change in location, for a change in location does not ensure the love, joy, and peace we are looking for. Salvation, if it is to bring us love, joy, and peace, must of necessity consist of a change in our personality.
The New Testament tells us about a change in our personality and behavior, not about a change in our location.
With this in mind, we can understand the truth and urgency of Paul’s letter to the believers in Thessalonica.
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (II Thessalonians 2:2)
Grace is the Presence of God in Jesus Christ, providing us with all we need to conform us to the image of Christ and to bring us into untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will.
Peace is a sense of well-being, an absence of dread and anxiety. The wicked do not have peace. The righteous, the servants of Jesus Christ, have supernatural peace in the midst of turmoil. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit.
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. (II Thessalonians 2:3)
The “faith” mentioned here is somewhat different from what we mean today when we say someone is saved by faith, or the righteous live by faith. When we make these statements we are not referring to the kind of faith the members of the Thessalonian church had but rather to an acknowledgment of the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Lord and Savior. We might refer to this kind of faith as our theological position.
It is maintained strongly today that our correct theological position will ensure our entrance into Heaven. In fact, denominations tend to identify themselves by their unique theological stance. They publish a list of facts about Jesus Christ and refer to this list as their Statement of Faith. They assign great importance to belief in these facts. The concept is that if an individual deviates from belief in these facts his entrance into Heaven upon physical death is in doubt.
In time past, wars have been fought and people have been tortured and murdered because of their theological position.
This is nothing more than adamic confusion. There is no salvation in a belief system. A set of doctrinal beliefs is information and head knowledge. It is not the kind of faith that was growing in the Thessalonian believers.
I realize the Apostle Paul said if we confess Christ with our mouth and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead we shall be saved. This indeed is true. But if we remember that this pronouncement is taken from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, we can see that it is part of Paul’s attempt to move the Jews from the Law of Moses to faith in Jesus Christ. It is not a formula that can be used in place of genuine faith in God.
Genuine faith in God, the faith that was growing in the believers in Thessalonica, is not a fierce clinging to theological facts. It is not a magic that ensures our entrance into Heaven even though our behavior is more of Satan than of Christ. Genuine faith in God is an ever increasing entrance into the Persons of Christ and of God. It is a mixture of trust, hope, courage, patience, and love. Faith is our assessment of God’s Character. Can He be trusted? Is He actually faithful? Does He know the circumstances of my life? Is He bringing me to joy? Does He have the power to bring me to joy in spite of those forces that are seeking to make me afraid?
The righteous shall live by faith. Living by faith is living by daily dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ rather than by our own experience, wisdom, and strength.
To live by faith is to live in Christ and to have fellowship with Him at all times; to look to Him concerning every issue of our daily living.
Faith increases in us as we press forward into Christ each day, experiencing the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Faith increases in us as God keeps on solving our problems; delivering us from difficulties; healing us physically in some instances. We learn that God is absolutely dependable, that His Word prevails in all circumstances.
We may or may not subscribe to an orthodox Statement of Faith. Does it actually matter, if we are walking hand in hand with Jesus, whether we subscribe to an orthodox Statement of Faith? Would the Lord Jesus receive us if we did not subscribe to an orthodox Statement of Faith? I suppose He would. He is not a teacher of religion who is insisting on our acceptance of the facts he presents. The Lord Jesus Christ is a Person who loves little children, even though their grasp of theology is limited.
I think it is time we cease making such a commotion about the accuracy of our beliefs and take hold of the living Jesus. The faith of the believers in Thessalonica was manifesting itself in love, in practical actions of kindness and compassion that were proof of their abiding in Christ. This is salvation, whereas there have been Christians leaders in the past who have murdered believers in Christ because their doctrinal beliefs were not acceptable. Pitiful, isn’t it? Will we ever grow up in God?
The facts of the spirit realm are real and unchanging. Perhaps we will learn more about them when we get there. But whether we have been correct or incorrect does not matter. Salvation is a change in what we are as a person, a transformation of our character. Correct doctrine is of use only as it assists in such transformation.
There are those whose knowledge of the facts of orthodox theology is impeccable but who do not know the Lord. They are mean and self-willed. Then there are little children who sit in Jesus’ lap and look up into His face with trust and confidence. There is quite a difference between theological faith and genuine faith, isn’t there?
Today we say if we subscribe to the facts concerning Jesus Christ we shall be saved, meaning we shall go to Heaven when we die. Once we have the correct beliefs our salvation is assured, even though we live like the devil. How long will it be before we wake up to the fact that this is not the way of the Lord? True Christians, genuinely saved people, are not distinguished by their head knowledge but by their godly behavior.
It is one matter to be theologically accurate. It is another matter to have fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. It is the latter that is salvation. The belief that our mental position saves us, and our behavior is not critically important, has destroyed the moral strength of the Christian churches in America.
Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. (II Thessalonians 1:4)
The above verse reveals the kind of faith that was developing in the believers in Thessalonica. It was a perseverance during persecution and suffering. It was holding fast to the Lord Jesus in the face of severe opposition. “He who endures to the end shall be saved,” the Lord Jesus said, pointing to the kind of faith that saves us.
All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:5)
I suppose Paul means here the fact that these believers were persevering in the face of persecution shows that God was wise when He selected them to be members of His Kingdom. God’s faith in the believers in Thessalonica was vindicated by their willingness to stay true to Christ no matter what they suffered.
God chose them, and then they showed themselves to be worthy of the Kingdom by their perseverance.
We don’t hear enough today about the need to be worthy of the Kingdom of God. Yet, several times in the New Testament we are encouraged to show by our behavior that we are worthy of the Kingdom of God. We like to say “Only Christ is worthy,” and then we ourselves live in an unworthy manner—as though we are exalting Christ by taking this attitude. Christ is not pleased by this nor is He flattered. Christ would far rather we showed our faith in Him by living in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of God.
If we live in such a manner that God does not esteem us worthy of His Kingdom, then we will not have a place in His Kingdom even though we have maintained a correct doctrinal position. This fact needs to be brought to the attention of the Christian people in America. If we are to be accepted into God’s Kingdom we have to show by our behavior that we are worthy of the Kingdom.
The believers in Thessalonica were suffering in order to establish their place in the Kingdom of God. We don’t preach this enough, do we? I think we need to get back to the Bible, for we are not telling the whole truth to the people.
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you (II Thessalonians 1:6)
We Christians are not to strike back when we are harmed. We are to give our enemy water if he is thirsty. But this does not mean God overlooks the injustice. In God’s time He will avenge us. We can rest in this, and not have to carry about in our own heart a desire for revenge.
And give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (II Thessalonians 1:7)
This particular verse makes me think Paul expected the Lord to come in his lifetime. Paul was looking for his relief from suffering to come from Heaven.
Notice also that this verse does away completely with the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture. The believers in Thessalonica were being persecuted, apparently viciously. Now, if there were to be a pre-tribulation rapture, Paul would have said, “Your persecution soon will come to an end because the Lord Jesus is going to sound the trumpet and carry you up to Heaven.”
Instead, Paul said they would be delivered from persecution when “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” The return of the Lord in blazing fire is the historical coming of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, not a special secret “rapture” in which the believers are carried up to Heaven before they suffer persecution.
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power (II Thessalonians 1:8,9)
According to the Bible, the historical coming of Christ, the Day of the Lord, will be a time of judgment of the wicked.
See, the day of the LORD is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. (Isaiah 13:9)
On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:10)
By all sound rules of Bible interpretation, Paul is referring to the passage in First Thessalonians, that often is viewed as a special, secret “rapture” of the believers. There is no evidence in the texts of First and Second Thessalonians that Paul jumped back and forth between the historical coming of Christ with His angels, and a special secret “rapture.” Those who would teach a special “rapture” must make their own assumptions, for this concept simply does not appear in the texts.
Christ is coming to be glorified in His saints. When He appears in His glory, we shall appear with Him, if He has become our life. The return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth will certainly not be a secret coming for the purpose of sneaking His people out of the clutches of Antichrist, or so they won’t be harmed by the Great Tribulation. Rather, His appearing will be a stupendous demonstration of Divine power which all the world will see.
Paul tells the believers in Thessalonica that because they have believed his testimony, they will be included in this display of Divine authority and power.
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. (II Thessalonians 1:11)
Again, the idea of our being worthy of our calling as saints and heirs of the Kingdom of God. On what basis are we counted worthy? On the basis of godly behavior, as defined by the New Testament.
Notice carefully the expression “with this in mind.” With what in mind? With the coming of Jesus from Heaven in blazing fire to destroy the wicked, and the revealing of Christ in His saints. Paul prayed for the believers with the Day of Christ in his mind.
We are inspired to live a godly life when we think of what will take place when the Lord returns.
Our vision of the future has been corrupted, and this corrupted vision is affecting the moral strength of Christian people. Instead of the vision of the return of Christ in blazing fire to avenge the wrong done to His people, we have an unscriptural removal of the believers from the battle.
Instead of the great and terrible Day of the Lord we are envisioning a gala event in which immature believers are merrily lifted from the troubles of earth and brought to mansions in the sky. The result is, the American believers tend to be silly, emotionally and spiritually immature people. They are somewhat smug and overconfident, believing that their problems will be resolved at any moment.
The concept that their first objective is the resurrection to eternal life (or bodily transformation, should they be alive at the Lord’s return), is not a part of their thinking. The fact that today by their actions they are determining the nature of their resurrection is as far as it could be from their thinking.
There may be no truth more needed in the thinking of American Christians than the fact that how they are behaving today will be reflected in what they experience in the Day of Resurrection. And according to the Scripture, the resurrection will take place before the catching up of the saint.
Today’s American believers do not know the Scriptures because the Scriptures are not preached to them. They have been taught two massive errors: that they are kept righteous, in spite of their conduct, by a magical “grace; and that at any moment they (by grace) are going to be caught up to Heaven where they will live in bliss forever.
When any passage of the Bible is taught, it is interpreted in the light of these two errors. Consequently the Books of First and Second Thessalonians cannot be accepted as they are written. Their meaning is hidden, both as to the exhortation to righteous living, and also concerning the return of Christ with His saints and holy angels.
Now, we need not be a brilliant social scientist to predict the kind of behavior that will result from these two errors. The believers will be overconfident of the future; will not make adequate preparation to stand in the day of trouble; will be lacking in the strength to resist temptation or persecution; and will have little or no understanding of what it means to patiently carry one’s cross of denial.
If I am not mistaken, the Lord is raising up a generation of young people who will reject the errors of the past and will follow Jesus Christ throughout the age of moral and physical horrors we are approaching. The prior generation of “believers” will scream in panic and then faint when they realize they are not going to be removed from the conflict.
We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (II Thessalonians 1:12)
We pray what? We pray that God will count you worthy of His calling. We pray that God will fulfill every good purpose of yours. We pray that God will fulfill every act prompted by your faith.
An unusual prayer, isn’t it? Do we pray today that God will count us worthy of His calling? Probably not. We assume we are saved by grace and there is no need that we be worthy of our calling as saints, as holy ones.
Do we pray that God will fulfill our good purposes? Are our purposes worthy that God should fulfill them? Are we wrapped up in our little selfish world, or are we concerned that so many people in the world are in spiritual and physical need? Is our purpose to serve God with all our might that we may play our role in alleviating the manifold sufferings of mankind?
And as to acts prompted by our faith, do we realize that genuine faith in God always produces actions?
Whether we desire to be healed, or to step out in ministry, or to hold our marriage together, if we hold steady in faith and pray, God will help us.
In all things we hope that the Lord Jesus may be glorified in us and we in Him. God will fulfill our hope if we press into Christ each day.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, Not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. (II Thessalonians 2:1,2)
Just as we found in our study of the fourth and fifth chapters of First Thessalonians, the coming of the Lord and the Day of the Lord are the same event. To view the account in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians as an event different from the coming of the Lord, or the Day of the Lord, is nothing more than an attempt to support the extra-biblical myth of a special, secret coming that will occur in advance of the historical return of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of the “pre-tribulation rapture” of the believers is a deadly error that has brought confusion into the straightforward understanding of the Scriptures.
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (II Thessalonians 2:3)
What day will not come? The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Day of the Lord.
Until what occurs? The rebellion.
The coming of Christ, the Day of the Lord, will not come until the rebellion occurs.
What is the rebellion? The rebellion is the age of rebellion against all authority. If you will stop and think, we in America are in rebellion against authority. Our nation was born in rebellion. To this day we resent anyone who would dare to tell us what to do. Our governmental leaders must bow to the will of the citizens, the will of the citizens being expressed in numerous polls.
We have not known what it is like to be governed by a king who has absolute authority. This is one reason, it is difficult for us to enter the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is governed by a King who has absolute authority. The Lord Jesus Christ is not moved by popular opinions.
When Paul spoke of the rebellion against authority he was governed by Caesar. When compared with the government of Caesar, we in America are living in a state of rebellion.
We rebelled against the King of England because he was unjust—at least as we perceived him. Government by an unjust king is worse than a democracy. But the best government of all is the rule of a righteous, compassionate king. This is the case with the Kingdom of God.
So we are at the beginning of the great rebellion against authority. We have been taught that the great thing in life is to “take control,” to be in control of our life and destiny. Because of our emphasis on self-will and self-love, the moral structure of the United States is crumbling. Little by little our traditional moral values are being done away in the name of “freedom of speech.”
The rebellion has begun, and in due time a ruler will arise who epitomizes the idea of man being his own god.
The Lord Jesus spoke of the rebellion, saying in the last days the love of the majority would grow cold. People who at one time had loved the Lord, now would be rejecting Him and His commandments.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12)
The Day of the Lord, the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, will not occur until the man of lawlessness—Antichrist—is revealed.
If you had not been taught the “pre-tribulation rapture,” and then read Second Thessalonians 2:1-3, isn’t this what you would conclude? The Day of Christ will not come until the rebellion against authority occurs.
One eminent scholar translates the Greek term apostasia as “falling away.” Then he goes on to say it means “falling away from the earth,” that is, a “rapture.” This shows us the lengths otherwise competent scholarship will go to support this confusing doctrine.
Apostasia is used in the New Testament to refer to falling away from the faith, not falling away from the earth. We derive the English word “apostasy” from apostasia.
The Day of the Lord will not come until there is a rebellion against God and against all authority and law. The world is well on its way to the apostasy of the last days.
Christ will not return until the apostasy has been fully developed and a man appears who sums up the idea that there is no god except the god who is in every person.
This is the ultimate evil. God will permit Satan to exercise his will in the earth until the ultimate evil can be seen, being witnessed by the righteous and the wicked alike. The history of the world is one great audio-visual portrayal of the folly of choosing to go our own way instead of God’s way.
Can you see how the doctrine of the “pre-tribulation rapture” brings confusion into this straightforward plan?
“But wouldn’t removing the believers hasten the appearing of the man of lawlessness, and consequently the return of Christ to the earth?” This is a logical conclusion. However, it is not the correct conclusion for two reasons. First of all, God will never turn over His earth to Satan. The earth and all its resources belong to God.
Second, it is not scriptural. There is no passage of Scripture in the Old or New Testaments that tells us God will remove His saints and His Spirit from the earth so wickedness can come to maturity. However, there is something God is going to do, and we will get to that in a moment.
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (II Thessalonians 2:4)
Some spiritualize this verse and claim that the temple is man, and the spirit of Antichrist will inhabit man. This is true to a certain extent.
However, I think Daniel points out that there will be an actual man (or woman) who will personify the rebellion against God’s authority.
It is my opinion that the Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, after God destroys the nations that come against Israel; and after that Antichrist will be successful in invading Israel and will sit in the Most Holy Place of the Temple, declaring that he is the only god. I think also, from Daniel, that a statute of Antichrist will be erected on the roof of the Temple where Jesus was carried by Satan. This will be Satan’s way of showing Christ that Satan has been successful after all—that man will succeed in his own presumption.
We are not as far away as we might think, from people declaring themselves to be god.
Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? (II Thessalonians 2:5)
We do not know what Paul told the Thessalonians in private, but we can be certain that his comments are summed up in the Books of First and Second Thessalonians.
Some are maintaining that Paul told the Thessalonians privately about a special, secret coming to catch up the believers before the great apostasy. If we are to use what we imagine Paul might have said in private, as a principle of biblical interpretation, then we can support any wild idea that is presented. This is a reckless approach to the interpretation of the Bible, to say the least.
And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. (II Thessalonians 2:6,7)
The above passage is a mainstay of “rapture” teaching, according to my understanding. The idea is that the saints and the Holy Spirit are going to be lifted to Heaven so Antichrist can be revealed. The Spirit and the saints are in the way of his being revealed.
First, let us look at the passage. The one who holds back the secret power of lawlessness will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way. Taken out of the way. Removed as a hindrance. Nothing is said about removing the Spirit of God and the saints to Heaven.
Second. It is not an acceptable principle of biblical interpretation to base a doctrine on one passage. There should be at least three passages, and hopefully more, that support our interpretation.
Third. Major happenings in the Kingdom of God are found in both the Old and New Testaments.
The passage in question does not state that whatever or whoever is holding back the secret power of lawlessness will be removed from the earth and carried to Heaven. Also, there is no other passage in the New Testament or the Old Testament that declares the Holy Spirit and the saints will we removed from the earth and carried up to Heaven.
Now, what is the “secret power of lawlessness”? Going back to the third verse of
Chapter Two, we might conclude that the secret power of lawlessness refers to the rebellion, the great apostasy.
Why is the power of lawlessness a secret? Perhaps because people do not realize that their desire to control their own lives and destinies is actually coming from Satan. They suppose they are in control of their own lives. It is impossible for a human being to control his own life. We were made to be the dwelling place of God. If God is not in control of our life, then Satan moves in. The demons move in and inhabit the empty house.
Now, what is holding back the full development of Satan-inhabited man. In my opinion, it is the power of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, that dwells in the believers. It is the Holy-Spirit empowered testimony—that by which we overcome the accuser.
Think about today. What is holding back the full development of self-willed wickedness in America? Is it not the lingering remnants of the Christian testimony? Satan can only move just so fast, and as he does the Christian people rise up and denounce the wickedness.
But the witness is being overcome in America. Little by little the Christian people are accepting the ways of the world. As they do, their ability to influence the behavior of the American public is decreasing.
How, then, will the Spirit of Truth in the believers be taken away?
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach clearly that in the last days God will permit Satan to overcome the saints. When the saints have been overcome, the way is open for the full manifestation of man being his own god.
As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, (Daniel 7:21)
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” (Daniel 12:7)
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:7)
“Waging war against the saints and defeating them.”
“The power of the holy people has been finally broken.”
“The beast will attack them, and overpower and kill them.”
“To make war against the saints and to kill them.”
Not one passage that states the saints and the Holy Spirit will be caught up to Heaven; but four passages that say the saints will be overcome.
We know we are more than conquerors through Christ. Satan does not have enough power to separate us from Christ. We know this is true.
We also have seen during our lifetime that many believers are overcome by Satan. How does he doe this? Not by superior power but by deception. He tempts them with sin and they fall. Isn’t this the case? Numerous American believers already have the mark of the world in their hand and their head and they do not realize it. The Christian churches in America already have been overcome by Satan because they are being taught error.
The eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation mentions three ways by which Satan is able to overcome the saints: by Egypt (the love of the world); by Sodom (the lusts of the flesh); and by Jerusalem (religious envy, pride, and self-will).
Also, there will be vicious persecution. Numerous Christians will turn away from the fervent worship of Christ when their lives or the lives of their loved ones are threatened.
Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. (Daniel 11:33-35)
We can overcome the accuser by our trust in the blood of the Lamb; by the word of our Holy-Spirit inspired testimony; and by loving not our life to the point of death. This last will be necessary when we are being killed with the sword or burned or captured or plundered.
The Christian testimony shall be overcome in the great cities of the world, under the government of Antichrist. Already the Christian testimony in America has been overcome. How do the other nations of the world regard America? As a Christian nation? As a godly nation, as Hollywood pumps out its gallons of raw sewage every hour? Will we ever wake up to the fact that the overemphasis on grace, and related errors, have already removed that which stands in the way of the secret power of lawlessness that currently is working in America?
Antichrists were present in the first century. They had been members of the Christian churches but left the churches. The issue in those days had to do with Jesus being the Christ, and the coming of Christ in the flesh.
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. (I John 2:18-22)
Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (II John 1:7)
The Antichrist controversy is between truth and that which is a lie. The Spirit of truth who is in us is stronger than the lie that is Antichrist. It is only as we choose to live in the Spirit of truth that we can overcome the lie of Antichrist.
If, however, we choose to live in wickedness, God Himself will send a strong delusion on us because we did not love the truth.
In our time the issue is not so much whether Christ has come in the flesh. The issue today is the moral conduct of the believers. Worldliness, lust, and self-will are rampant among us.
It used to be that there was moral power in America that affected the decisions of the leaders of government. This moral force is rapidly disappearing. The current lack of clear governmental leadership in the areas of abortion and homosexual practices reveals the moral weakness in America. Little by little our most valued principles, such as the sanctity of marriage, are being corrupted. Yes or no? What do you say? Can you see how that which hinders the power of lawlessness is being taken out of the way in America?
We have been blinded to this fact, partly by the unscriptural doctrine of the “pre-tribulation rapture” of the believers. Because of this false vision, we are blind to the actual removal of the power that restrains Antichrist. It is happening now, and we can’t see it because we have a misleading vision of the future.
We are looking for an external Antichrist, and there indeed shall be a person who personifies in himself or herself the spirit of man seeking to make himself God. But Antichrist already is deeply entrenched in the believers in America because of our willingness to partake of the spirit of the world. We with our children watch television programs and go to moving pictures in which the actors and actresses use filthy speech.
We help our children participate in athletic events that take place on Sunday. We go to the Super Bowl on Sunday instead of to church. We already have been made a part of the Antichrist spirit. If we do not at once go to the Lord and ask for help in freeing ourselves and our children from the ways of the world, we will suffer the fate of those who worship Antichrist.
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, He, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:9-11)
We American believers have been sorely deluded with our teaching that grace is a substitute for obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, and that at any moment we will be carried up to Heaven in our worldliness in order to escape Antichrist. If this unscriptural event were to take place, we would carry Antichrist with us into Heaven.
I am afraid that because we have not been diligent in overcoming sin, our lampstand, our testimony, has been removed from its place. Thus that which hinders Antichrist, that which prevents the development of the secret power of lawlessness, has been removed from the Christian churches of America. Therefore we will see in the near future an acceleration of the moral deterioration that has been occurring since the end of World War I.
It is time for us to repent and seek the Lord!
The Lord Jesus told us that in the last days the majority of the believers, those who had loved the Lord, would grow cold.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. (II Thessalonians 2:8)
The lawless one is revealed as Antichrist is able to overcome the testimony of the Christian people. This is taking place in our day, as I have stated.
The “splendor of his coming” refers to the coming of the Lord, the Day of Christ, the Day of the Lord. Satan would far rather have the saints carried to Heaven in a “rapture” than for his puppet, Antichrist, to be overthrown and destroyed. It is no wonder the doctrine of the “pre-tribulation rapture” has been advertised as widely as it has. It is being supported by the enemy.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, And in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.(II Thessalonians 2:9,10)
The believers who are part of the Charismatic movement are in danger of becoming the False Prophet. This is because many of them believe and practice miracles, signs, and wonders, and yet they are not willing to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus each day.
They want the double portion of power (two horns) of the Lamb, but they speak with the voice of the dragon, in some instances.
Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. (Revelation 13:11)
This is the False Prophet.
What do I mean Charismatic leaders speak with the voice of the dragon, in some instances?
They speak of acquiring wealth by “faith.” They tell of what they are going to do, how they are going to go out and save the world. They do not bring the Presence of the Lord Jesus into their speech or their actions. They try to use the power of Christ and of His Spirit to fulfill their own religious desires. They are not permitting Christ to build His own church.
Such self-driven miracle workers will be the ones who force everyone to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead.
You might believe that Charismatic people, people who have faith in the blood atonement and who speak in tongues, would never be so deceived as to support the Antichrist world system. Oh no? Have you heard the Charismatic evangelists of the past ten or so years talk about God giving Christian people the wealth of the world? If you believe this is the Spirit of God prophesying through these evangelists, then you have been deceived along with them.
Antichrist is self-will in the political arena. The False Prophet, who will support Antichrist, is self-will in the spiritual area.
“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” The Statements of Faith of Fundamentalist denominations contain truth: “Christ died for our sins. Christ rose from the dead. Christ is coming again.” These statements are true.
However, I do not believe acknowledging these facts saves us, nor does not loving them cause us to perish.
I am not implying that we can reject Christ and be saved.
Think about this for a moment: The demons know that Christ died for our sins. The demons know that Christ rose from the dead. The demons know that Christ is coming again, and they tremble. They know He is the “Holy One of God.” Yet the demons are not saved.
So the knowledge of theological facts does not save us, and it is not the rejection of these facts that causes us to perish. Do you remember the lady with the spirit of divination that followed Paul and his company, saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved”?
Was her statement correct? Absolutely! Why, then, did Paul cast the spirit out of her? If she was speaking truth, why did Paul act as he did?
So what is truth? Would Paul cast the truth out of someone?
Do you remember that the Jesus said to the Jews, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life; these are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life”?
There is no eternal life in the Scriptures as such. There is no eternal life in the facts presented in a Statement of Faith. I spoke about this previously.
“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” It is not our possession or rejection of theological facts that causes us to be saved or to perish, it is our love of Christ, who Himself is truth. Christ is not a set of facts; Christ is a Person.
Jesus Christ is Righteousness personified. If we truly love Him and have fellowship with Him, we behave in a righteous manner.
There are numerous members of Christian churches who subscribe to the facts of their denomination’s Statement of Faith. But they are filled with unbelief, bitterness, jealousy, spite, hatred, and every other evil work. They criticize their fellow believers, gossip, and slander, thus doing Satan’s work. But they believe in orthodox theological facts.
Now you tell me. Are they people of the light or people of the darkness? Is their fellowship with God or with Satan? Thus we are grossly deceived today about truth and faith. Isn’t it true that people sometimes reject Christ because of what they see in Christian people? Will people who believe the correct facts about Jesus Christ inherit the Kingdom of God even though their conduct is unrighteous?
I think I am correct in saying this issue needs to be brought to the attention of Christian leaders, because I believe we are deceived concerning the nature of salvation and the Kingdom of God.
God loves righteous behavior and hates wicked behavior. God does not love people who “believe” the facts of an orthodox Statement of Faith but who persist in wicked behavior. And history reveals that it is perfectly possible for people to subscribe to an orthodox Statement of Faith and behave wickedly.
For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie (II Thessalonians 2:11)
Notice the expression “the lie.” I think “the lie” is that God welcomes wicked people into His Kingdom.
I understand that prostitutes and thieves enter the Kingdom. But those who enter the Kingdom of God do not continue as prostitutes or as thieves. The point Jesus was making about them is that such people are quick to repent when they find the Lord. Thus they enter the Kingdom before religious people who are smug and arrogant.
If you want to believe the lie, then God will help you along by sending you a powerful delusion.
There are so many passages in the Bible that can be misconstrued if our heart is wrong and we are looking for an excuse to sin. Paul’s teaching concerning faith and works is an example of this. Personally, I believe the Holy Spirit deliberately inserted such traps so eternal life would be hidden from the wicked. It is why the Lord Jesus spoke in parables.
With the righteous the Lord is righteous, and with the crafty the Lord is crafty.
And so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (II Thessalonians 2:12)
Here we have it. The contrast is not between those who have believed the truth and those who have not believed the truth, but between those who have delighted in righteous behavior and those who have delighted in wickedness. The truth is revealed in righteous behavior and the lie is revealed in wicked behavior. The issue is that of righteous behavior and wicked behavior, not believing certain facts or disbelieving certain facts.
But isn’t our theological position important? Our theological position is important only as it actually brings us to Him who is Truth. Otherwise it is a breeding ground for religious pride, which always murders Christ.
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. (II Thessalonians 2:13)
Salvation comes through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. The sanctifying work of the Spirit occurs as we receive the Truth that Jesus is. The sanctifying work of the Spirit continues until, as Paul says, our entire spirit, soul, and body are blameless. We cannot enjoy the sanctifying work of the Spirit apart from the Truth that Jesus is
The great lie of current Christian teaching is that we can be saved and have fellowship with the Father and the Son, and yet behave wickedly because we have made a profession of belief in an orthodox Statement of Faith concerning Jesus Christ.
He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (II Thessalonians 2:14)
God called us to be saved through the process of sanctification and the belief of the truth. The true truth, not the false truth of the acknowledgment of theological facts concerning Christ, but the true truth—that which is Jesus Christ. He is the truth and the only truth.
The true truth brings us through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. We are saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The sanctifying work of the Spirit cleanses us from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
Now, here is something we must come to understand. It is the work of sanctification that is salvation. When we view dying and going to Heaven as salvation we simply cannot understand the Epistles. Salvation is not in dying and going to Heaven, salvation is in sanctification. Sanctification is the cleansing of us from the person and work of Satan. This is salvation.
The true Truth, which is Christ, always, always, always sanctifies us. The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth to save us from our sins, not in our sins. The Lord Jesus Christ was revealed in order to destroy the works of the devil, not forgive the works of the devil.
Going to Heaven has nothing to do with the program of redemption. The program of redemption restores to man that which he forfeited when he obeyed Satan. The program of redemption includes the destruction of the sinful nature; maturity in the ability to discern between good and evil and the willingness and strength to totally embrace the good and totally reject the evil; access to the Tree of Life; bodily immortality enjoyed in Paradise restored to the earth, and many more Divine blessings.
Physical death represents a defeat. Our stay in Heaven will last only until the Lord Jesus Christ returns from Heaven and installs His Kingdom on the earth.
The business at hand, that which the Holy Spirit is emphasizing in the present hour, is the destruction of our sinful nature. Until this takes place, we cannot gain immortality in the body. Jesus Christ came to restore immortality in our body, for it is that which was lost in Eden, along with the Presence of God, and Paradise. Until the sinful nature has been destroyed from us, we are not eligible for immortality. The cherubim and the flaming sword guard the Tree of Life until Christ removes the sin from us.
We will not perish but have everlasting life in our body, if we will press forward in Christ and attain to the resurrection from the dead.
“That you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When the Lord prayed He said that He has given us the glory that the Father has given Him. I want that glory, how about you? We need to pray every day that the Word of Christ may be fulfilled in us. As we pray this prayer, the Lord leads us to confess our sins and turn away from them, until we are eligible for the fullness of the Divine Glory.
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. (II Thessalonians 2:15)
There are Christians who believe there are oral traditions we should place on the same level as the Bible. We should regard them as the inerrant Word of God.
I cannot agree with this. Oral traditions are a “he said, she said.” They are not the same as the Bible. The Catholic oral traditions, for example, are not binding on us.
Sometimes teachers state that Paul had told the Thessalonians there would be a “pre-tribulation rapture,” and we are to read this oral tradition into the Books of First and Second Thessalonians. I have lived my entire Christian life by trusting in the inerrancy of the generally accepted translations of the Old and New Testaments. I simply do not trust any other body of knowledge as being the Word of God. I believe the Holy Spirit has made certain that the Bibles we have now are what God wants us to consider as His Word.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, Encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (II Thessalonians 2:16,17)
Grace is more than forgiveness. Grace gives us eternal encouragement and good hope.
Lately I have run across believers who teach that we never can meet the Lord’s standards. Rather, we are to do the best we can each day, and leave it up to the Lord to save us by His grace. However, Paul speaks of encouraging our heart and strengthening us in every good deed and word.
I believe I am correct when I state that the “do the best we can crowd” will never be overcomers. They are defeated before they begin, because they have no attainable goal. Their belief is we are to struggle each day to attain to the unattainable. “Everyone knows we can never come up to the Divine expectations, we are just to do the best we can.”
I see no such defeated attitude in the New Testament. Paul was pressing toward a goal. Paul did not say he would never get there!
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation include promises to the overcomers—to the conquerors, not to those who believe it is impossible to overcome through Christ.
I gain the impression this idea of trying to do good each day, knowing we never can please God perfectly and completely, may be widespread in Christian thinking. Let me say right now that anyone who believes like this will never gain victory over sin. Sin is too powerful, too prevalent in America, to approach it as though it is unconquerable. This individual will always feel guilty, never having the confidence of knowing he is pleasing God in every way.
Perhaps Christians always have believed in the defeated life. Perhaps now we are entering a new day in which the Spirit of God is telling us it is time to take the Kingdom. We are to be perfect every day, and we indeed can be through Christ.
This does not mean we have been made perfect all at once. It means rather that we are perfect for the day while we are traveling toward ultimate perfection. Because we have overcome today, we have a good conscience toward God, knowing He is entirely pleased with us.
Tomorrow is a new day, bringing new challenges to our peace and new grace with which to conquer every form of spiritual darkness that comes against us.
Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. (II Thessalonians 3:1)
This is something like we would say today, isn’t it. It shows us that the Apostles of Christ, even though they were assigned high ranks in the Kingdom of God, were just like you and me.
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. (II Thessalonians 3:2)
Paul had trouble with wicked people. The Bible says whoever departs from wickedness makes himself a prey. As long as we emphasize grace and going to Heaven we probably will not have much persecution. But when we begin to turn from wickedness and start behaving righteously, it is then that we will be persecuted.
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (II Timothy 3:12)
Satan could not care less about our talk concerning Heaven, the “rapture,” grace, unconditional love, eternal security. But when we become determined to shun wicked behavior and embrace the ways of righteousness, Satan becomes alarmed. He views the earth as his domain, and he insists that people behave in the manner he enjoys. He wants us to be rooms in which the demons can live and express their filthy nature.
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (II Thessalonians 3:3)
The fight against Satan is not one of power but of righteousness and truth. When we resist the devil he will flee from us. Our tendency is to rebuke the devil. The devil loves attention and sometimes interprets our rebukes as worship. Resisting the devil means we turn aside from sin, with the Lord’s help. Then the devil flees.
Satan has no power over us unless he can seduce us into sinning. Sometimes there are “doors” in our personality that make us vulnerable to Satan. As we pray and obey the Lord, the Holy Spirit will call our attention to those “doors” so we can confess them. Then God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. (II Thessalonians 3:4)
So many times it is taught that the only purpose of the commandments given to us by Jesus Christ and His Apostles is so we will see our need to be saved by grace. We cannot obey these commandments, it is maintained. They are in the New Testament only to show us our need of a Savior.
I don’t see this in Paul’s words above. Do you? It sounds as though he expects us to do what he said. “You will continue to do the things we command.” The current doctrine teaches us that we already are defeated. We cannot overcome sin. We cannot do what we have been commanded. We should do the best we can and hope God will have mercy on us.
This appears to be the prevalent view, and it is not scriptural. Christ and His Apostles gave us hundreds of commandments. We are to read the New Testament, and then look to the Lord to help us do what we have read.
There absolutely is no commandment in the New Testament that we cannot obey through the help of the Lord Jesus. To think otherwise is to be a defeated Christian.
Is God such a poor father that He would tell us to do something we cannot possibly do, even with His help? Is God glorified when we tell Him we cannot possibly do what He has commanded? Is God not rather glorified when we obey Him? Of course we cannot keep His commandments in our own strength because of our sinful nature. But when we call on Him, He gives us the necessary wisdom and strength so we can fulfill the commandment.
Christ told us to forgive those who harm us. Can we do this in our adamic nature? Many times we cannot. We have been wounded too deeply.
If we pray, can Christ give us enough grace to forgive those who have harmed us? Absolutely! And so with every other command.
I do not know where the idea was born that the purpose of the commandments is to show us we have to be saved by forgiveness because we can’t possibly do what Christ and His Apostles have commanded. Wherever it was born is closer to Hell than to Heaven!
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation set forth promises to the overcomer. What are we to overcome? We are to overcome the world, Satan, and our sinful nature. Can we overcome the world, Satan, and our sinful nature? Yes we can, through Jesus Christ.
Why would God set forth promises to the overcomers if no one can overcome? This makes sense?
But aren’t we automatically an overcomer when we accept Christ? Of course not. You know as well as I that there are Christians who have not overcome alcohol or drugs or fornication or bitterness or unforgiveness. Are they still Christians? Of course they are. Are they victorious saints? No, they are not. If the only Christians were the victorious saints, then there would be very few Christians in the world.
Does God love His defeated children? Of course He does.
But are there believers who actually overcome? Yes. Is it actually possible to overcome the darkness that comes against us until we emerge victorious in Christ? Of course. Otherwise there would be no such thing as an overcomer.
The Lord Jesus Christ had to overcome the world and Satan. And He did. He has promised that those who overcome as He overcame will sit with Him on His Throne.
Does this mean everyone who professes belief in Christ will sit on the throne with Him?
Of course not. It means everyone who lives in victory over the world, Satan, and his sinful nature will sit on the Throne of Glory with the Lord Jesus Christ.
I do not enjoy being so repetitive, but this false doctrine, that we are condemned to sin while we are in the world, is so pervasive in Christian thinking that the Christian churches, at least in America, do not have enough moral strength to affect our government to the extent that would be true were so many believers not living in defeat.
Hopefully in the near future the Lord Jesus through the Spirit of God will remove the veil of ignorance and confusion that hovers over Christian thinking, and the fresh winds of the New Testament will bring life into the churches that are feeble because of the poisonous traditions preached Sunday after Sunday.
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. (II Thessalonians 3:5)
“Christ’s perseverance.” That’s an unusual expression, isn’t it. I think Paul means for us to share in the patience that Christ has, and is part of His Kingdom. “The Kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.”
If you have been a Christian for any length of time you know of the many years in which it seems nothing is happening. Your prayers (some of them) don’t seem to be being answered. You are not being used by the Lord in any outstanding manner
Perhaps God has given you a vision or burden for what He wants you to do. You have prayed about this, and perhaps have made some moves that did not seem productive. So you are waiting for the Lord to interpret the burden He gave you.
It is in the period between the vision and the fulfillment of the vision that the saints are made. Let patience have its perfect work in you.
Jesus Christ is patiently waiting for His Bride to be made perfect, and for His Father to make His enemies a footstool for His feet. We are to wait with Him. If we do, He will guard us during the hour of temptation that is at hand.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. (II Thessalonians 3:6)
It is difficult for us to shun believers when they do not live as fervent Christians. Apparently there were believers in Thessalonica who imagined that the Lord would return at any moment, so they ceased working and went about talking about religious matters.
Going from place to place talking about religious matters usually is a destructive practice. If there is someone who spends large amounts of time talking to you, ask the Lord for wisdom. Tell them you have an appointment (you do—with the Lord). The Lord is going to hold us accountable for how we spend our time. Time lived on the earth is one of the talents the Lord has given us. We will understand this better after a while.
For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, Nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. (II Thessalonians 3:7,8)
The Bible principle is that those who labor in the Gospel should live by the Gospel. If a person is called to full-time ministry, it is only reasonable that he or she should be supported by those who are benefiting from his or her labors.
But apparently Paul, Silas, and Timothy were able to find employment, perhaps in tent making. They earned the money to pay for their food. By doing so they showed the believers in Thessalonica that hard work is an important aspect of Kingdom living.
We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. (II Thessalonians 3:9)
We who preach the Gospel must live the Gospel so other people can profit from our example. I think this is especially important in the case of young people. Whether they realize it or nor, their character is being formed by watching and listening to people whom they admire. It is utterly vain, foolish, and sinful for a minister of the Gospel to preach one kind of behavior and live another. He is wasting everyone’s time, including his own.
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (II Thessalonians 3:10)
This applies to us today. Every believer should work unless some form of disability dictates otherwise. Notice the sin of Sodom:
‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)
“Arrogant, overfed and unconcerned.” This sounds like many of the people of America, including some of the believers. American believers look forward to retirement so they can do nothing. People should be industrious until they are unable to function physically.
Sometimes believers with money waste God’s time by going on vacations, traveling here and there, doing this and that, because they have the money to do so. The money they have and the time they have are talents given to them from the Lord. If they do not spend every day doing something of profit for the Kingdom, even if it is that of taking needed rest, they will be held to strict account for their indolence by the Lord Jesus.
They are wicked, lazy servants. Their talents shall be take from them and given to someone more industrious. Their rightful place is the outer darkness.
Those who do not work do not eat. This is a Kingdom rule.
We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. (II Thessalonians 3:11.12)
This is the “housetop” syndrome, so called because of believers who at various times in history have stood on their roof waiting for the Lord to come. Today we have people jumping up and down at their pews in preparation for the “rapture.”
Books have been written giving the date for the “rapture.” The authors have become wealthy. The Christian bookstores, not having any sense of accountability, have made profit. The believers have been titillated, making preparations for their flight, looking for an unbeliever to take care of their pets after they are gone.
Jumping up and down at our pew in the expectation of being caught up to Paradise immediately is more fun than working hard.
We have been commanded to keep our mind on heavenly things. When we do this in the way God desires, we work all the harder so we may please the Lord Jesus who is in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. Apparently Paul’s statements about the coming of the Lord, as recorded in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, had resulted in a careless attitude toward the earthly responsibilities of the Thessalonian believers.
To spend hours on the telephone chatting about this and that, whether the subject is the coming of the Lord or something else, is not of God but is sinful. We redeem the time by performing work that will be of benefit to people.
Sometimes fervent believers are seduced into spending several hours a day in reading the Scriptures or praying. There is a “deliciousness” in this kind of activity. Unless God specifically directs, such activity is a deception and perhaps a form of passivity.
As a pastor, I counsel young people not to go into a closet, fast, and pray for direction, but to ask the Lord to guide them and then find something useful to do. If they truly commit their way to the Lord, He will guide them. Satan often takes advantage of zealous believers and leads them into religious efforts that are not productive but succeed only in making them feel spiritually superior.
Remember, we cannot force God to speak, to work miracles, or to do anything else. Our part is to be thankful and to courteously remind the Lord of our needs and requests. The answer will come, if we are patient and persistent, without our having to perform extraordinary actions.
We do not have to bombard Heaven with a cannon. God is a Gentleman, not some sort of religious formula we have to learn to manipulate.
And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. (II Thessalonians 3:13)
“Never tire of doing right” I think tiring of doing right is a main problem of the life of discipleship. We leave Egypt in the grand parade, as it were. There is the excitement of change. There is the hopeful expectation of a more pleasurable life in the future.
But life in the “wilderness” is not exciting and the years drag by. Nothing seems to be happening. We were so certain things would be better than they had been. And they are, we have to admit. But thirty years is a long time to keep plodding along with our eyes on the invisible. “Eyes on the invisible”—there is a contradiction in terms for us.
But it is the case. We are to keep looking to Jesus. And He is invisible.
So we ask ourselves in a given situation, “What would Jesus do?” We want to do what is right, as determined by the Bible and our conscience. But there are numerous pressures on us to do what is wrong.
We just have to get up in the morning and tell ourselves we are a Christian and are to act like a Christian. Every once in a while there is a break in the monotony and we are renewed.
When I got up this morning I had a strong impression that an angel was with me. I get impressions of various things once in a while. Usually when I “see” an angel (which is not often) it is because some kind of change is coming. So we will see what happens
Most of the time we are to keep plugging along, plugging along, never tiring of doing what is right, without any appearing of angels or anything else of unusual interest.
If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. (II Thessalonians 3:14,15)
What do you do when a friend, whom you have had Christian fellowship with for a number of years, begins to lose his or her passion for Jesus. Paul says not to associate with him or her. This is not easy. Yet the individual may tear you down spiritually, especially by criticizing members of the church.
I do not have an easy solution for you other than to pray; pray; pray. David and Jonathan are separated. One person has been appointed to a certain destiny and another person to a different destiny. We cannot control this.
It is best, I guess, to not get too close to anyone except the Lord. Then if the individual begins to take another direction we will not be destroyed but keep on pressing forward in Christ.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (II Thessalonians 3:16)
Here is a blessing for us to bestow on our loved ones, and especially the members of our church.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write. (II Thessalonians 3:17)
It sounds as though Paul dictated this letter to someone who wrote it down. Then Paul added the benediction in his own hand, in a kind of handwriting that would be familiar to the believers in Thessalonica.
Perhaps Paul already was having problems with his eyesight so that his handwriting was unusual. It may be true also that other people were writing letters to the churches, claiming to be the Apostle Paul.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. (II Thessalonians 3:18)
Grace—the Presence of God in Christ enabling us to fulfill all of God’s pleasure in our personality and behavior.
(“The Book of Second Thessalonians”, 3410-1)