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2nd Thessalonians 1:1-13
2nd Thessalonians 2:6-12
2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17

 

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2nd Thessalonians 1:1-13

 

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:  grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are bound to thank God always from you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:  which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:  seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.  Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:  that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

“2nd Thessalonians, probably written about a year after 1st Thessalonians, probably one of the earliest epistles written by Paul, if not the two earliest.  This church was facing adversity.  Paul wrote the first letter, and evidently he gets word that these Christians there, first of all, had some questions and are troubled by some particular things.  And he gets the report of the persecution they’re enduring.  Evidently there were zealous Jews who were part of the reason for Paul being driven out of Thessalonica that were still there stirring up trouble.  And there were also those of the Gentiles that lived there, that were hostile to the Gospel of Christ.  And this young church, he had only been there three weeks, three Sabbaths it says, before he was driven out.  [Comment:  If Paul used the term Sabbath to mark weekly time, it meant they were observing the Sabbath in the early New Testament churches of God under Paul.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm.]  Remarkable to see what’s happening, the work of the Holy Ghost in the midst, without Paul being there.  No doubt he has great love for this church.  So he’s writing to this church about the problems that they’re facing.  Now, one of the things that’s troubling them, and it’s interesting, because he’s going to mention “charity” [Greek: Agape,’ God’s agape-love], love and faith in these first few verses, like he does in the first epistle.  But in the first epistle, he mentions faith, hope, and love.  And he leaves out hope here, because their hope is straining at this point in time, because there evidently had been letters written that were counterfeit, that supposedly had come from Paul the apostle, saying that they had entered into the Great Tribulation, into the Day of the Lord.  And they were relating their persecution and their hardship to the fact that they thought ‘This is going on everywhere in the Roman Empire,’ you know, they didn’t have CNN to watch, or Fox News, they couldn’t get a fax from somebody, they couldn’t get online.  So if they heard a rumour, ‘This is happening everywhere in the known world now,’ they felt, ‘Well, where’s the hope that Paul told us about?  Where’s the coming of the Lord for his Bride?  Why are we all of a sudden in this situation, what’s happening?’  So Paul will leave out that word “hope” in the beginning, and as he gets to the second chapter he’ll talk to them about the situation, and where they really stand. 

 

Who, What Is The Church?

 

So he begins now addressing this young, persecuted Thessalonian church.  “Paul, and Silvanus (whose Silas) and Timotheus (who is Timothy) unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:  grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (verses 1-2)  Now, addressing those who were in God and Christ, that’s the only Church, by the way, the Church that’s in God and in Christ.  The Ecclesia, the Called Out Ones, the Church is not the building.  When you’re not here during the week, this is not church, this is an old warehouse that’s been renovated and it’s empty.  It’s a church when you’re here, because you’re the Church.  It doesn’t matter what denomination or what title’s on the door, it’s only the people in the building who are really born-again who are the Church.  The Church is in God, no matter what denominational title hangs over it.  If we’re not really saved, we’re not really born-again, then we’re not really part of the Church [the greater Body of Christ].  He’s writing to this Thessalonian church, he says that’s “in God and in Christ, and so are our brothers and sisters around the world, whatever title they come under. 

 

Peace, Faith And Agape-love In The Midst Of Trial

 

“Grace unto you, and peace,” which is his normal greeting.  And you know, it’s interesting, Paul is certainly someone who can say to them, ‘Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,’ because Paul, by this time, and we don’t have all of the details, but we know from Corinthians, he talks about things he had already suffered before we get to the end of the Book of Acts, where we see him in the hurricane [out at sea, not a nice place to be in a hurricane] and the shipwreck and so forth.  In Corinthians he tells us about all the shipwrecks he had already been in, and all the beatings he had already taken, all the things he had already been through.  And yet Paul knew that in the middle of all of those difficult circumstances, God’s grace was not absent, and God’s peace was still accessible.  And I’m telling you that because Paul said it, not because I know it, because I’m a wimp.  I’m still learning “Peace 101.”  He had his PhD in “peace,” Paul.  But he’s writing to this young Thessalonian church who was surviving in the middle of all of this, and telling them God’s grace, he doesn’t hesitate to give the same greeting that he does to other churches that are in less of a trial, and less tribulation at this point in time.  “Grace unto you, and peace,” because he knows that even in the most difficult of circumstances, because he has been there.  It’s not empty verbiage, “grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet [fitting],” there’s a right way to do it, Paul’s not snowing them or puffing them up to take an offering when he gets there.  He’s not giving them a bunch of nonsense here to soften them up for some triple-tithe Sunday or something.  “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet” as it’s fitting, the proper way, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity [agape-love] of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;” (verse 3)  Now, this is remarkable in a situation where they’re being persecuted.  Because he’s saying “Your faith groweth exceedingly”, and he uses a word that speaks of unusual growth here.  The one word is speaking of the growth you would see in a plant, to watch something grow, but he’s using a word where that’s extensive, ‘You’re growing exceedingly, in the middle of these difficult circumstances, we’re seeing this tremendous growth,’ and  Paul says ‘because of that we thank God.’  Because I believe his heart would have been broken if he had heard the church was crumbling, was falling apart, people are turning away, they can’t take the pressure, they’re wondering.  But Paul says ‘We hear your faith is growing exceedingly, because of that we are bound to give thanks for what’s going on there,  and the love every one of you has for one another,  your charity [agape-love] is abounding.’  And he prayed in his first epistle to them that their love [agape-love] would abound.  Now we hear that that’s happening.  And interestingly, that’s happening in the most difficult of circumstances.  And to me, as I think about that, that is a mark of maturity.  You know, it’s easy for us to love the lovable.  And it’s easy for us to love when everything’s going great in our lives.  But for our love and our faith to be growing exceedingly and our love to be abounding when we are being persecuted, and we feel we’re at the wrong end of things, when we’re feeling ‘Why would a God who loves us would allow these things to happen in our lives?’ gives evidence of great maturity.  And in case you don’t know, the Bible is clear that bitterness and unforgiveness, and anger, and seething, they’re all marks of carnality, and the lack of the Holy Spirit.  And I see people that are not willing to forgive, they grind, they seethe, they hold a grudge, there’s bitterness.  Those are not the things that characterize Christ.  Love believes all things, hopes all things, it bears all things, it thinks the best, it’s the very nature of Christ. [This agape-love he’s talking about can be studied in far greater detail at http://www.unityinchrist.com/Agape/Agape%20I.htm.]  And this young church, under adverse circumstances, it’s a great church, great church.  It’s growing in faith exceedingly, and abounding in love.  That’s the kind of church I always want to come to, when it’s abounding in love.  And you know, I think difficulty certainly opens up those channels between one another.  I see folks here who are widows, who have both lost a husband within the last two years, I see what happens when they see one another.  Before they can say anything in the English language, the tears come, and they run to each other and embrace each other, because they know, they know.  ‘We know, don’t we, we know.’  And love is abounding there.  And folks that have been through difficulty, you see people come up on Sunday and say ‘I need prayer, I have cancer,’  and I’ll say that’s interesting, you have somebody right here, and they have cancer too, and you’ll see them begin to talk, and the next thing you know, they’re embracing, the tears are flowing, so many times in difficulty, love abounds, love abounds.  And that’s what was happening in this church.  And I think it’s a great testimony to them.  “your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity [agape-love] of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.” (verses 3b-4)  ‘We brag about you, you’re a church that’s surviving.  When other organizations would disintegrate, instead of that, you’re abounding, you’re growing, you’re becoming stronger, and we brag on you guys when we go somewhere.  ‘Those Thessalonians, what a great group, they’re growing, they’re strong, they’re abounding.’’  [Comment:  Notice Paul used the term “in the churches of God”.  This was the official name by which most of the true apostolic churches Paul founded were known by, the churches of God.]  But you notice, he didn’t mention “hope.”  He mentioned “faith” and “love” as he goes through here, and he’ll come to their “hope.”  And he says ‘Your patience and your faith are there, and it is evident in the middle of your persecutions and your tribulations that you endure.’  And again, the tribulum in Latin, the tribulation, the tribulum was the part of the threshing sled that was drug over the grain that separated the wheat from the chaff, the tribulation that is governed by the Lord and allowed in our lives, has purpose, and it separates in our lives the wheat from the chaff, and it leaves what’s pure, and it lets the wind blow away the chaff of religiosity and it leaves what is real and endures.  So Paul says, as he looks, he sees the chaff blowing away, but he sees the patience and the faith of their lives being made evident in tribulation, in the tribulations and persecutions which they were enduring.

 

This Is A Moral Universe:  You Reap Faith and Agape-love For Your Tribulation, Those That Trouble You Reap What They Sow, Trouble

 

And he says ‘the fact that you’re enduring this,’ Which is a manifest token of righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:” (verse 5)  I’ll read verse 5, but I’ve got to read down a few verses so you understand what he’s saying here.  “seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,” (verses 6-7)  So, he says, ‘The fact that you are enduring in very difficult circumstances, and that you have patience and faith, you’re enduring in the middle of all this, is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, upholding some and condemning others.’  That God looks at your circumstances, and his grace is there, he’s upholding you, and the manifest token of that is we see patience and faith in the middle of very difficult circumstances [see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/psalms/Psalm3…].  But that same judgment, he says, will be exercised in another direction against those who are troubling and persecuting you, because what they sow is what they will also reap.  And this is a moral universe, because God is governing.  And we often sit around and think ‘This is not fair, and this is not fair, and why is this happening?’  And Paul is saying, ‘No, in the middle of all of this, the fact that you have the strength to carry on without completely disintegrating is a manifest token of God’s righteous judgment, because he is upholding you in all of this, and that same judgment will be directed at those who persecute and trouble you, who reject Christ, when they are judged.’  And God is not working with unjust balances or weights, he condemns that all through the Scripture.  So, the fact that we’re standing up under difficult circumstances, that’s not something we can say, ‘Well, you know, its my maturity.  I been readin’ the Bible for 30 years, I pray every mornin’ for five minutes, and got my little breadbasket on the table, and that’s why I’m so strong.’  You can find out tomorrow that was a bunch of nonsense.  It’s grace [through the power given to us through his indwelling Holy Spirit], except for his grace, there go I.  If we have strength in our lives, it’s his Spirit.  If we stand, it says, in persecution, it’s because, it says, ‘because the Spirit of glory is abiding upon us, from Christ.’  It has nothing to do, we are as dependent in the next trial, upon the Lord Jesus, as we were dependent on him in the trial we went through today.  It isn’t like ‘trial 101 is down, my strength is come up to here, and tomorrow’s trial 102 comes, and I need this much…’  No, each day we are just as dependent, to be dependent on Christ, and to stand, yes, in the power of his Spirit, and because of his Word.  But he says it’s a manifest token of God’s righteous judgment that you’re enduring, and that also he will deal with those who are troubling you [ie, from 1st Thessalonians 5:15, “Render no one evil for evil”, ie, God will take care of it, as he says somewhere else, “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord, I will repay.”  It’s not ours, it’s his responsibility to repay.]  ‘It is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God,’ “that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:  seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us” (verses 5b-7a) 

 

There Are Two Sources For Tribulation, Two Kinds

 

Now it’s interesting, one thing you ought to take note of here, Jesus said in this world you will have tribulation.  There are two different sources for the tribulation that we see here, there’s one tribulation the Church is experiencing, and that’s coming from the world, the flesh and the devil, the hostility, from Satan, from persecution, from stirring people against the Church, that’s a source of tribulation.  But it says, God is going to pay back tribulation to them, so there is another source of tribulation, that comes from his throne, which the Church has nothing in [ie, is not included in], because we’re washed in the blood of Jesus.  The tribulation that comes from his throne has nothing to do with us.  When that first Seal is opened, and the white horse begins to ride forth, deception begins to overtake the world, that Tribulation is from a different source than the tribulation that you and I experience every day, presently.  So, “seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;” (verse6) and this is a righteous thing, it’s not ‘God’s really angry, you ticked him off, you’re on the wrong side of him, he’s gonna crush you into meeces and pieces,’  it’s not that kind of human stuff, it’s a righteous thing with God, to recompense, to pay back what is just. “tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us,” that’s going to be our payment, “rest with us,”    So God ultimately will pay back to the unbeliever, to the persecutor tribulation and trouble.  [Comment: And often times we can see this happening in this life.  Hindus had killed a bunch of new-believing Christians in south India, who had been discipled by seeing the JESUS Film.  Shortly afterward, a huge typhoon stuck that same area, killing a bunch of Hindus.  The surviving Hindus were heard to be remarking that the typhoon had been the righteous judgment of God for their persecution of those Christians.  And some of those Hindus came to faith in Jesus Christ as a direct result of God’s righteous judgment.  And they all, in that area of devastation, stopped persecuting the Christians.  God does often repay in this evil world, when his kids are hurt and persecuted.  But it’s as a loving parent discipling a misbehaving child.]   And to us, his payment, rest.  Isn’t that what we’re waiting for, rest?  I don’t know about you guys, I like rest.  I love the Christmas holidays because I didn’t do anything, I rested.  I sat in my living room, in a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt, watched football [watching men brutalize each other J], slept, ate, watched football, slept, ate, watched basketball, slept, ate.  Just with my kids, my family, my wife, it was wonderful, rest. It’s as good as it gets in this world, the fellowship we have with one another, in our families with one another.  There’s a day coming when there’s going to be rest, no sorrow, no suffering, no disease, no death, no pain, no sorrow, no tears, rest. Man, oh man.  I’m looking forward to that, just stepping into, you know, we hear of heaven, we hear of glory, all of these other terms that define our inheritance and what it will be like to step through the vial into God’s presence.  But here Paul call’s it rest.  I like that. [Comment:  Just think of what the Wedding Feast of the Lamb will be like, with all the saints, lasting anywhere from 7 years to four months, depending on which interpretation of prophecy turns out to be correct, except not needing to sleep, we’ll be eating, fellowshipping, eating, fellowshipping, getting to know many, many saints, and Jesus, on a personal level, face to face, that will be glorious rest.  And then after the Wedding Feast, we’ll all accompany Jesus Christ back down to earth, where we’ll rule with him as kings and priests for 1,000 years, ruling over mankind, spiritually nurturing them into the Kingdom of God (cf. Revelation 19:7-10, 11-21; Zechariah 14:1-15; Revelation 20:1-6; 5:9-10).  Then we with Christ will usher the world into a period of rest during his Millennial reign on earth (see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm.  Then after this glorious period of worldwide rest, God will make new heavens, and a new earth, and the New Jerusalem, bearing God’s very throne, and the Sea of Glass, will come down to rest in the Middle East, and that will be our home, the residence and our many mansions Jesus spoke of.  Earth will essentially become the Headquarters planet of the universe, a place of eternal rest and peace in the presence of God (cf. Revelation 21:1-23).  Hebrews 4 talks about entering into God’s rest, it’s a pretty big theme throughout the Bible.]  I’m looking forward to that.  It’s not that I’m lazy or a bum or anything, just I’m looking forward to that rest, you know, it’s emotional rest, spiritual rest, physical rest, it’s rest.  It’s what we’ve been looking for and been longing for, but what we can’t find here.  It’s the city that Abraham looked for, and he never found it here in this world, it’s what we all long after, it’s when we step into there and step into heaven, the streets of gold, the walls of jewels, the presence of the Lord is there [ie the New Jerusalem].  When we get there, we say, ‘Yeah, this is, this is what I was made for.  Every color is the color I’ve been waiting to see.  Every sound here is the sound that I’ve been waiting to hear.  Every thing I see is what I’ve been looking for my whole life.  The temperature here is the temperature I’ve been waiting, my wife, we’ve been arguing over the thermostat for years, now there’s no thermostat, this is wonderful!  [laughter]  This is the temperature I’ve been waiting for.  These are the things I’ve wanted to smell.  I’m at rest.  I’m where I was made for.’  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Revelation%20%2021-22.htm.]  It is the manifest token of God’s equity, that he will give to us who have believed and trusted in him, rest, and to those who have rejected and persecuted, what they’ve sown, tribulation, trouble. 

 

Not Obeying The Gospel, What Is That?---Churches Flourish Under Persecution

 

Verse 7, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (verses 7-9)  How do you “obey” the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Obey?  How do you obey Good News?  That’s what the Gospel means, Good News.  That God is going to have to deal justly with those who have not obeyed the Good News, the Good News that God has sent his only Son to die in our place, so that when we die, we can enter into his forgiveness, we can enter into heaven [ie the kingdom of heaven, the New Jerusalem, which will end up on earth, as Scripture shows].  That’s “obey the Gospel.”  You know, when we go through the Gospels we talk about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, the unpardonable sin, well there’s only one sin that’s unpardonable, that’s not accepting Christ as Saviour, that’s not obeying the Gospel.  Every other sin is pardonable.  I know, because I had a stack of them, and they’re all gone, washed in the blood of the Lamb, they’re gone.  Every sin is pardonable but the sin of not accepting Christ as Saviour.  And God says he’ll be just when he deals with those who know not God.  It doesn’t say they haven’t heard, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, it doesn’t say they haven’t heard.  God is so gracious.  You know how years ago, China turned to Communism, and the major changes that took place, pastors being killed, missionaries being thrown out, evangelists being put to death.  And there are more Christians in China today than anywhere in the world.  Chuck [Smith] met with Mama Quan two years ago, and she told Chuck that there are close to over a million and a half home-churches that are known, house-churches, in China.  And Mama Quan told Chuck, and this is just for us this evening, that there are over 1 million house-churches in China that consider themselves Calvary Chapels.  [Wonder if the Internet had something to do with that?]  Our brothers and sisters, that we should be praying for.  So God can get to everyone.  God’s not going to be unjust or unfair, when he sends off those who know not God, who refuse the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Because in the darkest and most kept places, there are churches that are flourishing.  In Thessalonica where the church is being persecuted, it was flourishing.  You know, you’re sitting here this evening, if you don’t know Christ, God’s gonna say to you, ‘Wait a minute, you had heat, you had light, you had a PA system, you had a band, you had a guy in a Hawaiian shirt because you’d never listen to a pastor or a priest, so I did everything I could to get the Gospel to you,’ so you’d better listen tonight if you don’t know Jesus Christ, because this is the night for you to come to know Christ as your Saviour, I’m sure. 

 

God Is Going To Right The Balances

 

‘They know not God, they obey not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,’ Verse 9, “who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (verses 9-10)  So, ‘Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction.’  Now, I’m not a morbid guy.  And I wish that the punishment was not everlasting, but it is. And God is wiser than I am.  And there are those in the Church, and in seminaries today, who have been respected for years, that are embracing annihilationism, that hell is not real, and that when the unbeliever dies, they’re annihilated---because they go back to a verse in the Gospels that says, ‘fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.’  Well that’s not what that verse is teaching at all, and throughout the New Testament and throughout the Gospels Jesus himself tells us that you and I are eternal.  We’re not just this stuff.  This is the space-suit.  And we look at each other, and we judge each other, the color of our skin, the colors we wear, we spend a lot of time on this space-suit.  We take it to the gym, we feed it health-food, we buy it juicers, we give it vitamins, we get it nipped and tucked.  You know, there’s no excuse for a bad looking space-suit these days, you can do all kinds of things to it [unless you’re retired on a fixed income, then it looks like an old wrinkled space-suit that nobody wants J], the carcass.  That’s not what we are.  This is just what I wear.  I don’t wear Hawaiian shirts, I wear this [he’s slapping his chest], and I’m inside, the spirit, eternal.  And so are you.  You will spend eternity somewhere, separated from the Lord, or in his presence.  Those who receive not God’s forgiveness, ‘If God’s a God of love, how can he send people to hell?’---no, no, no, it says here they won’t receive it.  It says here they don’t want to be in his presence.  He will give them their way.  I think it was Moody that used to say “Any human being that goes to hell is a trespasser, because hell was created for Satan and his angels.”  That’s not what human beings are intended for.  But there are those who are deliberately turning away from Christ, they don’t want to hear anything.  And look at what society is doing today, what our legislators are doing, we have these words like “inclusive” and all this stuff going on around us.  No, no, the Good News has not changed in 2,000 years, anybody in this room, anybody in this city, anybody in this country and anybody in this world, healthy or poor, rich, famous, sick, any condition, no matter what sin they’ve committed, how terrible their life has been, anybody anywhere can receive the love of God, and complete forgiveness through Jesus Christ, who is the Saviour of mankind.  And that is great news.  [applause]  And we’re hearing so many different things, so many things contrary to that.  And for those who deliberately refuse and reject, grieving the Holy Spirit, Jesus said when the Holy Spirit when he comes would convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.  I know before I was saved, I was arguing, like Saul of Tarsus, kicking against the goads.  I knew God was dealing with me.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant, and I liked arguing with Christians when they tried to witness to me.  In fact, I was happiest when I got one of them mad.  But I was grinding inside, because God was wearing me down with his love, and he was hounding me and hounding me and hounding me.  The same way any parent would with a prodigal or a child they loved, warning, drawing, warning, drawing, loving, extending, warning.  And he’s doing that today, he’s doing that in this world.  But there will be those who will continue to refuse, ‘I don’t want nothing to do with you God, I don’t want to have anything to do with a Saviour, your Bible,’ and finally God will say ‘Alright,’ and they will have nothing to do with it, and they’re falling into outer darkness.  Remember when you were a little kid, did you ever see a baby do this, all of a sudden they start to doze off and suddenly go like this, because they start to fall.  Well the falling will never end, and it will be a falling away from God into darkness, where the fire is not quenched, the worm dieth not.  They’re falling away.  And the Bible teaches clearly, there is eternal punishment.  Not my idea, not my invention [comes straight out of Roman Catholicism though].  But I would be remiss to try to soften that.  And I would be, I wouldn’t be worth my salt, because this is what the Bible clearly teaches.  And Christ talked of hell more than he talked of heaven, because of his love, because of his concern for mankind, so that they would turn. [This is according to Pastor Joe’s and Calvary Chapel’s interpretation.  There are other interpretations as well about hell, our space-suits and what we are.  To read some, in this secondary area of Bible interpretation, see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.  The annihilationist interpretation has some merit.  But in the long run, like all interpretations based on prophecies on the subject of Gehenna-hellfire, which at the very least are a thousand years out into the future, we are looking through a prophetically darkened glass as the apostle Paul said, which makes all these interpretations secondary, and we’ll learn for sure at the return of Jesus.]  So Paul says here, to these persecuted Christians, ‘You know, God is going to right the balances, I know that you’re struggling, I know that you’re wondering ‘Where is his love?’, I know you’re wondering ‘Why is he letting all this happen?’, I know that life’s circumstances can be painful.  But you know, we brag on you because we hear in the middle of everything that your faith is growing exceedingly, your love towards one another continues to abound, and we tell other churches.  And the fact that you’re surviving in the middle of all this, that you’re enduring, your faith is growing, is a manifest token of his righteous judgment.  He’s upholding you because you’re in Christ, and he will deal justly someday, there isn’t anything unfair going on.  One day those who have troubled you and persecuted you will receive what they’ve sown.’  But none of us should ever glory in that.  You know, we should work with tears, and the last bit of our strength to see that last person come to Christ.  When you think of the most terrible person, a murderer, these snipers that killed so many people [DC snipers incident] around Washington, as terrible as what they did, I could not wish to see one of them go to hell, because that is eternal.  That’s more than we could ever imagine.  And it’s a great truth, to stand behind us and fuel our genuineness and sincerity, to see human beings, which are worth everything to God Almighty, for which he gave his own Son, to see human beings escape that and come into the light, and to be washed in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, freely, without deserving it, without working for it, by faith, by faith.  “who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (verses 9-10)  He’s not just coming to get the bad guys, ‘he’s coming to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired, that word is much stronger, kind of means “to be wondered at, to stand around in awe and wonder”, in all them that believe, because our testimony among you was believed, in that day.’   So, he’s coming, and when that happens, he knows that he’s going to be glorified in---now this is not an ego thing, that he just wants us all there to go ‘Ohh, glorified,’---no, it’s to the praise of the glory of his grace, it says in Ephesians.  He will appear to us, the first time we see him in heaven, you look in the  Book of Revelation chapter 5, not as King, if it was an ego thing…no, he appears as a Lamb with the marks of slaughter upon him.  In fact, 28 times in the Book of Revelation, Jesus is dictating the Book of Revelation to John on Patmos, and the most favorite name he uses to describe himself in the Book of Revelation is “the Lamb of God,” and he uses that 28 times in the Book of Revelation, the Lamb of God---The Revelation of Jesus Christ, the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.  What a sight that will be.  And certainly when we see it, then we will glorify him, that sinners like you and I, there saved around his throne in glory, then we will wonder, we’ll be standing there, ‘Wake up, we need to sing the next song,’ we’ll just be in awe.  Just imagine. 

 

God Can’t Wait To Bless Us

 

“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.” (verse 11)  Paul came back down to earth a little bit now.  He just wanted God to keep his hand on them through all of this, ‘this is the ultimate, you know you’re called to be an evangelist, called to be pastor, called to be a missionary, called to be a mom, called to be a dad, called to be a truck driver, called to be a computer technician,’ but ultimately, we’re called to an Image.  Our ultimate destination is not just a place, it’s an Image, to stand around his throne, conformed to the image of Christ, wondering, standing in awe, ‘wherefore God, we pray that God would count you worthy of this calling.’  Number 2, “to fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:”  So it is the good pleasure of his will, of his goodness, that he just can’t wait to blow our minds and bless us.  Jesus, in John 17:24, said ‘Father, I will that those that you’ve given me be with me where I am, that they may behold the glory that I had with thee before the foundation of the world.’  Jesus is the only one that can ever say that.  No one else could say that.  Even when he prayed in Gethsemane, he prayed ‘Not my will, but thy will be done.’  But the one time in the Gospels, in all four Gospels, there is one time when Jesus Christ exerts his own will towards the Father, and it is when he said, ‘Father, I will that those that thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold the glory that I had with you before the foundation of the world.  Father, this is what I want.  I want them all home, and all together.  No tears, no sorrow, I want them to be behold the glory that I had with you before the foundation of the world.’  And it says that here. [Comment:  This period of standing in awe around his throne at the Sea of Glass will probably be at the Wedding Feast, talked of in Revelation 19:7-10.  After this period of time, we accompany Jesus back down to earth to take out the Beast power, allied to the armies of the world, who have gathered together to fight the Lord at his return.  This event is pictured in Zechariah 14:1-15.  From that point on we will be ruling with Jesus Christ as kings and priests under him, ruling the surviving world for 1,000 years.  And then at the end of the Millennial period, our real and future home, the New Jerusalem, comes to earth, there to reside forever, cf. Revelation 21:1-23, as previously pointed out.]  “that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:  that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (verses 11-12)

 

2nd Thessalonians 2:1-5

 

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.  Let no man deceive you by any means:  for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

 

The Day of the Lord

 

Counterfeit, False Letters Sent To Them In Paul’s Name

 

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” (verses 1-2)  Is, present, it is come, the day of Christ.  The term in the Old Testament was “the Day of the Lord.”  I’m not going to make a big differentiation between those, in the New Testament, Christ is the LORD, Jesus Christ the Lord.  The day of Christ is the day of the LORD.  And the idea is, the Day of the LORD begins with his coming for the Church, “our gathering unto him,”  There’s certain things that will take place when the Day of Christ occurs, the Day of Christ goes from the Rapture [1st Resurrection] of the Church to the end of the Millennium, that’s the Day of Christ, the Day of the LORD.  It encompasses all, an array of remarkable things when humans will no longer be in control, but he has taken the steering wheel, and we leave the driving to him.  It’s the day of the LORD.  And here he’s saying to these Thessalonians, ‘Look, I don’t want you shaken, you know, your faith and your love are in place, but your hope, I don’t want you shaken, because I’m begging you in regards to all of this, by the coming of the Lord, and by our gathering to him, it isn’t just that he’s coming to earth to set up his Kingdom, that’s the expectation of every Jew [and it will happen, but after the Wedding Feast], the Messiah was [and is] coming, to set up his Kingdom on the earth, every man will sit beneath his vine and his fig tree.’  The apostles didn’t understand what he was saying when he said, ‘Let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me, in my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you.  But lo, I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, you may be also.’ That was a completely new concept for a Jew.  ‘You’re coming to set it up here, now you’re saying you’re coming to take us to the place you’re preparing for us there.’  This is something different, something for the Church. [Comment:  And those many mansions are contained within the New Jerusalem, which comes to earth after Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom of God rule on earth.  But at the Wedding Feast we the saints will be transported to the New Jerusalem, the place where God’s throne is, with the Sea of Glass (wherever that is).  When you put all the prophecies about this event and the Sea of Glass together, coupled to the 2nd coming prophecies, this is what transpires.  Many Christians, not putting all the prophetic pieces of the puzzle together properly, have formed fuzzy and perhaps inaccurate interpretations that make it look like we go to heaven when we die, ever to remain there with the Lord.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Calvary Chapels are getting closer to the truth and proper interpretation here than most other groups.]  John’s Gospel was written to the Church.  The other three Gospels, you read Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 it talks about the coming of Christ to earth [i.e. the Jewish hope, the hope of Israel].  The Gospel of John, written to the Church, talks about the coming of Christ for the Church, to take the Church with him.  That’s his teaching on the 2nd coming for the Church.  And it says that here.  “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”  (verses 1-2)  Evidently someone was prophesying in their church [falsely, obviously], and by some false epistle, letter that supposedly came from the apostles.  Don’t believe this, he said “Let no man deceive you by any means:  for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” (verse 3) 

 

Two Major Events Mark The Beginning Of The Day Of The LORD

 

The idea is certainly here, “for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away” and it’s a definite article, “the falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so the he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.  Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” (verse3-5)  Now Paul says this, ‘Don’t let anybody trouble you that the Day of the Lord is present, because it can’t come unless there are these signatures that tell us the Day of the Lord has begun.  There will be “the” falling away.’  Now, some stretch that to say…that it’s a reference to the Rapture, and that it talks about there has to be first, the standing away from, and even Wiess does that, from Moody Bible Institute, and I think that’s stretching the text.  I don’t think we have to do that, that’s wrestling the text.  I think the Scripture is clear that in the last days there’s going to be an apostasy, apostasia, standing away from the Faith.  Paul writes Timothy, ‘Also in the last days, perilous times shall come, men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,’ sounds like the news, ‘without natural affection,’ sounds like the news, ‘trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof, from such turn away.’  I mean, we’re warned in 1st and 2nd Timothy, from Peter and so forth, that the last days will be marked by a falling away from the Faith.  In fact, Jude, when he’s writing, he said, ‘I was going to write to you about our common faith, but the Holy Spirit placed on my heart that you would defend the faith that was once delivered unto the saints,’ because already that Faith was coming under attack.  [i.e. “the Faith” being the proper set of Bible beliefs that were intended to be the beliefs to be held by the Church, Body of Christ, as opposed to heretical beliefs.  Some of those heretical beliefs are even today woven into the current differing denominations that make up the Body of Christ, those heretical beliefs having come from the proto-Catholic Church during Constantine’s time, 325AD, and thereafter.  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm

 and http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm.]  In the Book of Revelation, 90AD to 100AD, the things that Jesus has to say to these seven churches, you see that there is already a stepping away in so many venues from the truth that had been given to the Church.  And it’s been a process.  But there will come a specific time of apostasy, a great deception.  And I don’t know what that will be exactly. 

 

The Times We Live In

 

If you read the statistics on denominations in America, it will stagger you.  Next time we get together I’ll pull one of those out.  It will tell you, you know, how many no longer believe in the virgin birth, they no longer believe the Bible is the Word of God, they no longer believe that Christ died and rose, they no longer believe that he’s returning.  They turn away from the Faith that was once delivered to the saints.  That’s what we believe.  We believe in a Jewish God, God sent a Jewish Messiah, of the tribe of Judah, that was born of a virgin, that came and died for our sins on a cross, and paid for them, he ascended, and he is returning---that’s my Jesus.  I don’t know what Jesus other people believe in, but that’s the Jesus of the Bible.  And there is a stepping away from that, mainline America, mainline denominational America is in a post-Christian era.  [Comment:  One of my best friends became an atheist, due to some serious nasty things done to him by some supposed Christians.  I have more respect for him than I have for those supposed Christians who have given up all the Bible doctrinal beliefs about Jesus, what the Bible teaches about him, defining true Christian beliefs, and yet appropriate his name, calling themselves Christians.  These folk are using the name of Christ improperly, and there will be a cost for that.]  That’s strange, here we are, we’re the Hippies in the meter factory and we’re more orthodox than most of the churches in the country, we’re living in a strange day, look around here, would you ever expect that?  We actually believe the Bible.  But there will be a greater apostasy, something staggering.  And I think that it will have to do with the antichrist, that apostasy and that man of sin being revealed, because the world’s going to wonder after him.  I mean, you watch the electoral process in America.  Somebody told me last week, ‘You know, Jesus is not a Democrat or a Republican,’ and I believe that.  But you watch the way our nation votes, it doesn’t vote on principle anymore, on morality, on truth, but we look around and see people saying, ‘Wait a minute, where’s the guy whose going to put money in my pocket?  Wait a minute, I need more of this, I need a Lexus, I need a boat, I need a house down on the shore, a house up in the mountains, I need a plane, I need ski’s, I need skullcaps, I need nips and tucks, I need three different skate boards, I need a motor-cycle,’ and you vote for, so much of America runs and forsakes so many things [of principle, moral issues and standards], and will pull the [voting] lever for their stomach, for their flesh.  Well imagine what will happen around the world.  You know, we’re at the top of the income bracket on earth.  We’re the top five percentile of the entire earth.  You have running water and refrigerators and antibiotics and food and clothes and a car, you’re at the top of the pile [to say nothing of all our toys and gadgets that work on electricity.  Want to see how the other 95 percent lives?  Pick a day, any day, go down cellar and turn off the main breaker in your fusebox for the house. If you have gas for hot water, shut off the hot-water heater.  Put your car keys somewhere.  Now shut off the water-main valve to your house.  When you need water, walk to the store and buy bottled water, and carry it back to your house.  You haven’t even come close, you still have all your furniture and beds in the house, but you’ll get the idea when you spend 24 hours like this.]  And you’re worried about that stuff.  What happens in a country where they have nothing?---nothing, nothing to eat, they’re watching their children die in front of them, there’s constant war and tyranny.  What’s going to happen when someone steps on the scene, supernaturally, that has the answers, someone who is going to provide food, and peace, money.  The world, it says, is going to wonder after the Beast, wonder, those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life, the great and the small.  You know, you guys out there that are conspiracy guys [those guys drive me nuts J], because I get a lot of you guys coming up to me, ‘No, no, the Illuminati, you know, the Builderburgers, you know, the Trilateral Commission, you know, the Club of Rome, you know, the Knights Templar,’ there are lots of conspiracies, and there is some reality to some of this.  I’m not the barometer, don’t ask me how much.  But there is a much greater conspiracy, it began before the world was formed, when the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.  We know the Big conspiracy, we know the last chapter, we know who wins in the end.  And in the Big conspiracy, all of the conspirators are going to get conspirated.  All of these conspirators, when the antichrist shows up, their minds are going to be blown, and they’re going to wonder after the Beast, they’re going to get conspirated, they’re going to reap what they’ve sown.  When he comes it says the world is going to wonder.  

 

When The Beast Person Sits In The Temple, All Religions Come Under One Roof

 

So, you know Paul’s saying to these Thessalonians, ‘Don’t be troubled as if this has already begun, because if it had begun, let no man deceive you, for except there come an apostasy, the man of sin being revealed, the son of perdition who opposes and exalts himself above all that’s called God, then you’re not in the Great Tribulation, unless this stuff is beginning to happen.’  “that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (verse 4c)  So, there’s tension, we see the tension over in Jerusalem today.  We hear the Prophets telling us (in Zechariah) that Jerusalem will be a cup of trembling and a stumbling stone to all of the nations of the world.  It’s remarkable, because there are many times.  It’s a stone hill.  There’s no oil, there’s no gold, there’s no diamonds [and yet Jerusalem is called the diamond capital of the world, because of Jewish diamond merchants there], there’s no nothing, no resources.  It’s a rock.  The Muslims holy day is Friday, the Jews holy day is Saturday, the Christian’s holy day is Sunday, they’re all there with guns pointed at each other, over a rocky hill.  And while you can negotiate nuclear proliferation, you can’t negotiate between Allah and Yahweh, that won’t be negotiated, it’s going to be the tension that draws the whole world in, over belief, over belief.  [Comment:  A similar dispute occurred in Yugoslavia when Tito died, and the Muslim Serbs went toe to toe with the Roman Catholic Croats, and divided Yugoslavia into ten vicious, warring factions that required international intervention to put it to rest.  Wars over religion are always the worst kind of wars, and Jerusalem will make what happened in Yugoslavia look like child’s play, Kindergarten stuff.]  Now we have the Roman Catholic Church presently working on “the Catechism of the Universal Church,” their magazine talked about it, to try to bring all Faiths under one roof.  Ah, I’ve got a picture in one of the updates that Britannica sends you, of the present pope with fourteen leaders, Bahi, Hindu, Muslim, you know, those are the ones that are more normal of the group that he’s sitting with, fourteen of these, some of them are very strange and very dark, and they’re having this “Day of Prayer” together.  And I look at that, and I think, ‘You know, I can’t imagine Elijah on Mount Carmel having a “Day of Prayer” with all of his buddies from Ashtoreth, and Baal, now let’s get together for a day of prayer,’  we see those things, you know, the Cardinal of France, who was born a Jew, was given the name of Aaron Lustinger, he’s in line to be the next pope [never worked out, we got a Chilean priest].  He’s a genius.  His vision, you can get his books at the Catholic Bookstore, his vision is to bring Islam, Judaism, and Christianity under one roof.  Would be the first Jewish pope for awhile, too.  We’re headed somewhere.  But you look at the tension in the world today, what in the world could bring Islam and Judaism under the same roof?  What in the world could bring them all next to the Church [Catholic Church, that is]?  Some shocking event is going to have to take place.  I’ve got a great suggestion.  The Shout, the voice of the archangel, the voice of God, the elect disappearing from the face of the world.  They can blame it on flying saucers, they can blame it on whatever they want, who cares once we’re gone?  You know we’ve got the ralions out there cloning people now, flying saucer people, they’ve got some strange clubs going on, I don’t care.  It’s going to take some startling thing [event] to break down that animosity, it’s not spiritual the way you and I understand agape-love spiritual, to break that down and bring all those people under one roof.  You saw how startling 9/11 was [the destruction of the Trade Towers in NYC], you saw the memorial service, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, everybody there, but they all [all of them] worship one god, tragedy, something startling.  It will happen on a global scale.  Nuclear?  Possibly.  We’re on the verge, can happen any day, could happen any day.  Israel is ready.  People are sitting all over the world with their fingers at the button right now.  [Comment:  see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXqzwWDqZ2g&feature=em-share_video_user and this is Russia now, with six of these Typhoon  puppies, and they’re building a new class of them as well.  Sorry, the subsailor in me, couldn’t resist throwing this into the mix.  But it’s real.  Russia is not worried about us, but the Chinese dragon has awoken, and China is becoming an armed super-power, building ICBM missile submarines, aircraft carriers and all.  Europe, probably in fear of Russian re-armament, will seek to become “the United States of Europe” and become another well-armed super-power, taking the place by default of a faltering United States.  Smaller nations/military powers at this point, India, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and maybe the Philippines, are aligning with the Russians, and countering this forming alliance China has formed a military alliance with Pakistan.  The end-time power-blocs long ago prophecied in both Old and New Testaments are forming up before our very eyes, at this point, driven by Chinese militarization.  This doesn’t even include what’s going on within the Middle East, where two sects of Islam battle each other for supremacy, the Shiites under Iran, Syria and Iraq, opposing the Sunnis of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia and Turkey, all under the Muslim Brotherhood (that group attempting to form up a Caliphate which the Bible calls “the King of the South” in Daniel 11:40).  That’s an update from the period of time when this sermon was given.  The United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have their collective head in the sand and it’s butt sticking in the air with a target painted on it, like a huge ostrich, all because our respective public sectors don’t understand the signs of the times, who then vote in liberal politicians who have even less of a clue (while our military grieves at what’s happening.  Sorry, got carried away.]  If you knew what’s happening, you would either not sleep well tonight, you’d be up getting all your accounts current with the Lord, so you could sleep good, or you’d go to sleep and say ‘Yeah Lord, come!’  Because there is a tension out there that is incredible right now.  And God is gracious.  We’ll come there in a few verses.  The Holy Spirit right now is restraining all of this, or it would all fly to pieces.  But at some point, when God decides morally that the clock has ticked down to where there is no more redemption in regards to the Church [greater Body of Christ], he will interrupt human history.  What type of natural or manmade cataclysm will bring the Beast on the scene?  I don’t know.  They’re telling us now an asteroid’s gone by.  ‘Don’t worry about it, 300 million miles away.’  You know, there’s not a lot of people out there in the news when they tell me ‘Don’t worry about it,’ where I don’t worry about it.  We’ve got that other program where we watch for asteroids, remember the last one that went by, a couple months ago, you know we have this big plan to shoot a nuclear missile at it and blow it up, so it fragments and doesn’t hurt us.  They saw it after it went by.  Now to me, the way I understand this program, is if you don’t get it coming, the whole thing doesn’t work.  You gotta get it coming in, not once it’s gone by, it’s too late.  [laughter]  We live in a broken world.  You know the truth.  There are people that you work with, you go to school with, they’re out there, broken and empty.  And their eternal destiny needs to be changed.  And God will use us.  He will uphold us.  I don’t know what this year will bring to our church or to our nation.  But the just judgment of God will be manifest in our lives, and that he will hold us up.  And whatever we face, it will be his grace, and his hand on our lives, he will keep us, and we will stand one day, in rest, around his throne…[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on 2nd Thessalonians 1:1-12 and 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-5, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

related links:

 

When does the New Jerusalem, “Our Many Mansions” comes to earth?  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Revelation%20%2021-22.htm

 

The Faith Once Delivered Unto The Saints, then heretical beliefs were introduced into the Body of Christ.  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm

                                

The 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ, as seen through Matthew 24.  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/mathew/Matthew24-1-31.htm

       

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