Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
When I was a kid we often took drives. Most of the time, they were kind of boring because my sister and I just sat in the back of the car and tried to see something interesting out the window.
One day, we got in the car and went to a place that is now called Simi Valley. I didn’t know why we were going but once I got there, I was so excited I couldn’t stand it. It’s probably good that my parents didn’t tell us where we were going.
We wound up in a place called “Corriganville,” which was an actual working movie ranch owned and operated by Ray “Crash” Corrigan.
When we arrived, I could not believe my eyes and my excitement overflowed. We spent the day touring sets, going inside sound stages where they filmed Rin Tin Tin and also saw the outside sets where they filmed the Tarzan movies as well as the set for the film “Fort Apache.”
My dad always loved westerns and so I learned to love them too. And now being on an actual movie set where so many westerns and other movies and TV shows were made was a dream come true. I met Ray Corrigan and saw a reenactment of a shootout in the town complete with cowboys being shot and falling off rooftops onto the ground. Not far from me were cowboys duking it out and my mouth dropped.
It was an awesome day and so exciting for a kid my age to see this type of movie magic.
But for the Christian, there is something that is far more exciting and real than all the movie magic put together. As Christians, we should be looking forward to our union with Christ when He calls us up. That major, end-of-our-life event should be the guiding factor for all we do, think and say in this life now daily.
Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, seeks to remind them of what they were to look forward to. He starts as we’re going to start this morning, by helping them be aware of the good things in their life and uses that to point them upward and onward.
He also takes the time to correct them about a few things they have incorrect that is actually keeping them a bit stagnant in their living faith.
Let’s take a look at how Paul introduces his thoughts to the Thessalonian believers and find out how he corrects their misunderstandings about future events and what the correct understanding provides for them. Let’s remember that we are the Thessalonians of today and our focus may need similar correction.
Too often people don’t study eschatology because they think it’s too confusing. Yet, it makes up roughly 1/3 of the Bible, which tells us that it is a very important subject that God wants us to understand.
So, we are going to spent the next several weeks Bringing the Future into Focus.
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.
Paul offered encouragement in relation to Christ’s Return (vv 1-2) and he notes God’s extension of GRACE & PEACE to the Thessalonians (v 2).
True grace (unmerited favor), and peace (judicially), only come from God. Those who are on the receiving end of His grace and peace truly have it. The world is incapable of providing these measures of grace and peace. Nothing humanity can do can usher in true grace or peace.
Paul was very thankful for the Thessalonians (1:1-10), for their faith and love (1:3-4), that they apparently evidenced in their lives consistently and continually in spite of the troubles they experienced. The faith of the Thessalonians was praised by Paul even though there is a sense in which the Thessalonians did not want to accept that praise. In fact, Paul also noted that he actually bragged to other churches about their faith and love for one another and others! (v 4)
Christians should be known for their faith and love; faith that goes Godward and love that flows to God as well as other Christians and the lost of this world. The Thessalonians experienced much persecution. Yet their faith and love increased. Our willingness to suffer for Christ evidences our “worthiness” to be part of God’s Kingdom (v 5). By the way, this suffering does not necessarily have to be in the form of persecution for our faith as was so prevalent in the first three centuries. The “suffering” could be as simple as knowing what to do and battling with yourself to ensure that you do it.
It is important to note that not all Christians will actually reign with Jesus during the Millennial Kingdom rule and Paul points this out through implication here and directly in his letters to Timothy. While all Christians will enter into that coming kingdom, only those who were found to be FAITHFUL in this life will reign with Jesus.
We see this in Luke 20:35: “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.” This knowledge should cause us to pause and reflect – DAILY – about our lives and whether or not we are being faithful to the One who called us and gifted us with salvation.
It makes the difference between being a “carnal” Christian – the one who lives after his/her fleshly desires and versus the SPIRITUAL Christian. How are we living? Are we living to justify our fleshly desires or do we beat those into submission to live God’s will in and through us, in His strength? Do we want to go into the next life with the regrets of knowing we didn’t live according to our calling?
Suffering from the many forms of persecution out there often forces us to cast all of our cares on Him. Without persecutions and various problems and tribulations in life, we are too prone to do what seems good to us, often ignoring God in the process.
Suffering itself does NOT qualify us to serve in God’s coming Kingdom. It is how we hold up under it. If we respond correctly to suffering, it exposes the quality of the person whom God’s grace is transforming. We grow through that suffering, present a glowing gospel to the world and glorify God in the process. Do you have doubts about this? Read the book, Foxes’ Book of Martyrs.
Paul taught that God will reward Christians, who endure through the temptation to abandon their commitment to Jesus Christ, with the privilege of reigning with Christ in His millennial kingdom (2 Tim. 2:12). Whereas all Christians will enter the millennial kingdom at His Second Coming, only those who follow Him faithfully in this life will reign with Him.
Jesus asked will He find faith on the earth when He returns? (Luke 18:8)
The “faith” He is speaking of here is faithful LIVING. What does that mean for the Christian in today’s world?
We see this in 2 Timothy 2:12: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us…”
When Paul says He will “deny” us, he is referring to the fact that specific REWARDS (like reigning with Him), will be DENIED due to a lack of faithfulness on our part, that kept us from living the way God wants/wanted us to live in this life.
Paul is NOT talking about DENYING us as His people, or losing our salvation as some erroneously teach. Once salvation is received, salvation is forever.
Paul tells us that God is the one who will repay (1:6-8), those who wrong us. It falls to Him because He is the only One who is Righteous enough to judge justly without bias. We are incapable, not to mention the fact that we are sinners (though saved by grace), as well as those who come against us. The attitude all Christians should take is that God will repay what has been done to us…so we should NOT since God is the only One who can judge perfectly and impartially. This is exactly why Jesus encouraged His followers to “rejoice” when persecuted.
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23)
Paul helps the Thessalonians remember that Jesus is coming (1:9-10). When Jesus returns, He will be the Judge whose word is final! At that time, Christians who have been persecuted for their faith in this life will be given “rest” from it in that next life.
Persecution takes many forms, including:
- False accusations
- Fired because of what a Christian says or believes
- Churches that are locked out of city-owned buildings for supporting causes that the Left deems a form of bias
- Beatings for the faith
- Being jailed for the faith, and
- Ultimately being martyred because of faith in Jesus
Though these things are often unpleasant, God allows these for our growth and His glory – the spread of the Gospel. It may be extremely difficult for us – depending upon our personalities – to willingly place ourselves under persecution God allows to come to us. Yet Paul echoes Jesus in saying we are blessed! God WILL reward our willing acceptance of what He allows to come our way. He will reward us NOW with greater faith and the ability to persevere. He will reward us LATER with a full rest from all afflictions/persecutions.
Paul refers to “THAT DAY” (v 10) and means “the Day of the Lord” when He physically returns in JUDGMENT and as KING over all Creation at the end of the Tribulation. His Millennial Kingdom will ultimately segue to the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), and the newly created earth.
Paul prays for the Thessalonian believers in 1:11-12, that God would count them worthy 1:11. Interesting choice of words; that God would “count (the Thessalonians) worthy of this calling…” Paul wanted to be sure that they experienced purification through the trials that were coming upon them rather than apostasy. God counts men worthy as they consent to and endeavor to do that which He works in them. This is essentially what the book of James teaches – where the rubber meets the road for the Christian.
We might well be authentic Christians but if we are not living the life of submission to Him, we are not pleasing Him nor can we count on rewards for service in the next life. We’ll be back as we continue to go through 2 Thessalonians. Join me then.
Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
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