2-25-2023 Encouraging Words
Disciples listening to our Lord Jesus
2 Thess. 2: 1-17
Paul encourages the Thessalonians (and us) to keep our faith until the return of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He’s describing the situation of the end times so we can be aware of what we need to be careful about so we can ‘hang’ strong in Christ Jesus. Not to get worried, but to keep strong in our faith that God is with us – all the way.
1 Now, we comfort you, brothers, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and by our gathering together unto Him.
2 Don’t be shaken in your mind or troubled (in your heart) neither by a spirit, nor word nor even a letter from us.
Things will be said, things will happen, even in and from the church, but if it isn’t in agreement with the truth we have received in the beginning, don’t even flinch, but hold firm to the truth in Jesus. And that truth is always in agreement with God’s Essence – love.
3 Don’t let any man deceive you by any means for that day won’t come unless there is first a falling away, so the man of sin can be revealed, that is the son of perdition.
A falling away? Paul says that the church will start straying from God’s truth in the end times. Even though God produced miracle after miracle, deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, the manna, the quail, the water, Israel still moved away from God by fashioning the golden calf (Exod.32:1-4). Look around. Has today’s church strayed (in any form) from the truths God (Jesus) has taught us? Look at the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:1-17) and, then consider God’s love. That is “agape” love. Agape love (G26) is derived from ‘agapao’ (G25) and means to love in a social or moral sense, with affection or benevolence, (hold) dear. All this adds up to considering the welfare of another as, at least, equal to our own welfare and to do so not because we are ‘supposed to’, but because we desire to. When we delight ourselves in who God is and what He is truly all about, Father will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). Understand, as the church falls away from God this enables the doors to open for the man of sin, that son of perdition, to operate in this world, more freely. Why have things become so bad? Today, people, even in the church, have not only set God up on a shelf, but have stuffed Him in a box and put Him somewhere in the basement, or worse. God who?
4 He (the son of perdition) is the one who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or even worshipped, so that he could sit in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Remember Satan’s nature is that he tried to raise himself up over God, our heavenly Father (Isa. 14:12-17). Jesus said that He saw Satan fall from heaven as lightening so it is no wonder his followers can look pretty good to us in the world (Luke 10:18, 2 Corinth. 11:13-15). And don’t forget, Satan was cast out of heaven because of his desire to replace God (Rev. 12:7-13).
5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you, I told you these things? (writes Paul)
6 And now you know what withholds his being revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity is already at work, but now, only He who lets shall let until he is taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.
9 Even He who is coming after the working of Satan, with his (Satan’s) power, signs and lying wonders
10 And with all the deceptions of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they did not love the truth that they might be saved.
11 For this reason, God will send them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie.
Because God has given man ‘free choice’ (Joshua 24:15) God is allowing Satan what he does – but only for a ‘season’.
The prayers of the saints are what delays the rise of the beast. Are those prayers diminishing? Because of man’s disobedience to God, Father will allow a delusion to rise up that man should believe those lies (Rev. 13:11-18). And yet, in the end, Satan does lose!
12 That they might be damned because they didn’t believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
And because man believes those lies and even rather enjoys the doing of the same. Father will let man exercise his ‘free choice’ to live in Christ or suffer eternal loss (Rev. 29:1-15). How many will choose Jesus? God loves all His creation but only a few (Matt. 7:13-14) will hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21) and enter into His kingdom.
13 But we are always bound to give thanks to God for you, brothers who are beloved of the Lord, because from the beginning, God has chosen you for salvation through the sanctification and Spirit and belief in the truth.
Understand, God calls all to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), He doesn’t want any to die, but not all will listen to His call. Remember the seed? Some fall by the wayside that is they won’t even consider God’s gift of life. Some fall on stony ground and the trials and tribulations of this life discourage them and they turn away from the Lord. Others decide they can’t follow Jesus because they just plain don’t want to give up the things of this world so they turn their back to God. So, only a few actually experience the “Judgment seat of Christ” where we are rewarded for our good works. Even if we don’t have a lot of good works to present before the Lord, because we have received Him into our heart and have not turned away, we are still welcomed into His kingdom (Rom. 14:10-13).
14 Because of this, He called you by our gospel so you could obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
How do we learn about Jesus and eternal life? Because somebody has shared the eternal gift of life, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ, with us and we joyfully received it. How do those who don’t believe come to the Lord? Because someone has come to share the faith with them. And that ‘someone’ had to have been sent by the Lord. Blessed are the feet of them who bring the gospel of peace and glad tidings of good things (Rom. 10:14-15).
15 Therefore, brothers, stand fast and hold on to the traditions which you have been taught whether by word or by our letter.
Why would Paul put this sentence this way? What did the early church have? All the people, of his time, had was the Hebrew bible (what we call the Old Testament, the Tanakh (which included the Torah [law]) or the Septuagint which was an accepted Greek translation of the Hebrew bible. Yes, the early church also had the writings of the apostles and historians (as Luke) but not until 405 AD were all these writings compiled into a single book when Jerome completed the Latin Vulgate (which contained both the Old and New Testaments). So Paul wanted to make sure that the people were hearing and reading the ‘right stuff’ so they could grow strong in Christ Jesus.
26 Now, let our Lord, Jesus Christ Himself and God, even our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and hope through grace.
17 Comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
God is with us and guiding us (as we listen to Him) and it is His grace which encourages us to keep pressing forward, that is awaiting the resurrection of these temporary bodies into eternal life in Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:8-14).
Also note that Jesus gives a pretty good picture of the end times in Matt. 24:1-51.