Challenge "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle" (II Thessalonians 2:15). Still writing under inspiration, Paul challenges the Thessalonians and us, all Christian brothers and sisters, to stand fast (or firm) in what we have been taught by Scripture directly and by Godly teachers who have been Spirit taught in the Word of God. When Godly leaders are in harmony with the Bible's teachings, we are to follow their traditions in a disciplined way. All such teaching and example must be checked regularly to be sure no departure from Biblical Truth has subtly taken place.
Comfort "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work" (II Thessalonians 2:16-17).. God gives us everlasting consolation, as He doubtless did to them, and good hope because He loves us. We will have trials; God has consolation for those who are tried and He gives good hope through His grace. Good hope goes beyond wishful desires. It is anticipated certainty! No matter how His own suffer, the worst suffering can't begin to compare with the glory to come. This leads to comfort of our hearts. Paul adds this intercession in behalf of God's people: the Apostle wants all true believers to be established in every good word, talk that is wholesome and God honoring, and in every good work, in behavior, attitudes and service. Selah! A true believer who is faithful in studying, applying and obeying God will know that Paul's prayer is still being answered. God's grace is wonderfully amazing! Ron
Choosing "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:" (II Thessalonians 2:13). Paul was thankful and we should be, as well, for what God has done for all of His own. First, we are loved by God. Second, we are chosen! He chose us before the foundation of the world. He chose us to salvation; to be holy and without blame before Him in love. For this to take place, the Holy Spirit sets us apart through belief of the Truth. Note that this is ours through believing the Truth. We are responsible to believe and God knows if we will, before we are born.
Calling "Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 2:14). God brings to us the opportunity to believe. He calls us through the the communication of the Gospel; He speaks to our hearts through the Scriptures. When we respond positively, we learn in our lives the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we assimilate and apply the Word of God, His glory is gradually revealed to us and we become more and more blessed in our fascination with, and admiration of, His glorious Person. Selah! When, in our lifetime, we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we come to realize that He already knew that we would believe. (He also knows those who won't believe). Those who believe find that He has set in motion all that must be experienced in order for us to actually come to Christ. Praise His Name! (More tomorrow). Ron
"And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time, for the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way" (II Thessalonians 2:6-7).
Before the beginning of the Tribulation, the Antichrist is restrained by the Holy Spirit from doing much of the evil that he will do right after the Rapture. When the Holy Spirit goes up with the church, the Antichrist is given a free hand, within certain limits, to engage in great evil and harm.
"And then shall that Wicked (one; i.e; the Antichrist) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming, even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (II Thessalonians 2:8-9).
This diabolical person, energized by Satan and endowed with the ability to do "signs and wonders," will enjoy a horrible but relatively brief reign of evil on the unsaved inhabitants of earth and he will intensely persecute those who come to Christ. His chief tool will be deceit. His fate is sealed and severe. His eternal abode is the Lake of Fire.
"And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thessalonians 2:10-12).
Unrighteousness blinds and deceives. In their spiritual darkness, the unsaved do not love the Truth that, if received, would lead to their salvation. When anyone persists in ignoring God's Truth, God sends them a strong delusion. They will believe a lie. The outcome of this rebellion, unless repented of, dooms them to eternal separation from God forever in Hell. If they see their need of salvation but turn away; if they resist and reject the Gospel, refuse to believe it and the Rapture occurs, they will apparently be left without an opportunity to change their minds and be saved. Selah! It is foolish and dangerous to trifle with the grace of God. Any who do may have all of eternity to regret their sin and sins. Ron
Verse 10 is the "flip side" of Verses 7-9. Here, instead of the tragic fate of the unsaved, we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, revealed to His own. This will motivate them to gaze with admiration on their Redeemer. "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." When Paul and His friends ministered the gospel, it was believed by many and those that believed will be the reason that our Lord will receive great admiration and He will be glorified because of the changed lives of those that are saved.
"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" (II Thessalonians 1:11). Paul is reminding these believers of the continuing prayer in their behalf. He intercedes with God for God to credit them with being worthy of their calling and to complete His sanctifying work in them. This is because of His goodness and is His good pleasure to do. This has been His plan all along. It is His work to make faith effective and powerful. How important our prayers for each other are!
" 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." (II Thessalonians 1:12). Jesus' Name is glorified when our lives reflect His character. Just as He is glorified in us, we are glorified in Him. All this in harmony with the grace of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Selah! Exaltation, admiration and glory are for Him; salvation, calling, blessings, being blessed because of His goodness, faith and power are granted to us. What riches! Ron
Picking up where we left off yesterday, Paul, remember he is writing under inspiration, speaks of harsh punishment. First, in II Thessalonians 1:6, he says, "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompence tribulation to them that trouble you." That a God of love would avenge crimes against His people, goes against the stereotype that many people consciously or subconsciously hold about God. While God uses trials to test the faith of His people, He doesn't justify or excuse the perpetrators. It does not pay to do harm to God's children. Paul then addresses those who have endured trials in these words from Verses 7–9, "And to you who are troubled (have suffered) 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 and from the glory of His power." People ask this question: "How can God be a God of love and yet consign anyone to eternal fire?" It is because of His love that He does do this! God's love was more costly than any other thing, ever! It cost Him the death of His Son on a Roman cross in order to give us forgiveness and cleansing for our awful sin and sins. Anyone that would spurn, refuse, or reject this love has no one to blame but himself for the punishment of his wickedness. God has done all that He could do to provide deliverance from the wrath to come. Add to this that He loves those who receive His gift of salvation and will avenge any harm to them in due time. It is dangerous to harm God's people. God will not leave mistreatment of His people unpunished. Selah! Keep in mind that this letter was from a man who had been guilty of horrible persecution of God's people. God's grace reached him and he repented and received God's forgiveness, and became a recipient of God's love that cleaned and cleared the record of his vile crimes. The guilt of our past is "deleted" by the cleansing power of Jesus' shed blood when we turn to Him and receive Him as Lord and Savior. We fail to do this to the peril of our eternal soul! Ron
This is what Paul mentions next: "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God…." (From II Thessalonians 1:4) They were a cause for rejoicing. Why? The reason was, "for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure." (From 1:4). Consider that they were commended for patience (steadfast endurance) and faith. To have strong endurance in severe trials requires strong faith. Where do we acquire this faith? "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Note also that they were strong in faith when in the most difficult circumstances. This faith held in persecutions and tribulations. Did you notice the plurals? A casual faith will succumb to multiple trials. Nor can we wait until we are in those trials to determine if our faith is the real thing! Faith must be appropriated each day and continue to grow and mature. That way, when a crisis comes, we can look to God in confidence that He is there for us. Four that can testify to us that His grace sustains are Job and the three Hebrew young men. (There are many others who could say the same).
I would be less than honest, if I failed to admit that I would not seek privilege this way. Nevertheless, God does not check with us to see if we are willing to go through trials. "Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12) and "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him...." (From II Timothy 2:12). The early disciples considered it a privilege to be allowed to suffer for Him. The fires of suffering bring out the gold of our faith. We are further instructed to not think it strange to go through fiery trials. Faith that hasn't gone through the fire, hasn't been proved authentic. Selah! Tying this together, we need to develop, from studying and applying Scripture, a vibrant "cast iron" faith that gives us confidence in God. We need a faith that trusts God unconditionally and that will see us through the fire. We can then rejoice that we have had the privilege of suffering for Him, that we have been counted worthy. These Thessalonians were praised and told that their suffering was "….a manifest token (a clear example) of the righteous judgment of God (He knows what is needed) that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer." (From II Thessalonians 1:5). Ron