Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sure Source of Hope

Scriptural Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 9-17
Devotional Reading: Titus 3:1-7

When the Billy Graham crusade came to St. Louis, I remember waiting in a long line outside the TWA Dome to be allowed entrance. While waiting there were those who picketed his crusade with signs and loudly declared, “Rapture does not exist!” This began my search for the truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 states that I must, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV) I determined I would not be deceived. The word Rapture is Latin, meaning caught up. It is my belief all Christians, whether living or asleep in Christ, shall experience the rapture. 1 Thess 4:16-17

On April 15th, 2013, the famous Boston marathon was held. Only it was different this year because two bombs exploded at the finish line. Three people were killed and approximately 200 were injured. Two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were identified in reviewing the many camera shots. It is believed they killed an on-duty college campus officer, carjacked an SUV, and seriously wounded another police officer during a shootout with the police department while throwing additional bombs. Tamerlan was killed, but Dzhokhar escaped to be captured later. Dzhokhar was hospitalized initially in serious condition, but upgraded to a fair condition. When he was allowed to be questioned one of his responses for their lawless behavior indicated that he and his brother were motivated by religious extremism. He was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill and malicious destruction of property. US officials do not believe they were connected to Islamic terrorists. A neighbor of the deceased brother, Tamerlan, claims that the suspect argued the Bible was a copy of the Koran. He believed the Bible is the source for invading other countries. Tamerlan had begun posting militant videos and had travelled to Dagestan in Russia for a six month period where rebels are known to reside. It appears as if these two young men were deceived in their belief concerning God and Jesus Christ. It appears as if they felt the need to kill and trained online in reading terrorist magazines to make bombs. We must continue to wear our Christian armor as the battle continues daily. See Eph 6:10-18 (KJV)

The saints in Thessalonica were under continuous persecution. They attempted to stand in the truth, but false teachers came in the midst of the persecution to weaken their understanding, security, and hope. This lesson is a study of Paul’s response to strengthen and comfort the saints in Christ Jesus. It is the final lesson of a six-part study under Resurrection Hope

Paul lovingly remolds the mindset of the saints by stating in 2 Thess 2:1-2, “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.” (KJV) He knew the false teachers were attempting to change their thought patterns by altering his teaching of Christ. Paul did not want them to be troubled by the timing of the second coming of Christ. Some believed the rapture was at hand, while false teachers attempted to convince others they had missed Him. It was certain Jesus would come for His beloved, whether they were living or sleep, and He would gather them in the clouds, in the air. See 1 Thess 4:13-18 (KJV) Paul assured them there had not been new divine revelations nor had he been the source of any words or letters to them in the Name of the Lord to reveal the exact time. There is a difference between the Rapture and the Day of the Lord which comes with the wrath of God for unbelievers. (1 Thess 5:1-11 KJV) Some of the saints had witnessed such persecution that they believed the lies and worried the Day of the Lord had begun.

Issuing additional teaching, the apostle strongly admonishes the saints in 2 Thess 2:3, “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;” (KJV) Do not be deceived by the false teachers regarding the Rapture. All saints are included. Following the Rapture, certain events will occur as warning signs that the Day of the Lord has begun. There shall be widespread rebellion against God, a great Christian rejection. See 2 Tim 3:1-8 KJV The “man of sin” a/k/a the “man of lawlessness’ a/k/a “Antichrist” shall come before Christ’s return. The Antichrist opposes everything concerning God and will promote himself to the ranks of god. (See vs. 4 KJV) He shall lead the great rebellion or “falling away” against God. In the end Christ shall come in glory and destroy the Antichrist. (2 Thess 2:8; Rev 19:11-21 KJV)

Paul further gave the job description of the Antichrist in 2 Thess 2:9-10, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (KJV) The career of the Antichrist will be patterned after Satan, his mentor. He will display lying signs and wonders with power that only Satan could manifest. He can’t genuinely feed 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, for example, as he lacks a divine connection to God. He will be able to do supernatural miracles that are seemingly convincing, but not of divine power. This will allow him to deceive many who have heard the gospel but have no love for the truth. The deceived unrighteous shall fail to believe the truth they have heard and become open prey for eternal damnation. Paul labeled them “the perishing”. They had not received, in their heart, the gospel of Christ which “…is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth;…” Rom 1:16b (KJV)

For this reason, Paul advises of judgment as to unbelievers in 2 Thess 2:11-12, “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.” (KJV) The wicked prefer the lies and pleasures of the world. God will withdraw His grace and allow the unbelievers to follow the course toward eternal damnation as punishment for their unbelief of the truth. Mar 16:16 exhorts “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (KJV)

Thanksgiving is given that the saints will escape the judgment and doom of the Antichrist in 2 Thess 2:13-14, “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: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (KJV) In the beginning it was God’s purpose to call the Gentiles to have the same plan of redemption as the Jews who believed in Christ Jesus. They have been set apart by the Holy Spirit for their belief in the truth rather than the lies of Satan. Romans 10:9-10 states, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (KJV)

Paul encouraged the Thessalonian saints to continue in the faith of Christ as he penned 2 Thess 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (KJV) Paul does not advise his Gentile brothers that they have been saved and do not have to keep the faith in Christ Jesus. He tells them they must hold on to the traditions/doctrines of God that he had preached under the influence of the Holy Spirit and by the first epistle sent them (1 Thessalonians). They can’t place their anchors in the traditions of men to be saved. God’s grace through Jesus Christ is their sure source of hope.

After encouraging the saints to stand firm in the faith, Paul prayed for their comfort and strength in 2 Thess 2:16-17 “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.” (KJV) He offered prayer for the saints in the Name of Jesus, who offered His life that saints will have an everlasting life. Jesus is the Head of the church. Paul also offered prayer to God, the Almighty Father, to whom saints give thanks for the plan of redemption and have hope through His grace. He did not want the Thessalonians to waiver in their faith in Christ or be doubters. Even though they were under great persecution, this prayer was offered to comfort their hearts, give them peace, establish in their good doctrine and deed.

We must hold fast to the doctrines of the teachings of the Scriptures from the one true Bible. There is no other! There is no substitute! Has anyone ever tried to deceive you? How did you respond?


Written by Deborah C Davis

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