THE BOOK OF 2 THESSALONIANS
The vindication of God’s righteousness
2 Thessalonians 1:6-12 SCC 7/20/14
Jesus is coming back. Whether aware of it or not the world is waiting for his return. His return is the climax of history. So for us it is an arrival in the presence of one who is already known to us. But for unbelievers, it is an apocalypse. It is the appearing of someone whom they have not known, who is hidden to them but now unveiled. So how do we filter life from the perspective of Jesus return?
AFFLICTION IS GODS WAY OF PREPARING US FOR LIFE IN HIS KINGDOM 5
Your suffering is evidence that God is righteously chastening you so that you are considered worthy of the Kingdom of God for which indeed you are suffering. Affliction happens because you're different than the world, because you confront the system, because you are godly and virtuous, righteous and moral and antithetical to the culture. God is using that affliction to make you ready to receive the full glory of the Kingdom. Life here is preparation for life there.
1. This is not worthiness of entrance into that kingdom. Only Jesus worthiness makes that possible.
2. This is a demonstrable commitment to that kingdom by way of management of affliction in one’s life. That management determines the worthiness of one’s commitment. That commitment will be rewarded as it says in 1 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us.
So our focus should not be on happiness, success, deliverance or prosperity. It should be on the kind of life available in God’s kingdom and knowing God uses affliction here to allow me to demonstrate my worthiness of reward then in that life. God kingdom is not based on equality but incentive.
WHEN CHRIST RETURNS HE WILL DELIVER JUSTICE TO THOSE AFFLICTING US 6
1. "It is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you." The Thessalonians persecuted for their faith in Christ can anticipate God’s justice. Personal private vengeance is not allowed. We forgive and love our enemy. You’re not to seek personal vengeance. God will do that, and you can be assured of it. God will afflict those who are afflicting you. God is the avenger of his own people.
2. How is this retribution meted out? "With affliction." That's how, with affliction, or another word, pain. God is going to give them pain. God's going to make them feel that pain, misery.
3. Why would Jesus Christ come back to do this? "It is only just for God to repay." It is a matter of justice. It is right for punishment to be meted out on those who have violated the law. The world doesn't want to admit that. They don't want to admit that they are subject to the justice of God.
So we should never seek revenge against anyone God uses to afflict us. There is a higher purpose for the affliction. We live confident that God is in charge of our afflictions. The desire for justice will be served fully. God is more interested in justice than we are or I am fully capable of providing it comprehensively.
WHEN CHRIST RETURNS BELIEVERS CAN EXPECT ETERNAL RELIEF AND REST 7
1. The Lord Jesus is coming to give relief. It means rest, refreshment, and restoration. He's coming to give us relief. That rest begins with a thousand years setting the stage for the eternal rest, which is ours forever and ever in the new heavens and the new earth. Forever and ever and ever you will be relieved of any affliction, trouble, and trial. Imagine life without problems, without sin, without temptation, pure bliss. That tightness of life, the pressure, the tension, and the squeeze will be relaxed in eternal joy.
2. Relief comes to you who are afflicted and to us as well. There is compensation in this life. But the great relief, the great rest comes in the future. God will pay back those who bore His name, those who endured affliction, those who took the world's hostility and rejection because of Him. The further out it is the more virtuous and determined our lives today. To those who are afflicted simply means Christians who suffer. We'll all rest from our labors and receive our eternal reward.
3. Relief begins when "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed." The word "revealed" means disclosed, unveiled, or the revealing. Jesus came the first time veiled. He came the first time hidden in human flesh so that His full glory was not seen. The second time He is unveiled, He is revealed and He comes in full glory.
(a) It says, "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven." Obviously the first time He came He came from heaven but He came through the miracle of birth and there was no ability to see Him moving from heaven to earth. The next time He comes it will be visibly. He will come from heaven.
(b) It says, He comes with His mighty angels. This is a common description of the coming of Christ. When He comes back He's not coming by Himself. He's coming, "With the angels of His power” or with the angels of power. Angels are capable of supernatural feats.
(c) It says, He comes in flaming fire. This is the fire of His coming, or the fire of His presence, or the fire of His glory. This fire of His presence becomes the fire of His judgment, but here it’s describing the glorious blazing light of His emanating presence. What Paul is saying here is that in every sense this is God, the Son, returning. He comes from heaven where God dwells.
So there is no doubt that Jesus return will be accompanied and manifested by incredible signs. It will be clear who this is and what is happening. For the believer it will inaugurate everlasting relief begun in the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth on into the new heavens and new earth.
WHEN CHRIST RETURNS UNBELIEVERS WILL BE PUNISHED 8-9
First, the retribution will be dealt “to those who do not know God” v 8. That means they have no personal relationship with God. They may imagine that they know Him or about him but they do not in the truest sense know God. Knowing God is the key. But people who do not know God are going to be punished.
Second, "Those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." It is one thing to have the knowledge of God innately from creation on the outside and conscience from within and be responsible for that and then to turn away from God. It is something else then to reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus. That even brings a greater guilt. Since Jesus came and died and rose again, there is a greater responsibility and for rejection of the gospel, there is intensified guilt. (Read article saying, so I suggest that each of you search your hearts and talk to your Gods—‘Wife of Wiccan priest recounts religious discrimination)
Third, verse 9, "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction." The word "eternal," this pain, this misery, this depression, this affliction is forever. This vengeance and punishment is going to come as pain, pressure, and affliction crushing the person forever. He calls it here "destruction," which means, “ruin”. Not annihilation but the idea of the loss of all that makes life worth living. You never die you just experience the uselessness, the hopelessness, the emptiness of a life with no meaning, no value, no worth, no accomplishment, no purpose, no goal, no future, no change, no hope. You're ruined forever.
This results in two things:
1. "Away from the presence of the Lord." Wherever this place is called hell, God isn't there. There isn't a vestige of His presence there.
2. “Away from the glory of His power.” They'll never see that. There will be nothing of the presence neither of God nor of his power there. Nothing of His presence to comfort, nothing of His presence to give beauty, pleasure, joy, peace, happiness, nothing of His presence to bring those things that make life worth living and nothing of His glory, splendor, majesty and power. His return will come with pain that is eternal that ruins them forever. That's what it means to the people who reject Christ.
WHEN CHRIST RETURNS HE WILL BE GLORIFIED AND VINDICATED 10
1. He comes to be glorified in His saints. That's the first thing. He comes to be fully glorified in His saints. The idea is that the glory of that day will far surpass anything of which we can have any idea before we behold it, and when we do behold it we shall be lost in amazement. He will be glorified in the presence of His saints.
2. "Be marveled at among all who have believed." The entire redeemed humanity in heaven is going to marvel at the glory that God moves through you and me. How God orchestrated the outcome of his purposes for each of us and for the historical record of mankind will be a marvel to behold.
So God is intensely interested in your personal affairs. He has an eye on you. He is working to produce the outcomes he longs for on your behalf. Those outcomes have your eternal welfare at heart. We fight and fuss with God and about his work in our lives. Our expectations are often not his. Yet in heaven we will be amazed at the intricacy of God working in our lives. The people and circumstances and purposes he orchestrated among the years of our lives.
So what is heaven? It is where you are the transparent. A vehicle for the full glory of God, and that's the personal experience of it. And then corporately gathered with all the other believers, you're marveling at what God has done to all of you.