Finishing The Race For Jesus – part 2: The Book of 2 Timothy

In the first of this two-part series, we examined the last letter (2 Peter) written by the apostle Peter just before his demise. At approximately the same time, the apostle Paul writes his last letter as well – which came to be known as the biblical book of 2 Timothy.

We find Paul arrested and imprisoned in Rome once again. This time he is awaiting his imminent execution. Just like it happened to Jesus, many of the lukewarm believers are now abandoning Paul in his final hours. Yet Paul soldiers on, writing his last letter to his faithful disciple Timothy, to encourage him to continue fighting the good fight of faith:

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel… 2 Tim. 1:6 – 10. NKJV

God has placed a gift within each and every one of us, to be used for advancing His kingdom, by leading others to salvation through Christ. It is our most precious duty as the children of God. So, how do we do that?

Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and the love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Tim. 1:13, 14. ESV

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tim. 2:1, 2. NKJV

Paul is telling us to preserve God’s word in its purity, and to continue to ask the Holy Spirit for deeper revelation of that word, in order that we may both perceive it and pass it along to others with the utmost clarity – so that they may do the same. Our task is a godly and sacrificial one that rises above the opposition in the world:

Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him. 2 Tim. 2:3, 4. AMP

Think over these things I am saying [understand them and grasp their application], for the Lord will grant you full insight and understanding in everything. 2 Tim. 2:7 AMP

Then, Paul tells Timothy that regardless of present personal circumstances and appearances, the power behind the word of God will always accomplish His will:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 2 Tim. 2:8, 9. ESV

Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying:

If we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.
If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him, He will also deny us.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Tim. 2:10 – 13. NKJV

We have the power of God in us to overcome anything that the world throws our way. God, through Christ, strengthens us with a guaranteed hope that we were spiritually reborn when we accepted Jesus as our savior. Our heavenly calling is to spread the gospel in the midst of the spiritual struggles on earth, so that we can claim our eternal reward.

There is no hope for those who deny the Son of God. We however, can rest in peace, knowing that we stand in His loving acceptance through our faith in Christ. Our heavenly charge is to share this peace with as many others as we can, by living out Christ’s example:

Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.

But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness. 2 Tim. 2:15, 16. AMP

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Tim. 2:19 NKJV

Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Tim. 2:21, 22. NASB

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24 – 26. NKJV

Paul is saying that we need to be intimately familiar with the accurate meanings of God’s word (via the Holy Spirit) so that we are always prepared to engage in communication that is rich in salvation for the ears of the hearer. Keeping that as our prime focus, we can rise above the petty and meaningless drivel that passes itself off so often as viable discourse in the world. Also, for God’s words to have impact, they must come from the mouths of those who have separated themselves from the ways of that same world.

Finally, we want to bring the good news with gentleness. We are not to try to win our way through violence, but instead we want to peacefully disarm with love…

We are beacons of light for Christ, uncovering the darkness – a task that will grow increasingly vital as time passes and the doubters turn more and more to the base desires of their flesh:

…in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.

Avoid such people. 2 Tim. 3:1 – 5. ESV

Sounds like the ‘last days’ are ‘these days’ don’t they? It’s up to us to keep the faith because this ‘cold new world’ will be increasingly hostile towards the followers of Christ:

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Tim. 3:12, 13. NKJV

Nevertheless, exposing people to the ‘good news’ remains our prime focus, because it is only that news, which brings the eternal life that will be conferred by God Himself upon those who accept it, and it will complete God’s intended work in them:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16 NKJV

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and understanding.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Tim. 4:1 – 4. ESV

God wants all of His children out soldiering for His kingdom, gathering souls in for their salvation while there are still people willing to receive His message.

That is the greatest show of love that we can make for others – presenting them with the chance for endless love. Whether they accept it or not is entirely up to them; we will have faithfully delivered the message and can stand at the judgment seat of Christ at the end of time, and hopefully speak the words of Paul’s final outpouring for His Savior:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Tim. 4:7, 8. NKJV

I can just picture Jesus welcoming Paul with open arms, exclaiming, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Epilogue

Shortly after the apostle Paul (and Peter simultaneously) finished their last letters, church tradition tells us that Nero executed them both.

We can be eternally grateful that God sent these powerful soldiers of His to deliver the salvation promise with such clarity, conviction, and boldness; and they did so in spite of the many obstacles that the devil had laid in their paths.

There is only one original apostolic Love Soldier left standing. Next time…

Good night and God bless.

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Understanding What Christ Did: The Book of Romans – part 3

In the second part of this series, Unified By Faith, we continued to examine the apostle Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome, (now known as the Biblical book of Romans). In the section of the letter that we looked at, Paul was explaining the centerpiece of God’s salvation through Christ – that is, having faith in who Jesus is, (the Son of God) and what He did.

Having a better understanding of what it is that you are having faith in, always strengthens faith. So today, we will look at the section of Paul’s letter that brings a greater clarity to what Jesus did and what it meant.

First and foremost, God sent Jesus so that He could undo the sin of Adam and point you heavenward: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men– Rom. 5:12 NKJV

But the free gift is not like offense. For if by one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.

And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.

For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Rom. 5:15 – 17. NKJV

…as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 5:21 NKJV

Through God’s clemency and grace, He struck down your Adam-derived death sentence through the free gift of Jesus Christ; and the suspension of your sentence is eternal.

Well, if Jesus has already done all this work for us, are we then free to sin at will?

Shall we continue to sin so that grace may abound? Certainly not!

How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

…that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life. Rom. 6:1 – 4. NKJV

…our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Rom. 6:6, 7. NKJV

For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its lusts…but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace. Rom. 6:10 – 14. NKJV

Jesus died for all of our sins for all time, and those who receive Him have, at that very moment, total access to that transformation of righteousness – literally becoming new men and women in Christ.

As a new creature in Christ, we are asked to walk as best we can, in a new way, God’s way – being doers of the word and not hearers only. (James 1:22)

However, the flesh will not give up on its cravings; and there will be moments when we are weak-willed and give into them. Yet we can always tap into the resurrection power of Christ to help us stand in opposition to sin, to keep our transgressions to a minimum; because God promises us that He will always provide a way out of our predicaments. (1 Cor. 10:13) When we do slip, we can turn to God with confession and repentance…

God wants us as far away from sin as possible because He knows that it is so destructive:

Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Rom. 6:15, 16. NKJV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 6:23 NKJV

God has a much higher road prepared for you to walk on:

…you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to one another – to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. Rom. 7:4 NKJV

Paul goes on to write about how the law itself is not bad, and that its job is to show us our sin – so that we could see the need for our salvation. He uses his own personal struggles with sin to emphasize his point:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Rom. 7:14, 15. ESV

So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Rom. 7:17, 18. ESV

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. Rom. 7:21 ESV

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. Rom. 7:24, 25. NKJV

We can see then that the Mosaic Law was intended to be a spiritual standard, wherein one’s total obedience to it would guarantee a 100% righteous state before God.

However, there is a continual war within us – between our spirit, which can and wants to obey the law, and the Adam-sin-tainted flesh, which relishes rebellion against the same.

God is showing us His mercy, in bringing to us one of His mightiest spiritual warriors, and revealing to us Paul’s struggles with his own humanity. Our loving Father in heaven is showing us the need to apply mercy and compassion to everyone, ourselves as well, and lay condemnation aside.

God knows about our internal tug-of-war. Even when we seek to be in obedience and advance His kingdom, the voice of Satan is ever-present in our flesh, trying to convince us to do otherwise.

When we do slip and fall, we gain nothing by condemning ourselves. (Remember how Jesus refused to condemn the adulteress?) We have only lost a skirmish, not the entire battle. Christ is at the helm; and the lost skirmish is wiped out through our confession and repentance that connects us with His blood of redemption.

Indeed, Jesus leads us to victory in the battle: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Rom. 8:1 – 4. NASB

What a God! What a Son! See the word ‘now’ in the beginning of that scripture? God has already freed those from the condemnation of sin who received Christ and placed their faith in His death and resurrection. And that condemnation has been removed for every transgression we have committed or ever will commit, as long as we try to do our best to walk in the spirit and emulate Jesus.

We have actually met all of the Law through the efforts of Jesus on our behalf; and we walk presently in the new found freedom of God’s new and final covenant – through Christ. Moreover, Christ Himself empowers us to live that spirit-filled life. We only have to exercise our free will to make the right choices:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Rom. 8:5, 6. NKJV

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile towards God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom. 8:7, 8. ESV

In other words, when we set our minds on going after the ways of the world, we rebel against God, and death is the guaranteed outcome. Praise God that He showers those who choose Him and His ways, through His Son, with His love, mercy, and grace for all eternity:

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of God, he is not His.

And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Rom. 8:9 – 11. NKJV

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. for you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba Father.”

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Rom. 8:13 – 17. NKJV

When you accept Christ, you are filled with the Holy Spirit – cloaking you with the righteousness of Jesus, which wipes all of your sins off of the heavenly ledger. And, you become adopted sons and daughters – bathed in love and joy, along with a little suffering as well, because the enemy will now declare ‘open season’ on you, as he tries to tear you away from the arms of your Savior.

However, what did Jesus tell us? “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27, 28. NKJV

That’s what Christ did…

Goodnight and God bless.

What Happened On The Cross: The Book of 1 Corinthians – part 5

This installment is the last of our series on Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth, now known as the Bible book of 1 Corinthians. Let’s dive right in:

…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.

After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to be present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of time. 1 Cor. 15:2 – 8. NKJV

Thus, Paul begins making the case for the first and most important event at the cross: that of Jesus’ salvation death and resurrection – of which there were many witnesses. Indeed, Paul makes that salvation connection next:

…Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 1 Cor. 15:20 – 26. NKJV

Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him (God) who put all things under Him, (Jesus) that God may be all in all. 1 Cor. 15:28 NKJV

When Christ was transformed at His resurrection into this new God-Man existence, He became His Father’s agent of Man’s resurrection. Jesus is the first fruit of the ‘resurrection harvest’ of humanity, at the end of time. He guaranteed resurrection for God’s children by wiping out the spiritual death, (which ultimately results in physical death as well) brought on us by Adam’s original sin.

That cleansing is only available to those who accept Christ’s invitation for salvation – which frees God’s children from the ravages of time and death. Given that this is so, Paul now attempts to get the Corinthians to clean up their act and prepare themselves for Christ’s return:

Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character.
Awake [from your drunken stupor and return] to sober sense and your right minds, and sin no more. 1 Cor. 15:33, 34. AMP

Paul then tells them how God will make it possible for them to rise from their graves:

The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.

It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust, the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor. 15:42 – 58. NKJV

Wow! Christ’s work at the cross enables us to be resurrected as both righteous, and transcendent of the Law. We get a new body, made in His image, which never wears out! Our physical sufferings are a forgotten memory, and we stand ready to enter into an eternity of the unimaginable; and it’s all about The Love…

Such a deal! Makes a great case for connecting with our God through Jesus, yes?

(Well, because our message today was a quite a bit shorter than usual, I’m going to insert a short historical segue that will lead us into the Bible book of 2 Corinthians:

The date is approximately 55 A.D. Nero is the present ruler of Rome.

Paul paid a second visit to the church of Corinth which did not work out very well, although we are not given much details about the ‘why.’ He then returned to the city of Ephesus, whereupon Paul sent the Corinthians a ‘tearful’ letter – implied to be one that expressed his disappointment of their spiritual state, as well as his dismay over the manner in which they received him.

Unfortunately, just like Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, this tearful letter was lost as well.

During Paul’s stay in Ephesus, he preached against idolatry – the outcome of which produced a loss of revenue for a certain silversmith who fashioned and sold pagan idols. The silversmith stirred up a the unbelievers to riot against Paul.

Paul left Ephesus and traveled to the region of Macedonia. He wanted to return to Corinth, but he first waited for a report that was to come from his brother in Christ, Titus. Titus sent a good report, informing Paul that the Corinthians were happily waiting for his return.

Paul’s first response was to send a letter to encourage the faithful – a letter we now know as the Bible book of 2 Corinthians.)

Next time…

Good night, and God bless.

The Second Coming of Christ: 1 and 2 Thessalonians

In our last post, Paul Takes Another Trip, we followed the apostle Paul on his second missionary journey. At the end of his trip, Paul stayed eighteen months in the church of Corinth. It was at that time, (~ 50 A.D.) that Paul wrote the letters [with a little help from Silas (also called Silvanus) a prophet and elder of the church in Jerusalem) and Timothy – a Christian acolyte whom Paul was mentoring] that would become the Bible books 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Paul writes the first letter in response to a report from Timothy; Timothy said that there was confusion in the church of Thessalonica. The congregants were afraid that if they died before Jesus’ return, they would lose their salvation. The church was also concerned about secular persecution that they were experiencing in their region.

Paul begins by commending the church for their exemplary walk in Christ: For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you; in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? 1 Thess. 2:19 NASB

He also reminisces fondly of his prior ministry there, and speaks to his own method of preaching – one that sets a good example for all of us:

But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. 1 Thess. 2:4 NKJV

Paul is telling us that it is only God’s approval of our behavior that ultimately counts; and that approval only comes when we speak the truth (God’s word) and live by it.

He continues by telling the church that he had sent Timothy to them previously, to strengthen them in their faith, so that they may face their trials and tribulations with courage. Then he reminds them of their calling: For you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. 1 Thess. 3:3 ESV

(Jesus told us that we would be hated for following Him. We are the ‘peculiar people’ in the world who have chosen to walk the narrow path – the only path that leads to an eternity of complete love. It’s the path where we walk in love):

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all…so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. 1 Thess. 3:12, 13. NKJV

Paul then reminds them of when he had previously taught them how to walk on that path:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger of all these things…For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man, but God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thess. 4:3 – 8. ESV

Now, Paul gives them a few more pointers from God for staying on the love path:

Be at peace among yourselves…admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thess. 5:13 – 22. ESV

Paul then addresses the main event – bringing clarity to their confusion over the return of Jesus Christ:

Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest who have no hope [beyond the grave].

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him through Jesus those who have fallen asleep [in death]. For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death]. 1 Thess. 4:13 – 15. AMP

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. NKJV

How cool is that? God is letting us know that we don’t need to worry about the followers of Christ who die before He returns – because they will be the first ones that Jesus will rally to Him. Those who are still living when He returns, get to become airborne to join the eternal throng.

Jesus’ ‘second coming,’ the ‘day of the Lord’ will be wondrous for the followers of Christ, but it will be decidedly disastrous for those who have chosen not to:

…the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and Safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains…and they will not escape.

But you brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith, and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 1 Thess. 5:2 – 8. NASB

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should be together with Him. 1 Thess. 5:9, 10. NKJV

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thess. 5:24 NKJV

Paul, again with some help from Silas and Timothy, sends off the second letter to the church, shortly after the first, because there was a false teacher in their midst who was circulating a counterfeit letter, supposedly from Paul, that said the day of the Lord had already come and gone.

He begins by encouraging them to endure in the face of persecution. Then he tells them that when Jesus returns, it will be a day that cannot be mistaken for any other:

God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 2 Thess. 1:6 – 10. ESV

Paul is taking about the ‘great sifting.’ That’s the time to be on the side of Jesus.

He then instructs the church not to put any faith into this counterfeit letter in circulation, stressing that indeed the day of the Lord has not come:

Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the son of doom (of perdition), who opposes and exalts himself so proudly and insolently against and over all that is called God or that is worshiped, [even to his actually] taking his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming that he himself is God. 2 Thess. 2:3, 4. AMP

What Paul is saying is that there will be unmistakably distinct events that presage the second coming of Christ. One of those will be the revelation of the identity of the lawless one (the Antichrist) – who will be worshiped by most of humanity as he proclaims himself to be God. (This will be revealed in great detail when we visit the last Bible book: The Revelation of Jesus Christ.) However, Paul gives us a few teasers now:

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work… 2 Thess. 2:7 NKJV (i.e. there is already a force of evil at work in the world.)

And then the lawless one (the antichrist) will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by His appearing at His coming. 2 Thess. 2:8 AMP

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they have refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess. 2:9 – 12. ESV

Thus, the Antichrist will be empowered by Satan himself – to be able to work false miracles, bringing him the adulation and worship of a rebellious world. It is then that God will begin the extraction process of those who pandered to themselves – separating them from the children of God. We also see that when Jesus returns, the curtain is coming down for the Antichrist.

Paul then changes focus in his narrative to encourage the church (that would be us) to be steadfast in our faith:

…God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught… 2 Thess. 2:13 – 15. NKJV

(God chose you before you took your first breath.)

Finally, the apostle writes his parting remarks:

Yet the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen [you] and set you on a firm foundation and guard you from the evil [one]. 2 Thess. 3:3 AMP

…do not weary of doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 2 Thess. 3:13 – 15 NKJV

God is always on your side. When you stick with Him, the devil hasn’t got a chance against you.

We see too that God is always about practicing love. Even if a brother or sister in Christ backslides, you are to distance yourself from them – not to punish them, but in a loving way that encourages their return to the arms of God through Jesus Christ. It’s always about the love.

If we remain at the side of God, ‘the day of the Lord’ is something that we can look forward to with rapt expectation…

Goodnight and God bless.