Living For Jesus: Hope In The Second Coming!
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.” NIV
If I asked you, “Do you know where you will spend eternity?” do you have an answer? Do you know what’s going to happen when Jesus returns? Do you know without any doubt that you are saved?
The Apostle Paul has shared teaching in First Thessalonians about the “Rapture.” The snatching of believers up in the air to meet the Lord and get our resurrection bodies. First the dead in Christ will rise, then the believers who are alive will be caught up in the Air. Jesus never physically steps on the earth at the time of the rapture. Now Paul wants to remind them of some teaching on the Second Coming of Christ.
Hope is the “confident expectation of better days ahead.” Hope is not positive thinking. Hope comes from God. Real hope is rational faith in a real God who made a perfect universe--that sin is now at work to destroy! God has promised to make creation perfect again, in the future- that is hope!
Why are there hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and drought? Because the earth is broken. Romans 8 tells us that creation is moaning and longing for “all to be made right!” God is revealing Himself and calling us to Him. God wants you to be part of His family. He wants you to be forgiven of all your sin and restored to a better life and live with Him for eternity--that’s a great deal of Hope!
I want to look at what Paul says in verse 5, “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.” What is the evidence? It takes us back to verse 4 the steadfastness and faith that the Thessalonians have shown during times of persecution and affliction. They have passed the test and are counted worthy for God’s kingdom. They have suffered for the sake of Jesus Christ and they will be blessed.
Verse 6, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief
to you who are troubled, and to us as well.” Here is a promise God will payback trouble
upon those who have troubled you--God is just. There is your answer to injustice! God allows
injustice so that you and I can witness through our steadfastness and faith. Does God do anything for me? Yes, Indeed! He repays with affliction. Here the Greek word means to be in a tight place; like in Star Wars inside the garbage compactor! If you take this out of context: It could seem like you are licking your chops; God is going to get them!
But step back and consider, we are not without fault --by words or actions, or even things you are not aware of. I'm not aware of how I have hurt others and others have hurt me, unintentionally. We can know we are growing in the Lord if our love is increasing. A God like love begins to reach out and include our enemies. As we grow in Jesus, our spirit and the Holy Spirit inside us moves us toward being able to say, “Father forgive them they know not what they are doing.” That is what it means to be worthy of Jesus! We are not perfect, but we want to move toward a Christlikeness. “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” When, that is the question on everyone's mind. Someone asks the doctor, “How much more time do I have?” “When will my savings run out?” “When will my prodigal come home?” “When will I find my soulmate?”
These are some of our individual thoughts and needs. I'll call that the micro, when considering the Lord's return. Our thoughts move to the maximum or the macro. The maximum hope is that Christ will soon return and your suffering will end forever! You may be suffering now- but it will not last forever. The maximum hope is that in eternity there will be no more pain, or suffering, no sickness or death, no more crying, God Himself will wipe away every tear--life is totally changed for the better!
Christ return means God's justice is coming, my suffering is temporary, my eternal life in the love and safety of God begins. The coming of Christ is not good news for everyone. Christ return also means God's vengeance will be released. It's not good news for everyone, and by that I mean the majority.
When Jesus came the First time it was as a servant, and he humbly died on a cross to take away the sin of the world, When He returns, he will come riding on a white horse with a robe dipped in blood and a tattoo on his thigh that says, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” A sword issues from his mouth with which He strikes the nations. He will rule over them. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. He comes as the conquering King! [ I have to pause and say, there is sadness in telling you of the destruction that will take place-real people, people you and I know will perish.]
Vs. 7, He returns with his powerful angels. In the Bible, you have angels who are God’s messengers. But when they return with Jesus they won’t be messengers they will be mercenaries! Powerful angels are the ones sent in the means of His power--literally the instruments of His punishment. Angels are usually described in association with fire and flames.
Who is to say that God's vengeance or retribution isn't long overdue justice? Every unknown injustice, every forgotten punishment, for every wrong--perfectly remembered. And for those who have not sought the refuge from God, the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Saved from what? Saved from the wrath of God, the wrath to come. The wrath of God is coming against two categories of people: those who don't know God and those who don't obey the Gospel.
Those who don't know God, the Bible has said in Proverbs, the fool says in his heart there is no God. In Ecclesiastes it says, that God has put eternity in our hearts...everyone has some kind of awareness there is something or someone greater. They fail to ever seek out and fulfill that inner longing to know God.
The message of the Gospel is intentionally exclusive. We in our twisted, pluralistic society are shocked that there is only one way--When we should be shocked that there is even away. Jesus said, “I am the way... no one comes to the Father but by me.”
How are you doing?
Let's remember that John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave his only son so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Those who do not believe will perish. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life.” Hands up if you anticipate getting a paycheck soon! You understand wages are given according to what you do. What we did was sin! We are uncomfortable being called a sinner. Isaiah 53:6 tells us, “All we like sheep have gone astray;we have turned— every one—to his own way;and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Do you know where you are going to spend eternity? Picture that you are standing in front of a huge chasm, heaven is on the other side. The deep chasm has a stench that smells like sin. How can you get across? Good works won't get you to heaven. Being a good person and kind to your neighbor is not enough. No one will be in heaven without a Savior! Romans 6:23, But the free gift of God is eternal life.” Salvation is by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. I hope you hear that God loves you. God loves everyone and doesn't want anyone to perish; but He won't force anyone to love Him. The day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. When the dust settles, and the believers see Jesus they will marvel at Him. To see his majesty and glory, his power and might, to see his love and compassion and be in awe to see Him! We will stand and marvel at Jesus. Through all eternity will never get tired of seeing Jesus.
When we get to heaven will there be someone there who has believed because of your testimony? Living for Jesus means being sold for Him. There is nothing better. Our love and gratitude can’t be kept in -- it has to spill out!
May God bless you,