Grace For The Journey
We continue to look at 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 again today. Yesterday we looked at the first sign the Thessalonians were given by Paul of the nearness of Christ’s coming – there will be a great “falling away” from the faith. Today we will look at the second sign – “… the man of sin is revealed.“
After 14 years of studying the Bible, William Miller became convinced that Christ would return in 1843. When Miller announced April 3 as the day, some disciples went to mountaintops, hoping for a head start to heaven. Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in reunion with their departed loved ones. Philadelphia society ladies clustered together outside town to avoid entering God’s kingdom amid the common herd. When April 4 dawned as usual the Millerites were disillusioned, but they took heart. Their leader had predicted a range of dates for Christ’s return. They still had until March 21, 1844. The devout continued to make ready, but again they were disappointed. A third date – October 22, 1844 was set, but it also passed. Many people were swayed and confused by these end time teachings, and ultimately many turned not only from faith in those predictions but also from faith in Jesus.
This is a big part of the reason
That we need to have
A good foundation of what
The Bible teaches about the end times
And a firm grasp upon our faith.
In our text Paul writes to a church that had become confused once again about the end times and he writes to set them straight. The question for us is “How do we avoid confusion in the midst of the last days?” I want us to look at three simple, yet important, things that will help to guard against our faith becoming corrupted and confused.
The first thing that we need to guard against is, we must not be dismayed.
Paul says this in verses 1-2, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.”
Apparently, the church at Thessalonica, or some members of it, had become distraught because a rumor had circulated that the “Day of the Lord” had come and gone and they had missed it. Paul seems to suggest that a letter or a report had falsely been sent in Paul’s name. Paul is writing to correct these things.
The job of the enemy of our souls is to cause disbelief and disorder in the church; over the years one of his favorite methods is causing confusion about the end times.
Granted, because of all the preaching and teaching on this subject, the subject of the Second Coming of Christ can get a little confusing at times. For example, there are some Bible teachers that believe in the Post-millennial theory of the Second Coming of Christ. This theory holds that the church will remain on the earth until the Return of Christ at the end of this present age, at which time the church will be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord when He Returns. That is, the Rapture of the church and the Return of Christ will take place at the very same time, and conversely, the church will go through the tribulation and then experience the millennial reign of Christ.
Then there are those Bible preachers and teachers that hold to an A-millennial theory of the Second Coming of Christ. This theory holds that there will be no millennial reign of Christ at all. That is, they believe that everyone will be raptured at the same time and will all stand at a “General Judgment” before the Lord.
There are other Bible preachers and teachers that hold to a theory of Pre-millennial theory of the Second Coming Of Christ. This theory holds that Jesus will rapture the church; there will be a seven-year tribulation period, followed by the millennial reign of Christ on the earth, which will be followed by the Eternal State.
Here is the bottom line – regardless of the correct theological interpretation concerning the Second Coming of Christ, you are not going to “miss” the Lord’s return if you’re trusting in Jesus – you don’t have to wonder about that. Your salvation is based upon what Christ did and the fact that you are trusting in that. The Day of the Lord isn’t going to come secretly and all of a sudden you realize that you have missed it.
The first thing that I want to drive home to you is this. . .
With regard to the Lords return
And specifically with regard
To teaching about it –
Don’t be dismayed.
The second thing that we need to guard against is, we need to be careful that we are not deceived.
Paul discusses this in verses 3-12. In this passage he points out some truths that we do not have to wonder about:
First, we know that the forces of evil are at work in our world today.
Paul says in verses 6-7, “And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of iniquity is already work …”
Now we need to be careful right here, because Paul is not saying that the Antichrist is already here, he is simply saying that the attitude of lawlessness and rebellion that marks the work of Antichrist is already at work in our world today. And I don’t think there is a person on the face of this earth that can deny that fact.
Christians today are the most persecuted group in the world. Persecution is on the rise because of Communism, the expansion of Islamic and Hindu extremism, and because of the anti-Christ spirit that is prevalent throughout the world. Literally hundreds of thousands of people today are being killed, brutalized, sold as slaves, imprisoned, tortured, threatened, discriminated against and arrested solely because they are Christians.
1 Peter 4:12-16 has given us this warning, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. If any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.”
Jesus said this in John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you, a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”
The truth of is matter is that Christian persecution can be traced all the way back to Christianity’s beginnings. Jesus Christ Himself was martyred on the cross. Eleven of the twelve apostles were martyred for their faith. John was the only apostle who died a natural death. The Early Church faced widespread persecution with Stephen being the first Christian martyr.
Therefore, it is a fact that the attitude of lawlessness and rebellion is at work in our world today.
Second, we know that the restraining power that is now hindering Satan from having his way in today’s world is a “He.”
Look again at verse 7, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” It is evident that whoever this person is, he must be stronger than the devil, for it is Satan that is being restrained.
With that thought in mind, look at 1 John 4:4 where the Bible tells us, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world.”
In this present age, God in His sovereignty is holding back the power of the Satan, and restraining him from doing all that he wants to do.
As bad as the world is,
It is not as bad
As it could be.
As evil as man is,
He is not as evil
As he could be.
But one of these days, God is going to remove that restraining power and allow Satan to have the fullness of power and authority on this earth.
But when is this going to take place? The Holy Spirit was given to the Church on the day of Pentecost, and when the Church is translated, or Raptured, the Spirit’s restraining ministry will be completed, and therefore will cease. Therefore, “the day of the Lord” will not fully come until the church is taken out of this world, and the restraining power of the Holy Spirit is removed!
Now what does the Bible mean when it talks about the man of lawlessness and a rebellion before the day of the Lord? In answer to this questions, for the purposes of my blog, I am just giving a simple overview of the subject. When it comes to the identity of “the man of sin, the son of perdition,” there is much controversy among theologians. Some believe that the antichrist is an evil dictator that will rule the earth during the tribulation, which will occur before the Lord returns for His church. Others believe the church will go through the first 3 ½ years of the tribulation before it is raptured when the antichrist is revealed and a time of great suffering and pouring out of God’s wrath will take place before the Lord return in the Second Coming. Still others believe that the Lord is going to rapture His church immediately prior to the tribulation period; the antichrist will become a world leader, will sign a counterfeit Peace Treaty with Israel and operate under-cover for the first 3 ½ years of the tribulation period. He will then reveal himself for who he really is, break his treaty with Israel and it is during this last 3 ½ years God will unleash His wrath referred in prophecy as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” or “the great tribulation.” After these seven years, Christ will then return to establish His millennial reign on the earth prior to establishing the Eternal State. Those who believe the last two view distinguish between the rapture and the Second Coming (Day of the Lord).
And, thirdly, the last thing that we should guard against is that we must not be distracted.
Paul says this in verses 13-15, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”
In other words . . .
Do not become so distracted
By thinking, studying, waiting on,
The return of Christ
That you forget the purpose
For which you were saved.
There is a world of lost people
Just outside the walls of your church
That need to hear
The Good News of Jesus Christ.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”