2 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 – God is just (part 2)

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 (part 2)

 

GOD IS JUST 

 

Introduction.

This is part two of a sermon we began last week. God is just and he punishes those who reject him and he rewards those who accept his offer of new life through Jesus by faith in him.

 

One day Christ will return and he will call to account ALL people. Those who remain unrepentant will on that Day be judged.

Those who have acknowledge and obeyed God will on that Day be vindicated.

 

3. It will be all right on the Day.

 

The Thessalonian Christians were suffering because of their faith in Christ.

 

Jesus taught that suffering was the unavoidable path to glory – for himself and his followers.  “… who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”

 

Suffering and glory belong together – Romans 8:17 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (NIV)

 

3.1. The “When” – “Who” – “What” of God’s punishment.

 

When will God put right the injustices of this world?

2 Thessalonians 1:7 7 …… This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (NIV)

 

Jesus will come himself —– we read here in blazing fire. A symbol of God’s holiness – a consuming holiness — he will come as judge of all the earth.

 

Who will he punish?

2 Thessalonians 1:8 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (NIV)

 

However, the scope of God’s punishment is directed against all those who wilfully reject the knowledge of God and the gospel [good news] about Jesus.

The REB [Revised English Bible] best grasps the original meaning – “… those who refuse to acknowledge God and will not obey the gospel…”

 

What will be their punishment?

2 Thessalonians 1:9 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power

 

Talking about hell and God’s punishment is not a popular subject –

 

God has gone out of his way and done everything that he can possibly do – supremely in sending his Son Jesus Christ – God doesn’t want any one to be punished. Jesus took the punishment in our place. God longs that we come to him. 2 Peter 3:9

 

Those who come will share in God’s glory.

Those who refuse to come will incur God’s punishment.

 

Choices and consequences are part of life!

We believe we have a fundamental right to choose. And we are free to choose but what we are not free to do is choose the consequences of our choices.

 

Paul’s description of God’s future judgement is based upon the consequences of an unavoidable choice – the decision whether to accept or reject the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ.

– those who refuse to acknowledge God and will not obey the gospel will find themselves “shut out” from the presence of God and his majesty.

 

This is only half the equation – we still need to consider the glory that awaits those who do know and obey God.

By sharing with the Thessalonians the vision of the future consequences of a choice made Paul is seeking to encourage them and us to remain faithful to God in spite of difficulties.

 

If we are God’s people the thought of that day should not fill us with dread – It will be all right on the day

 

3.2. The “When” – “Who” – “What” of God’s Reward.

 

When will Believers receive God’s rewards?

This will happen on the Day when Jesus is revealed – when there will be a sharing in his glory – 2 Thessalonians 1:10 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (NIV)

 

 

 

However, they did not have to wait until Christ’s return to begin to enjoy some of the blessings – This becomes clear in v12. – 2 Thessalonians 1:12 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

 

Christians are not waiting empty handed until the Second Coming. It is not as if we have no rewards and benefits from the gospel now. We have many. Eternal Life begins now! Jesus didn’t say to Nicodemus in John 3, “You must be born again at the end of time!” It starts in the present.

 

Who will be rewarded?

We saw last week that those who refuse to obey God will be “Shut out” from God’s presence.

It is clear in this context that it is the Thessalonians who are rewarded – as well as all who acknowledge God and obey the gospel in contrast to those who refuse to do so.

 

The question then of course is, “What is this reward?”

 

What is the reward?

The reward is that we will share Christ’s glory. The Bible does seem to teach that there will be degrees of reward in heaven.  We must guard against a misunderstanding of rewards – The joy and fulfilment of each believer will be full and complete for eternity. We tend to think on a human level and our perception of happiness is based on the assumption that happiness depends on what we possess or the power or status we have.

In actuality our true happiness is found is a relationship with God and the recognition and status that HE has given us.

If complete happiness depends on the greatest status then even in heaven we will be disappointed – the apostles will have higher places / as will others.

 

Our reward and fulfilment will be that we share in His glory. What does this mean?

 

A brief grammar lesson.

Gk. Word – “en” – in the NIV as “in his holy people” and “among all believers”

It is one of those word that can be translated by a host of prepositions – in, by, with, through, among,…

 

How then is Jesus to be glorified in relation to him people?

  • Not among – like a celebrity mixing with the audience at the theatre – she may be amongst them by they are not sharing her glory.
  • Not by – as if they are spectators watching and applauding.
  • Not through / by means of – as if they are mirrors that simply reflect something but have no part of it.

Rather – “IN” – Stott uses the illustration of a filament from a light bulb or electric radiator. The filament itself glows with light / heat when the electric current passes through it.

The difference between these models is crucial.

–         a theatre is not changed by the players that perform in it.

–         An audience in not necessarily changed/ moved by the drama they watch.

–         A mirror is not affected by the images it reflects.

BUT A filament is changed – when the current is switched in it becomes incandescent.

 

SO when Jesus is revealed in his glory not only will his people see his glory BUT they will also share his glory.

Now all illustrations are limited and so too this about the filament. – When the current is switched off the filament goes dark and cold. NOT SO with God’s glory in his people. We will be radically and permanently changed, being transformed into his likeness.

1 John 3:2 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (NIV)

 

Some how, in a way that we can not yet appreciate or understand we will glow with His glory.

The occasion when Jesus was on the Mt. of Transfiguration gives us an insight.

Matthew 17:1-5 1 … Jesus took with him Peter, James and John …. up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. …            4 ….

5 …, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (NIV)

 

In other words Jesus’ body became the vehicle for his glory. In a similar way it will be so with his spiritual body, the Church. The Church will be transfigured by the glory of Christ.

 

Now if this is all a bit too esoteric for you then let us come down to the nitty-gritty of this present world in which we are to live.

 

 

4. Future Glory – Present purpose and practice.

 

The Bible never allows us to live with our heads in the clouds! The promise of a secure future for the Christian doesn’t allow us to presume that we can live anyhow in the present.

 

Two things Paul prays for:

2 Thessalonians 1:11

1st        –  …, that our God may count you worthy of his calling,

2nd     – ….and that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

 

It is not that we are worthy to be called by God – God doesn’t act graciously towards us because we deserve it. Grace in fact means that we are receiving something that we do not deserve.

What Paul is appealing for is that having been called by God and having received his gift of eternal life in Jesus we will in the here and now conduct ourselves in harmony with that gospel-call.

What Paul is appealing for is that in the estimation of God himself we may live and act as it becomes Christians – that we may be worth of the name Christian / God’s people.

Ephesians 4:1 …, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

 

When God called us we were undeserving and unworthy and we were given new life in Christ. Since then, since coming to faith in Christ, God continues to work in us to narrow the gap between what we were when he called us and what we should be and shall be.

2 Corinthians 3:18 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (NIV)

 

2nd     – ….and that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

— every .. purpose – resolve

— every act – work

These two things show that the Christian life is never an easy ride.  It requires resolve and it requires work. This is not to gain acceptance with God BUT having come to God by faith we must live out that faith in a practical day-to-day manner.

 

It is not just resolve and work per say. Criminals can be resolute and work hard at what they do but that is not very commendable

It is good resolve / purpose  — It is work in response to faith!!

 

Always our intentions and actions are judged by our attitudes.

In order for a purpose to be good it must be in keeping with God’s purposes as only God is good.

Good resolve / purpose is insufficient if it is not translated into action.

I can resolve to pray but if I never pray it is not much good.

I can resolve to show kindness to someone but if it doesn’t prompt action what is the point. ………. And on and on.

 

Such a way of living is only possible for the Christian because of the power of God available to each one and when our attitude is one of faith and trust in God.

In v3 we saw Paul talking about our growing faith and increasing love –

 

ILLUS.: An athlete increases in ability as he exercises and practices.

 

As we workout our faith and put into practice what we believe we grow spiritually – the muscle of our faith are built up

 

What is the reason for our endeavouring to live this way?

2 Thessalonians 1:12 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

When God’s people, enabled by God’s power, live in a way that is worthy of their calling and their resolve produces goodness and their faith produces good works – THEN Jesus is seen and honoured in them.

 

We have talked of the glory of Christ we Jesus returns. We do not have to wait until then to see something of the glory of Christ.

Sure it will be spectacular then – awe-inspiring cosmic splendour as the heavens light up when he appears / and the trumpet blasts / and the archangel shouts / ..

 

In the meantime we can see the glory of Christ in his people as we by faith display in attitude and action the characteristics of Jesus. Even now the filament can glow in us with the glory of God.

 

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,

All his wondrous compassion and purity,

Oh, Thou Spirit Divine,

All my nature refine,

Till the beauty of Jesus is seen in me. [MP136]

 

 

GOD IS JUST

 

2 Thessalonians 1v1-12 (Part 2)

 

“It will be all right on the Day” v5-10

 

The “When” – “Who” – “What” of God’s punishment

 

The “When” – “Who” – “What” of God’s rewards

¨   When will this be?

¨   Who will be rewarded?

¨   What is the reward?

To share in His Glory –

– not only to see it as spectators but also to receive it and be changed by it

 

 

Present purpose and practice.  v11-12

 

¨  “… that our God may count you worthy of his calling”

¨  “… that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith”

 

 

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,

All his wondrous compassion and purity,

Oh, Thou Spirit Divine,

All my nature refine,

Till the beauty of Jesus is seen in me.

 

 

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