This evening, we will finish our journey through the apostle Paul’s admonishments and directions to the believers at Thessalonica. We have looked at a few different topics of the first and second epistles:
Directive to know those who teach you
Directive to examine the message for biblical truth
Directive to understand that redemption changes each one of the three levels of life: spirit, soul, and body.
Directive to be fruitful and productive.
Tonight, we will look at some scriptural teaching regarding the coming of the Lord and the appearance of the Antichrist. Okay, let’s take a walk through the things that this letter is telling the Thessalonians and better yet, its timeless message to us. It appears that the impetus for the part of the epistle regarding the coming of the Lord was a letter or communication that supposedly came from the apostles stating that the coming of the Lord had already taken place. To set this straight, the apostle reminds the believers of some of the things that he had already taught them.
If the Christian dead are in the ground, the Lord’s coming has not happened.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, the apostle begins a discussion of the dead in Christ. He states: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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.” This is God’s order. If you see your Christian brothers and sisters in the ground, the Lord has not come.
A falling away of Christians will precede the coming of the Lord.
apostasía (from /aphístēmi, "leave, depart," which is derived from /apó, "away from" and /histémi, "stand") – properly, departure (implying desertion); apostasy – literally, "a leaving, from a previous standing."
This does not necessarily mean that people will abandon religion but that people will abandon the saving faith through Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul was already seeing this seductive process take place. Instead of a life of faith, other things began to be exalted in the church; abstaining from eating certain foods – exaltation of celibacy and virginity – exaltation of the clergy and their authority, etc.
As these things began to infiltrate the church, people began to fall away from sound doctrine in favor of works, false purity, higher priestly classes with special spiritual positions and graces. Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he had warned them of the replacement of grace with aesthetic practices.
Before the coming of the Lord, the man of sin will be revealed.
It helps to understand what was beginning when the apostle wrote this. As Paul prayed and sought God and observed what was going on in the church, he could see the coming formation of a church founded upon the authority of bishops with an ensuing struggle for total authority. He could see the replacement of human change through true repentance with absolution given by special ministers through works instead of true repentance. Most of the early church fathers (not apostles) believed that Paul was speaking of the rising of what would become the priestly class and eventually, the papacy.
The scripture goes on to say in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7: “And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 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.” The interpretation of these verses has always been a point of wonder. Many scholars believe that Paul was saying that this Satanic takeover of Christianity with a man of sin at its head is coming. They believe that the Thessalonians must have been familiar with what was restraining this takeover because Paul had told them when he was with them. Most early church fathers believe that Paul was saying that what would become the papacy was coming but was being held back by the total authority of the Roman Empire. Once this was removed – however that would happen – a corrupted religious empire would arise that would exercise control in civil and religious matters.
It’s easy to see that this did happen. A church of works built upon the interpretation of righteousness by a papacy and priestly class arose which kept the word of God out of the hands of the people. This papacy decreed authority in the civil realm and ruled through its decrees and its control over kings. Yet, it’s easy to see that this was not a phenomenon relegated to a certain time in history. This Satanic system would continue to operate and its full power would gradually be revealed.
In its culmination, it would have a human ruler who declared himself to be God who would deceive people the world over even many believing Christians – one who would do signs and wonders and exercise control over the economy and the military. This system would not be destroyed until the coming of the Lord. These things must take place before the coming of the Lord. The apostle Paul stated that watchful, sober, lovers of Jesus would be able to see these signs and know the coming of the Lord was near. These true believers in Jesus will escape the wrath of God which will judge those who follow Satan and will live with the Lord forever!
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
2 Thessalonians 4:13
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Our goal is to build a life in Christ that is not determined by the culture but the Scriptures. The culture “infects” us with ideas, goals, and paradigms that create a form of “Christianity” that is actually contrary to what the Holy Spirit builds within us. It may come as a shock to many but God […]