Thursday, February 25, 2010

Second Thessalonians, Chapter Two

1 ¶ Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
The word, Rapture, is not in the Bible just as the word, Antichrist, is not found in the book of Revelation. However, we have Biblical phrases like “our gathering together unto him”, which explain the idea of the Rapture very well. This phrase is not a reference to His return to rule the earth, to stand on Mount of Olives;
Zechariah 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
This is about something different than His physical return. We are going to first be gathered together unto Christ.
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Those of us who are not grounded in the word and in the proper way to understand the word of God by fearing God, believing every word is from God, by humility and meekness toward the word, by prayer for instruction, by desiring to obey the word, by meditating on memorized scripture, and by reading it over and over again are easily shaken by some thought, by a sermon, a TV preacher or one on the radio, or even a book because we, not being grounded, simply aren’t sure of what the Bible says.
In recent times, say from 1800 onward, we have heard so many preachers twist the Bible’s plain message to present their own message, wrenching verses out of context, and doctrinally ruining their value to us, that we are able to be fooled by almost anyone. I heard a preacher once say, good preaching isn’t necessarily good doctrine but I disagree now. I believe for preaching to be good it must be doctrinally correct and not confuse the hearers.
But don’t be shaken. Paul is about to lay the money on the barrel. He’s about ready to end this thing with some hard statements.
3 ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
How does the Bible define “falling away”?
Jeremiah 37:13 And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans.
Now, ask yourself, what does “falling away” mean? Examine the way people who believe the Bible are treated, not by unbelievers, but by other so-called Christians? What does falling away mean other than simply betrayal, joining the other side or going over to the enemy? Is it not clear what is happening right now and has been happening progressively since the liberalism of the early 1800’s?
Every war and the increased militarization of our society has lowered the standard of Biblical literacy and morality in America. The Christian church in America is an apostate, violence loving, Bible denying Church awash in carnality and a worship of the profane, EVEN in worship.
Who is the “son of perdition”?
Jesus says in John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
Where did this “son of perdition” go?
Acts 1:25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
What does the phrase “his own place” refer to? Hell? Or is it a place where he has dominion.
1Samuel 5:11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
2Samuel 19:39 And all the people went over Jordan. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place.
Job 2:11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
When you read Revelation, think carefully on this.
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
If the character mentioned in Daniel is the same individual as the Beast of Revelation then notice some other traits he has.
Daniel 11:36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. 37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. 38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. 39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.
Now, historically, this would be one of the inheritors of Alexander’s dominions but prophetically many people view this person in Daniel as the Beast, only they will refer to him as the Antichrist, a word never used in Revelation. It is found in John’s letters as a spirit that denies Christ came in the flesh. It more appropriately lines up with the Gnostic Christian sects of then and now that denied Christ’s humanity or that He was really here in the flesh. Still, the Beast is a type of antichrist, he is an antichrist, he’s the baddest antichrist, so therefore, calling him THE Antichrist is reasonable.
1John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
But, back to the text, we see that there has be a temple again, which was destroyed not many years after Paul wrote this. So, that hasn’t happened yet. Although if you go to it is planned by some. The Beast will demand worship.
Revelation 14:11 and other verses make it clear that the Beast demands worship and that you are to worship his image, as well. We can speculate that that is a statue, robot, or a picture on a TV or computer screen but he claims to be God. Perhaps, the Jews will think this is their long awaited messiah, God in the flesh. Maybe he’ll land in a spaceship. Maybe, like the offspring of the sons of God and women he’ll be very tall, like the characters in the movie, Avatar. He’ll perform miracles. Keep this in mind as you read and study Revelation.
Jesus warns in Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
I have not quoted verses in Revelation because the book is so full of information I’d have to quote almost all of it. You should have read the entire Bible by now for as many years as you’ve been a Christian, at least. Time to get moving.
Of course, you can’t understand the Bible or be given any light from it if you don’t fear God, believe every word is God’s word, be humble toward it, pray asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and instruction, quote memorized scripture to yourself, and read it over and over again. Try turning off your TV and putting aside your Christian movies and books for awhile and read this.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
Paul had apparently talked to them at length about these things when he was there. Wouldn’t that have been a great experience?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
Now, we come to one of those UH-OH moments, a verse that is as hotly contested as the one where some Christians say strange things like Christian women don’t die in child birth, which is an absurdity. In this verse, something is holding back the appearance of the Beast, or the AntiChrist, if you want to use the common expression. But what is it?
The word, withholdeth, defines the specific meaning of the word, letteth, in the next verse. Let can mean to allow, as we normally use it today.
Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The most common belief among American evangelical Christians is that it is the Holy Spirit, indwelling us, that prevents the Beast, the AntiChrist, from appearing. Some, however, say that the mystery of iniquity, the subject of the sentence, is what is holding the Beast back. Here’s the thinking, and I am not endorsing either side, but just presenting the views. Satan does not know when, any more than we do. Therefore, in every generation he has a Beast prepared from Alexander the Great to Napoleon, to Bismarck, to Stalin or Hitler, if you will, but the time is not right yet. The idea that one evil can hold back another evil until its time is found in the 1922 Lateran Treaty between Benito Mussolini, the Italian Fascist Dictator, and the Pope at that time. The Pope ordered the Catholic party to stand down and not to interfere with Mussolini and he exploded onto the world scene. In 1933 Eugenio Pacelli, papal attorney, signed the Reich Concordat with Adolf Hitler. The Catholic Center party was ordered to stand down and not oppose Hitler. Pacelli eventually became Pope Pius XII, who ignored massacres on his own doorstep, prayed publicly for Hitler’s victory at Stalingrad, and was suggested by some as fit to stand trial for war crimes after World War Two. The famous play, The Deputy, is about his tacit support for Hitler. So, one evil can hold back a greater evil until its time.
However, what makes the most sense, from what we know, is that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth and the dispensation of the Law returns. Once the Holy Spirit is gone Satan will have free reign on the earth to which he has been cast down. So, this verse requires some thought and some prayer to understand. We can’t say that the Holy Spirit will be completely gone because God will not be absent from His creation.
Psalm 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
So, its wrong to assert that God’s Spirit will be gone from the earth. That’s not a possibility. It is possible, from a dispensational point of view that God could refrain from acting on human beings in certain ways for a period of time. Remember, in the Old Testament the Spirit would come on someone for a period of time but would also leave. In the Church Age we are permanently indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us. When the Rapture occurs, those indwelt by God will be removed, the thinking goes, and the Holy Spirit will not indwell, which is the reason that in the Tribulation you can lose your salvation.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
For a literalist like myself there is a great deal of information in the Bible about this person who is wickedness personified. A simple word comparison on a computer Bible program will reveal a great deal about “that Wicked”. This particular wicked person is the one destroyed by the Lord with His word and with His glory and cast into the Lake of Fire which you will see by reading Revelation.
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
The Beast won’t be a Benny Hinn. He’ll be able to perform many great miracles and produce signs that will convince everyone that he is really the messiah they’ve been waiting for. It will be so obvious that, if you were here, you would be fooled, and all of your Christian friends would be on you about not going along with this great “man o’ God”.
Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
If you can be fooled by a preacher who doesn’t raise people from the dead or heal the sick then you certainly could be fooled by one who could. But, until Christ calls us out and then returns in glory there will be no apparition of Him, no visit from a God-man, and nothing but the Holy Spirit that indwells us and this Book to tell us about God. Anyone who claims he has come from God to deliver a message to us is a liar as is anyone calling himself an Apostle, etc. etc.
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
You have to receive Jesus Christ. His salvation is there for you but you have to receive it. Have you ever given someone a gift they wouldn’t accept? Follow the word “received” throughout the Bible to get a feel for this.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
People who go to Hell were deceived by their unrighteousness. Our flesh, this world, and the Devil are full of deceptions and lies. All three, but especially our flesh, hate the truth. Very few people you know love the truth. Most people want to manufacture their own reality. You’ll find it hard to even get people to admit they need a Saviour.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
Isaiah 66:4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.
If a person’s heart is not right with God, their attitude toward God and His will, then reading the Bible can lead to some terrible things. This is the nature of all sorts of cults. We are given certain things in the letters of Paul to the Christian but so many fundamentalist Christians want to appear close to God that they go way beyond what He has told us. Because their heart is not right, God will allow them to go to extremes before He stops them.
Because the world has rejected Christ God has allowed some of our brainiest men to believe in macroevolution, the right to abortion, the right of homosexuals to marry, indeed, even the right of the government to determine what constitutes a marriage, the idea that government can solve all of our problems rather than just being a fair judge, and that war can be a tool for good and not bring down both the winner and the loser morally. God will allow them to worship a human messiah and, yes, even a Devil. He will choose their delusions.
When you choose to reject Christ, even in going beyond what He commands you to do or going in a completely different direction you will have no control over how far sin will take you. Sin is not under your direction. You are under its. The world is believing many lies now and will believe a lie at the time mentioned here. God will choose the lie.
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
I don’t see how it could get any easier in understanding than this. Now, people do take pleasure in unrighteousness.
Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
We need to ask ourselves, by the way, if we have any shred of these things in us or if we take any pleasure in seeing others do these things, even if they are acting on TV or in a movie, before we start railing about how bad other people are. Look the list over and realize its not truthful or consistent with a Christian witness to take enjoyment out of others doing things you are forbidden to do.
13 ¶ But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
This is one of the proof texts of Calvinism but when we read the several verses together speaking of predestination we see that we are predestinated to certain things only after we are saved. In this verse we can safely say that our selection for the saving influence of the Holy Spirit was made by God’s foreknowledge based on our future willingness to believe.
1Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
The Holy Spirit worked on us. Why? Because God knew we would believe and He will lose no one that will believe, so you can safely stop worrying about “the heathen that never heard”. If someone will believe the Spirit will set them apart, sanctify them, and they will be saved. No one will go to Hell who would have believed if you had just told them. You don’t have that power. You declare the gospel because that is what obedience to the gospel demands. Don’t get arrogant and think you saved anyone or that someone didn’t go to Hell because of you. It’s always in God’s hands. You obey, and God will take care of the rest. Don’t obey, and He’ll still do it but you will suffer loss.
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We were called, who were known by His foreknowledge, and we obtained, by His grace, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
We must stand fast in what we’ve been taught by Paul personally, which, of course, we haven’t but they had, or by these letters we’ve been studying. As Christians we spend far too much time trying to figure out what the Law says and not enough time trying to take to heart the simple commands here in the letters written to us as Christians. I guess they aren’t exciting enough for most but Christianity is a workman’s religion. It’s not a big splash sort of thing with fireworks and trumpets and huge choirs singing, not right now. It’s about you day by day implementing the simple instructions given to you by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. The entire Bible applies to you, every verse, but how is the question. In the letters to the Christian churches we find our basic marching orders, though, without question. There should be no argument as to what most of this is saying to us to do.
16 ¶ Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
Few of the commentators and preachers I read give this verse enough importance. Think about this. God through His embodiment as the LORD JESUS CHRIST loved us and gave us, through hope and grace, everlasting consolation, a word that carries with it comfort and kindness, and encouragement as well as bringing two opposing parties together. With the Holy Spirit called the Comforter, we have the trinity appearing even here. Remember that Noah had his name because Lamech said he would comfort them in Genesis 5:29.
Genesis 5:29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.
In this regard we can see Noah, among the many other types he represents, as a type of the Holy Spirit, carrying the other passengers and the saved creatures through the death that overcame the world, leading them out of it. Mankind survived because of what God saw in Noah.
Barnabas was the son of consolation and when John Mark fell short of what was acceptable behavior to Paul, Barnabas restored him to the ministry and gave him value again. You can find this in Acts 15 and reference Acts 13:13 when John Mark abandoned them. John Mark fell and Barnabas restored him as an encouragement to all of us who have let Christ down at times.
17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
This is a wish from Paul for comfort and its important to realize that we are called to good works after we are saved. Good works will flow from the fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians, chapter 5, just not, maybe, the kind of good works that involve, “Volleyball for Christ” or a “Jesus Rocks the Republican Party” concert. Paul has made clear over and over what church is to be about. Worship given, needs met, edification, preaching the gospel, telling people about Christ, and comforting the broken hearted and grieving. Is this so hard to understand?

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