Thessalonians

"Living Anticipating the Second Advent"

By Dr. Edgar Pierce

(c) 2006

 

OUTLINE:

First Thessalonians

The Right Kind of Church…I Thes 1:3-10; 3:3b-5 1-6

The Right Kind of Christian…I Thes 1:3-10; 3:3b-5 7-12

Living in Anticipation: Call to Purity…I Thes 4:1-12 13-17

The Glorious Appearing…I Thes 4:13-18 18-21

Watching for the Thief…I Thes 5:1-11 22-26

Practical Instructions to Follow…I Thes 5:12-28 27-33

Second Thessalonians

In a Blaze of Glory…2 Thes 1:5-10 34-38

The Coming of the Lawless One…2 Thes 2:1-12 39-43

Standing Firm…2 Thes 2:15; 3:1-5 44-46

 

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The Right Kind of Church…..I Thes 1:3-10; 3:3b-5

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Introduction to the Study:

Perhaps the greatest event that mankind has ever anticipated is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The first advent was an anticipated event but the second one is anticipated by a greater spectrum of the population, both Jews and Gentiles alike. The Jewish people primarily anticipated the first advent of Christ.

The title I have chosen is "Living Anticipating the Second Advent." The shorter title is "Anticipating the Advent."

During our journey through the books of First and Second Thessalonians we will explore the both events of His coming, the rapture and the Second Coming. We will see how we should live our lives in light of this coming. (Please consult the Table of Contents for a complete list of titles.)

The Thessalonian Letters:

Thessalonica (thes uh luh NIGH kuh) was a city in the area of Macedonia situated on the Thermaic Gulf and was the chief seaport of Macedonia. It was founded in about 315 B. C. by Cassander, who named the city after his wife, Thessalonica, the sister of Alexander the Great and daughter of Philip II of Macedonia. The main overland route from Rome to the East, the Egnatian Way, ran directly through the city.

In 148 B. C., Macedonia became a Roman province with Thessalonica as its capital. After the battle of Philippi in 42 B. C. Thessalonica became a free city and was the largest city of Macedonia.

By using the book of Acts, as well as I Thessalonians, we can understand the chronological order of events related to Paul and this church.

During Paul’s second missionary journey Paul comes to the city probably for the first time. Acts 17:1 "Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews." His ministry begins here as it did in most of the other cities in the synagogue.

In the city Paul lodges at the house of Jason. As Paul goes to the synagogue and preaches and teaches about the Christian faith many turn to Christ. (Acts 17:2-4) Those who did not believe caused a riot according to Acts 17:5 "But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people."

Due to the mob we see in Acts 17:10 "the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews."

The mob of Thessalonica hears that Paul was preaching in Berea and go there and for the purpose of causing a disturbance. "But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people." Acts 17:13 Paul then leaves Berea and goes to Athens leaving Silas and Timothy in Berea. He sent word to Silas and Timothy to join him in Athens. (Acts 17:15)

After joining him in Athens Paul sends Timothy back to Thessalonica to check on the believers there. (I Thes 3:1-2, 5)

Timothy reports back to Paul about the faith of the Thessalonians in face of the hardship and persecution. (I Thes 3:6-8)

As a result of the report of Timothy Paul pens the first of two letters to the church there. Many believe the letter of First Thessalonians was the first letter written by Paul. It certainly is one of his most personal.

The Right Kind of Church:

What kind of church should we be in light of the fact that Jesus is coming back for His bride? Lets look at the Thessalonian church and see their example for us.

The report of Timothy back to Paul was that the believers were living out their faith. We can discern from this church the kind of church we need to be by their example as we anticipate the advent. John the Apostle would later write, "…now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming." I Jn 2:28

I- Moved to Thankfulness:

1 Thes 1:3 records for us three things that moved Paul to be thankful for concerning the church. For their, "work of faith…labour of love…patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ"

A- "work of faith" This could read, "the work produced by your faith." Their faith had become evident by the acts that followed. Paul, nor anyone else, did not have to worry if their work had been in vain. These were true believers. This also points out that Paul and James were not at odds about the gospel. James, you will recall, said, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." James 2:18

B- "labour of love" What is the greatest motive for doing anything? Is it duty, guilt or something else? Certainly it is love? This was their motive for doing the works. They had fallen in love with the Lord Jesus. Remember the letter to the church at Ephesus in which Jesus said, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." Rev 2:4 This could not be said of the church of the Thessalonians. Paul was moved to be thankful for their labour of love.

C- "patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" They were looking for and anticipating the coming of the Lord Jesus and this gave them hope which produced patience. Patience here literally means bearing up under a heavy load. In the second letter Paul says, II Th 1:4 "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure."

James stated, "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:3-4

The patience that they had was based on their hope in the Lord Jesus. Their patience was not during good times but rather during persecution.

So we see three great virtues that give us an example of what kind of church we need to be as we anticipate the advent of Christ. We need to have faith, love and hope. These three have also been called graces of the Christian life. They also speak of the past, present and future. Faith relates to the past while love relates to the present and hope to the future. Paul also brought these three together in I Cor 13:13 "….now abideth faith, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

II- Far Reaching Influence:

If we are not careful as a body of believers we will become so self consumed that we will forget the rest of the world. We will develop programs for us, spend all our time, money and energy taking care of us. When we do this, our influence will cease to exist. The church at Thessalonica was a church that understood the great commission to reach the world.

1:7 "ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia." Their influence did not just reach into their city but into the whole of Macedonia as well as into the neighboring providence of Achaia. This was the European section of the empire of Alexander and stood for all of Greece. The church had developed a reputation of an example of what a church should be.

Paul holds these Macedonians up as a model of self sacrifice and giving to the Corinthian church. 2 Cor 8:1-2 "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality."

This church has left the example for us that show us we need to seek ways to be a church that reached out to not only our city, but our state, nation and world. An example of reaching past ourselves.

III- Example of Evangelism:

1:8 "For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing."

Could you imagine Paul as he went through the area and realized that the gospel had beaten him to the cities? This church had been busy spreading the good news to others. They had made evangelism a priority in their lives.

The word, "sounded out" literally means rang out or reverberated. They had acted as a relay station for the gospel to go forth. They had become the echo of the gospel to the other cities. They sounded out like a trumpet or thunder rolling. Their voices would not remain silent in the face of the need for the good news of the gospel.

This was before the organized campaigns that are used to motivate us to share the gospel. Before any formal witness training was developed. The only thing they had was the gospel in their hearts that they were willing and anxious to share. This is even more magnified when we realize that only a few short months had passed since the church had come into being.

IV- Example of Embracing Truth:

What do we preach? The "gospel" certainly should be the answer. However are we guilty sometimes of preaching against something rather than the gospel? We try to point men away from some pet sin that bothers us rather than to Jesus.

1:9 "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" Notice they turned to God from idols not from idols to God. We sometimes try to get people to turn from idols and then to God rather than getting them to turn to God. When someone turns to God idol worship will become a thing of the past.

Is it possible to turn from idols and not turn to God? Certainly it is. They could have turned from idols to another idol. How many men have turned from drugs only to turn to alcohol? Or perhaps turn from one cult to another.

Jesus tells us of a man such as this in Luke 11:24-26 "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first."

We can see that as we turn from the things of the world we need to turn to God. The word "serve" literally means that they became a slave to God. They became voluntary slaves for the Master. A slave anticipating the coming of the Master.

V- Living Anticipating the Second Advent:

1:10 "wait for his Son from heaven" This did not mean that they were idle waiting for the return of Christ. They waited patiently. What allowed them to wait patiently? Notice it says they waited for "his Son from heaven." They were waiting on Jesus.

The assurance they had was two fold. They could have assurance because Christ had been "raised from the dead." In addition they had the assurance of being delivered from "the wraft to come." This made it possible for them as well as us to be living anticipating the advent. Because He has come the first time and died and rose again and saved us from the wraft to come we can anticipate and even long for His coming again. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus.

 

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The Right Kind of Christian…..I Thes 1:3-10; 3:3b-5

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Each of us who name the name of Christ has a circle and sphere of influence. We have influence over our piers, both negative and positive. The great question is, are we the right kind of influence. God has called us to be salt and light in the world.

Our children many times are just like us. Recently we have the opportunity to have a meal in the home of some friends. The menu included steak. When we were ask how we wanted our steaks all of our family relied, "medium well." The host family all had theirs rare. Every member, the same way in both families, still both families different. This brought home the point that we have a great influence over our children. But are we the right kind of influence on them?

Paul would state to the Thessalonians in the second book, "For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 2 Thess 3:7 (My underline for emphasis) Paul simply states that they could pattern their Christian walk after him and his walk. Oh, that we might live so that we could say the same thing. Follow me as I follow Christ. Follow me in your pray life, in your ministry, in your relationships, follow me.

Lets explore the scriptures and see the example of Paul as "The right kind of Christian." Lets look that we might imitate and learn to be, "The right kind of Christian."

I- A Letter From the Heart:

1 Thessalonians 1:1 "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul writes the book of Thessalonians to the church at Thessalonicia. Church Swindoll entitles the book, "A Heart-to-Heart Talk." (The Living Insights Bible, Charles R. Swindoll, editor, p 1281) This is one of the first books of the New Testament written. Paul will share his heart and his concerns for them in this letter. We can see things that the Apostle was concerned about and thing he was doing as well. He put his faith into action.

At our house we have a family historian, of sorts. Our son is the keeper of the family memory box. It contains a lot of different stuff for school-work, graduation flyers, my lost passport and many other things. This letter is almost as if Paul is opening up his memory box and rumbling through it as floods of memories cover his heart. He writes out of this love.

II- He Was Busy Praying for Other Christians: 1:2,2:1-3; 3:10

One of the greatest and yet simplest things that we can do for others is to pray for them. Not only to pray but let them know that we are praying for them. A note of encouragement, an email telling them you are praying for them is greatly appreciated and uplifting.

Notice the following verses that tell the Thessalonians that they were on the heart and lips of Paul as he prayed for them.

1 Thessalonians 1:2 "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers."

1 Thessalonians 2:13 "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."

1 Thessalonians 3:10 "Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith." (My underline for emphasis)

Paul was busy praying for the Thessalonians. He reminded them that it was a constant prayer he was praying for them. Night and day praying that they might grow and be like Christ. A Christ like faith is a praying faith.

III- He Was Busy Proclaiming the Gospel: 2:2-4

The greatest calling of a Christian is to spread the gospel of Christ and the good news of salvation to a lost world. God has chosen to use men to spread the good news.

Paul would state later to the church at Corinth, 2 Cor 4:7 "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

Paul gives us a shining example of being a Christian that shares in spite of the opposition to the message and the messenger. Notice 1 Thessalonians 2:2-4 "But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention 3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."

He who had persecuted now suffered persecution. However, he did not let this prevent him from going on to another city and sharing the gospel. Many times we are hog tied and afraid when someone says anything let alone when some truly persecutes us, which most of us have never experienced.

The experience he is speaking of is recorded in Acts 17. As he preached many were converted. This lead to an uproar in the city. Acts 17:5 "But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people." The believers sent Paul out of the city under cover of darkness to Berea. The Jews of Thessalonica came to Berea and stirred up trouble. Still in spite of this Paul preached on. (See page 1-2 for additional information.)

IV- He Was Gentle as a Nurse: 2:7

Have you ever known someone who claimed to love you but there was never any gentleness in his or her heart toward you. Paul tells the beloved in this letter, "…we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children." 1 Thessalonians 2:7

Paul said that they would remember his ministry among them as being gentle not highhanded and offensive. The New American Standard Bible translates this verse, "But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children." NAS

The word translated "nurse" is the Greek word, "trophos" It, "denotes a "nursing" mother, as is clear from the statement "cherisheth her own children" (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright ©1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Mothers are given the charge of raising the family in most cultures. Paul will use another simile later concerning fathers but here he pictures his ministry as a nursing mother.

V- He Lived Blameless: 2:9-10

Paul reminds them of his labor, probably as a tentmaker, among them so that no man could tell him what to preach. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 "For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God." He did not do as some today who are in the ministry only for a profession but his was a genuine ministry of the heart. He had told them in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us."

In our day the integrity of a lot of ministries and ministers have been compromised. From such things as the fall of Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggert, ministries have had to have a strict accounting. Paul began this practice a long time ago of accountability. 1 Thessalonians 2:10 "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe." (My underline for emphasis.)

Paul had lived his life before them in such a way that the gospel would not be hindered. He lived, "holily and justly and unblameably." Is you life lived in such a way that you are blameless before the world?

VI- He Loved them as a Father: 2:11

He next moves to the second simile in his letter. He says, "As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children" 1 Thessalonians 2:11. This great man of God gives us now an example of being the right kind of Christian by comparing his ministry to them as one of a father. He encouraged, comforted and exhorted them. As a father he felt the burden of training his children. "Three verbs summarize this ministry: exhorted (cf. 2:3), calling to decisive action; comforted (cf. 5:14; 11:19,31) - Paul was tenderly appreciative of their hard lot; charged, reminding of the solemn nature of Christian duty (cf. "testify" in Eph 4:17)." (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1962 by Moody Press)

This heart felt burden had as its end, "That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:12

VII- He Was Anxious Over Their Spiritual Welfare: 3:1, 5

In addition to the verses that we have just considered look also at 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 5 "Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone…For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain."

Paul had sent Timothy to find out how they were doing in their spiritual walk. There is nothing that gladdens the heart quite like the report of someone you have invested you time and energy into is walking with God. It moves you to praise God for allowing you to be a part of someone’s spiritual development. Also in contrast there is nothing that saddens as quickly as someone who you have invested in who fails to walk the walk of faith. Paul, with his pastoral heart, could not wait to hear how his children were doing. He was concerned so he sent to find out. He realized how the enemy worked and attached young believers.

VII- He Wanted them to Grow: 3:10

Paul also realized that some that should have grown did not. He tell the Corinthian church in 1 Cor 3:1-3 "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal…" In order to be the kind of Christian that God can use for the furtherance of the Kingdom we must be a growing Christian.

1 Thessalonians 3:10 "Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?" Was this a statement of arrogance in which Paul was saying that he was more spiritual than they were? It does not appear it is when we see Paul’s words in Phil 3:12-14 "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

It is obvious that Paul did not consider himself to have arrived at where he needed to be. I recall a man one time who said in my presence that he had gotten so close to God and had learned so much of His word that he ask him to take some of it away. The apostle Paul would never have said such foolishness. He was aware that we must continue to grow throughout our life as a believer.

As we consider the kind of example that the apostle set for us is there an area of our lives that we need to ask for help in. Growing and being the right kind of a Christian should be each and everyone’s goal.

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Living In Anticipation: Call to Purity …..I Thes 4:1-12

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In our culture we are constantly bombarded with advertisement that plays on the base fleshly nature of man, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. The apostle John as he wrote to us in I John said, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." 1 John 2:16

A few years ago you could turn on the TV and if you saw an ad for women’s underwear they had to use macaques or the model had to wear it over her clothes. Too borrow a catch line of an ad, "we’ve come a long way baby to get to where we got to today." Today we not only see the model in underwear but sometime without. Is it progressing or is it reverting to a baser lustful life? I think that the apostle Paul would say the latter.

The Thessalonians were new to the Christian faith and Paul felt it needful to instruct them in this matter. The culture they lived in was one in which "chastity was an unknown virtue." (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, p 231)

Paul says to them and us in 1 Thess 4:7 "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." As we live our lives there is an exhortation to purity and holiness in anticipation of the coming of Jesus. This may have seemed obviously plain to a generation ago but today with the loose moral climate it needs said again. However as we explore this text we will discover some teaching in addition to the lust of the flesh. The call to purity encompasses all of life.

I- Authority:

What basis of authority does Paul warn us and exhort us from? Notice 4:2 "For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus." Paul is not speaking himself but as a mouthpiece for Christ. Shall we listen? Certainly! 4:8 "He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit." The NJKV says, "Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit."

It is obvious that the authority of the apostle was not himself but God. These words, as if I need to remind us, are not the apostle’s words but God’s word through the apostle.

I- Call to Purity:

Before we get busy blaming everything and every body for our sins we must remember that we are personally responsible for our actions and our thoughts. The world tries to say it is environment, genetics or some other problem to try to keep from answering for their sin. God never bought this from Adam and is still not buying it. Every individual is responsible for his or her actions.

A- Living to Please God:

4:1 "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more." (My underline for emphasis.)

When we sin who is the sin ultimately against? Have the lost the sensitivity that when we sin it is against a holy God? Do we feel that if no one else finds out it has not hurt anyone? If we do not think that they will hurt those we love why do we hide and deny them? Do we forget that God loves us and it breaks His heart?

Allow two examples of men who knew against whom they had sinned. First Achan said, "I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel." Josh 7:20 after he had been discovered taking the forbidden spoils of Jericho. Second David, Nathan the prophet confronted him about his sin of lying with Bathsheba and killing her husband Uriah. David’s response was, "I have sinned against the Lord."

The children of Israel had suffered a defeat at Ai where man had died because of Achan’s sin and Uriah had paid for David’s sin with his life. We might say that their sin was against Israel and Uriah, which it was. However they realized a higher offense in that they had sinned against God.

Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to walk to please God. Walk to please God not man. God is the ultimate judge and the one who is always watching.

B- Avoid Sexual Immorality:

The main topic that Paul addresses here is sexual sin. He tell them and us to abstain from fornication. 4:3 "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication"

In the days we are experiencing it is the norm rather than the exception for cheating on your spouse. The sitcoms of American television spew the values of immortality into our home on a nightly basis.

Jesus taught us that evil of this kind come forth out of an evil heart. Matt 15:19 "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications…"

The Greek word for fornication is "porneia (por-ni'-ah)" and means "harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry." (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

Paul is exhorting us to purity of heart as well as body. Notice what he writes to the Corinthian church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor 6:15-19 "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commiteth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"

C- Control Own Body:

One of the things that we teach our children as they grow is that they need to take responsibility for their own actions. We teach them self control. My boys are tired of hearing the "be in control" speech. But we need to all learn. 4:4 "That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour."

There is a possibility of two meanings of the word "vessel." One is that it is our individual body but still another is the vessel is our wives. Peter used this word to refer to his wife. 1 Peter 3:7 "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." I personally think the vessel here is our body and not our wife.

D- Avoid Passionate Lust:

Paul tells us to not walk as the lost world in passionate lust. 4:5 "Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God" The New King James Version renders this "not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God."

The vice of sexual impurity is not new to our time. It has been around as long as man. The world is walking in this path because of their ignorance of God. Eph 4:17-20 "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ."

God turned mankind over to his lust very early in time. Rom 1:28-29 "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; whisperer."

Fornication as we have seen also included any wrong relationship within or without of marriage.

II- Call to Love Brethren:

Now we move onto another topic that we are in danger of failing in, brotherly love. The call to purity of life touches all of our relationships.

A- Don’t Take Advantage of Brother:

There are many like vultures that prey on the fact that we are called to love each other. They take advantage of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul said, 4:6 "That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified."

Clearly if we love each other with the kind of love we should have we will not take advantage of that love. God is the avenger of those who do. We must quickly do what is right and let God search out the hearts of all. We cannot answer for anyone but ourselves. We need to make sure our heart is right.

B- Continue To Practice Love:

The church of Thessalonica was a church that was practicing brotherly love. Paul simply reminds them to continue to do so. 4:9-10 "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more."

If we are not moving forward we usually are drifting backwards. Paul exhorts them to increase in their love. As we mature in Christ we too should grow in our capacity to love.

Jesus said this would tell the world that what we have is real when He stated, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34-35

C- Live in Such a Way Outsiders Will Notice: 4:11-12

The greatest need in our world to day is Christians who are real. The way we treat the lost world at times turn them off to the gospel message. The way we conduct our business and do our job is a witness to the world. It should be a good witness not a bad one.

Paul states, 4:11-12 "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing."

Paul calls us and them in light of the soon coming of the Lord Jesus to be productive citizens of society. Not only are we to walk honestly toward the brethren but also toward those who are outside the covenant of grace. Our life should be pure to the world both within the church and without.

We should always remember in all our actions both toward those within the church and without to walk as pleasing God. We are called, in light of His soon coming for the church, to be the salt and light of the world. We are called to purity as we live anticipating His coming.

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The Glorious Appearing … I Thes 4:13-18

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What is the most important prophetic teaching in the scriptures related to our time? I would like to submit that it is the teaching that Jesus Christ is coming for His church. Paul states in Titus 2:13 "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." We refer to this as the rapture of the church. While rapture does not appear as a word in the Bible the concept is clear. Rapture simply means, "catching away" and this is what we anticipate. It is the catching away of the church by Christ.

The reason that the coming of the Lord Jesus for His church is the most important prophecy is that it is the next event on the timetable of God. It has been the next event for some 1900 plus years. If the rapture is the next event then that would make this great, "rapture chapter" of the book of Thessalonians an extremely important portion of scripture.

I- Let’s Understand:

First we need to understand that the rapture of the church and the second coming of Christ are two distinct events that happen some seven plus years apart. Notice the following contrast:

In the rapture we go to meet Him in the air but at the Second Coming He sets His feet upon the Mount of Olives.

There is not one thing that must still come to pass prior to the rapture but many prior to the Second Coming there are many.

At the rapture only the church will be called out and aware He has come at the Second Coming every eye will see Him, especially Israel.

II- Setting the Matter Straight:

It seems that during the interval between the time that Paul planted the church and the time of this first letter questions had arisen concerning the rapture. Some of the Thessalonians must have felt that they had missed rapture. Paul wanted to assure them they had not missed it. He wanted to set the record straight about this glorious appearing.

4:13 "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren" (My underline for emphasis.) Paul did not want them to be confused or not clearly understand. Apparently Paul had taught them of the imminent return or Christ when he was with them. He wanted to set the record straight concerning the matter.

"…concerning them which are asleep." (My underline for emphasis.) We need to realize that this does not teach soul sleep. Some will tell you that when we die our soul sleeps until the resurrection. This is refuted by 2 Cor 5:6,8 "Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:…8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." The Bible does not teach soul sleep but teaches the instant we die we are in God’s presence if we are a child of God by faith in Christ.

"…that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." Lets not miss the point that those who are outside the covenant of grace have no hope. No matter how religious or how committed they might be if they do not know the Lord Jesus as Savior they are without hope. Paul tells them to not be sorrowful because there is hope for those who have died. As true as it is that when believer dies he is in God’s presence it is equally true that when a non-believer dies he is instantly in torments of hell. The contrast here is between believers who have hope after death and the lost that do not.

III- Through the Eyes of Faith: 4:14

Our life is made up of taking things by faith. When we get out of bed we trust by faith that the floor will hold us up. When we set in a chair it is by faith that we know it will hold us. What we believe about creation or evolution is a matter of exercising our faith. We can choose to reject or believe the teaching of the word of God. Paul says the way for us to have this hope is "…if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."

When we die in Christ it is only death to this existence. Through the eyes of faith in Christ we know that there is hope of the resurrection. We see that even thought that our loved ones are gone to be with the Lord that at His return for the church they will come with Him and be resurrected bodily.

Notice Revelation 20:4-5 "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."

IV- In Our Lifetime:

It is often said that the rapture of the church is "imminent." JV McGee said, "when we say that the coming of Christ is imminent, we mean that it is approaching or that it is the next event on the agenda of God’s program." (JV McGee, Thru the Bible, vol v. p. 394)

We who names the name of Christ should be looking for the coming of Jesus every day. How many days go by that we are not even conscious of the fact He is coming let alone that it could be today?

Paul certainly looked for His appearing. He thought it could be in his lifetime. " For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep." (My underline for emphasis.)

Notice that he said, "we" when he referred to those who would be alive at the rapture. He included himself in the "we" statement. This is probably the first letter written by the apostle and the one we quoted to Titus in the introduction was one of the lasts. We see by these that Paul looked for Christ his whole Christian life.

V- Order of the Rapture: 4:16-17

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

We see His ascension in Acts 1:9-11. "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." The promise given then was He will come again in like manner. The Lords coming is certain. This promise probably means the Second Coming when He steps onto the Mount of Olives. Still I feel the application is here for the rapture as well when the believers see Him coming. The believers saw Him depart and the believers will see Him come.

The Lord Jesus will descend from heaven as the trumpet blows and those who are dead in Christ will be resurrected bodily first. We that have the privilege of being alive will then be changed and go to me Him in the air. We will ascend to heaven with Him for a period that is known as the great tribulation.

We would be amiss if we failed to look at the letter to the Corinthian church as well and see the parallel teaching. 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Praise God nothing more needs said.

VI- Message of Comfort: 4:18

"Wherefore comfort one another with these words." The hope that we have in Christ is a source of great comfort. At the same time that they bring comfort they also bring discomfort if we are not ready for the Glorious Appearing.

Might I say one more thing prior to departing this topic? Critics who scoff at its teaching will not deter the rapture. 2 Peter 3:3-4 "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." The most important question that begs to be asked is what condition would the rapture find your soul in if it happened today? Are you ready to meet the Lord in the air or will you be left behind? Won’t you pray and ask Jesus to come into your life now and save you?

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Watching for the Thief… 1 Thes 5:1-11

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One of the booming businesses in our day is the home security business. Burglar alarms used to be a good watchdog but now it has moved into the high tech age of house alarms. Why is this business booming? People are preparing for the thief to come. In a time of increasing crime it seems almost certain that they will come and that we should be prepared. If we do not have a security system in our home the least we do is lock our doors when we leave and when we go to sleep.

Paul uses the analogy of a thief to expand into the Second Coming of Christ in this next chapter. There seems to be a seamless blending of the rapture and the Second Coming in this section.

I- Time Uncertain

1 Thessalonians 5:1 "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you." I remind us that one of the great distresses of the Thessalonians were that they had been left behind when Jesus had come. They feared they had missed the rapture.

One of the great mysteries of our day is when Jesus will come. When will He come for the church and when will He come back to earth. There have been many date setters, all have been wrong up until this point I might say, that have confused the issue. Let’s hear the words of Jesus on the subject as He speaks to His disciples.

The scene is the mountain from which Jesus is about to ascend back into glory. Notice the question and the answer that Jesus gives. Acts 1:6-7 "When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power."

1 Thessalonians 5:1 seems to be speaking about the rapture of the church, which is a mystery as far as the time of the event which is yet to come. As we have seen previously the return is imminent.

II- Day of the Lord

1 Thessalonians 5:2 "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."

Paul reminds them that this was something that they already knew. Paul has probably taught it to them personally.

There are two things that we need to look at in this verse. The "day of the Lord" and "thief in the night."

The day of the Lord seems to shift focus from the rapture to the Second Coming. He shift to the second part from the catching away of the saints to the visual appearing of the Lord. "The "day of the Lord" means that day in which he will be manifested, or in which he will be the prominent object in view of the assembled universe." (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

This however seem to be broader than just the Second Coming. Notice the following quote:

"The day of the Lord must be viewed against its OT background. The term was current in Israel before the time of Amos but was applied only to God's judgment of the Gentiles. In a graphic passage, not unlike 1 Thess 5:2-4, Amos corrects this misinterpretation, pointing out that a righteous God judges sin wherever it is found-even in Israel (Amos 5:18-20)….The day is the time of God's righteous intervention in history, when he will exact his rightful due from mankind. In 2 Thess 2:2 ff. this day is connected with the great apostasy and the revelation of Antichrist, i.e., the Tribulation period." (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

Notice these verses alluded to in the quote.

Amos 5:18-20 "Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. 19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. 20 Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?"

2 Thessalonians 2:2-3 "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. 3 Let no man deceive you by an 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."

One of the reasons that we say that I Thess 5:2 moves from the rapture to the Second Coming of the Lord to the earth is that there is no sign that must come to pass before the rapture. In contrast it is evident here that the anti-Christ and the falling away will precede the Second Coming.

This day however will come upon the world as a thief in the night. Simply put the coming of Christ will catch the world by surprise. Not only is the world not watching it is in denial that such an event is impending. They deny the first advent and will be surprised at the second.

III- Peace and Safety

Almost daily in the news is a cry for peace somewhere in the world. There have been thousands and thousands of peace treaties signed by nations, most of which did not bring peace.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."

The "they" here is the lost world. They have a false sense of peace but it is followed by the onset of destruction. The analogy used here by Paul is of a woman who is in labor of childbirth. Once true labor begins it will come to completion. Just a the childbirth is inevitable so is the destruction of God’s wraft to come. This comparsion is used both in the Old Testament and the New. Notice Isaiah the prophets words, Isa 13:8-9 "And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. 9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it."

IV- Walk as Children of Light

Contrasting the lost world by darkness and the believers as light, we see that Paul exhorts those of us who are saved to be watching. If we know when the thief is coming we are prepared. We know the day of the Lord is coming and therefore should be watching.

1 Thess 5:4-5 "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."

As we anticipate the advent of the Lord we are to walk in the light of the knowledge of His coming. While the world is in darkness concerning the coming events we are not. God has revealed His future plans to the believers by faith in His word.

We are to walk as, "children of light." Paul would later tell the Ephesians, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." Eph 5:8

What makes us the children of light? James says about God, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17 We are children of light because we are children of God and He has enlightened our minds to the truth of the coming of Jesus.

1 Thess 5:6-7 "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night."

Have you ever fallen asleep while your were driving. Drivers falling asleep cause many accidents and fatalities on our highways. Paul warns us to be alert and not fall asleep at the spiritual wheel. Drunk driving is also another problem. When someone is drunk his or her reaction is impaired. We need to not become intoxicated by the world so that we fail to walk, as we should.

1 Thess 5:8 "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." This verse is very similar to what Paul would write later to the Ephesians (see Ephesians 6:13-17) as he gives them instructions of how to be protected.

The breastplate of the armor of the Roman soldier protected his heart. We need to protect our heart with faith and love. The helmet protected the head or the brain, the intellect of the soldier. We need to not loose sight of the hope that we have in Christ and make a decision to hold on to that hope. Come what may we might not know what tomorrow holds but we know who hold tomorrow.

VI- Safe from the Wraft

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

Many times those of use who hold to faith in Christ are accused of having a pessimistic point of view. No matter how much the world might pretend that the things foreordained by God will not come to pass they will not be hindered from transpiring.

Paul gives us a great promise that we will escape the wrath to come. We are not appointed to wrath but to salvation. The world today is not unlike the Thessalonians world. It is full of discouragement and disappointments. Fear not dearly beloved even in death we are conquerors in Christ Jesus.

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Practical Instructions to Follow…..I Thes 5:12-28

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As we come to the close of the first letter to the Thessalonians we are given a list of practical instructions for living as we anticipate the advent of Jesus the second time.

Most of these could simply be read and understood. Most are so plain they don’t need to be explained only practiced.

I find a total of 15 items, most of which are only a short sentence of a few words, that drives to the heart of the matter being considered. We will look at these instructions quickly as we work through the passage. Allow me to offer the text with them numbered and underlined within before we look at them individually.

I Thess 5:12-28 "And we beseech you, brethren, (1) to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And (2) be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, (3) warn them that are unruly, (4) comfort the feebleminded, (5) support the weak, (6) be patient toward all men. (7) 15) See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever (8) follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. (9) 16 Rejoice evermore. (10) 17 Pray without ceasing.(11) 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (12) 19 Quench not the Spirit. (13) 20 Despise not prophesyings. (14) 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (15) 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil."

I- Developing the Instructions:

As we have stated most of these are very clear. Lets work through them and allow the Holy Spirit to use them to grow us in our walk. These deal with social as well as spiritual attitudes of the believer.

(1) 12 "…to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake."

Paul begins by speaking in all probability about the bishop or the pastor of the church. When he says to "know" he is saying know the value of the servant. "over you in the Lord" does not mean an over lord but someone who has your spiritual interest at heart. He says to esteem them very highly in love for their work.

(2) "…be at peace among yourselves."

Paul is probably taking about cooperation between the followers and the leaders. Many times peace is sacrificed when a leader won’t lead or a follower tries to.

We can also apply this with a broad brush to mean live peaceable with all men. Paul wrote to the Romans, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." Rom 12:18 And again he wrote, "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." Rom 14:19-20

(3) 14 "…warn them that are unruly"

This cuts across the grain of today’s popular opinion of "tolerance." The world today is crying out that we don’t need to try to warn anyone that is headed down the wrong road. We, as the world says, need to affirm everyone in what they believe. There is a spiritual word for this, which I think you will understand, "hogwash."

Paul says we should warn those we see who are headed into harm or error. "The word here…is one which properly means "not keeping the ranks," as of soldiers; and then irregular, confused, neglectful of duty, disorderly. The reference here is to the members of the church who were irregular in their Christian walk." (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

If you have ever watched troops marching it is easy to tell when someone is out of step. They do not walk the say way others do. Paul used this military term here to tell us to warn those who were not marching in step with the gospel. One of the great cracks in our line as an army is those who are AWOL or deserters. How many church members never show up for duty?

(4) "…comfort the feebleminded"

No Paul did not have preachers in mind here. Ha! Ha!

The feebleminded here is referring to the fainthearted. Those who are in despair as they face difficulty, the downcast. Adam Clarke’s Commentary calls these, "little souls."

The psalmist cried, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. 6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar… 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." Ps 42:5-6, 11.

Barnabas was a great encourager of those who were discouraged. We all need to be more like him.

(5) "support the weak"

Romans 15:1 "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves."

We are told to bear the burden of the weak. Paul gives us a real life illustration of how to do this in 1 Cor 9:22 "To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."

(6) "… be patient toward all men."

Those who are unruly, feebleminded and weak are certain to try the patience. Paul exhorts us to be patient toward all men. For an example of patience and long suffering we need look no farther than to our Lord Jesus and His suffering on the cross.

(7) 15) "See that none render evil for evil unto any man"

Our attitude toward those within the family of God sometimes is different than our attitude toward the world. There are some worldly social clubs that teach that it is wrong to do another member wrong but anyone else is fair game. This is obvious contrary to the teaching of the Word of God. We are to make sure that none render evil for evil unto any man.

Notice this is after someone else has done us wrong we are not to render evil even after being evil treated. It takes an act of God’s grace that can make this possible.

The words of Christ ring clear concerning this. Notice, Matt 5:43-44 "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."

(8) "…follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men."

Follow means to pursue after or to seek. We should be seeking good things for all men. This is the opposite attitude from rendering evil for evil. Again listen to some words to the Romans. "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Rom 12:20-21

(9) 16 "Rejoice evermore."

Have you ever planned to go somewhere fun with you kids maybe on vacation and when you get them up they are in a grumpy mood. They have a lot of reasons to rejoice and be happy but they just don’t feel good. Do you think God sometimes feels like we do as parents when instead of rejoicing we are grumpy.

Phil 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." We need to make up our minds that we are going to rejoice come rain or shine. After all what ever befalls us here is only temporary. If nothing more we can rejoice in the fact that our names are written in the Lambs book of life.

(10) 17 "Pray without ceasing."

There is a story told about a missionary who had a visitor for a few days. They went our and worked all day in the field and when they returned to the missionary’s humble home the visitor got his devotional guide and quiet time material out and started his devotions. The old missionary came in and fell across the bed and said, "Amen." He had been in a mode of prayer all day and just need to say amen.

This exhortation can carry a couple of meaning. First it can mean that we should not let anything interrupt us from having a time of prayer each day. Second it means we should be constantly in a mode of prayer as we walk and work. It could also mean that we should pray about all things, small and grand.

(11) 18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

The giving of thanks is not just reserved for a holiday in November. It should be a daily thing for a child of God. But preacher I have so many problems.

When my wife and I were dating I was at her house one night and Joyce and her sister were going to make some brownies. They ask me if I wanted a taste of the batter. I said sure. The spoonful of brownie turned out to be a spoonful of cocoa. There is nothing that taste quite like cocoa. I did not enjoy the cocoa nor would I have enjoyed the raw eggs and the other ingredients separate but put together they were good. It is like this in life, when we taste the bitterness of the cocoa’s of life we wonder how we can give thanks. God however is putting all the ingredients together for a finished product.

Let’s turn again to the Philippian letter, which was written by Paul from a Roman prison which certainly would not inspire a praise song. Phil 4:6 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." The thanksgiving was within the heart of the apostle Paul not in his circumstances.

(12) 19 "Quench not the Spirit."

The Holy Spirit is symbolized by fire. This comes from the manifestation of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. We are told to not quench or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit in our life. We need to allow Him to warm our hearts to the things of God.

Paul told Timothy, "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." 2 Tim 1:6 He told him to fan the flame of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

One of the ways we quench the Spirit is by not allowing Him to use us. We quench Him when we disobey and don’t do what He is leading us to do.

We must also remember that the Holy Spirit points only toward Jesus and never Himself. We grieve Him when we point to things of the world and not to Jesus. We quench him when we hold our tongue and refuse to tell others about Jesus.

(13) 20 "Despise not prophesyings."

So you suppose that someone would get the feeling that they have already learned all they need to know about Jesus and not need to grow anymore? Or do you suppose that someone would reject the message of God because of a dislike of the messenger? The world is busy every day rejecting the gospel message. "The reference here seems to be to preaching. They were not to undervalue it in comparison with other things." (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

(14) 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

There is probably nothing more beautiful in the world of botany than a rose. If we only look at its captivating beauty we fail to see the thorns lurking for the unaware. The world is full of inciting things. Some have the appearance of good and godly on the surface but when looked at deeply are rotten to the core.

Paul says to prove all things. We are to examine things in light of the Word of God. John tells us to, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."1 John 4:1

This also needs to be seen as and exhortation to prove the things that we hear preached or proclaimed. Just because someone says it does not mean it is true. We need to have a discerning spirit toward the teachings of men. We need to prove them true or false by the word of truth, the Bible.

(15) 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

There are many things that are not necessary evil that become evil by their appearance. The way something appears or is perceived to a weak brother or sister or to a lost man is important. We should never compromise our witness for selfish gain nor ego.

In our world today it is often hard to tell what is wrong from right if we listen to the world. Many times wrong is called right and right is presented as wrong. If we allow the Word of God to shape and mold our opinion of right and wrong then we have a constant. The opinions of men will change with time but the Word of God will not.

I recall an instant in my days of running a cabinet shop that illustrates this. I was called and asked by a local establishment to come give them a price on a new bar to serve drinks on. I went and looked at the job and took my measurements to price it. At the time I was installing a kitchen for a godly man and his wife. I was really struggling with should I or should I not even give them a price for such an item to be used of the devil to ruin lives. The godly man told me if there was even a question of it being right or wrong in my mind it was probably wrong. I called a competitor and told him to go price the job. I wanted to avoid any appearance of evil.

II- Paul’s Closing Remarks: I Thess 5:23-28

As we come to the end of the first letter Paul gives them some personal comments and encouragement in closing. He tells them if they will put into practice the teaching we have just discussed that God would do His part.

He makes a great statement that we need to see and take to heart. Talking about the preserving of the saints he says, "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."

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In a Blaze of Glory…..II Thes 1:1-5

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As we move to the second letter to the Thessalonians we continue "Anticipating the Advent" of Jesus. I remind us that the Second Coming of Jesus will be a two-part event. The rapture of the church will precede the actual coming to earth by seven years. This second letter of Thessalonians gives us many important teachings concerning the events still to come and how we should be living as we anticipate His coming.

In this portion of the letter we will see the relationship of the believers and the non-believers to the Second Coming. May I say if we as believers live in anticipation than the lost should live in dread?

I- In a Blaze of Glory: 1:7b-8

The Second Coming of the Lord will be drastically different from the first advent. He came the first time as a babe in a manger. He also came as a lamb to be slain, a shepherd seeking the lost sheep. The Second Advent will see Him come in power and glory not sacrifice and humility. Paul states here, "…when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8

The revelation of Jesus the second time will be with flaming fire and mighty angels. "Flaming" is the Greek word "phlox (flox) and come [s] from a primary phlego (to "flash" or "flame"); a blaze." The word "fire" is "pur (poor); (literally or figuratively, specifically, lightning). (Taken from Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

So we can see that the second appearance will be as powerful and as sudden as lightning. He will literally come in a Blaze of Glory.

There are other scriptures that give us this teaching as well. Notice:

Revelation 19:12 "His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself."

Isaiah 66:15 "For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire."

As we have previously stated it is something to be feared by the lost man. The relationship that we have to the gospel is paramount. Notice it says when He comes He will be, "taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thes 1:8

First we need to see what the gospel is so we might be sure we have obeyed it. The gospel begins with what is called the protevangelium ("the first proclamation of the gospel) found in Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." After the fall this was the good news concerning the coming of the redeemer. The first time the word "gospel" is found the Bible is Matt 4:23 concerning the ministry of Jesus. "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people."

Paul stated in 1 Cor 15:1; 3-4 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."

Vines’ Expository Dictionary says the following concerning gospel:

"…originally denoted a reward for good tidings; later, the idea of reward dropped, and the word stood for "the good news" itself. The Eng. word "gospel," i. e. "good message," is the equivalent of euangelion (Eng., "evangel"). In the NT it denotes the "good tidings" of the kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension." (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

The gospel in a broad sense is any good news from God. The gospel in a narrow sense, as in this passage, is the good news of Jesus birth, death and resurrection.

Second, we need to see what it means to obey the gospel. The Greek word for "obey" is, "hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo'-o); to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority" (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.) The Greek word is translated in the KJV as, "hearken, be obedient to, obey."

We can see that obedience to the gospel is to acceptance of the message of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. The opposite of obey would be to reject.

So, we see Jesus is coming in a blaze of glory to take vengeance upon those who do not obey the gospel. Is this just and right? Is this in keeping with the character of God?

II- Righteousness of God’s Judgment: 1:5-7a

Reading the New American Standard Version will make these verses clearer for us. We will back up to verse 3 as we read.

2 Thess 1:3-7 "We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; 4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you." NAS (My underline for emphasis.)

God’s judgment can be called righteous because He has made a way of escape from the wrath to come for those who will accept it. The faith of the Thessalonians and the love they had for God and others justifies the judgment of God toward those who wrong them.

Paul stated also, "But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) 6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?" Rom 3:5-6

Please notice the contrast between the unsaved and saved at His appearing. The saved will be given rest from being troubled, while the lost will be given tribulation. The NIV says, "God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you" 2 Thess 1:6

III- "Vengeance is Mine," Saith the Lord: 1:9

Concerning the judgment of the rejecters of God that will accompany the coming of Christ in the Blaze of Glory 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

God must be allowed to judge because He alone has provided the way of escape. Ps 94:1 "O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself."

Does the fact that God will avenge us bring us elation or joy? Certainly not! It should make us fear for the lost and those who do us wrong. Heb 10:30-31 "For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." The world faces a fearful thing. Our hearts should ache for those who do us wrong because they face a future without God. He said they would be removed from His presence and be in everlasting destruction. Doesn’t it make what they do to us seem small compared to what God will do to them?

Jude gives us an example of the vengeance of God. Jude 1:7 "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

God will have the last word toward the Christian bashers and God haters.

IV- Glory from the Saints: 1:10

The Lord will not be left without anyone to praise Him when He comes. While the lost cry out for mercy, of which there will be none, the saved will be crying out in praise.

We depart with some verses that show that all, both lost and saved, will confess Jesus. This makes Living Anticipating the Advent exciting.

The prophet Isaiah gives the Word from God that is quoted in the New Testament and applied to Christ in Isa 45:22-23 "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. 23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear."

These words are repeated two times. Phil 2:10-11 "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Rom 14:11 "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."

The question is simple. Have you accepted the Lord Jesus as your Savior? If so, rejoice, if not will you now bow and ask God to save you?

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The Coming of the Lawless One…2 Thess 2:1-12

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Not many things strike fear into the heart of men like the coming of the Anti-Christ. Some men will not even divulge their Social Security number for fear it is linked to the mark of the beast. The numbers 666 are feared and shunned throughout the Christian world.

The book of 2 Thessalonians gives us a great deal of information concerning this one known as the Anti-Christ. Daniel, Matthew, and John in the Revelation and his epistles among others also give information on the Anti-Christ.

I- Anticipating the Advent: 2:1

The apostle gives them a reminder that all of life’s events, present and future, are nothing to be troubled excessively about. He encourages them by the coming of the Lord and our gathering together with him. "1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him" We might say he tells them to live Anticipating the Advent.

II- Be not soon shaken: 2:2-3a

What would be the worst possible thing that could happen at the rapture. Would you agree that it would be to be left behind. The believers at Thessalonica thought that they had be left. "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. 3a Let no man deceive you by any means…"

Apparently they had received a letter from someone claiming to be Paul. This letter had upset them. He tells them to not be troubled and be deceived about the Second Coming.

Might I say that in our world today there are many that are in agony about the coming of the Lord. They have a great fear of being left because they are not worthy to go. Beloved only those who are blood bought and depending on Jesus can go. When we hear of date setters and those who claim that Jesus came again in 1914, or whatever year the Jehovah Witnesses claim it was, be not soon troubled.

III- Apostasy to First Come: 2:3b

As this wise apostle encourages them he reminds them that the Day of Christ had not come nor would it until some thing happen. This day of Christ is not the rapture of which there is not one sign that must come to pass but the Second Coming for which there are.

The Apostle says that the Second Coming will not happen until a falling away takes place. "3b …for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first…" Falling away is the Greek word, "apostasia (ap-os-tas-ee'-ah)" and means, "defection from truth (properly, the state) ["apostasy"]" (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

The falling away is implied to be from the truth of God and His word.

IV- The Coming of the Lawless One. 2:3c-4

There have been many people speculated to be the Anti-Christ. Many men who have lived has been suspected and attached with the label. May I say almost all have died and were not? I personally feel that the Christian will probably not even know who he is before the rapture.

"3c. …and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." Many say it may be someone in the spirit of Judas who is called the son of perdition by Christ in John 17:12. This is unlikely because it is only in the KJV that this occurs only two times. The original language refers to mankind in general by this word. It is translated, "damnable concerning nation, destruction, die, perdition, perish, pernicious ways, waste."

The Anti-Christ will set himself up as God. This should not surprise us because Satan has always desired the worship of men. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "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."

Many years before this the Prophet Daniel wrote, "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." Daniel 11:36

One of the things the Anti-Christ will do is to desecrate the temple of the Jews. Daniel mentioned this in two different verses. Dan 11:31 "And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate."

Dan 12:11 "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days."

Some see this abomination of the temple being done by Antiochus Epiphanes during the times before Christ. Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a swine on the altar. This was an abomination to the Jews and the Law because the swine was an unclean animal. This might have been one desecration but it was not the abomination that is spoken of here.

Jesus in Matthew 24:15 places it yet in the future. "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand…"

So this lawless one is obedient to the law of himself. He disregards the laws of God and man and is to himself the only authority.

V- Not New to You: 2:5

Should this one to come trouble us to the point of sleeplessness. Certainly not! Paul told the Thessalonians, "5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" There is less fear when we know something is coming. God is in control of the events that will unfold in the future.

Hear again the words of Paul in the first letter. 1 Thess 5:2; 4-6 "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."

This day will not come as a surprise to a child of God who is studying the Word of God.

VI- What’s Holding Evil Back? 2:6-7

I have heard, and I’m sure you have as well, many times that Satan knows his time is running out. If this is true and it may well be, why doesn’t Satan bring the Anti-Christ onto the scene of world affairs and mess up God’s plan? He cannot because he does not have any power except what God allows him. Paul tells us that he is hindered from coming on the scene. "6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way." (My Underline for emphasis)

The one who hinders him from coming is none other than the Holy Spirit. Remember that we said that the Christians probably will not know who the Anti-Christ is. It is because the Christians will be taken out at the Rapture and the Holy Spirit will not dwell among men as He does now. The Holy Spirit of God in the lives of believers is preventing the Devils plan.

VII- His End: 2:8

The end of the Anti-Christ is foretold here as well as in other places. He will not have eternal rule or reign even of hell. Notice, "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."

John in the Revelation says, "And the beast (the Anti-Christ) was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." Rev 19:20 And again in Rev 20:10 "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

VIII- His Power: 2:9-10

We have already let out the secret that the Anti-Christ is just an instrument of Devil. We know he is not as powerful as God. He however is a very deceiving and dangerous character. "9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 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."

The deception of Satan is so strong that he and not God is the real thing that Jesus said, "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect." Mark 13:22

Dear beloved as we live anticipating the coming of Jesus lets not live in fear because, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4

IX- The Delusion of The Lie: 2:11-12

As we have said the delusion will be strong. This verse we close with is probably one of the most frightening in the word of God. "11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

It says that God will allow men to be deceived by the Anti-Christ into believing the lie. It is urgent and of dire importance that you not put off receiving Christ as your Savior. No one wants to be thrust into the middle of the great tribulation when the truth will not be believed and a lie will seem like the truth. Will you come to Jesus and accept Him as Lord and Savior while you can if you have not done so. Just ask Him to come into your heart and life and save you now.

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Stand Firm…2 Thess 5:15; 3:1-14

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As we come to the end of the letters of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians we need to apply them to life. On our journey we have seen we need to be the right kind of church and Christian and a call to purity has been issued. We have seen that the appearance of our Lord could be at any instant and we should be watching. In addition we saw the Anti-Christ will be a lawless man who comes but of him we need not fear.

Now in closing I wish to focus on the exhortation of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." Paul reminds them, and us, to stand firm and hold onto the truths of the word of God.

We might ask how can we stand firm. Let’s look and see what makes it possible for us to stand firm and what it means.

I- A Faithful God: 3:3-5

There is a great song that we sing titled, Great Is Thy Faithfulness. This song is based on some verses out of the letter Jeremiah wrote as he watched the destruction of Jerusalem, Lamentations. When there seemed to be no hope Jeremiah penned words that shine like a shaft of sunlight from the bottom of a deep pit. "It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 In spite of the city being destroyed and his county men being deported into captivity, Jeremiah saw the faithfulness of God had not changed.

In fact one of the great truths is that God is never going to change. In Mal 3:6 Malachi states, "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Heb 13:8 declares, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."

Paul states here in the letter to the Thessalonians, "…the Lord is faith, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil." I Thes 3:4 He is talking about the same God that Jeremiah found faithful and the same one that Malachi served.

Paul tells them he is confident not only in God but also in them that they will do what God had commanded. He then states, "And the Lord direct you hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ."

Patiently waiting for Christ return means that we trust God is going to keep His promise and Jesus is going to return again. When the scoffers scoff, and they will, and the doubters doubt, and they will, we still hold onto a God that is faithful. As Job said, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…" Job 13:15

II- Disassociate from Evil: 3:6

The next matter for standing firm is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."

God’s Word plainly calls for us to be a separated people.

Ephesians 5:11 "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."

We are called to be separated from the contamination of the world. It is a little like the boy who was walking down the street and some of the neighborhood boys keep trying to get him to take a drink. He kept refusing and finally the boys got him down and put a funnel in his mouth and poured it down him. The next day as he walked by they asked him again to take a drink and he replied, "no, but you are welcome to funnel me again." If we are not careful we will get to like sinning and giving in a little at a time.

Paul tells us to separate from those who are walking disorderly. Disorderly, "signifies "disorderly, with slackness" (like soldiers not keeping rank)" (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

There are only two places in the entire New Testament this word is used, here and in 2 Thessalonians 3:11. We will continue to discuss this in a few moments.

III- Don’t Be Lazy: 3:10-12

It seems like today that we are living in a world where many think they are entitled to be kept up by the rest of us. I am not talking about legitimate needs and help. I am talking about those that could carry the name of the Red Skelton character, Freddie the Freeloader.

Notice what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread." (My underline for emphasis.)

Notice the verses here says it strong and pointed. If someone won’t work they should not eat. Paul was addressing problems of those that had stopped working except for their tongues and were expecting the others to keep them us. He told them to shut up and work and eat their own bread. Standing firm also means we stand for right in society.

IV- Be Diligent to Do Good: 3:13-14

2 Thessalonians 3:13-14 "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing." Along with the admonition for those too lazy to work, Paul also gives a warning to us as well.

He tells us to not get tired of doing well for others. Standing firm sometimes means we continue to give to others. It is so easy to get cynical and hardhearted but we are warned not to do this. As we live anticipating the coming of Christ we are moved to give to our fellow man.

2 Thessalonians 3:14 " And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." We are called to withdraw from the unruly brother. This verse seems to have reverted back to condemnation of others however we must look at verse fifteen to find the reason for the withdrawal.

2 Thessalonians 3:15 "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." Paul says as we stand firm we need to be careful too not do it selfishly but do it for a higher purpose. We must notice the purpose of admonishing someone as a brother is to restore them. Standing firm or fast does not mean standing harsh or critical but exercising the ministry of reconciliation.

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