A Word Of Comfort
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
Do you realize that the Bible actually promises that those who follow Christ will endure suffering and persecution? Paul told Timothy that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."(2 Timothy 3:12)
2 Timothy 3:12
12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
It is very clear that, once a Christian is called to follow Christ, hard times will come. The more you try to live a holy life…that pleases the Lord, the enemy seems to want to try break each and every attempt.
The world is in rebellion against God. This world hates God! So much so that when He took on human flesh and came to earth, the world responded by crucifying Him. This came as no surprise to Jesus. Furthermore, He promised that the world would treat us the way that they treated Him.
20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
Throughout Church history, Christ's followers have experienced great persecution. Even now Christians all over the world are enduring opposition, persecution and much suffering because of their faith in Jesus. We live in a place where we have the freedom to worship God, share our faith and live for Jesus. Sadly… the majority of Christians in America take this freedom for granted.
I am thankful for our brothers and sisters all over the world who remain steadfast in the face of persecution. I am glad that their suffering is not in vain. God sees their persecution… God will reward their faithfulness and one day He will judge those who are persecuting them.
In our selected text, Paul draws a contrast between 2 groups of people. He speaks a word of comfort to those people who were being persecuted for their faith in Christ. He also gives a warning about the future of those who were persecuting those Christians. I would like for us to examine each of their situations. We will consider those who are persecuted today and Lord willing we will examine those who were persecuting them this afternoon.
The Thessalonian Christians were in the midst of a very troublesome time. They had endured great persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ. In spite of their troubles, they were steadfast in their faith. Paul was unable to be with them because he had endured violent persecution in that area in the past. However, he loved this church immensely and he hoped to encourage them in the midst of their persecution. In these few verses, he mentions at least 3 major facts that should have brought comfort to the members of that church. These same truths should bring us comfort as well.
* In this passage we will find that:
1. There Is Comfort In The Promised Return Of Jesus
2. There Is Comfort In Our Personal Relationship With Jesus
3. There Is Comfort In The Powerful Reign Of Jesus
- Let us begin by considering the fact that:
1.THERE IS COMFORT IN THE PROMISED RETURN OF JESUS:
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
One of the greatest promises in the Bible is the promise that our Savior is coming back some day. When He ascended to Heaven, He left us with the promise of His return. People have many different views concerning eschatology. Eschatology is "the study of the end times and the events concerning the return of Christ. This covers all future and final events, such as: The Rapture, The Great Tribulation, The Second Coming.
Some believe in the "Rapture" and some don't. The "Rapture" is an event when all Christian believers (living and resurrected dead) will rise into the sky and join Christ for eternity. There are many interpretations on this special event, and as you know…you can debate the when and the how, but the fact still remain…IT WILL HAPPEN!!!
Regardless of your belief concerning the timeline of events... it is essential that you are ready for the return of the Lord. Personally, I would rather know that you know Jesus, than to know your opinion on when He will return.
Adrian Rogers (Southern Baptist Pastor) used to say, "When it comes to the return of Christ, I am on the welcoming committee... not the planning committee!"
Regardless of when Jesus is coming back, the question is "will you be ready when He does?" We may not know all of the details....We may debate the timeframe... But there is no denying the fact that Jesus is coming back! We know that He is coming back because He told us that He was…
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
When He ascended the Apostles stood there gazing into the clouds as He went out of sight. And there were 2 Angels there that reiterated Jesus’ promise that He would return someday. They said: Acts 1:11...
11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Here in II Thessalonians Paul describes what will occur when Christ returns to the Earth. V7-9“7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power”.
Since the writing of his first letter to them, the members of this church had continued to grow in faith and love. They were patient, faithful, steadfast and generous. As we have learned from last Sunday’s message. They had endured much trouble and persecution.
Paul said that they were "examples" to the other churches. It seems that even though some time had passed, they were still setting that example of faithfulness and endurance. In verses 5 & 6 Paul tells the Thessalonians that “God sees their persecution and when He returns, He will punish those who persecute them”. This information should have encouraged and comforted these Christians.
It should bring us comfort as well. Notice that:
2. THERE IS COMFORT IN OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS.
Verse 7 tells us that the Thessalonian believers were "troubled". This word means to "suffer affliction or tribulation." In the context of the Thessalonian believers it speaks of "persecution". Throughout history God's people have faced great trouble. In the 2,000 years of church history the saints have suffered persecution. We are seeing a great increase in Christian persecution in our day. And the bible makes it clear that this will continue to increase. But one day there will be peace for the Children of God! Even now we can experience peace in the midst of tribulation and persecution.
This peace comes from Jesus Christ. He said in John 16:33…
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you [a]will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
We can possess peace even in a world that is filled with trouble. There are many examples in the Bible of people who possessed peace in times of great difficulty. Noah had peace when the rain started to fall, Daniel had peace in a den of lions, The 3 Hebrew Children had peace in a fiery furnace, Elijah had peace beside a babbling brook, David had peace when his enemies pursued Him. Stephen even had peace while being martyred for the cause of Christ.
Peter was chained to a soldier and facing a death sentence. But even in prison he was able to rest in the fact that God was in control (Acts 12). Paul & Silas faced persecution, but they had great peace. They sang praises in a Philippian jail (Acts 16). John was exiled on the Isle of Patmos for his faith in Christ And while there he was used to pen the great Revelation of Jesus (Revelation 1:9). There are numerous other examples of people of God who faced tribulation and persecution but still possessed peace. Why & How? Because Christ was with them through it all.
The people of Thessalonica we able to possess peace in the midst of their persecution. And there are countless souls who are facing persecution all over the world as we speak. No matter how intense their troubles may be...they have peace in Christ!
If you ever find yourself suffering for the cause of Christ, you can have peace as well. True peace comes through Jesus Christ. If you are willing to suffer for Him, He can and will bring peace to your life!
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Paul says for those in Thessalonica to "Rest with us". In the original language that phrase speaks of "release" or "relaxation". Paul is literally telling them to "relax and wait for the return of the Lord." When Jesus returns, He will judge those who persecute His Bride! It is estimated that 100 million Christians in over 60 countries are being persecuted for their faith. Millions of Christians around the world live in constant danger simply because of their faith in Christ. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but things are going to get worse. But I also have good news, peace and comfort is available for those who have a personal relationship with Jesus.
The Lord says, “vengeance is mine, I will repay”. We will see this come to fruition when Jesus returns. For those who have caused so much trouble for the church will be judged when He comes back. No matter what kind of opposition or persecution we face, we can have comfort because of our personal relationship with Jesus.
- There is one more fact about Jesus that will bring us comfort in troublesome times. Notice that:
3. There Is Comfort In The Powerful Reign Of Jesus.
At the Second Coming Jesus will set up His 1,000-year millennial reign. John tells us about this in -Revelation 20:1…
20 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
This will be a time that could be described as Heaven on Earth! It will be a time of peace, joy, love, protection, holiness and righteousness. The King of Kings & Lord of Lords will rule and reign over all the Earth.
The Bible says that after this 1,000 years Satan must be released for a season; (Revelation 20:7) When this occurs there will be one final battle. This battle culminates with one of the greatest events in the history of the world Revelation 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.
Satan is our great adversary. He has caused problems for the people of God from the beginning. He is extremely powerful and the ultimate source of Christian opposition and persecution. But he is no match for our all-powerful Savior. In fact, he is already a defeated foe!
We who have a personal relationship with Jesus should be looking forward to His promised return. And we have the assurance that when He returns, He will rule and reign forever! These truths should bring us comfort, even in the midst of great trouble. The question I have for you is this… “Do you possess peace in this world of trouble?” If you belong to Jesus… you should!
This is a great promise for those who are “in Christ”. But if you do not belong to Jesus you have never experienced true peace. I have good news for you today… you have the opportunity to experience that peace. If you will surrender to Jesus Christ, if you will repent and believe in Him, you can be saved. You can be forgiven of your sins, delivered from Hell and granted eternal life if you will trust in Him. And these things bring peace in the midst of the greatest tribulation. All who trust in Christ can be comforted.
1. There Is Comfort In The Promised Return Of Jesus
2. There Is Comfort In Our Personal Relationship With Jesus
3. There Is Comfort In The Powerful Reign Of Jesus
I love the Bible, for in it we find instruction and encouragement. And in portions like we have examined today we find “A Word Of Comfort”.
Let Us Pray….
A Strong Church
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure.
In His letters to the Churches in the book of Revelation, Jesus addressed the condition of 7 churches in Asia Minor. He pointed out some of the good characteristics that these churches possessed, but He also addressed several issues in these churches that needed attention.
He told the Church at Ephesus that they had “left their first love”. He revealed that the Church at Sardis “had a reputation that they were alive, but they were dead”. Jesus did not just diagnose their sickness; He gave them a prescription that would cure their illness. He told Ephesus to “Remember from where they had fallen, and repent, and do the first works”. And He told Sardis to “Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain” and to He called on them to "repent.”
We have a great example of a strong church in our selected text. The Church at Thessalonica was not a perfect church, but it was a strong church. This was a church that brought Paul much joy. In fact, in his first letter to them he said that they were a great “example” to the other churches. I would like to look to the example that they set and examine the “A Strong Church”.
Background of the epistle:
Paul had received a report that false teachers had been misleading the Thessalonian believers. They had gone as far as to forge letters to make them look as if they had been sent by Paul himself. These false teachers declared that the Day of the Lord had already come. Obviously, this caused great fear among this assembly of young Christians. In this Epistle, Paul seeks to comfort them and further explain "The Day Of The Lord".
2 Thessalonians is a book that is both prophetic and practical. In the first few verses we see certain characteristics that this church possessed that indicate that they were a strong church.
There is much that we can learn about being a strong church when we study this letter. Notice if you will:
I. THE RELATIONSHIPS IN A STRONG CHURCH
Churches are made up of people. Some are in involved in leadership, some carry different ministries, but all are important to the church. There are a couple of things I would like to see about the relationships in a strong church. Notice that:
A. THE PEOPLE IN A STRONG CHURCH WILL BE CLOSE TO ONE ANOTHER
v1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians.
Silvanus is better known as "Silas" and Timotheus is "Timothy". Acts 17 tells us that these men were associates of Paul and they helped him establish and care for the church at Thessalonica. Silas and Timothy also contributed to Paul's first letter to this church. In the past, Paul had sent Timothy to comfort the Thessalonians believers. He says in I Thessalonians 3:2 that he sent Timothy "to establish them, and to comfort them concerning their faith". Paul founded this church on his second missionary journey. He was not able to stay there long because he was forced out by the enemies of Christ. Though he was not present with them, Paul cared for them greatly. He had heard good reports concerning this church and he sought to help them grow stronger. He loved them and they certainly loved him.
One of the reasons that the early church thrived was the love and unity that they possessed.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added [a]to the church daily those who were being saved.
Unity helps promote the Gospel. Unity will bring growth in the church. Discord brings division. Discord harms the cause of Christ. We are joined together by the common bond of Jesus. When God's people join together, love should be apparent and abundant. The leaders should love the people and the people should love the leaders.
A church will never be what God would have them to be if there is not love. Love leads people to Jesus and discord pushes them away. The people in a strong church will be close to each other, and…
B. THE PEOPLE IN A STRONG CHURCH WILL BE CLOSE TO THE LORD.
This is vitally important... we will never be close to one another if we are not close to the Lord. In verse 1 Paul speaks of the Thessalonian's "faith in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ".
This was a young church, filled with recent converts but they were a strong church, the reason is that they were built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. Paul states that this group of believers was "in Christ". They were born again believers living for and focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, they were anticipating His imminent return. We too, must have at the same mindset.
Christ is the foundation that we must build upon as individuals and as a church…
1 Corinthians 3:11
11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Many churches have large crowds, big buildings, huge membership. Their buildings may be full, but are they strong? Do they all really know each other? How much unity do they really have if they don’t know each member? Someone once said that "some big churches are not healthy they are just fat." Somewhere along the way many churches have lost sight of their purpose, they have taken their eyes off of Jesus.
If you take Jesus out of the equation or if you allow Him to become crowded out, you have a civic organization, you do not have a church. If you seek a strong church, look for a church that is Christ centered. If Christ is not the focus... get out as fast as you can!
Let's move on to verse 3 and consider:
II. THE GROWTH IN A STRONG CHURCH…
2 Thessalonians 1:3
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
Most of the time when you hear the words "church" and "growth" together in a sentence, it is referring to numbers. For some reason we have been trained to believe that budgets, baptisms, and buildings are guaranteed indicators of a strong healthy church. Without a doubt, some strong churches will see an increase in their budget and their baptisms, and there may be a need to build bigger buildings.
However, these are not the proper metrics to measure a church's success. There are many churches that have not seen a net increase in membership over the last year, but they are growing stronger. They may not be growing numerically, but they are growing spiritually. Spiritual growth is eternal growth.
The church at Thessalonica was growing spiritually.
Notice that: A. THEIR FAITH WAS GROWING - v3b “because your faith grows exceedingly”, To "grow exceedingly" means “to grow beyond measure, far beyond what is expected.” I don't think that Paul was surprised that they had grown in the Lord. But the level of their progress far exceeded his expectations.
I love to see the church grow. I get excited when people move into the community and choose to worship with us. I am thrilled when we see people come to faith in Christ, follow through with Baptism and then join the church. But my greatest joy comes in seeing Christians young and old growing and maturing in their faith. I want to see our brothers and sisters come to a greater understanding God's Word. When people better understand God's Word it is manifested in their obedience to God.
The Thessalonians faith was growing, and verse 3 also tells us that:
B. THEIR LOVE WAS GROWING - v3c “and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other”. The Thessalonian believers possessed an abundant, ever increasing love for one another. Christian love is more than an admirable trait, it is commanded by Jesus Christ. Jesus said in…
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Last Sunday’s message was about the greatest commandments. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ [a]This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
In these 3 verses He summed up all the commandments. One speaks of our love for God and the other speaks of our love for each other. The believers at Thessalonica were following these commands. Their faith was increasing, this speaks of their love for God. And their love was increasing, which speaks of their love for one another. They were doing their part to honor and obey the great command.
A strong church in 2019 will do the same. Our church should have an ever-increasing love for God. And our love for one another should increase as well. If not, then don’t be surprised if one day God steps in and takes what belongs to Him.
When a church possesses the love of Christ, it will not go unnoticed. Consider if you will:
III. THE INFLUENCE OF A STRONG CHURCH:
2 Thessalonians 1:4
so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure.
This young church had endured much persecution in their short existence. Through it all they were steadfast in their faith. Because of this, they were a great influence to others. In…
1 Thessalonians 1:7
so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.
The Thessalonian church was one that could be pointed to, as an example of how things should be done. In fact, that is what Paul had been doing. He states that he had "boasted" of the love and faith of the Thessalonians to other churches.
These were people who had forsaken manmade idols and turned to the one true Living god. Once they turned to Jesus, they were enthusiastic about sharing Him with everyone that they encountered. Another great characteristic of this church was how they anticipated the imminent return of Jesus. They were looking ahead in faith, to the fulfillment of Christ’s promised return.
In the same way, we should look and long for that day when our Savior returns for us. We are not to stand gazing into the clouds, but we are to anticipate His return. Chances are good that when we do this, persecution will come. Our Enemy does not want the church to be strong, healthy and vibrant. He wants to tear it down... he seeks to steal, kill and destroy. This is why we must comprehend… “v4 patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure”
Paul says that their faith brought them great suffering and affliction. The bible warns us that "all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution". We may face persecution as individuals. We also may face persecution as an assembly of believers. Sooner or later there will be an attack from without or an attack from within. Especially if we seek to have an impact on the Kingdom. When this occurs, we must resolve to remain faithful.
The Thessalonians were attacked, but they were steadfast. This leads us to one final characteristic of a strong church that I would like to consider. Notice: THE ENDURANCE OF A STRONG CHURCH:
“for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure”.
The Thessalonian believers had suffered much persecution. They faced opposition from the Jews and from their own countrymen. But they were steadfast in their faith in Christ. These faithful believers trusted in the power of God. They resisted Satan and his attacks.
They endured all of the persecution that they faced. Paul said that they were an example to other churches back then, and they remain, and they are an example for us today. They show us certain characteristics that will be found in a strong church.
I don't know what the future holds for the Fil-Am Baptist Mission Church, but I know that if we seek to advance the Kingdom of God opposition will come. When it does, I pray that we trust in Christ and stand firm no matter what the Enemy throws our way. The attack on the church should not come from within.
We are able to press on with great assurance because of the promise Jesus made in…
(Matthew 16:18) “Jesus said…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Let us continue to follow the greatest commandments and see this church make it to the finish line.
Church Camp 2019
Lords Message: Which is the greatest commandment?
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.
Pastor Richard Santos
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