"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

CROSSING The T’s STUDY in 2 THESSALONIANS aka PROPHETIC and PERSONAL Perspectives – PART 4 of 4; 2 THESSALONIANS - Ch. 3

PROPHETIC and PERSONAL Perspectives from 2 THESSALONIANS - PART 4
STUDY # 3 – 2 THESSALONIANS 3:1-18

The Perspective of GOD's WORK ENABLED IN US

INTRODUCTION: This epistle might be referred to as 3rd Thessalonians, but not really. There may have been a forgery supposedly from Paul but actually from an impostor, and that might have been why the Thessalonian church was confused on certain matters. This was alluded to in Ch. 2:2 (“not by letter as by us”).

This letter was written by Paul shortly after the first letter to the Thessalonian saints; both around A.D. 51.

Theme: The Day of the LORD (This phrase is also seen in JOEL 1:15; 2 PET 3:10 and REV 19:19 and elsewhere). This phrase refers to that period of time when God actively and openly begins to deal with the people of the Earth in judgment, beginning with the Jew and then the Gentile as portrayed in REVELATION 6–19.

It begins with (1) the translation of the church or rapture (“bride of Christ”) from Earth to Heaven and culminates at (2) the Great White Throne Judgment with the 70th week of Daniel (“time of Jacob's trouble” JER 30:7) in which the world will see the 7 year reign of anti-Christ or “the man of sin” (2 THESS 2:3) occurring between those two points.

The saints at Thessalonica were anxious because they thought that the Day of the LORD was upon them, but Paul corrects this misunderstanding in explaining that two crucial events must first happen before this occurs; we will see what those things are in 2 THESSALONIANS 3.
Outline: Intro: 1:1-4;
SECTION I – Comfort in persecution: 1:5-12
SECTION II – The Day of the LORD vs. the man of sin: 2:1-12
SECTION III – Exhortations and instructions: 2:13-3:15; Conclusion: 3:16-18.

STUDY # 4 – 2 THESSALONIANS 3:1-18: The Perspective of GOD's WORK ENABLED IN US:

2 THESSALONIANS 3:1-2
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: 2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith
.

What does God want to do in our lives today?
He wants us to be compassionate and willing to come alongside our brethren with our prayers joined to theirs, seeking GOD’s will for them, that He will open doors of opportunity for them, that the enemy of the church would be thwarted and unable to stop the work that GOD has assigned to them. He desires by means of prayer to enable us for the work of the ministry, something that all born again believers are called to: the service of the LORD.
His desire is to enable us to deliver His Word to people and for the LORD to receive the glory for such.

Such a call is not without some form of endangerment, for the enemy constantly seeks to thwart the will of the LORD, and so our need to pray for deliverance “from unreasonable and wicked men” who are no doubt directed by our adversary, is quite apparent. The conduct of such wicked people is unbecoming, irrational, harmful and unreasonable towards godly saints whose only desire is to see souls saved, redeemed from the curse of sin and the disastrous destiny of hell.

Yet the Gospel and those who herald it will not be welcomed by most of this world. However, obstacles become opportunities to glorify and worship God – His work will have “free course” and advance freely without hindrance, but not by the plan and intention of man but by prayer to the LORD and by His enablement.

“Not all men have faith” – that is to say, there are those who refuse to believe by faith, as they see such things as childish, unsophisticated, unenlightened; preferring rather to apprehend life by intellectualism and philosophy of man, for the glorification – not of GOD, but of mankind. Not exercising faith will eventually mean not having faith: the “use it or lose it” principle.

Yet the LORD established salvation on the basis of faith – something that all can operate in, because not everyone is a genius. Salvation therefore is based on faith so that everyone, children and the simple included, can approach GOD and repent, believe the Gospel by faith, and enjoy a life with the LORD!

The LORD knows those who are appointed to salvation (ACTS 13:48-49) and will believe the Gospel by faith; such shall experience the deliverance of the LORD, just as certainly as we are delivered from those agents of Satan who would seek our ruin (Remember that the Thessalonians were suffering terribly as Christians by their pagan countrymen, and needed encouraging):
ACTS 26:18
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

2 CORINTHIANS 1:8-10
8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
The LORD enables us by His faithfulness towards us, His children:

2 THESSALONIANS 3:3-4
3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you
.

He is our shield, our strength, our refuge, and strong deliverer (PSALM 46:11; 91:2,9); He will ensure that we are established and preserved and that His will and work shall be accomplished in us His vessels of clay. His faithfulness is based on Himself, not on anything we might say or do to prove 'our worthiness' (See 2 TIM 2:13).
1 THESSALONIANS 5:23-24
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it
.
It is because of the LORD's faithfulness to us and not the other way around (Because His faithfulness is perfect and ours is inconsistent) that we express an abiding confidence in the LORD – and not the flesh (PHIL 3:3; ROM 7:18); that our words and actions will be pleasing to He Who has redeemed us by His blood (2 COR 3:1-5). 

We see both aspects of this wondrous work employed: He is faithful and will do this work, while at the same time, there is a confidence “in the LORD” that we His saints are doing and will do whatever the Word of GOD commands us. And that faithfulness He shows to us His children, because we are HIS children, by His Spirit He works that same faithfulness in us. We have great cause to rejoice when we witness our faithfulness to the LORD as the outworking of His Spirit, indeed, the very fruit of the Spirit (GAL 5:22-23).
PHILIPPIANS 2:12-13
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
2 THESSALONIANS 3:5-6
5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. 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
.

Note that the LORD directs our “hearts into the love of God”: We follow His direction into the vast frontier of the Father's love for us, never doubting, all the while suffering for His name's sake and for righteousness (MATT 5:10-11) at the hands of the “wicked and unreasonable”. Patiently we await the Judge of the whole Earth to arrive who will render recompense to those who have unjustly persecuted us:

The LORD directs us into this patient waiting for Christ, the LORD to Whom the Father has committed all judgment, as the JUDGE of all the world (JOHN 5:22). Whatever wrong doing we have suffered, injustice, harm, turmoil because of the evil in this world, it has been duly observed, noted, and reserved for judgment when the LORD returns; therefore we must be patient and look to the LORD, to Whom “vengeance belongs” (PSALM 94:1; HEB 10:30). Foregoing any retribution or self-justification by our own powers and allowing the LORD His place as the faithful and just Judge is the very hallmark of meekness.

Motivated by God's love, we devote ourselves to Him and serve Him in whatever capacity He chooses for us, and thereby we are promised great reward which will be granted on that day when we, the church stand before the LORD for rewards based on faithful service (2 COR 5:10).

Paul's admonition for the saints is that we withdraw and disassociate ourselves from anyone who calls himself a Christian, and yet lives a life of lethargic slackness in biblical matters, and not following in obedience to the biblical teachings (“traditions”) as given by the apostle Paul. Rather, we are to remain diligent in our God-given ministry as a token of our loving obedience (2 COR 8:21-23; HEB 11:6; 12:15; 2 PET 3:13-15).

2 THESSALONIANS 3:7-9
7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8 Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us
.

Here Paul contrasts his conduct (and those who ministered with him) and points out that they didn’t walk disorderly, in contrast with these others that the apostle warned against, who did walk disorderly. The saints were admonished to distance themselves from such.
There were other supposed ministers that traveled in some of the same circles as did the apostle Paul, and he warned the saints about these wolves who simply preyed upon the flock of God, seeking their money more than their spiritual benefit (sounds like today's televangelists, doesn't it?); likewise the apostle Peter gave such warnings:
2 PETER 2:1-3
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not
. (See also ACTS 20:29; 1 COR 9:1-12; also 2 COR 11).
As a matter of reproof against those false teachers, as well as an example to the saints, Paul labored to meet his own needs rather than live off of the financial donations of the churches that he ministered to. There is an abundance of false teachers today, and for the church, this is truly inexcusable, since we have the complete canon of Scripture which offers in plenty, warnings against, and proof texts to expose such false teachers. The LORD’s judgment against them won’t be withheld much longer, but on that Day, they will be seen by all for what they truly are, much to their shame.

2 THESSALONIANS 3:10-12
10 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
.

This is the second time that the apostle Paul spoke of those who lived “disorderly” lives – there were some of the church who apparently became slothful in business because they thought it didn't matter, since the LORD would be returning so soon (as Paul taught them); yet here is a rebuke to those who conducted themselves in this manner. While we are indeed to expect the LORD at any moment of any day and to “watch and pray” about this event (MARK 13:32-33), we are still to “occupy til [He] comes” (LUKE 19:13).

We as Christians ought to have a reputation in the working world as the most conscientious and industrious people around, for we do our work as “unto the LORD” (COL 3:23). With such industry and financial gain we are to look around and relieve the sufferings of the poor, giving according to the grace of God (2 COR 9:8-10; GAL 6:10).

We may consider all that we do as a form of worship, including our work, when we do such “in the name of the LORD”. Doing something in the name of another means operating according to their nature, their authority, their methods and purposes. 
If a nation has just law, then any officer conducting and executing that office “in the name of the law” would likewise be just.

I used to work for Pizza Hut, and I made pizzas the ‘Pizza Hut’ way – so that when customers partook of such, they’d say, “Pizza Hut makes some good pizza!” My own name never came up – but because I made pizza “in the name/character/methods” of Pizza Hut policies and procedures, I was a good representative.

So the way we work at our jobs, the way we treat our spouse, our family and neighbors – the way we treat one another in the body of Christ – everything in our lives, ought to be done in the name of Jesus for the intent of worshiping GOD!

2 THESSALONIANS 3:13-16
13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 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. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy but admonish him as a brother. 16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all
.

Scripture diligently reminds us to not grow weary in our walks with the LORD, in living sanctified lives, in our ministry to souls for the LORD's sake, in our prayer life and every other aspect of the Christian's discipleship:
GALATIANS 6:8-9
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not
. (See also ISAIAH 40:30-31; PROV 3:11).
Paul reminds the saints for a third time against those who are disobedient (“disorderly”) that these should be noted, and for none of them to keep company with them – but this is in a spirit of admonition not abandonment; we are to pray for them and seek the LORD on their behalf, encouraging them to heed the Word of God.

So, we are to distance ourselves from the disorderly, according to the apostle’s admonition, he repeats himself in a way here; if any refuse to obey the Word of the LORD – then keep no company with them, to the intent they would be convicted by their wrong doing. Admonitions from one brother to the other ought to be happening, rather than simply ‘writing them off’.

Too often Christians are in the habit of “shooting the wounded” whose wounds may very well be of their own making in sowing to the flesh and thereby reaping destruction (GAL 6:8) – and treat them like enemies; Paul admonishes us to admonish them as brothers! And so we must.

Paul the Apostle closes this epistle to the suffering saints in Thessalonica we the short but powerful benediction of the LORD of Peace Himself – and as LORD He will institute the peace of God throughout this sinful, rebellious world, putting down the malicious and evil workers of iniquity and raising up the needy, the persecuted and the oppressed. He grants us His peace and we experience it despite our circumstances, our situation, our hardships and emotional response to these.

It is the “peace of God that passes all understanding” - PHIL 4:7 which we receive as a result of “peace with God” which we obtained through Christ Jesus and His atonement for our sins (ROM 5:1). His very Presence may be equated with His very Peace, and the LORD is certainly with His saints – even unto the end of the world!

MATTHEW 28:20
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen
.

May we be like the wise virgins, with our lamps trimmed, filled with oil and fully prepared for our LORD's RETURN! - MATT 25:1-13.

This concludes this series on PROPHETIC and PERSONAL Perspectives from 2 THESSALONIANS; part of the continuing series of CROSSING The T’s TTUF STUDY! Next up, 1 TIMOTHY, beginning that part of this series in the pastoral epistles which includes both epistles to pastor Timothy and then to pastor Titus!


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