To show that the suffering we endure for our faith is evidence of righteousness, and that contrary to what some believe judgment awaits all who reject God and His Gospel.
When your hope has been dashed, and smashed to pieces what do you do? Most times we give up, or not, and push forward. We say, “What is the use? Jesus is coming soon I can quit my job; I can quit trying to lead people to Jesus. He is going to come and all this just won’t matter anymore.” God forbid that we feel this waay, and worse practice these thoughts and feelings.
The Church at Thessalonica was praised by Paul for their faith and love. The last verse of 1 Corinthians 13 mentions faith, and love. Why did Paul not recognize and admire their hope? They had lost hope. At least some of them had quit their jobs thinking, maybe saying, “What is the use?” Some false teachers were telling them they were already in the “Tribulation period”. Their faith and love; they had plenty; but hope had been lost in the persecution they were experiencing, and because of the false teachers and their teaching. When your hope is taken away there is just not much left worth living for. Paul is writing to reestablish hope in them.
Sometimes hope is dashed when we look and see evil prospering. God will have His day on the evil wicked of the world. They will not be able to stand the judgment of the wrath to come.
We who are in Christ Jesus, need not lose hope. The very evidence of our endurance in the midst of persecution is evidence of God’s righteous judgment. He gives endurance to those who are His – He strengthens us to persevere to the end (Matthew 24:13).
“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2 (KJV)
This is the same introduction as the first letter, therefor, not too much need to comment, except to say Paul was very high on the grace of God. He depended on it. His life, and ours must depend on it for eternity.
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; 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…” vv. 3-4
Paul has noticed something missing at Thessalonica – hope. They were quitting, just giving up. The persecution they were experiencing even affected their work – their way of making a living. Those who owned businesses were being shunned because of their faith [We would call it a “Boycott”].
They needed hope. Hoe is the life-blood of progress. People who have hope can accomplish just about anything. The only hope for mankind – all of humanity – is faith in Jesus through whom God gave the gift of salvation – eternal life. If we understand hope; hope is the motivation of faith and love.
People who are without hope – especially a Church that is without hope is dead or dying. We preach and teach that Jesus is coming soon, but where is our hope? If we had hope, would we not be telling everyone to get ready? At least as many as we possibly can? Understand, our hope – “The Blessed hope” – is not wishful thinking which has no substance. Faith is the substance of our hope (Hebrews 11:1). God said it, I believe it, so that settles it. One I like better than that one “God said it; that settles it whether you and I believe it or not.” Our hope as Christians is backed up with what God has said; His promises and prophecies will not fail.
“Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer…” v. 5
God uses persecution to build us and make us stronger in faith, and to root out those without faith. Those who endure persecutions because of their faith show the “righteous judgment of God”, and those who do not persevere show it as well. God truly knows those who are His.
Many complain about trials and persecutions in their lives, but does an athlete complain about running till his/her legs ache, lifting weights until his/her arms hurt? If a mountain climber does not hurt he probably has not climbed a mountain for a while. We can think, “Well these people voluntarily do that.” A-men. Do not we the people of Faith volunteer as well? If we are to be strong in faith let us face the weights, the running, and the mountains for the glory of our God, and His righteousness.
“…Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you…” v. 6
Those who fall away are many times the very ones who will cause the faithful trouble. There are some who seem to remain faithful to the Church, but never endure any persecution, because they live outside the Church like everyone else. They are trouble to the Church, whether they actually lift a finger against her or not. It is a righteous act for God to cause them trouble.
“…And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels…” v. 7
While the rest of the world will be suffering from God’s judgment the Church will be at rest. During that period of seven years we will be in the presence of our Lord and Savior enjoying His glory. Where will you be when He comes?
“…In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power…” vv. 8-9
In Hebrews 10:31 the word of God tells us, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” Hebrews 12:29 says, “For our God is a consuming fire.”
Just as surely as Jesus is coming for His Church, He is coming also to take vengeance on the unbelieving – those who obey not the gospel. Many cannot see a loving God doing this. This loving God made a way possible for unholy men and women to become holy, and the unbelieving spit in His face, stomped His blood under their feet, and still proclaim with much hate toward Him, “I don’t need that. God is love. He won’t cast me into Hell.” If this holy, loving God will not cast unbelievers into Hell, then His Word is not trustworthy, there is not salvation, and there awaits nothing but damnation for us all.
Notice the forms of judgment mentioned: Flaming fire, Vengeance, Punishment, Everlasting destruction, Separation from the presence, glory, and power of the Lord.
“…When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” v. 10
What glory that will be when He is glorified in us. What is that glory? That others believe Him through our faith and testimony.
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” vv. 11-12
Hope can often be restored by letting people know you are praying for them, and how you are praying.
How was Paul praying? 1.) That God would count you worthy of this calling; 2.) Fulfill the good pleasure of His goodness; 3.) The work of faith with power; 4.) That Jesus name be glorified in you; 5.) You in Him; 6.) According to His grace; 7.) Fulfilled through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and His coming in the clouds.
It is solely by His grace. There is no other way of salvation.
We can rest in God’s grace that He will deliver us from the wrath to come, when we are in Christ. We have that hope, that promise in Christ Jesus.
If our lost loved ones, friends, and neighbors die in unbelief there will be no rest for them. After Jesus comes, any hope of salvation is gone.