Text: 2 Thess 2:1-12
We are going to finish 2 Thessalonians today in a single message because this second letter to the church at Thessalonica is very similar to the first letter.
As the title suggests, I have one objective today. I want to scare the hell out of you. We don’t talk much about hell. But hell is a real place and I don’t want a single person here to end up there. So if you are on the wide path toward your eternal destruction, knowingly because you have rejected Christ or unknowingly, it is my prayer that hell will be scared out of you today once and for all. Because Jesus wants to dwell with you forever.
To recap, what was the problem at this church that Paul addresses in 1 Thessalonians? While they were a commendable church in many ways, suffering for the gospel, some among them even dying for their faith, and yet, there was a subset of people at this church who began to say, God spoke to me and He told me that Jesus is returning soon. In fact, I received a special revelation that He is coming back on such and such day. They gave a precise date for the return of Christ, even though the Bible is clear, no one knows the precise date. You have to wonder, why do people even to this day try to give a precise date of Christ’s return because once they do, you can label them a false prophet? Because no one knows when Christ is going to return. From Scripture, we can read very plainly that Christ’s coming will be sudden, like a thief breaking into your house in the middle of the night.
Christ is coming on such and such day–this is clearly a false prophecy because it contradicts Scripture. And because it’s a false prophecy, when people accepted this false prophecy, it led to undesirable results. People started quitting their jobs because why continue to work if Jesus is returning next week and the world as we know it is going to end? You can see their logic. But what happened after members of this church quit their jobs? They had more time. So what did they do with their free time? Did they pray more? Evangelize more? More good works? Perhaps. Maybe they started out okay. But over time, things degenerated. They became idle. Some fell into sexual immorality. Others began sinning through their speech. They began to gossip and slander and tear down other believers through careless, hurtful words. So this church suffered from disunity.
In 2 Thessalonians, by the time the second letter arrived, the false teachers had taken their false prophecy a step further.
2 Thess 2:1-2 [READ]
I guess whatever date that these guys said Jesus was going to return, that date came and went. And so, now rather than admit that they spoke a false prophecy, they began to tell others–the Day of the Lord has come. In other words, Jesus is here. He’s among us. What if I told you, hey brothers and sisters, news flash, not sure if you heard, but just as an FYI, Jesus is here. How would you take news like that? I think, you’d be freaking out. What do you mean He’s here? Jesus Christ, the Creator God, God incarnate, the One who died and resurrected, you’re telling me, THAT Jesus is here right now?
What does that mean? If you believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, you’d probably be speed dialing everyone you think is a solid Christian to see if they are still around? And if you get a few busy signals, you’d start getting a little nervous. You might start to sweat. What’s going on? Man, have they been raptured?!?
And the next thought that would enter your mind is, why am I still here? Because I am Christian. And you call your friends who don’t go to church or the guy who goes to church once or twice a year, you know, your friend who you’ve always wondered about their salvation and you call them and wouldn’t you know it? Every single one of them answers their phone.
What’s going on? My good Christian friends are unreachable, but the non-believers and hurting Christians are all reachable. If this happened, you’d be freaking out. The world is about to end, yet why am I still here?
This is exactly the situation at Thessalonica. As you would expect, the news that Jesus is here caused the brothers and sisters to be “upset” and “troubled,” v2. The Day of the Lord is comforting if you love Jesus and you’ve been waiting for Him. But if you don’t really love Jesus and you’ve been busy with your life and your plans and your goals, then the Day of the Lord is scary because time has run out. It’s Judgment Day.
Just a quick aside. If you think about it, for those in the pre-tribulation camp, when Jesus returns, believers will be caught up in the air as soon as He arrives in glory and they are raptured, this gathering of believers is supposedly followed by a period of tribulation. And this period of tribulation excludes believers. This doesn’t quite make sense in light of what Paul says here in chapter 2. Why? Because if the Thessalonians argued that the Day of the Lord is here, then Paul could just point out the fact that, well, if Jesus is here, why are you still here? How come you haven’t been raptured? If Paul believed in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, then that’s all he would have to say. You know what I am saying?
Paul reminds them, if people are telling you that the Day of the Lord has already come, they are deceiving you. How can Paul be so confident? Because according to Paul, two things need to happen before the Day of the Lord.