Further Sojourning…Now Through 2 Thessalonians, Pt. 3

Further Sojourning…Now Through 2 Thessalonians, Pt. 3

Study Guide, May 5, 2024

Pastor Clay Olsen

Have you seen some of those crazy laws that are still on the books? For example: Here are some just from North Carolina. If you are walking around the scenic city of Asheville, NC, and you feel a sneeze coming on, you might want to stifle it, because it is illegal to sneeze on city streets in Asheville! And in Nags Head you can be fined for singing out of tune for more than ninety seconds! Then, although you might like to do this, don’t do this in Kill Devil Hills, because it’s illegal to ride a bicycle without having both hands on the handlebars! And in the early days of settlement around Raleigh, before a man could ask for a woman’s hand in marriage he had to be ‘inspected’ by all the barnyard animals on the young woman’s family farm, to ensure there would be harmonious farm life! (So, you might be all right with the hogs, but if the chickens get all riled up when they meet you…well, that might be a deal breaker right there. Chickens know stuff, you know?)

Again, there are a lot of crazy laws people have come up with…but then there are universal laws that were put into place at creation that are immutable. One example is the physical law of ‘Gravity’. Gravity does not change nor does any belief about it or conduct of mankind remove it. It is the same with another law, a spiritual law, that does not change, nor will any belief about it or conduct of mankind remove it. We see it throughout the Bible, but it also comes through in the passage of 2 Thessalonians that we introduced in our last study. So, let’s return to it.

Let’s look again at 2 Thess 1:6-8- “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” NASU The law is referred to as ‘The Law of Compensation’, and it is an immutable spiritual law, and every person that ever has or ever will live is subject to it. And it works both ways, either in retribution for wrong that is done or in reward for right that is done. And here, Paul assures these persecuted believers in Thessalonica that any injustice done to them will be justly judged and avenged by God, who, by His very nature, is a God of justice. In a passage to the Galatian believers Paul reinforced this truth in another description of this Law of Compensation as being the Law of Reaping and Sowing. Note that one: Gal 6:7-8- “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” NASU

This ‘Law of Compensation’ or ‘Law of Sowing and Reaping’ is one of the first laws that should be taught in homes and in churches and in schools, for it is a foundational law of life on Earth. It is the law of accountability, and everything is recorded. And yet, few people, especially unbelievers from all ages, seem to understand that God has a record of their entire lives. Every deed, every word, every thought, every motive…all is on their record that God has recorded in the ‘books’. And everyone has a ‘this is your life’ appointment with the Sovereign God of Creation and Judge of all mankind. For the redeemed, thankfully the record of our sins was nailed to the cross, and we have forgiveness. So our record is about our service, and not our sins. But for the unrepentant, their sins remain on record. That, too, is revealed in Rev 20:11-12- “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” NASU

We have discussed the Great White Thone judgment many times, but just to reinforce its impact upon all life, remember that this judgment is for the unsaved, for those who neglected or rejected the great salvation offered to all by the Lord Jesus Christ. Their unbelief determined their destination in Gehenna Hell, and now this judgment is of the record of their deeds, all recorded in these ‘books of justice’. And this will determine their sentencing while they spend eternity in Gehenna Hell.

Point being: As we see the sinfulness of people on full display day after day, in our own country and around the world, we need to see it all in light of each of these unsaved people standing before the God of Justice at the Great White Throne Judgment. We need to see them having the record of their lives revealed to them by God, and then being taken away to Gehenna Hell to carry out their sentencing for whatever justice their sins require of them.

Remember, one of the purposes of Prophecy is to project pictures of future truths into our present experiences. We need to regularly superimpose ‘prophetic pictures’ over our present times. Otherwise, like with a book of Anatomy, we will only be looking at the skeleton of this world, without laying the other pages of the human anatomy over it. This is the only way that we can have a better understanding and can live with a realistic perspective concerning everything that is happening day by day…and will happen in due time.

Every day, people are sowing what they will reap in due time. This Law of Compensation cannot be changed or altered or removed, for God is not mocked, and He has already warned everyone of His justice that will be done! Fortunately, for the believer, for the follower of Christ, this Law of Compensation also is a powerful comfort in knowing that no injustice done to them will go unavenged. Remember what God told us about that? Rom 12:18-19- “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.” NASU

To the persecutor to the troublemaker of God’s people, God is going to enact His vengeance upon each of them for their treatment of His children. You can be certain about that! And, since we have also taught much about how ‘The Law of Compensation’ blesses the faithful follower of Christ, we’ll simply remind us all here of what the Apostle Paul revealed about that in Eph 6:7-8- “With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.” NASU Our great God is a great rewarder, and He will reward each and every good thing His children have done in their worship and service for Him. And He is also a great compensator, and will compensate each child of His for each and any harmful thing they have ever had to face or experience from this world, the flesh, and the devil. Our God is ‘The Great Compensator!’

Now then, what does it mean ‘to obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus’ as Paul stated: “…those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”? The Apostle John once stated it similarly when he said: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36 NASU

This is an important point to focus upon since it gives us the opportunity to reinforce the Biblical hermeneutic or principle that reminds us: ‘Every teaching of the Bible that is not apparently clear is always in harmony with every teaching of the Bible that is completely clear.’ In other words: We are to interpret every dimly lighted passage in the Bible in connection with every brightly lighted passage in the Bible. For example: The Bible is completely clear in its teaching that salvation is a gift from God based upon Christ’s works for us, and thus is not something that can be earned or merited by our own works. Eph 2:8-9 is as clear as it gets on this teaching…this truth: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” NASU Therefore, whenever we find a statement like we do here in 2 Thessalonians or in John 3:36 with wording of “obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”, we then realize that the Apostles were equating ‘obedience to the gospel’ with ‘saving faith’… not with ‘works for salvation’. Again, the ‘clear truths’ clarify any truth that may be ‘unclear’. And that principle applies to every teaching of the Bible. This is a great help for each of us in our own study and application of the teachings of the Bible.

It’s remarkable that also in the Book of John is an account that speaks to this very difference between works and faith. A crowd of people were listening to Jesus’ teachings and were also asking Him questions. And being of the same mindset as is common in religious thinking, the humanistic idea that people can be made right with God or merit salvation by doing right works, they asked Jesus which ‘works’ would be the ‘right works’ for them to do to be made right with God. Here’s what Jesus said about that: “Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” John 6:28-29….”For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40 NASU

Again, we clearly see here that a relationship with God, and the possession of eternal life, is not about ‘doing religious works’ as a way to merit salvation, but about ‘believing in the Person of Christ’ in order to unite with God in an eternal relationship with Him. Remember, because all have sinned, all are spiritually dead in sin. And no one can work their way out of spiritual death. You need new life from Christ before you can do good works for Christ. Plus, Jesus even went on to illustrate that the kind of ‘belief’ that saves is not a head belief about the Messiah, but a whole life reception of the Messiah. He said that believing in Him was like eating and drinking of bread and wine…like spiritually partaking of His flesh and blood. He was saying to them that they needed to receive all of His life into all of their life. Again, saving belief was not just head knowledge, but a heart and life reception of Him.

In the beginning of John’s Gospel, he equated ‘believing in Jesus’ with the ‘receiving of Jesus’. Point being: Salvation is not about doing works in your life for Jesus…salvation is about uniting your life with the life of Jesus. And once you have united your life with Jesus, then you are expected to do the works that Jesus instructs you to do out of your new union with Christ and out of your saved position in Christ as an eternal child of God. This is what we can help people better understand, since so many people have grown up in some religion, doing religious traditions, but they have never come into a personal relationship with Jesus. They have never asked Jesus to come into their life and give new life to their dead spirit. People are religious by nature, but a relationship with God begins by a new birth of their spirit when they receive the Person of Christ into their life.

Now then, back to the passage: 2 Thess 1:9-10- “These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed.” NASU

From the time of the devil’s skeptical question in the Garden of “Oh, has God said?” to these present times, people have been skeptically questioning God’s words about all kinds of things. And one of them is their skepticism about the duration of Hell. Many either deny the existence of Hell, or diminish the punishments of Hell, or dilute the duration of Hell. But the Scriptures do not allow for anything other than the eternity of Hell. Hell is always referred in the Scriptures as being eternal…as being everlasting. Jesus did not allow for a temporary Hell nor an annihilation in relation to Hell. Rather, He equated the duration of Hell with the duration of Heaven: Matt 25:46- “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” NASU Even the wording Paul uses here in verse 9 of ‘eternal destruction’ does not allow for ‘no longer existing’. The word for ‘destruction’ here means the same as ‘ruined’, especially ruined in relation to its original purpose.

Remember, God created humanity to be His physical family…to live in an eternal relationship of love and joy and the shared rule and management of His entire created universe! But He did not make robots…He made humans who, like Moses said, could choose the blessing or the curse, who could like John said… ‘whosoever will’ – could believe in Him or perish…who like Peter said, “God is not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Pet.3:9 NASU Sadly, as Jesus said in Matt 7:13- “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” NASU

God made humans for Heaven not for Hell. Hell was prepared for the devil and his demons. But if people reject God and His Heaven, then they will join the devil and his Hell. Which is another somber, but serious picture to also superimpose over people. For when Paul and John and Peter looked at people, they also saw them as either fellow brothers and sisters of Heaven, or as prisoners and residents of Hell. Remember, every person on Earth is either a citizen of Heaven, awaiting their escort home to Heaven, or a prisoner of Hell, awaiting their removal to their residence in Hell! Include that realistic picture in the picture of every person that you see, and then see what it does to the way that you see them.

Also remember that we not only have been called by our God unto salvation, we have also been called to continually live a life worthy of our calling. 2 Thess 1:11-12- “To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” NASU

We often hear of some people as having a calling on their life…as for doing this or that task or service and such. Guess what? Each of us has a calling on our life. You have a calling on your life. And you don’t have to wait for a feeling about it. God has called each of us into the ministry…into the ministry of His Great Commission, of going and making disciples through sharing the Gospel with the lost and teaching His truths for the saved to live out in their lives. You have a calling to live a life that glorifies your God in every area of your life. And in doing so you then bring glory and honor to your glorious Savior. And as Paul revealed, as you honor your Savior, He will honor you and grant you privileges and positions of honor in the ages to come in His glorious Kingdom. Every day is your opportunity to give glory and honor to your Creator and Redeemer. And, in doing so, you will also be laying up privileges and rewards for your personal inheritance in the Kingdom of God. So be wise. Live wisely. Make the most of your opportunities before the King returns.