Further Sojourning…Now Through 2 Thessalonians Pt. 6

Further Sojourning…Now Through 2 Thessalonians, Pt. 6

Study Guide, June 16, 2024

Pastor Clay Olsen

One of the great things about everyday life is that there is always more to learn about everyday life. For example, we tell the time of day by using AM and PM. We say it all the time, but what does AM and PM really mean? Well, we need to start by asking what does the ‘M’ mean? The ‘M’ stands for ‘meridian’. And ‘meridian’ is Latin, which means ‘midday’. Then the ‘A’ stands for the Latin ‘Ante’, which means ‘before midday’…or AM, and the ‘P’ stands for the Latin ‘Post’, which then means ‘post midday’…or PM.

Actually, there is a Prime Meridian, which is an imaginary line that runs from the North Pole to the South Pole, passing through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, England. Ever since the decision was made in the 19th century, the Prime Meridian at Greenwich has served as the reference line for Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT. But, again, when you tell someone it’s 10AM, you are saying it is 10 Ante Meridian…or 10 before midday. And similar for 10 PM or 10 Post Meridian…post midday.

Another ‘actually’ is that ‘actually’ there really is no 12AM or 12PM, because neither are before midday or after midday! They are right at midday. You can have 11:59 or 12:01 AM or PM, but not 12AM or 12PM, because then they are either 12 Noon or 12 Midnight. Isn’t this fun?

As we have seen in our recent series, there are everyday things going on now and things to come that we often don’t consider as to what is ‘really going on’ and ‘what will really be going on’. But the revelations from the Scriptures about what is really going on are really way more fascinating than even learning more about AM and PM, or Fahrenheit and Celsius…which we can talk about their origins later.

But to catch what we mean let’s return to where we were in 2 Thessalonians. And what we need to further explore is this wondrous ministry of the one that Paul referred to as ‘he who now retrains’. Let’s look: 2 Thess 2:7- “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” NASU

Last time we pointed out that the ‘One who is now restraining’ is a reference to God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the restraining influence on the present evil and tribulations of this world and also is the One who is restraining the Evil one from starting the works of the 70th week of Daniel, or the Tribulation and Great Tribulation Age. But a really good question that comes up about it all is what it really means that ‘the Restrainer is taken out of the way’? What will then become ‘unrestrained’ in this world? And how will this relate to those who do repent and receive the Messiah in the Tribulation Age. What will their relationship be like with God the Holy Spirit then?

One thing right away that we learn is that there is a change coming in how God the Holy Spirit will be ministering from His present ministry in the Church Age and in His future ministry in the Tribulation Age. And the remarkable thing about that is that the key to understanding how the Holy Spirit will minister to believers after the Church Age in the Tribulation Age is to first understand how He ministered to believers before the Church Age, or in the days of the First Testament, or the Old Testament.

One ministry of the Holy Spirit in all ages is that of ‘regeneration’. And that ministry is one that will continue in the Tribulation Age. In Paul’s letter to Titus we see this ‘regeneration ministry’ clearly stated: Titus 3:5- “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit…” NASU Spiritually, it means that God brings a person into new life from a previous state of separation from God and subjection to the decay of death (Ephesians 2:5). Until a person is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, the Bible reveals that the person is still dead, spiritually separated from God because of their sins. The Bible also refers to regeneration as a spiritual resurrection. How amazing it that to realize that you, as a follower of Christ, have already been resurrected…in your spirit. Your spirit was resurrected by the Holy Spirit!

This regeneration is also referred to as being ‘Born Again’. When you repented toward God and placed faith in Christ, God united your spirit to His spirit, and you were spiritually born again. When you think of this term ‘Born again’, what passage of Scripture do you usually associate it with? John 3 in Jesus’ meeting with Nicodemus. And what is something else that is remarkable about what Jesus told Nicodemus about this new birth, about being born again, is the rebuff Jesus gave to this Teacher of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. Remember what Jesus asked him? “Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?” John 3:10 NASU

How come the Pharisees stopped teaching people about spiritual regeneration? How come Nicodemus didn’t know about the need for each person to become spiritually reborn? How come Nicodemus didn’t associate the Messiah with being both the sovereign God and the sacrificial Savior?

Well, let’s first ask some more questions…How come social gospel churches of today don’t teach people about their need to become born again? The answer about this false teaching is the same as for the false teachers of Jesus day and before His day. It is because they have drifted away from the revelations from God in the Bible about needing a personal relationship with the Messiah through spiritual regeneration. Instead, this Gospel has been replaced by their humanistic ideas that people are basically good and only need to keep trying to be good people, all the while ignoring God’s warnings that people are basically dead, spiritually dead, and they are separated from God because of their sin. Plus, by insinuating that people are not spiritually dead in trespasses and sin they are rejecting God’s words and are insulting Jesus, by dishonoring His sacrificial life and death as the only way they can become saved! Just like the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2; to try to be saved by works is the same as saying that Christ died needlessly…that the Cross was a mistake…that God made a mistake. How insulting to God!

From the days of the Garden of Eden God revealed that the Messiah, who would be both God and Man was coming to live and die as a sacrificial substitute to redeem, to purchase our freedom by His sacrifice, and to regenerate man’s dead spirit by uniting His life…uniting God’s life with each one who would repent and receive the Messiah as their Lord and Savior. The Psalmist called out to the Messiah as his Savior. Isaiah gave the revelation of the Messiah’s sacrificial death and His gift of clothing us in His righteousness as our only salvation. Ezekiel even declared the need for man to have his heart of stone…sin dead heart, replaced by a heart of flesh, or a new heart and new life in union with God…a new birth of spiritual life…regeneration!

Essentially Jesus rebuke to Nicodemus was… “How can you be a teacher of the Scriptures, yet ignore what the Scriptures teach?” Well, in another time here is exactly what Jesus said about that: Mark 7:6-8- “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men…” NKJV

And this is exactly what Jesus is saying today to every church in America that is not teaching people that every person must be spiritually born again in order to have a relationship with God. False teachers let people continue to think that they are already spiritually alive and if they just try to do good and be good people, and just try to practice some things that their particular religious group says they should do, that they will be fine and be ready to go to Heaven. But that’s basically the same thing the Pharisees were teaching, and also the same thing that Jesus was rebuking them about…blind guides leading others into Hell. Those are Jesus’ words.

There was a Chaplain in Prison ministry that made famous a saying that became the theme to share in prison ministry. And that was this: “Inmates don’t need rehabilitation. What they need is ‘Regeneration’!” Exactly! In fact, that’s what all ‘Inmates of Earth’ need! First, because every person is an ‘Inmate of Earth’, a prisoner of sin, until they become set free in Christ. And second, every person needs to become regenerated…spiritually born again, just like Jesus told this Pharisee who had been ignoring the truth. You see, physically alive people naturally think they are already spiritual alive…until they learn from God through His word and the Gospel that they are spiritually dead…until they become spiritually alive when they repent of their sins and receive the Messiah, receive Christ into their lives! ‘Christ’ is the Greek form of the Hebrew ‘Messiah’.

So, regeneration was a ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and in the Church Age…and will be a ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Tribulation Age. What will be different about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Tribulation Age from the Church Age is what is referred to as ‘the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit’. Remember, Jesus said that a change was coming for believers for this Church Age. He put it this way in John 14:16-17- “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” NASU This was different…the Holy Spirit would now indwell believers in the new Church Age. Paul helped us further understand this by revealing that the Holy Spirit of God no longer resided in a temple, like Solomon’s temple, but that every believer in Christ was now a ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’. That’s what Paul said in 1 Cor 6:19-20- “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” NASU And that, Friends, is one of the most amazing realities of life, that our body has become a temple in which God the Holy Spirit indwells. In this Church Age, we have a special privilege of having both amazing access and special fellowship with God. Perhaps a picture of the Jerusalem temple will help with this.

Remember, only once a year the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple on the Day of Atonement. Of course, the people had access to the courts around the Temple, but only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. The people were certainly close to God and they sensed His presence and His pleasure upon them as His children. But entering directly into the inner Temple, as in right before the throne of God, was a special privilege for the High Priest.

Guess what? On the Day of Pentecost and all through this Church Age, God has bestowed this special privilege upon each one of us…each Born Again child of God. Peter tells us that God has made us each Priests unto the Lord. And get this…the presence of God has moved out of the temple of stone and moved into the temple of the bodies of His children. And we each now have direct access to our Creator and Savior, as His children, His priests. Note: Heb 4:14-16- “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” NASU

Our God has granted us special access and a special fellowship with Him in this Church Age that is wondrous beyond description. And we’ll let this lead us into our special time of Communion because we remember that it was at the Cross, after Jesus gave up His life to deliver us from our sins, that the veil in the Temple was split from top to bottom. This direct access to the throne room of God was now open to all His children.

We’ll continue with the rest of this study next time, but for now let’s go to prayer in thanks to our wondrous Savior.