Thoughts From II Thessalonians

Chapter 1
(II Thessalonians 1:1-2) - Greetings
(II Thessalonians 1:3-4) - Speaking Proudly
(II Thessalonians 1:4-7) - Righting the Wrong
(II Thessalonians 1:7-9) - The Revealing of Jesus
(II Thessalonians 1:9) - Judgment Day
(II Thessalonians 1:9-10) - When Jesus Comes
(II Thessalonians 1:11-12) - To This End

Chapter 2
(II Thessalonians 2:1-3) - Confusion about Christ's Coming
(II Thessalonians 2:4) - Man of Lawlessness
(II Thessalonians 2:5-8) - Mystery of Lawlessness
(II Thessalonians 2:8-9) - Activity of Satan
(II Thessalonians 2:10-12) - Lovers of Truth
(II Thessalonians 2:13-14) - Thanks for the Brethren
(II Thessalonians 2:15) - Stand Firm
(II Thessalonians 2:16-17) - Paul's Written Prayer

Chapter 3
(II Thessalonians 3:1-2) - Prayer for the Spread of the Word
(II Thessalonians 3:3-5) - The Lord Is Faithful
(II Thessalonians 3:6-8) - Unruly Lives
(II Thessalonians 3:9) - The Apostles’ Example
(II Thessalonians 3:10-12) - No Working, No Eating
(II Thessalonians 3:13-15) - Attitude Adjustments
(II Thessalonians 3:16-18) - Coming to a Close

Greetings

"Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God," stated the apostle Peter concerning the Old Testament writings (II Peter 1:21). The Holy Spirit had these men speak, and insured the preservation and collection of their selected writings (writing and speaking being equivalent as far as scripture is concerned) as the Old Testament Scrolls. The apostle Peter also regards the writings of the apostle Paul as scripture. "Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you," stated the apostle with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, noting that the untaught and unstable distorted Paul's words, "as they do also the rest of the scriptures" (II Peter 3:16). It is clear, then, that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul in his writings as preserved in the sacred writ, as well as the other men whose messages ended up in the collection of New Testament scrolls. Thus, in this second epistle to the Thessalonian brethren, we find some special nuggets of information and exhortation not found in any other writings, and preserved and published for the benefit of modern saints as well as those to whom it was originally written.

Jesus' advice is to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). If the saint will do these two things, then the guarantee is that all that is necessary for earthly life will be added to him. But as long as the "kingdom of God" remains the church at large in the mind of the believer, his commitment is ethereal and he is actually noncommittal. But, as in Thessalonica, the local congregation is the tangible expression of the kingdom. When a disciple of Christ makes the church where he regularly assembles his foremost commitment, then structure is provided for his life, and God can start adding the blessings.



Speaking Proudly

Arrogant pride, boastful pride, or stubborn pride are destructive, and prevent an individual from carrying out the will of God. Hence in the Scriptures, pride is generally regarded as a bad quality. "Pride goes before destruction," noted the wise Solomon, "and a haughty spirit before stumbling" (Proverbs 16:18). "Behold," chimed in Habakkuk, "as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). "All of you," exhorted Peter, "clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (I Peter 5:5). But there is a different connotation to pride that has a positive thrust. For a man to take pride in his work - to do it well for the glory of God - is a good thing. This is true in the spiritual arena as well: "For our proud confidence is this," Paul informed the Corinthians, "the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not on fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you" (II Corinthians 1:12). When brethren do well, there is reason to be proud of them!

Since God's plan was being executed in the congregation in Thessalonica, both in a general and personal sense, Paul was greatly encouraged. "Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you," he lauds their faithfulness and love, "among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all the persecutions and afflictions which you endure" (II Thessalonians 1:4). He was proud of them in the positive use of the term proud, and was happy to compliment them. As modern saints increasingly face persecution and affliction by the will of God, may our faith be enlarged, our love increased, and the true spiritual leaders be able to speak proudly of us also!



Righting the Wrong

People have an innate sense of justice. But since justice is rare this side of glory, there is often a lot of frustration and rage at the corruption that goes on, especially when the descendant of Adam is the victim of injustice himself. The root cause of the injustice, corruption, and destruction is, of course, Satan the destroyer. "He was a murderer from the beginning," said Jesus, and "the father of lies" (John 8:44). But, lest anyone try to put all the blame on the devil as did Eve, God holds the human race accountable on an individual basis. People willingly step into the tempter's traps, and hence are responsible for their own participation in rebellion against God. That rebellion often breaks out in the persecution of Christians, as in Thessalonica of old. The saint of God, though, instead of being frustrated and enraged at the injustice of the world, recognizes it is part of following Jesus. "If they persecuted Me," averred the Savior of the world, "they will also persecute you." One of the major encouragements in the midst of this persecution is the other half of Jesus' statement: "If they kept My word, they will keep yours also" (John 15:20). There will be someone in the midst of the controversy who will be interested in the truth and willing to obey the gospel. That makes it all worthwhile.

In his Roman epistle the apostle Paul noted that disciples of Christ are fellow heirs with Christ "if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him" (Romans 8:17). Saints must suffer to be considered worthy of the eternal kingdom of God. But the suffering is not the end of the story. "For after all," Paul informs the brethren, "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 shall be revealed from heaven" (II Thessalonians 1:6,7). The affliction of the rebellious, of those who persecuted the church of God, will be immense - really beyond comprehension - in the dark fires of a Christless hell. The Saint can be encouraged; God will right the wrong!



The Revealing of Jesus

The great hope of the Christian centers about the return of the Lord Jesus. At that time he will receive the positive resurrection from the dead. But more importantly than that, he will be able truly to see the face of his Savior and King. "Beloved," the aged apostle John would write, "now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is" (I John 3:2). Properly understood, saints will earnestly desire to see the face of Him who loved them enough to give Himself for them. So this is the hope of the Christian, eagerly to await the triumphant return of the King.

When Jesus appears in His second coming. He will bring with him the saints whose spirits and souls have resided in Paradise. As the apostle Paul described this return in his first Thessalonian epistle, he pointed out that "God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus" (I Thessalonians 4:14). But the Scripture also pictures the angels of God as coming with Christ, as Paul avers, noting that He will "be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire." It will be an awesome and victorious day for the saints when the heavens light up like they are on fire, and those angels appear. Be ready, and eagerly awaiting!!



Judgment Day

Most people live in the realm of their own imagination in regard to the return of Christ to judge the world. "All dogs go to heaven," and apparently all people do also! Of course, this is not really the case, as the word of God clearly establishes. Most of the residents of this planet try to bend the circumstances around them as best they can to make them fit what they want. At a certain survivor level, this is certainly necessary, but for the most part, members of the human race are just being selfish and trying to manipulate people and events to serve their own personal interests. Hence, with these mental habits ingrained, they also tend to try to manipulate eternity - in their minds - to serve their own desires. The Almighty God, however, has His own plan and His own righteous sense of justice, and all men everywhere should repent and bring their thinking and perceptions in line with His.

Thus is it is clear what an individual must do if he is to turn from darkness to light. Anyone who fails to know God, or who fails to obey the gospel will be in the lake of fire.



When Jesus Comes

There is hope, and there is empty or vain hope. God is doing mankind a huge favor by making an opportunity for them to be rescued from the folly of their own personal sins, and He is caring enough to clarify how it will all end for the fallen race. By making clear the rewards or consequences of their spiritual choices, God has effectively and helpfully closed the door to vain hope. Everyone who ends up in hell actually made the choice to be there, and everyone who obeys the gospel and is ushered into eternal glory is going to know exactly what choices they made in the believing and obeying that resulted in their justification. In spite of God's goodness and graciousness, many persist in stiffening their necks and hardening their hearts so that, even though they are hell-bound, they refuse to look at the scriptural evidence concerning their condition. These are those who "do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."

None of this has happened. Jesus has not returned, nor have the sentences of judgment day been handed down. The unbeliever may tend to be skeptical, saying, "Where is the promise of His coming?" The apostle Paul mentioned to the multitudes in Athens Areopagus that there would certainly be a day of judgment, proof of which was that God has raised Jesus from the dead. This, of course, was the testimony Paul had borne concerning Jesus when he first came to Thessalonica, and this testimony was believed by the faithful brethren in the congregation there. As certain, therefore, that Jesus is risen, so it is that He is coming in judgment, and to be marveled at by all faithful saints. Are you ready?



To This End

The gospel is first Christ-centered, then others-centered. Certainly every Christian needs to "put his own house in order," but even that will fail if its major purpose is to benefit the one in the process of rearranging his house. Jesus Himself set the example, making such statements as, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many," and "The Son of Man has come to seek and ?? save that which was lost" (Matthew 20:28, Luke 19:10). Once the individual has secured his initial salvation, then the focus must center on Christ in glory, followed by seeking and saving the lost and serving the saints. The apostle Paul, in encouraging the brethren in Thessalonica, reminded them that God would repay with affliction those who afflicted the disciples of Christ: those who did not know God and those who did not obey the gospel of Christ. This will happen at Jesus' return when He comes to be glorified in His saints.

Ultimately, everything depends upon the grace of God. Grace, in a general sense, refers to all things which come from God's hand. Hence the saints’ being worthy of God's calling would be by His grace, just as their ability to fulfill their desires for goodness, or their success in carrying out the work of faith through His power, is all by His grace - a joint grace of God and the Lord Jesus. May His grace abound in modern saints. For "it is to this end" that Paul prayed, and we also pray.



Confusion about Christ's Coming

The charlatans of the world have always generated as much confusion as possible about Jesus second coming. Many work to convince people that Jesus is not coming again, period. Others work to persuade the gullible that Jesus' second coming has already occurred. Others work to destroy the nature of His coming, or create confusion about the time. One of the reasons for all this confusion is to demotivate the saints. A clear understanding of Jesus' return is one of the key ingredients in the brethren's ability to maintain their focus and enthusiasm; hence confusion results in a corresponding loss of motivation.

The modern saint should be aware that a massive falling away from the original faith has occurred, and should not be discouraged by that. The spirits, their messages, their letters might have convinced others along the way to participate in false doctrine, but the saint of God can fully rely on what is written in God's holy word. But he had best be knowledgeable!



Man of Lawlessness

There is much confusion about the man of lawlessness referred to by the apostle Paul in his second epistle to the Thessalonian brethren. This expression comes out of Paul's comments about a future (from his time perspective) massive falling away from the original faith prior to Jesus’ second coming. "Let no one in any way deceive you," he asseverates, for [the second coming] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction ..." To many of modern times, confused about "the rapture," a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, and Jesus' coming down to reign on earth for a thousand years, this "man of lawlessness" is the Antichrist, an evil Hitler-type of madman who will execute a severe reign of terror lasting seven years over the earth from this temple rebuilt in Jerusalem. (This also corresponds to the second beast of Revelation 13:11-18 whose number is the dreaded 666!) To anyone who has a modicum of understanding about the kingdom of Christ - knowing that it is a reference to the church — and knowing that Jesus is reigning now, this whole premillennial perspective on the "man of lawlessness" is nonsense.

Catholicism and the Papacy developed as a result of the work of demonic influences on men with lying tongues. These forces of deception created the confusion about Jesus' return in the first place, and twisted the early apostolic beliefs into the modern tortured versions of Catholicism. Even then, Paul had to warn about "a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us." They were claiming apostolic authority, much as the false prophets of the Old Testament claimed to speak as from God. "Test the spirits," the apostle John said to those first century brethren, "to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). For us of the modern time, we know that no one can receive a revelation from God. So anyone claiming to bring doctrines by revelation is clearly false. But everything else must be carefully compared to the scriptures, to see if it lines up squarely with God's holy word. If it does, then it is true. If it does not, it is false, and it must be exposed as such. Even Catholicism!



Mystery of Lawlessness

The forces of darkness, by definition, work in darkness. Unable to stand up to the exposure of light, they must cloak themselves in secrecy and carry out their activities in conspiratorial fashion. This is the apostasy prophesied by Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians and his first letter to Timothy. Acting in accordance with, and at the urging of, the prince of darkness, they surreptitiously seek to secure positions of influence inside Christ's church, and divert its energies for personal gain and prominence. "Certain persons have crept in unnoticed," was Jude's analysis and expose (Jude 1:4). Similar warnings of the others - Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John - should not be lightly dismissed, but rather should encourage each Saint to "make certain about His calling and choosing you" (II Peter 1:10). Each disciple of Christ must become a student of the Word, and increasingly able to discern between truth and falsehood.

This development to the papacy took nearly 600 years, the Pope being "the man of lawlessness...who takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as God." Paul further explains: "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. 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. And then that lawless one will be revealed" (II Thessalonians 2:5-8a). Following a series of increasing attacks by Germanic tribes from the north, Rome officially fell in AD 476. With the emperor ("he who now restrains") gone, the papacy could openly develop, and thus the "man of lawlessness" be revealed.



Activity of Satan

Satan is, in his rebellion against God, taking advantage of every fleshly lust and every weakness in the world and in Christians themselves. As one who disguises himself as an angel of light, he engages in spiritual fraud and deception on a massive scale, working - if possible - to deceive even the elect. His demonic assistants developed the doctrines that resulted in the apostasy and eventual formation of the Roman Catholic Church. The apostle Paul, in his writings to the church at Thessalonica and his protégé Timothy, warned the early Christians about the coming major falling away from the original faith. But few listened. Step by step the Catholic Church developed into its own organization, with the western half eventually accepting a universal bishop, or Pope. This, then was the man of lawlessness Paul also said was coming and would be revealed when "what restrains him" was taken out of the way. The end of the Emperorship in Rome paved the way for the development of this papal power, and the iron fist of the papacy was "revealed, whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth by the appearance of His coming" (II Thessalonians 2:8). Roman Catholicism, and her sister from the time of the "great schism," - the "Orthodox" belief system - will endure until Jesus comes again.

"God is not a god of confusion," averred Paul, but there is someone who is - Satan – the one who deceives the Gentile peoples of this world (I Corinthians 14:33). One of his goals is clearly to create so much confusion that most people simply give up in trying to find the truth. But the truth that God created the material realm is evident to all who will examine the creation, so that mankind is without excuse. And the truth that will set man free is found in the sacred scriptures, whose truths can be unpackaged and examined by those who will seek and find.



Lovers of Truth

Jesus guarantees that all who are truth-seekers will be saved. And He further guarantees that all who are not lovers of truth will die the eternal death. "This is the judgment," was the way Jesus described it, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). Some speak of "all the good people" they have known, and think that all these are going to heaven because they are these good people. But here is the divine analysis: "There is none righteous... there is none who does good" (Romans 3:10-12). Hence the only solution for such a one is to come to Jesus - the light - on His terms. "For everyone who does evil," stated the Lord, regarding those who would depend upon their own righteousness, or who just would not care, "hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20). But there are those who are seeking for truth, who, as Jesus put it, "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6). "But he who practices the truth comes to the light," is the unchallengeable statement of the Lord, "that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God" (John 3:21). Those who are truth-seekers, who desire to practice the truth, will come to the light. This is the Lord's guarantee.

As Paul spoke to the elders of Ephesus: "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:29,30). That was how it was then, and that is how it is now. Those who have the love of the truth will be able to sort it out; those who really are not lovers of truth will get side-tracked into false teaching and turn away from the Lord.



Thanks for the Brethren

"It is for this purpose also I labor," Paul had written the Saints in Colossae, referring to his goal that we may present every man perfect in Christ" (Colossians 1:28.29). Labor is certainly the correct word. It takes tremendous effort to seek and save the lost in the first place, and tremendous effort to continue to educate, train, motivate, and exhort the saints. The apostle was not particularly desirous that all his labor be wasted, or "in vain," as he occasionally phrased it. To the brethren in Thessalonica, his second epistle dealt with the coming apostasy, and the persuasive deluding influence that would sweep through anything resembling original Christianity. These delusions were very strong, and the result is that only those who loved the truth spiritually survived. As the judgment of God worked in those days following the establishment of the first century church, in the same way that judgment continues; thus all who pretend to love the truth, but who secretly take pleasure in wickedness, will be shunted aside into some false doctrine. The apostle definitely does not want this to happen, and is willing to praise and encourage the faithful brethren in Thessalonica.

God - the Holy God - from the beginning has had a plan for producing a holy people, a special new race of people set apart or Sanctified by the Holy Spirit. "And it was for this," affirms the apostle to those brethren, "He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 2:14). May we also heed the call, have faith in the truth, obey the gospel, be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, not be pulled away by deluding influences, and attain to the glory waiting for those who faithfully follow Christ.



Stand Firm

The forces of darkness are strong, and the forces of delusion are subtle and confusing. The apostle Paul, for example, had mentioned information coming from "a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us." As soon as the early church came off the ground, the lying tongues began to imitate the apostles and their doctrines, but with Satanic twists that were totally destructive to the souls of men. These forces not only opposed the presentation of the gospel to the lost, but they tried to intimidate or discourage the saved and endeavored to obscure the message from God. One example of opposing the presentation of the gospel from the book of Acts is Elymas the magician in the presence of the proconsul Sergius Paulus, as Paul and Barnabas attempted to persuade the official concerning Jesus. "Elymas," said Luke in the sacred writ, "was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith" (Acts 13:8). Inside the church, men created confusion by trying to bring the Law back into play. "Some men came down from Judea," Luke also recorded, "and in regard to the fledgling congregation at Antioch, and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’" (Acts 15:1). They sounded authoritative, and, after all, they came from Jerusalem! Correspondingly, from the lawless side, Jude noted, "Certain persons have crept in unnoticed...ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness" (Jude 1:4). Therefore the apostle Paul is exhorting the brethren in Thessalonica to keep the faith in the face of such opposition.

Another name for the whole of new covenant teaching is the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42). To deviate from the doctrines and practices clearly inculcated by the apostles (and the new covenant prophets, whose message was the same as and originated from the apostles) is to deviate from what the Lord Himself intended. False doctrine originates in the bowels of Satan's realm and leads to the eternal destruction of souls. It is not surprising, then, that Paul would so strongly encourage the brethren to stand firm and not to deviate from what he and the other inspired men delivered to them. And that message is just as true today. Do not deviate from the doctrines and clear practices of the church as revealed in the holy scriptures!



Paul's Written Prayer

Prayers can be spoken - verbally out loud or in the heart - or they can be written. In the case of the apostle Paul and many others who wrote sections of God's holy word, the prayers just flowed as they were writing because prayer was so much interwoven into the fabrics of their lives. The Holy Spirit, laying the foundation for the church and ensuring the inclusion of all the instruction necessary - necessary for the individual Christian and the church as a whole - preserved these prayers as examples and models for the brethren who would come following the deaths of the apostles. Hence Paul's written prayer on behalf of the Thessalonians is worthy of some parsing and examination.

Overpowering supernatural opposition requires supernatural strength. Hence Paul was willing to pray to the appropriate Personages, to offer the appropriate praise to the same, and then to offer his petitions for the future of the church. What a great picture it is of the loving heavenly Father individually coming alongside, putting His arm around the shoulder of each saint, and providing the appropriate encouragement and strength. This is truly exactly what each child of God needs in order to fight his own victorious battle for the faith and to finish his course, to engage in every good work and word. May modern brethren place the proper weight on these words and petitions, and likewise be strengthened to charge enthusiastically into the fray!



Prayer for the Spread of the Word

This world does not exist simply so that mankind may have some comforts and pleasures. It does not exist so that electricity may be produced, or that information may be easily and digitally transmitted. This world exists at the pleasure of the great God and Creator of all, and His pleasure is the distribution of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When there is no one left who will believe enough to obey the gospel of God, then the Almighty will put an end to planet earth. No amount of so-called "green thinking" or reducing the "carbon footprint is going to change any of God’s plans. Jesus, during the years of His earthly sojourn, plainly stated, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled" (Luke 12:49). When He kindles it, earth goes up in Smoke. But as long as there is someone on this planet who is a truth-seeker. He will withhold His execution of judgment. In the meantime, the goal is to get the gospel out.

God's earnest desire is that all men "come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:4). The sacred writings are clear that He does not wish "for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). It would be a logical conclusion for modern saints to pray as well, "that the word of the Lord spread rapidly and be glorified," and that modern teachers and preachers "be delivered from perverse and evil men." It is true, that not all men have faith, nor do they have any intention of coming to believe in the faith system outlined by the new covenant writings.



The Lord Is Faithful

There are many songs speaking of the faithfulness of the Lord, and justifiably so. "If we are faithless," are the words of one of Paul's trustworthy statements, "He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself" (II Timothy 2:13). One of the tremendous and powerful qualities of God is His faithfulness; He can be counted upon to keep His word and His promises...and on time! It is certainly reassuring for example, for a saint who is defending the truths of the gospel and the way of salvation to know that "the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). It is confidence-building to know that "if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (I John 5:14). How encouraging it is for Him to say, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

Because of the perversity of evil men, because of the intensity of the persecution, and because of the temptations coming the way of the brethren, Paul thus prays: "And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ' (II Thessalonians 3:5). Jesus had made the statement concerning what happens when law and order breaks down, and chaos arises because of persecution. "And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12). The hearts of the disciples therefore would have to be directed into the love of God. Similarly, their hearts would have to be guided into that steadfastness of faith which comes from full commitment to Christ. God is faithful; He is working to produce that same characteristic in those who would be sons of the Father in heaven.



Unruly Lives

Satan is the original anarchist. Jude describes the rebellion that the outcast angel fomented amongst other angels in these terms: "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day" (Jude 1:6). What had been orderly and harmonious was now disrupted, and rancor and disorder were introduced into the spiritual realm. Thus, even in Satan’s realm (now the Tartarus of II Peter 2:4), hate and chaos reign. A picture is given in the apocalypse of John, "They [the forces of darkness] have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon" (Revelation 9:11). The devil is the great destroyer; even in his realm all is disorder. Hence it is that as the prince of darkness holds increasing sway over mankind, people and families fall into disorder and thence destruction. God, then, through the gospel, is calling mankind out of that darkness and disruption into His marvelous light and the productivity of His orderly existence.

In order for brethren to get their lives and spending under control, they need to develop structure. One of the great things God has done for those who He called His people has been to provide structure for them. For the early Israelites, He provided them with the weekly Sabbath to observe as a day of rest. Of course, Israel stubbornly refused to come under that discipline and structure, so God destroyed all but a remnant. For the remnant in Judah who survived, God allowed the meeting in the synagogue to be added for the observance of the Sabbath, wherein the reading of the law and the prophets was carried out publically on a weekly basis. More structure was thus provided for the remaining Israelites, which helped them develop discipline in the other areas. Similarly, for modern saints, God has provided the regular assembly of the Christians on the first day of the week and at other appointed times. This is where the new Saint must begin, setting the assemblies of the church as his first and highest priority. Until he develops this discipline, it will be very difficult to develop other required disciplines as well.



The Apostles’ Example

The easiest way to learn how to perform a task is by watching someone skilled accomplish said task. Hence, when it comes to the Christian lifestyle, God had the apostles model the lifestyle, so that first century brethren had visible examples to follow, from which modern saints can glean the necessary information as to how they should live also. This lifestyle, patterned after the life of Jesus, is called "the tradition which you received from us." "You yourselves know how you ought to follow our example." states Paul, "because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you." The apostle and those with him managed their finances, as he pointed out: "We did not eat anyone's bread without paying for it."

The problem was entrenched in the society, such as it was at the time. "Now we hear, says he, with presumably fairly trustworthy sources, that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies" (II Thessalonians 3:11). There are always some who are lazy, always figuring out how to scam others and profit off of their labor. Laziness and a slack lifestyle are clearly unchristian, and anyone making a claim to sainthood in Christ who lives in this way needs to face himself. Also he needs to face a very basic concept connected with serving God from ancient times: repentance!



No Working, No Eating

God's earnest desire is that the spiritual children who bear and represent His name live a disciplined, orderly lifestyle. God Himself is disciplined and orderly. The planets and various moons in the solar system move in very precise orbits; their paths are mathematical and their locations can be predicted with amazing precision. This orderliness is an exhibition of the character of the Creator, as was noted by Paul in his epistle to the Roman Christians. "For since the creation of the of Christ world," were his words, "His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). His orderly character is one of the things on display by the creation. God is also disciplined, one exhibition of which is His ability to do things on time. "At the right time," noted the apostle Paul, "Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). Those, then, that desire to be the sons of their Father in heaven will be imitators of His discipline and orderliness.

God started the creation with His work. "On the seventh day," say the ancient records, "God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" (Genesis 2:2). As the One who worked, and is working, He is well within His character rights to expect that those who are called by His name be exemplary workers also. He is orderly and disciplined, and He is right to expect that those making a claim to godliness will be orderly and disciplined also. Christian men and women need to "listen up": get rid of any lazy bones, work hard, and be disciplined in the management of time and finances. Or else!



Attitude Adjustments

Life on this planet is full of challenges in the physical realm, to say nothing of challenges which might arise in the directly spiritual sphere. "For we know," asserted the apostle Paul, "that the whole creation groans and suffers with the pains of childbirth together until now" (Romans 8:22). The second law of thermodynamics was unflinchingly imposed upon all creation by the wisdom of an Almighty God, establishing clearly that the law of decay and death is constantly in operation. Christians, therefore, do not get to escape the ravages of that law during their existence in the physical realm. "Also we ourselves," was his observation, "having the first fruits of the Spirit [the indwelling presence of the Spirit], even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body our resurrection from the dead" (Romans 8:23). Because of the nature of this struggle in all aspects of Christian living, there can be attitude challenges to overcome.

The Lord clearly is committed to having his saints’ exhibit orderly and disciplined lives to the world. They are to make the necessary attitude adjustments to be shining examples of those who work hard, who do things right, who manage their finances properly, and who set the right priorities. May each of the modern brethren implement these things in his life and the life of his family. And may the Lord be glorified by that example in the midst of a darkening world.



Coming to a Close

The apostle Paul really cared for the brethren in Thessalonica. The love of God indeed had been poured out within his heart, and he earnestly desired their proper eternity. Hence he was willing to bare his soul before the brethren, and in all sincerity to implore them to make necessary changes in their lives and outlooks. Therefore, when it came time for him to close this epistle, his sincerity and love show through in the finishing lines; these were not merely standard closings, but appeals from his own pure heart.

This powerful, punchy epistle to the saints in Thessalonica certainly has its special place among the twenty-seven "books" of the New Testament writings. Herein we receive more information concerning the second coming of Christ and His judgment upon those who do not know God or obey His gospel. Herein we have the warnings about the developing lawlessness that would result in someone claiming to be the head of the temple of God, and "displaying himself as God." Herein we are apprised of the necessity of Christians being hard workers, producers rather than consumers. And herein we receive the exhortation to stand firm in the lifestyle we were taught by the apostles, and to take major encouragement from the fact that God "has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope"!!