2016-11-20 - 2 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ Fire and Brimstone: The Punishment of the Enemy
But even their faith and love wasn’t the basis for his joy and pride. It was the fact that these qualities were the proof of the validity of God’s righteous judgment. The believers perseverance in suffering demonstrated that they were part of God’s kingdom. Pain, contrary to current popular teaching, isn’t a sign of lack of faith, lack of love, or even being out of God’s will. To the contrary, their perseverance in the midst of suffering was proof that God considered the Thessalonians to be an integral part of His kingdom. Their faithfulness in the midst of pain was the proof of God’s working in them.
We don’t need God’s strength to stand firmly, when everything is going our way. But to remain faithful in the midst of trials and tribulations, we must depend on His strength, for we have none of our own. God allows and empowers us in the midst of suffering, as a way to help us grow and be conformed to Christ’s image.
The fact the Thessalonians were empowered by the Spirit to persevere, is validation of their faith. And the underlying comfort provided by the Spirit is the promise of a future in which the righteous will be rewarded and the unrighteous will be punished.
This future is the hope of all believers. For one day, God will bring vindication for suffering and persecution, comfort to the saved. And in a real sense, there is comfort in the fact the unrighteous will be judged and will suffer everlasting punishment. The comfort is not in the fact of their punishment, but that God is a just and righteous. If He will not punish, that what confidence can we have in the truth of His justice.
Paul makes it quite clear that this eternal punishment goes hand-in-hand with eternal separation from the Lord. The judgment will fall when Christ returns with His own, which would include the Thessalonian believers. All they suffered would be compensated for by an eternity with the Lord, and by His judgment on those who had rebelled against Him and persecuted the members of His body.
Study to be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.