2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 ” Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
Is it just me or does it seem like the world is changing by the hour?
The prospect of a new year used to bring no more weight with it than dieting plans, football bowl games, or any other trivial changes that might occur. Today, with the advent of an ongoing global pandemic, dramatic changes in how we meet or worship, and the prospect of war mounting on multiple fronts, nothing seems to surprise us anymore.
In the last days, Paul gives a very pointed reminder to the Thessalonians of what to expect regarding the church. The importance of regarding not only who compromises the family of God but what is going to happen among them might help alleviate fear and concern in these last days.
At the start of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, there is a stark reminder of the characteristics of God’s people.
1. Christ’s people show love for one another.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other”
A key aspect of God’s people is the love of God and how it abounds for one another among the family of God. This love shared within the body of Christ comes by way of an understanding of how we share this journey in Christ together.
The body of Christ shares the same Spirit and therefore the same joy of the Lord. These holy people understand the trials because the Lord takes them through through these trials for their good. Patience and faith earmark the saints of God who have endured such trials and come through them. It is through the process of enduring trial that God refines His people and counts them worthy.
For those who have rejected our testimony and spurned the call of God, there remains the fiery judgement to come.
2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.”
2. Christ is exalted among His people.
So, who has believed our testimony?
Are the people who show up to church on Sunday those who have been spared the fire to come?
Do you think that any belief will do?
The world likes to think that if there was a God, He would recognize any faith as legitimate and give credence to that belief. The hope for people who don’t want to be subjected to God’s standard of righteousness is that a simple belief in God will do.
Paul reminds us this is not the case.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 “Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
To be found ‘worthy’ is the greek expression of aksióō – which means to reckon as worthy, matching value to actual substance.
The reality of our worthiness before God is the reality of Christ in us, the hope of glory. It is the power of God that leads His people in goodness and a faith that demonstrates His power among His people. The world cannot appreciate the power of God because the world is not spiritually discerned. The power of God is manifest among us to strengthen God’s people and encourage them to press on in faith.
3. God’s people look forward to His return.
The expectant return of Christ is paramount in the minds of God’s people. The knowledge of walking in the Spirit solidifies the hope that Jesus will fulfill all that He has promised.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”
The day of the Lord will be like no other. At the time of Christ’s birth, He came in lowliness and humility. When the Lord returns, He will come as a conquering King, establishing His reign and pronouncing peace. The world has much to learn before that time arrives, the judgement upon the earth will be great and for those who practiced a nominal faith, the reality of partaking in that judgement will much more sobering.
For those who expectantly wait for His return, the Lord will spare them the trial which is to come. The rapture of the church will not only mark the beginning of great sorrow, it will also reveal who was the true church of Christ and all of the imposters who dwelt among them.
The Falling Away
Paul reminds the people of God to take note of an event that precludes the rapture. Today the church gathers together in assembly for the purpose of worship, fellowship, and teaching.
In our “gathering together” to the Lord, the original word for “gathering together” to the Lord is “episynagoge” which according to “Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary” means a complete collection assembling or gathering together especially for worship. This section of Scripture is in direct reference to the rapture.
Then there are those who will ‘fall away’ from the Truth of God’s Word.
The original term for ‘falling away’ comes from the word, apostasia. According to Strong’s, it means: a defection from truth, apostasy, falling away, forsake. So this “falling away,” is a forsaking and deflection from truth. “Deflection” means “changing direction and going away from.”
The Truth is defined by the Word of God. The Word is being revealed among God’s people and the gospel of the Word is being reveal to the world.
This falling away is being revealed in greater measure today.
A recent statistic revealed that 85% of young people ages 12-25 don’t see their church as a place to turn to in times of trouble. Only half of American pastors (51%) have a biblical worldview. Only 52% of Americans say they want to return to in-person worship after the Covid epidemic is over. Only 22% of American men and 33% of American women say they depend on Jesus Christ to overcome sin. 52% of ‘christians’ believe that non-christian faiths can lead to eternal life. While 1 in 4 Americans are done with church, half of all Americans (48%) are done with God. Known as post-Christian, they say that God plays no role whatsoever in their life.
The falling away in America has not only begun, it’s been ongoing for quite a while.
Do you wonder why the world seems to be transgressing deeper into darkness?
The failure of the church to stand as a bastion of holiness in an evil and corrupt world has lead to the diminished light of Christ in this generation.
Take a Stand
If God’s people don’t set themselves apart for Christ, how can the world know what Truth looks like? The revelation of false hope is not only found in society, it is found within the church walls. If half of all American pastors don’t have a biblical worldview, how can those who sit under them know what a christian worldview looks like?
Not only is the church compromised, the world becomes compromised as well. What was considered evil is now being touted as normal. What was looked upon as shameful, is now celebrated on t.v’s and in the streets. When was the last time you watched a show on t.v. and turned it off when you realized it was completely inappropriate?
The need among God’s people is to not only stand for righteousness and truth but to take a stand against evil.
There are good pastors and good churches that have taken a stand for Truth. The onus is upon the people who hear the Truth spoken to take the message and apply it in their lives. When we leave the pew’s, do we plan for our lives to reflect the conviction we sense in our hearts?
The falling away doesn’t happen suddenly, it is a progressive sickness that invades slowly until it overcomes it’s victims like a fungus that slowly overtakes its victims.
Let the year of 2022 become a time of spiritual growth in your life. Take a stand for righteousness, re-think your habits and bring them into alignment with God’s Word. Let Truth become prevalent in your hearts and minds, let prayer become a bulwark for the start and end of your day, and you will see the manifestation of God’s power once again in the church and across the land.