- Sermon Notes
Be Dressed in Readiness- 2
2 Thessalonians 2:1-13
After Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, he very likely sent it with his young assistant, Timothy. No doubt the church warmly welcomed Timothy and eagerly received Paul’s instruction about the return of the Lord and his encouragement to be on the alert and spiritually sober.
But when Timothy returned, he came with disturbing news, somehow the church in Thessalonica had heard that perhaps the day of the Lord had already come. That church was born in the midst of difficulty and tribulation, but their persecutions and afflictions continued pressing hard on them and some tried to convince them that this was evidence that the day of the Lord had already come.
Remember that this was a very young church, still growing in their faith. In fact, the gospel itself was quite young. These letters were written maybe only about 20 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, so it would be easy for them to misunderstand.; and not only that, there were false teachers disturbing many churches.
This is why it became so important to assemble all of the letters Paul had written to the churches. These letters were added to the accounts of Jesus’s life and ministry written by Matthew and John and the accounts written by Luke and Mark. We are all greatly strengthened in faith because we have these accounts written by the early disciples.
In this second letter to the church at Thessalonica Paul gives some of the greatest detail in regards to the antichrist than in any other place of the Bible. Here, Paul calls the antichrist the man of lawlessness; the son of destruction, and helps us to understand what will be happening on the earth when the antichrist arrives on the scene.
We should have a sense of urgency about these things because the world is changing, it’s getting more dangerous, and the signs of the end of the age are being revealed.
- Verse 3 – The day of the Lord will not come unless the apostasy comes first, Paul wrote.
1 Timothy 4:1, The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.
- In Matthew 24 Jesus said that the gospel will be preached in the whole world and then the end shall come. Someone might assume that there will be a great revival before the end of the age.
- But Jesus said that the gospel would be preached in the whole world for a witness, not just to all the nations, but also against all the nations.
- The gospel was also given to Israel when God sent His Son as a witness to them, but it also became a witness against them.
Luke 19:41-44, Jesus saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!... For the days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you and hem you in on every side... and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
- In other words, yes, the gospel will be preached in the whole world, but there will also be a great apostasy, a great falling away.
- Have you noticed the growing trend to mock the church and to mock God? Is the world growing closer to God or farther away from God?
- Our response should be the same as it was in the church at Thessalonica, to grow stronger in faith and to persevere through difficulty and affliction.
- Paul wrote last week that the day the Lord will come like a thief in the night. In other words, it will come when the world does not expect it. But he also wrote that it will not come like a thief in the night for those who live in the light.
- In other words, God gives us the signs of the times, the indications that the end of the age is drawing near. He doesn’t give us the day or the hour for good reason…
Matthew 24:48-49, “If that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for long time,’ he shall begin to beat his fellow servants and eat and drink with drunkards; and the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know…”
- Therefore, you be found faithful. Jesus said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible servant whom his master put in charge of his house? Blessed is that servant whom his master finds so doing when he comes.”
- In Matthew 25 Jesus also gave the analogy that the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a bride waiting for her groom. There is a sense of longing and anticipation in that picture; but it’s also about what you do while you’re waiting.
Illus - I remember when I was young and single and looking forward to being married someday, but what to do in the meantime while I was waiting? Someone gave me some great advice, while you’re waiting, these are the days to prepare your life, to get your life in order, to grow in maturity. For me that meant getting an education and getting a career, but it also meant growing spiritually. And of course, it also meant getting rid of some rather untidy habits.
B. Possess your own vessel in honor
- In 1 Thessalonians Paul wrote that being spiritually alert and ready for the return of the Lord meant to possess your vessel, in other words, your body, in sanctification and in honor…
1 Thessalonians 4:5,… not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.
- The more you know God, the more you want to possess your vessel, your body, with honor. The closer you are to God, the more His presence takes hold of your life.
Illus - The idea of a vessel is that it contains something. We are a vessel in which the presence of God, the Holy Spirit is filling. The world fills their vessel with lustful passion, and why not? They don’t know God, what do you expect?
- There are a lot of things that people do and there is no honor to it. But there is something honorable happening to you so you must be that vessel which holds that honorably.
Illus - One time I made a special dinner and asked one of the kids to set the table. I was shocked to find plastic plates set out. So I said, “You don’t put a nice dinner on plastic plates.” “Why not?” he asked. “Because it honors the food to be sitting on an honorable plate,” I said.
- Before the day of the Lord, there will be a great apostasy, a great falling away. But God always has a remnant of those who are true and genuine. I want to be in that remnant; anyone else?
II. The Last Days are in God’s Time
- Jesus said that the timing of all of these things is fixed by the authority of His Father.
- But there are several strong influences that Paul says will be in the world as we draw near the end of the age.
A. Antichrist will be restrained until his time
- Verse 6-7 - he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way, Paul wrote.
- The antichrist is restrained by the Holy Spirit. God is sovereign over the time of the last days. These things have been fixed by His authority.
- Why would he be held back? Perhaps until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in to the church.
Romans 11:25, I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery - so that you will not be wise in your own estimation - that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
- At some point, however, he who restrains is taken out of the way and the man of lawlessness is revealed.
B. The antichrist is a deluding influence
- Verse 11 - God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that all may be judged who did not believe the truth.
- Verse 9 - Satan is a liar and the father of lies and so the antichrist is coming in accordance with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders.
2 Corinthians 11:14, Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
- Verse 7 - Don’t misunderstand, the mystery of lawlessness is already at work…
- Satan is called the Prince and the power of the air and is certainly influencing this world for evil.
Illus - At the beginning of the ministry of Jesus when he had just completed a 40 day fast and was being tempted by the enemy, Satan took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world…
Luke 4:6, The devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.”
- One of the ways the Spirit restrains is through spiritual warfare, but when the church is removed at the rapture, that spiritual warfare is also removed.
Ephesians 6:11-12, Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
- But when he who restrains is taken out of the way, the deluding influence of the antichrist will have free reign because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
- The antichrist will convince the world that he is there to solve their problems. He will be highly regarded and respected. He will even be able to bring peace to the Middle East.
- Scriptural prophecy also suggests that he will negotiate for Israel to have their Temple built next to the Dome of the Rock with a wall separating them.
Ezekiel 42:20, He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around, the length five hundred and the width five hundred, to divide between the holy and the profane.
- He will be able to do false signs and false wonders. He will even receive a mortal wound and will ‘miraculously’ recover.
Revelation 13:3-4, “I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast… and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”
- Actually, the only one to defeat him will be Christ Himself when he returns at the end of the age.
C. Wait in confidence in Christ
- The antichrist will make a covenant of peace between the nations of the world and Israel, but 3 ½ years after the signing of that agreement, he will betray Israel by taking over the Temple for himself, displaying himself as being God. (verse 4)
- At that point all hell breaks loose as the nations come against Israel in the great battle of Armageddon in the Valley of Megiddo.
- Israel has a reputation for defeating enemies of much larger forces, but this battle will be of staggering proportions.
Illus – The “al-Nakba” (the disaster) – In 1948, six Arab nations attacked Israel, the Sinai War against Egypt, the Six-Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur War and many smaller border battles, yet none have ever defeated Israel.
- But this war will be different; by all appearances they will be defeated. But Christ will return in power and will save the nation of Israel in that great battle of Armageddon.
Zechariah 14:2-5, 9 “I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured… Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on the day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east… Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!... And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.”
- When you see the world changing so dramatically, it’s easy to become disturbed and fearful.
- But we are not to be overtaken by fear, God wants us to live in the confidence that He is sovereign over all the nations and over all times and that our King is our great champion.
2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Matthew 24:6, “And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see to it that you are not frightened…”
Psalm 27:1, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?
2 Thessalonians 2:1-13 NASB
1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 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. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.