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Second Thessalonians / Video Notes: 2nd Thessalonians Study #1
« Last post by Hidden In Him on May 04, 2019, 01:21:50 PM »
Faith In The Afterlife, And The Patience Of The Saints

- How do you feel about the doctrine of eternal torment? Do you believe it's what scripture teaches, or just a misconception the church has taught fr many centuries but which has no basis in either reality or the scriptures?
- Belief in eternal torment has come under heavy fire during the last half a century especially, and even many Christians will now attack it openly, accusing those who teach it of portraying God as a sadist who takes pleasure in torturing His creations.

                                       

- I can at least sympathize with the desire not to portray God as evil.
- But the question is this: What would humanity think of God if no punishment would ever come to the most wicked people who ever lived?
- What if there would be no punishment for serial rapists or mass murderers, or the many genocidal dictators who have slaughtered millions of innocent people?

                           

- What if no punishment was promised for those who attempted to exterminate entire races of humanity based purely on their family genealogy?

                           

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- Here is an even more pointed question: What would the Christians have thought about God if they were told during New Testament times that the emperors who were casting them into the arena to be eaten alive by wild animals, or who were having them tied to stakes and set on fire to serve as human torches for dinner parties were never going to suffer any punishment in the afterlife?

                                                   

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- New Testament Christians would likely have come to the conclusion that He did indeed delight in human suffering, and theirs especially, based on the following deductions:
A. He was allowing them to be mercilessly tortured and killed, despite having the power to prevent it.

                                 

B. He was also commanding them under no circumstances to take vengeance against their enemies, but endure their afflictions without returning evil for evil.
C. Then, in telling them, "'Vengeance is mine,' says the Lord. 'I will repay,'" what God was actually saying was, "I want vengeance entirely in my hands, and I intend on bringing no punishment whatsoever to those who are torturing you."
- Thus, He was not only willfully allowing their torture and martyrdom, but taking every measure to see that no harm would ever come to their tormentors, either in this life or in the next.
- Now what would THAT message have said about the Christian God? At the very least, it would have said it was not a wise idea to serve the Him, unless you had a masochistic side or a death wish.
- The Psalmist found these thoughts just as disturbing when he was thinking along these same lines, and only when God finally revealed to him the truth about what would become of them in the afterlife did he finally have peace about it.
- Let me read for you Psalm 73:

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     I was envious of the arrogant when I looked upon the peace of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death. Their bodies are fat. They are not in trouble as others are. They are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace, and violence covers them as a garment... They scoff and speak with malice. From on high they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue walks about through the earth...  Behold, these are the wicked, always at ease. They increase in riches.... But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God. Then I discerned their end. (Psalm 73:3-9, 12, 16-17) 

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- Why was it a "wearisome task" for the Psalmist to mull over this dilemma? Because God has placed within every one of us a sense of justice, and it does not set well with human beings when people commit terrible cruelties and injustices against others and forever go unpunished.
- But as we shall see, the saints preached that the justice of God would prevail, and that those who tortured and afflicted the innocent would one day suffer retribution from God for it.
- This is what Paul was preaching in the opening verses of 2nd Thessalonians.

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Affliction To Those Who Afflicted Christians

     One of the first things Paul mentioned in his second letter to the Thessalonians was how well they were persevering in the face of persecution while nevertheless remaining faithful to God. It was something Paul told other churches about:

     Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be unto you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
     Brothers, we ought to always thank God concerning you, as this is fitting, seeing as how your faith is growing abundantly and the love of all of you towards one another is increasing, so that we ourselves boast amongst the churches of God over your endurance and faith in the midst of all the persecutions and afflictions which you are bearing, a proof that God’s judgment is just that you be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which you are also suffering, since it is a just thing with God to repay affliction to those who are afflicting you, and to you who are being afflicted, rest together with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven. (2 Thessalonians 1:1-7a)


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- That they were manifesting "endurance and faith in the midst of all their persecutions and afflictions" suggests they were enduring sufferings of many kinds, but bodily afflictions was specifically mentioned here among them.
- The typical way Romans silenced trouble-makers during New Testament times was to subject them to flogging, something Paul himself had to endure on five different occasions.

                           

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- But Paul's encouragement was that God's justice would prevail, and the afflictions the Thessalonians were suffering would eventually serve as proof that it was a just thing with God to grant them rest with Christ at his return, and affliction to those who were affliction them.
- And when and where would this affliction occur? A look at commonly held Jewish beliefs during this time reveals he believed the torment of such people would commence after death. 4th Maccabees records that when Antiochus Epiphanes IV conquered Jerusalem in 168 A.D., he ordered multitudes to be tortured to death for refusing to bow down to him as a god. One young man whose brothers had already been thrown into a burning cauldron retorted to the king that even worse tortures were awaiting him in the afterlife. As he told the king:

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     "Justice will hold you in store for a fiercer and [more] everlasting fire, and for torments which will never let you go for all time." (4 Maccabees 12:12)

     Notice that the young man made an appeal to God's justice just as Paul did. The full version from the Greek Old Testament reads as follows:

     And [the young man], running up to the pans, said, "Impious tyrant, and most blasphemous man, were you not ashamed, having received prosperity and a kingdom from God to slay His servants, and to rack the doers of godliness? Wherefore the divine vengeance is reserving you for eternal fire and torments, which shall cling to you for all time. Were you not ashamed, man as you are, yet most savage, to cut out the tongues of men of like feeling and origin, and having thus abused them to then torture them? But they, bravely dying, fulfilled their religion towards God. But you shall groan according to your just deserts for having slain without cause the champions of virtue." Wherefore, he continued, "I will not forsake my brethren. And I call upon the God of my fathers to be merciful to my race. But you, both living and dead, He will punish." Thus having prayed, he hurled himself into the pans and so expired. (4 Maccabees 12:10-19)

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- Paul was teaching these same things. In keeping with God's sense of justice and divine vengeance, those persecuting the Thessalonians would suffer "everlasting destruction from the presence of God" when He returned to establish His kingdom on earth, adding just a few verses later:

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     And to you who are being afflicted [will come] rest together with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven together with the angels of His power, who in flaming fire will take vengeance upon those who do not know God, and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These will pay the penalty, everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His strength when He comes to be glorified amongst His saints... (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)

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- Christ Jesus taught the same thing to His disciples in Matthew 25. In teaching on events that would both precede and follow His second coming, the Lord told them:

     When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the angels are with Him, He will then sit upon the throne of His glory. And all the nations shall be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left... Then He will say also to those on His left, "Depart from Me, those who have been accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the Devil and His angels"... And these shall go away unto eternal punishment, but the righteous unto eternal life. (Matthew 25:31-33, 41, 46)

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- Justas Christ said He would tell them, "Depart from me into the eternal fire," so too was Paul telling the Thessalonians that the wicked would suffer "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His strength[/I]" when He came to be glorified amongst His saints.

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     κόλασιν αἰώνιον = "punishment everlasting"

- The Greek words here κόλασιν αἰώνιον mean literally "eternal punishment," and those who teach there will be no punishment for the wicked must also believe that Satan and his demons will likewise never suffer punishment for their sins either, since this passage states that both will go to the same place. As He says, "Depart from Me, those who have been cursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the Devil and His angels." Scripture also says that Death and Hell will eventually be cast into the Lake of Fire as well, after the thousand year reign of Christ is over. If there is no one in Hell to cast into the Lake of Fire, then this promise has no meaning. 

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Passages On The Ancients Suffering In Hades

- But scripture attests in several places that there were indeed conscious beings in Hell.
- One such place is found in Ezekiel, where God told the prophet to lament over the fate of the Egyptians, for although they were a strong nation they would be conquered. And when they died and went down to Hades their physical strength would completely perish, and the giants of old who had been there for centuries would mock them over it:

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     Son of man, lament over the strength of Egypt, for the nations shall bring down her daughters dead to the depths of the earth, to them that go down to the pit. They shall fall with him into the midst of them that are slain with the sword, and all his strength shall perish. The giants also shall say to you, “Are you in the depths of the pit? To whom are you superior?” Go down and lie with the uncircumcised, in the midst of them that are slain with the sword. There are Asshur and all his company... There is Elam and all his host round about his tomb… and the uncircumcised that go down to the depths of the earth, who caused their fear to be upon the land of the living. And they have received their punishment with them that go down to the pit… And they are laid with the giants that fell of old, who went down to Hades with their weapons of war. (Ezekiel 32:18-22, 24-27 LXX)

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- The Greek word used here is literally Hades, which transferred directly over into English.
- The same Greek word is used when the Lord commanded Isaiah to take up a lamentation against the king of Babylon, prophesying of how ancient kings who were already in Hell would very cruelly welcome him into Hades, and mock him for no longer being someone worthy to be celebrated.

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     Take up this lamentation against the king of Babylon... Hades from below is provoked to meet you. All the giants that have ruled over the earth have risen up together against you. All the kings of the nations have raised up from their thrones. All shall answer and say to you, "You also have been taken, even as we, and you are numbered amongst us. Your glory has come down to Hades, and your great fanfare." They shall spread putrefaction under you, and the worm shall be your covering... You shall go down to Hades, even to the foundations of the earth. (Isaiah 14:4, 9-11, 15)

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- The Masoretic, or Jewish Old Testament, shines even more light here, using for Hades the word Sheol, but referring clearly to the same place of torment:

     Sheol from below is stirred for to meet you at your coming. It stirs up the departed spirits for you.... All of them shall answer, and say to you, "Are you also made as weak as we? Your majesty is lowered into Sheol, and the noise of your harps. The maggot is spread under you. Yes, the worms cover you." (Isaiah 14:9-11)

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- That Sheol would stir up the departed spirits in Hell to meet him is accounted for by how both Heaven and Hell supposedly know what's going on upon the earth, and are therefore aware when someone of great stature is coming. These ancient rulers were there fore prophesied to insultingly "welcome" him into the afterlife when he got to Hades.
- Notice, too, these rulers would be giants, a fact that coincides with both archeological evidence and the Biblical record. Even the nations of Egypt and Babylon depicted some of their kings as giant in stature.
                                                           

                                                       

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- Thus, the teaching here was that men who had been far greater in stature and fame during their lifetimes would mock men like the king of Babylon when they arrived in Hell, letting them know they were now nothing in the world they had been cast down into.


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The Rich Man In Hell: A Clear Depiction Of Torment

     Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, making good cheer during the day in splendor. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid up at his porch, being full of sores, and desiring to be satisfied from the crumbs which fell from the table of the rich man. But coming, even the dogs licked his sores. And it came to pass that the poor man died, and he was carried away by the angels into "the Bosom of Abraham." And the rich man also died and was buried. And having lifted up his eyes in Hell, being in torment, he saw Abraham from afar, and Lazarus in his bosom. And crying out, he said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering in these flames." But Abraham said, "Child, remember that you did fully receive your good things in your lifetime, and Lazarus likewise his evil things. But now he is comforted here, and you are suffering. (Luke 16:19-25)

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- Again we have the same thing. Lazarus suffers afflictions in his earthly life, being covered with sores. The rich man meanwhile lives in splendor, and spends his days "making good cheer" which means giving himself to eating and drinking in celebration. But Lazarus who suffered affliction in this life receives rest in the afterlife, being in the bosom of Abraham (which signifies abundance). The rich man, however, though he had the means, did nothing to ease the afflictions of the righteous, and now suffers affliction in the Underworld as a result. Instead of helping him, the rich man left Lazarus to the dogs, suggesting that those who do nothing to help the afflictions of the righteous will suffer the same fate as those who persecute them. 

                       

                     

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- Some say this teaching is merely a "parable," but why would God's word make so many references to the wicked suffering torment in Hell if it were not the case? It essentially makes God out to be a liar.
- Others also argue that no man could see from Hell all the way into Heaven, which proves this could not be a real story. But this is blatantly ignoring early church teachings on the matter. The church originally taught that until Christ's crucifixion, Paradise was located in the Underworld alongside Hell, with a great gulf fixed between the two of them that didn't allow for one group to pass over to the other. When Christ descended into Sheol, He preached to the Old Testament saints who were there in Paradise, informing them that He was the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, and that the price had now been paid for them to be translated from "the kingdom of darkness" up into "the kingdom of God's dear Son" in Heaven.

                       

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     By this was fulfilled the saying that "captivity was led captive," for "the gates of Hell" could not prevail against the church. They were delivered up into Heaven after Christ's ascension, which is where all true believers now ascend to after death.

                             


Hellfire: The Teaching Of The Early Church

     The early church didn't just make up their teachings. What they taught was handed down to them by oral tradition from what the apostles taught. Thus, when there a firm consensus exists in early church teachings regarding a particular subject, it strongly suggests this was the teaching of the church from the very beginning.
     Such is the case on the doctrine of Hell. It was taught universally during the first few centuries of the early church era.

     [God] will examine everything and will judge justly, granting recompense to each according to merit. To those who seek immortally by the patient exercise of good works, He will give everlasting life, joy, peace, rest, and all good things... [but] for the unbelievers and for the contemptuous and for those who do not submit to the truth but assent to iniquity, when they have been involved in adulteries, and fornications, and homosexualities, and avarice, and in lawless idolatries... in the end, such men as these will be detained in everlasting fire. (Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus 1:14 [A.D. 181]).

     To those who have done well, everlasting enjoyment shall be given; while to the lovers of evil shall be given eternal punishment. The unquenchable and unending fire awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which does not die and does not waste the body, but continually bursts forth from the body with unceasing pain. No sleep will give them rest; no night will soothe them; no death will deliver them from punishment; no appeal of interceding friends will profit them. (Hippolytus, Against The Greeks, 3, [A.D. 212]).

     I am not ignorant of the fact that many, in the consciousness of what they deserve, would rather hope than actually believe that there is nothing for them after death. They would prefer to be annihilated rather than be restored for punishment. . . . Nor is there measure nor end to these torments. That clever fire burns the limbs and restores them, wears them away and yet sustains them, just as fiery thunderbolts strike bodies but do not consume them. (Minucius Felix, Octavius 34:12-5:3, [A.D. 226]).

     An ever-burning Gehenna and the punishment of being devoured by living flames will consume the condemned; nor will there be any way in which the tormented can ever have respite or be at an end. Souls along with their bodies will be preserved for suffering in unlimited agonies. . . . The grief at punishment will then be without the fruit of repentance; weeping will be useless, and prayer ineffectual. Too late will they believe in eternal punishment, who would not believe in eternal life. (Cyprian of Carthage, To Demetrian 24, [A.D. 252]).

     It should also be noted that these are quotes from the first three centuries of the church, when persecution against Christians continued to take place at the hands of the Roman Empire. Thus, just as affliction was a way of life for believers back then, so too was it commonly taught that their torturers were going to be duly rewarded in afterlife.


Why Hell Is Being Revealed Once Again

      Hell is now being revealed more than ever before in human history. Believers are sharing accounts of being taken there in spirit and witnessing the torments that go on there every day. Some doubt these accounts, but they do so foolishly. Joel prophesied that God would restore visions and dreams to His people during the end-times, and these represent some of the early fulfillments of this prophecy. The reason why is detailed in the accounts themselves. 21st century Christians especially in the West, live a sheltered existence compared tor their New Testament counterparts, but greater afflictions and persecutions than at any time in history are eventually going to come to the end-time saints, and the Lord is seeking to prepare them for it. Those who endure will be greatly rewarded in eternity, but those who succumb out of fear and denounce the Lord in order to save their lives will suffer the same fate as those who did so in the early church. They will eventually be cast into the same Lake of Fire prepared for the Devil and his angels:
     From Kathryn Baxter's account we read the following:

     I heard the Lord say, "My Spirit will not always strive with man. Come and see the beast. "During the last days an evil beast will arise out of the earth and deceive many from every nation upon the earth. He will demand that everyone receive his mark, the number 666, placed in their hands or on their foreheads. Anyone who takes the mark will belong to the beast and will be thrown with him into the lake of fire which burns with fire and brimstone.

"The Lord God expressly declares that those who take the mark have affirmed their allegiance to the beast and will be cut off from the Lord God forever.  They will have their place with the unbelievers and workers of iniquity.  The mark states simply that those who possess it have rejected God and have turned to the beast for sustenance.

"The beast and his followers will persecute those who refuse the mark and will kill many of them. Whatever pressures they can bring to bear will be used to force believers of the true God to be marked. Children and infants will be killed before the eyes of the parents who refuse to take the mark. There will be a time of great mourning... [for] many will be beheaded for trusting the Lord God. But blessed are those who die in the Lord, for great will be their reward..
(Baxter, A Divine Revelation Of Hell, P.195-197)

     That believers will be beheaded for trusting in Christ during the end-times is clearly prophesied by scripture. As the apostle John recorded in his vision:

     I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus, and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast nor his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

     Beheading is a truly barbaric form of execution, and it is something many Christians will not only have to witness but in many cases also experience. How vital then that the doctrine Paul was teaching be taught once again, lest they be told by their toturers that their "god" has no power to save? Believers who witness and/or experience such brutalities will need to know their deaths will not simply be overlooked by God. But once again the message will be preached that their tortures will be avenged by the Lord at His return, and that those who afflict the righteous will themselves suffer affliction when He returns to be glorified amongst His murdered the saints.
     This is why Hell still needs to be taught and affirmed. Those who refuse to teach it, saying God would never send anyone to Hell, will be playing into the hands of the Devil himself during the end-times. They will inadvertently send many there themselves by preaching that it isn't real, despite what the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has taught from the very beginning.






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2
Title Study / 2nd Thessalonians Title Study
« Last post by Hidden In Him on March 28, 2019, 08:28:55 PM »
Know God's Prophetic Timeline, To Avoid Being Deceived

     What's your reaction when you click on a sensationalistic Youtube video or visit a website where someone is proclaiming "the Day of the Lord is here!" and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the rapture of the church, and the apocalypse are just days, months or years away? Do you watch it out of curiosity to see if there might be something to it, or dismiss it out of hand as over-hyped nonsense? Do you watch it with enthusiasm, believing the same thing yourself, or glance at it to see what the buzz is about but know in your heart before even watching it that what they're saying can't be true because the time hasn't come yet?
     Every 3-5 years somebody comes out with some new theory claiming that the apocalypse is upon us, and invariably well-meaning but naive believers get swept up into thinking this might actually be the one. Let me just say at the outset here that it's a good thing to believe in Bible prophecy, and that the time when the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return from Heaven is drawing closer. The problem is that Satan can use your faith against you if you are not careful, and if you fail to educate yourself in what the scripture actually teaches about, because he often takes joy in deceiving believers into thinking the day of the Lord has come when it actually hasn't yet. Such theories appear to do people some good at first, and they start living more for the Lord more and for eternity, even witnessing and evangelizing more than ever before. Unfortunately what follows is humiliation and embarrassment when the day comes and nothing happens, and they are left to grapple with the fact that that they allowed themselves to be deceived  into believing in a falsehood. Their witness becomes crippled, and in worst case scenarios they end up totally disillusioned with the faith, and walk away from God altogether never to return.
     The Lord gave us way to protect ourselves from deceptions like this. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul taught that there were specific signs believers needed to watch for before the Day of the Lord could come, and until those signs came to pass they had no need to worry that the Day of the Lord had come yet. We will be covering some of those signs in this study. Those who are armed with a knowledge of God's word are far less susceptible to being deceived by the enemy.


Famous Delusions Of The 21st Century

     First there was the "Y2K" scare, with Y2K standing for the year 2,000. This was probably a deliberate hoax on the part of Time Magazine just to sell copies, but it worked like a charm because the article just scared the living daylights out of people. Time published an issue in January of 1999 specifically dedicated to Y2K, and the potential apocalyptic scenario that could be looming. The cover showed a man dressed in Jesus garb standing on a busy street, holding up a cross and wearing a placard that said "Is this the end of the world?"

                                                     

     According to the article, supposedly the computers we're going to shut down because programmers hadn't accounted for the turn of the century, and the suggestion was that this would cause the world's economies to crash, and within weeks the planet might devolve into anarchy and mob rule as governments resorted to martial law to control the rioting. This would usher in an apocalypse of Biblical proportions, or at least that's what the cover art insinuated.
     Well, when the time came the clocks turned over and all the fear-mongering turned out to be unnecessary. So little actually happened that over the next few days newspapers took to posting cartoons making fun of the whole Y2K scare, saying the devastation was so widespread that "7 ATMs actually shut down, somebody's automatic toilet wouldn't stop flushing for hours," and other similar sarcastic jabs. 

                                                   

     The problem was, it was not a joke for the Christian ministries who bought in and ran with it, and ended up telling national audiences on televise and radio they needed to take it seriously. They should have known better, and it cast a cloud of doubt on their trustworthiness to even be teaching on end-times prophecy.
     Fast forward 10 years later and we come to Harold Camping. Harold Camping was a radio host who gained control over a radio station called Family Radio, and began making predictions about the rapture of the church. The first prediction he made was for 1994, and when that one didn't come to pass he went back to normal Christian teaching and things settled back down. But in 2003 he began predicting that the return of the Lord and the rapture of the church were going to take place on May 21, 2011, and many people began to get swept up in it.

                             


                                         

     This one was tragic because many sold homes and donated their life savings to advertise for this thing. Over 100 million dollars were sent in for advertising. Much of it was spent on billboards and signs at bus stops. Vans and buses were purchased and painted with advertisements, which others then toured the country with, warning the people to prepare for Christ's return. Some sold their houses and sent in their life savings to pay for this advertising, and were left disillusioned in the aftermath when nothing happened. But the truth is they too should have known better, and especially those close to Harold Camping. It was reported afterward that he was supposedly enamored with Jim Jones, the notorious cult leader who convinced hundreds of his followers to drink cooled laced with cyanide. Camping actually had equipment used in the People's Temple, and used to show it off to people, which is really creepy when you think about it. He would supposedly laugh about donators who asked to get their money back after it had already been spent.

                                         

     A year or so later, the whole Mayan Calendar scare gained national attention. It was based on a few lines of extremely obscure prophecy found in some Mayan inscriptions, that read there would come a display of Bʼolon-Yokte', the Mayan god of war and the Underworld, "in a great investiture." Well, that could have meant anything. It could have simply meant that he would parade himself around in an elaborate costume, since this was usually how the Mayans depicted their gods behaving anyway. But this didn't stop various groups from interpreting the expression any way they wanted to.


                                                         

     The New Agers said the prophecy predicted the coming of a great spiritual awakening on earth. Of course, the New Agers always predict that various events will signal the coming of a great spiritual awakening on earth. But Hollywood decided to go the opposite direction and portray how the Mayan god of the Underworld was going to kill us all. So in late 2012 a major motion picture was released depicting scenes of apocalyptic destruction as natural disasters swept across the earth and brought about the end of mankind.

                                                   

                                             
     
     The numbers in this date were even made to have mystical significance, but despite all the hype once again nothing happened. Life went on as usual.

                                                 

     Then in 2017, two men named William Tapley and Scott Clarke began posting videos on Youtube claiming that the tribulation would come on September 23rd of 2017. Supposedly 12 stars that would align themselves over the constellation of Virgo and this would fulfill a prophecy found in Revelations, Chapter 12, where it talked about the woman with 12 stars over her head being attacked by the dragon. Unfortunately for those Christians who bought this fabrication, once again nothing happened, and life went on as usual, leaving those who took their predictions seriously to try and save face after getting worked up over nothing.

                     


Satan's Objectives In Propagating Hoaxes

     What is Satan's objective in inciting men to play off apocalyptic themes for financial gain, or induce them to make end-time predictions that end up being false? As I've already mentioned, he seeks to subject believers to humiliation and embarrassment, and if possible cause them to become disillusioned with the faith altogether. But underneath it all there is an even deeper motive at work. As much as possible, he wants to discredit the word of God. Just as he did in the garden of Eden, Satan essentially wants to get people to question "Has God said?"

     Now the serpent was the most crafty of all the creatures on the earth which the Lord God made, and the serpent said to the woman, "Has God said, 'Eat not of every tree of the garden?'" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God said, 'Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.'" And the serpent said to the woman, "You shall not surely die. For God knew that in whatever day you should eat of it your eyes would be opened, and you would be as gods, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:2-6 LXX)

     Satan asked Eve, "Has God said you shall surely die?," thereby insinuating that God might be a liar. And by getting Eve to question God's trustworthiness, Satan was ultimately able to seduce her to her destruction. Likewise, the truth of what God has said in His word regarding end-time events will be proven out, and Biblical prophecy has been given by God to warn humanity that a great apocalypse is coming at the end of the age. But for those who get seduced by these repeated failed predictions into thinking it's all a farce will ultimately be led to their own destruction for believing the word of God was little more than a myth that only the gullible believed.
     The answer to not being deceived by false end-time predictions is in knowing what the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles actually taught about the Day of the Lord, and the conditions under which His return would take place, and we will cover that next.


The Apostasy Must Take Place First

     Here is what Paul told the Thessalonians in Chapter 2 regarding why they should not become concerned if anyone told them that the Day of the Lord was already here:

     Now we implore you, brothers, by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him, that you not become quickly disturbed in mind nor troubled, neither by spirit, nor by report, nor by letter as if written by us [intimating] that the Day of the Lord is here. No one should deceive you in any way if the apostasy has not [yet] come first and that man of lawlessness has been revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above everything that is called God or is worshipped, so as for him to sit down in the temple of God, exhibiting himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was with you I was telling you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5)

     What specifically was he telling them when he was with them? Paul likely taught them Matthew 24, which stated that there were several events that would have to take place before the Day of the Lord could come.
     The following is what the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples when they asked Him what the signs of His coming would be:

     Nation shall raise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines and earthquakes in [diverse] places. But all these are the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you up to affliction, and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be scandalized, and deliver one another up and hate one another... When therefore you shall see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, that having been spoken of through the prophet Daniel, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains... for then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be. And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved, but on account of the chosen those days shall be shortened... but immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in the heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth wail, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Learn the parable of the fig tree: When its branch becomes tender and puts forth leaves, you know that the summer is near. Thus, you also, when you see all these things, then know that it is near, even at the doors. ... Then two will be in the field, with one being taken and one left behind; two grinding at the mill, with one being taken and one left behind. (Matthew 24:7-9, 15-22, 29-33, 40-41)

      Paul used the word "apostasia" to describe this time when many would betray the Lord and deliver each other up to their deaths. This word meant "apostasy" just as it does today. Many Pre-tribulationists want to translate the term as "the departure" to make it out to refer to the rapture of the church, but this is not what the word meant. It was used of those who distanced themselves from religious or political groups, hence its only other New Testament use was of people accusing Paul of "apostatizing from Moses." In other words, the accusation was he was teaching that none of the law of Moses had to be kept.
      Apostasia is also sometimes translated as "falling away," and interpreted to mean a time when Christians will be seduced into backsliding back into the world. But this is not what's being referred to either. Paul was referring to a time of mass apostasy when Christians be persecuted by all nations, and deliver one another to their deaths to save their own lives.


The Nations Must First Turn Against Believers

     Is persecution on such a wide scale happening yet? No, it is not. Certainly there is Christian persecution - even severe persecution - in many regions of the world today, like N. Korea, or the Muslim countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. But in the Western Hemisphere, Mexico and Columbia are the only two nations to even make the Top 50 of those who are persecuting Christians. This prophecy states that Christians will be hated by all nations, and that the persecution they bring against the saints will be so severe it brings God's vengeance down upon them. Thus the Day of the Lord is referred to as the Day of His Vengeance against the nations for what they did to His people:

     Come near, you nations, to hear. And heed, you people! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it; the world and all things that come forth from it. For the vengeance of the Lord is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies. He has utterly destroyed them. He has given them over to the slaughter. Also their slain shall be cast out. Their stench shall rise from their corpses, and the mountains shall be wet with their blood. All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll. All their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree. (Isaiah 34:1-4)

     In another place in Isaiah, it says, "I trampled [the nations] in My anger, and trod them down in My wrath... It was for Me a Day of vengeance; the year for Me to redeem had come." (Isaiah 63:3-4)

     Vengeance for what? For afflicting the saints of God, and causing multitudes to betray one another and Him to save their lives.
     So here again we see a sequence of events: All the nations will turn to persecuting the Christians, the great apostasy from the faith will take place, and then the Lord will return in vengeance to punish those who sought to annihilate His people.


The Fourth Beast Must Also Arise First

     Both Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ made reference to the Antichrist coming first. Paul referred to him as "the lawless one" who would take his seat in the temple of God in Jerusalem, and Jesus referred to him in telling the disciples that when they saw "the abomination of desolation standing in the temple," they were to flee to the mountains. This was a reference to the statue that the Antichrist would set up in the temple after he left, as a permanent reminder to the Jews that if they were going to worship anyone it would be him now.
     But in order for the Antichrist to arise first, there will already have to be an empire established in the earth that he will take power over. We know this from how it is described in Daniel, Chapter 7:

     As for me Daniel... I drew near to one of them that stood by, and I sought to learn of him the truth of all these things. And he told me the truth, and made known to me the interpretation of these things. The four beasts are four kingdoms that shall rise up on the earth, which shall be taken away, and the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom and possess it for ever and ever. Then I enquired carefully concerning the fourth beast, for it differed from every other beast, being exceedingly dreadful. Its teeth were of iron and its claws of brass, devouring [its victims], and utterly breaking them to pieces, and it trampled the remainder with its feet, and concerning the ten horns that were in its head and the other that came up, and rooted up some of the former. That horn had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things, and his look was bolder than the rest. I beheld, and that horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them until the Ancient of days came, and He gave judgment to the saints of the Most High, and the time came on that the saints possessed the kingdom. And he said, "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on the earth, which shall excel all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth and trample and destroy it. And the ten horns are ten kings that shall arise, and after them shall arise another who shall exceed all the former ones in wickedness, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak words against the Most High and wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and law. And power shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. But judgment has sat, and they shall remove his dominion to abolish it and utterly destroy it. And the kingdom and power and greatness of the kings under the whole heaven were given unto the saints of the Most High, and His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all powers shall serve and obey Him. (Daniel 7:15-27, LXX)

     Some people teach that this "Beast" will be an amalgamation of church and state, with the Catholic Church wielding political influence over the world, but this is not what this passages suggests at all. This will be an empire characterized by military conquest unlike anything the world has ever seen before. Teeth, horns and claws are the means by which animals kill and destroy. When it says, "Its teeth were of iron and its claws of brass, devouring [its victims], and utterly breaking them to pieces," it's victims here are nations. It means it's weapons will be strong, and it will use them to utterly break nations to pieces, and trample the remainder with its feet, meaning that nothing will be left. The nations they conquer by overwhelming military force will be completely assimilated into the empire as conquered territory and cease to exist as nation-states.
     But more importantly as far as the timing is concerned, when it says, "and there were ten horns in its head, and another came up that rooted up three the former," this means that when the Antichrist arises he will usurp rule over three of the former kings who were leading this empire. That means the empire will need to already be in place before he can arise.

                       

     As will be covered in later studies, Paul believed this empire was Rome, and that an emperor would soon arise to fulfill all that was prophesied. Did they have legitimate reasons that Rome was the 4th Beast of Daniel, and that the return of Christ was near? Yes. The empire the Antichrist would arise to assume power over already appeared to be in place.
     Do we have the same legitimate reasons to believe the Antichrist could arise at any time? No, we do not. There are signs this empire might eventually shape among the prominent Muslim nations of the Middle East, but it still has a long way to go. But until we see an empire of military conquest unlike anything this world has seen before taking shape in the earth, we have no need to be concerned that the Day of the Lord is at hand yet.


False Christs Must Also Appear First

     Another sign that must precede the Day of the Lord are false Christs and false prophets who will perform signs and wonders powerful enough to deceive even those closest to God away from the truth:

     Then if anyone says to you, "Behold, the Christ is here, or there," do not believe it. For there will arise false Christs and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead if possible even the elect. Behold, I have foretold you. If therefore they say to you, "Behold, He is in the wilderness," do not go forth, or "Behold, He is in the private rooms," do not believe it. For as the lightning comes forth from the east and appears as far as the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:23-26)

     Paul repeated this teaching to the Thessalonians when he told them the following later in Chapter 2:

     The coming of [the lawless one] will correspond with the demonic activity of Satan, [manifesting] in all the power, signs and wonders of falsehood and in all the deceitfulness of unrighteousness unto those who are perishing, on which account they have received not the love of the truth for them to be saved. And it is for this reason that God is sending them this demonic activity which endorses error for them to believe the lie: So that all may be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:5, 9-12)

     More will be covered on this passage in later studies, but do we see these false prophets and false Christs operating in the earth today who can call fire down from heaven, or levitate into the sky, or other powerful signs strong enough to deceive even devout Christians if it were possible? No, we do not. And until we do we shouldn't be concerned that the Day of the Lord has come.


Are You Susceptible To Falling For A Delusion?

     I know some may be telling themselves that they would never fall for the end-time delusions I have mentioned in this study; that they are far to wise to get caught up into believing in such things. But just because you wouldn't fall for them now doesn't mean you might not get deceived if life got considerably harder for you down the road, and you began secretly hoping for the Day of the Lord to come. As hatred from the nations towards Christians increases and circumstances become grow darker for them, many are going to increasingly hope Christ's return is coming sooner rather than later, and there will be increasing temptation to put hope in false predictions about it. For those who do not become educated in the word of God regarding these things, the potential will exist for them to fall prey to delusions and be humiliated, and potentially even be defrauded and become disillusioned with the faith altogether.

                                     


Overview

     This is Title Study For an entire set I will be doing on 2nd Thessalonians. The following is a brief rundown of the studies that will followed their contents:

Study #1: The future location of the Lake of Fire
Study #2: The return of Christ to avenge His own in flaming fire
Studies #3-5: The Antichrist's coming reign of genocide
Studies #6-7: Several things that remain before the Antichrist can be revealed
Studies #8-10: The false Christs that will come, and what they will likely teach
Study #11: Satan's coming attack on the Christian traditions
Study #12: Remaining pure of heart despite the enemy's attacks
Study #13: About combatting the financial exploitation of the Church

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Second Thessalonians / Video Notes: 2nd Thessalonians Title Study
« Last post by Hidden In Him on March 22, 2019, 07:04:53 PM »
Know God's Prophetic Timeline, To Avoid Being Deceived

- What do you believe about the return of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you think it could take place at any time, or do you believe there are still things that need to happen before it can take place?
- The belief that He could come at any time can in some ways be beneficial to believers because it causes them to be conscious of the Lord's return at all times. He could be coming in 100 years, or He could be coming in 15 minutes, so one has to always be living for God.
- Unfortunately, this teaching also plays into the hand of Satan when it comes to end-time delusions, and I'm talking specifically here about those who set premature dates for His return.
- Yes, I'm aware that those who say He could return at any time are nevertheless quick to add that no one should be setting dates, for the Lord Himself taught the disciples, saying:


     Heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away. But no man knows concerning that day and hour, not even the angels of Heaven, but the Father alone. (Mathew 24:35-36) Overlapping

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- But here is the problem: If He could return at any time, what's to say He might not be returning at a specific date someone is presenting a convincing case for?
- There have been a number of end-time delusions that have come along just in this century alone, and I will be covering some of them and the effects they have had on people's lives in a moment. But it is clear that people are drawn to date-setting. I was alive to witness the Y2K scare, and the Harold Camping debacles. Then there was the Mayan calendar scare in 2012 (hence the backdrop for this study), and the 12 stars over Virgo delusion that set a date of Christ's return for September 23rd, 2017. 
- What happens is, most Christians have a zeal for the Lord's return, but not much knowledge of the word of God, so Satan uses their zeal against them. In the end, such people get humiliated for proclaiming and believing in something that turned out not to be true, and in worst cases they become completely disillusioned with the faith altogether. As I will cover in this study, some have even sold houses or donated their life savings to advertise for a return that never came.
- Such disillusionments can leave some asking, "Why did God allow this to happen to me?"


                                       

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- Well the truth is, God doesn't allow this to happen to believers. Believers allow it to happen to themselves because they don't give enough time to studying God's word on what scripture actually says about it to be truly educated on the matter.
- Both Paul and the Lord Jesus Himself taught that there were signs believers needed to watch for, and until those signs came to pass they had no reason to be concerned that the Day of the Lord had come.
- This was the protection God gave us against being deceived by the enemy in regard to Christ's return, and it is what I am going to be covering in this study.



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The Turn Of The Millennium, And The "Y2K" Scare

- The first end-time delusion I was alive to witness was the "Y2K" Scare. Y2K stood for the year 2000.
- Supposedly, computer programmers had not accounted for the turn of the millennium, and it was going to cause the world's economies to crash. This would bring about the total breakdown of the fabric of society, and within weeks the planet would devolve into mob rule and rioting the streets as governments tried to maintain control of their populaces. Ultimately, this would usher in apocalypse, and by implication potentially the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Time Magazine even published an issue on it in January of 1999 with... (Describe the cover art: Man wearing billboard sign, holding cross).

 
                                                       

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- This scare gained international attention, and nations around the world ended up spending billions of dollars trying to circumvent this supposed computer bug.
- New York City alone spent something like 400 million.
- Entire teams of people were on stand-by to try and reboot systems and keep things running after the clocks turned over.


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- But then nothing happened.
-  So few malfunctions actually happened that newspapers took to posting cartoons in the following days making fun of it, saying, "5 ATMs shut down in the Northeast,  one guy's automatic toilet wouldn't stop flushing, and not all library cards would scan."


                                                     

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- So it all ended up as a big joke, at least for the world.
- But it was not a joke for the Christian ministries that likewise ran with it, and ended up bearing the shame of supposedly being authorities on Biblical prophecy yet telling national audiences that they needed to be prepared for the worst and that this could signal in the start of the tribulation period.
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Harold Camping, Family Radio, And May 21st, 2011

- Then we fast forward 10 years later, and we come to Harold Camping
- Harold Camping was a radio host who gained control over a radio station called Family Radio. When other controlling members of the station passed away, he had them replaced with hand-picked yes-men types, and eventually began making predictions regarding the rapture of the church.
- His first prediction was for 1994, and when that one didn't come to pass he went back to teaching normal Christian doctrine and things settled back down. But in 2003 he again predicted the return of the Lord and the rapture of the church.

                                     

                                 

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- According to Camping, Noah's flood supposedly took place in 4990 B.C., thereby placing it two millennium earlier than most credible Bible chronologers did. Harold then found a verse in Genesis, Chapter 7 where God promised to send rain on the earth in seven years, applied the principle that "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years," and concluded therefore that the Lord Jesus Christ was going to be returning on May 21st, 2011.
- Despite being a pure fabrication, many got swept up in it anyway, and by the time 2011 was rolling around over 100 million dollars had been sent in as donations to help get the word out through advertising that the rapture of the church was at hand. People were selling houses and sending in their life's fortune to help spread the word. The ministry bought vans and buses and painted them with advertisements, and toured the country warning everyone to prepare for Christ's return.

                                     

                                         

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- As the day approached, public evangelism over the event picked up, with groups of his followers warning the world that the rapture of the church was about to take place.

                               

- But May 21st came and went and nothing took place.
- Harold then tried to regroup by telling them it would actually come six months later in October, and when that failed the radio station's support started dwindling quickly. By 2013, the man whose predictions had effected tens of thousands had passed on to whatever reward was awaiting him.

                 

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- But those who were closest to him should have warned others, because there was something a creepy about Harold Camping to begin with. He was supposedly enamored with Jim Jones, the notorious cult leader who led 300 of his followers to commit suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool Aid in Jonestown. Camping actually had equipment that had been used in the People's Temple, and he used to show it off to people. He would also laugh if donators asked to get their money back.


                                       


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December 21st, 2012, And The Mayan Calendar Scare

- A year or so later, the whole Mayan Calendar scare gained national attention. It was based on a few lines of extremely obscure prophecy found in some Mayan inscriptions, that read there would come a display of Bʼolon-Yokte', the Mayan god of war and the Underworld, "in a great investiture." Well, that could have meant anything. It could have simply meant that he would parade himself around in an elaborate costume, since this was usually how the Mayans depicted their gods behaving anyway. But this didn't stop various groups from interpreting the expression any way they wanted to.

                                                             

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- The New Agers said the prophecy predicted the coming of a great spiritual awakening on earth. Of course, the New Agers always predict that various events will signal the coming of a great spiritual awakening on earth.

                             

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But Hollywood decided to go the opposite direction and portray how the Mayan god of the Underworld was going to kill us all. So in late 2012 a major motion picture was released depicting scenes of apocalyptic destruction as natural disasters swept across the earth and brought about the end of mankind.


                                                   

                                             
     
- The numbers in this date were even made to have mystical significance, but despite all the hype once again nothing happened. Life went on as usual.

                                                     

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12 Stars Over Virgo, And September 23rd, 2017

- Then in 2017, two men named William Tapley and Scott Clarke began posting videos on Youtube claiming that the tribulation would come on September 23rd of 2017. Supposedly 12 stars that would align themselves over the constellation of Virgo and this would fulfill a prophecy found in Revelations, Chapter 12, where it talked about the woman with 12 stars over her head being attacked by the dragon. Unfortunately for those Christians who bought this fabrication, once again nothing happened, and life went on as usual, leaving those who took their predictions seriously to try and save face after getting worked up over nothing.

                   

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A Deeper Underlying Motive At Work

- These delusions are not just the products of human imagination. Humans have plenty of help when it comes to religious deception, and beneath Satan's desire to see believers become humiliated and embarrassed lies an even deeper motive: He ultimately wants to Discredit The Word Of God, by making a mockery out of the prophecies of scripture.
- As we get deeper into the end-times, it will become increasingly apparent to those willing to look into what the word of God actually says that Biblical prophecy is coming to pass. To circumvent many coming to faith in Christ because of it, Satan is going to increasingly desensitize people to this by presenting more and more end-time delusions to the public, so that many just sit back and say, "I've seen people predict Christ's return and nothing happened."
- Peter prophesied that a time will come when they deride those who believe in Christian prophesy, and mockingly ask, "Where is the promise of His coming?"

     Knowing this first, that in the last days some will come in mockery, walking according to their own lusts and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming, for from the time the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they have since the dawn of creation." (2 Peter 3:3-4)

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- Just as he did in the garden of Eden, he is essentially getting people to question "Has God said?" He said to Eve "Has God said you shall surely die?," and by planting doubt in her mind about the word of God it ultimately led to her destruction.
- The truth of what God has said in His word will be proven out, but the key to surviving delusions like these unscathed is in knowing God's prophetic timeline, so to avoid being deceived by such things.


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Paul's Teaching On The Timing Of Christ's Return

- Here is what Paul told the Thessalonians in Chapter 2 of his second letter. I will read for you the first five verses:

     Now we implore you, brothers, by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him, that you not become quickly disturbed in mind nor troubled, neither by spirit, nor by report, nor by letter as if written by us [intimating] that the Day of the Lord is here. No one should deceive you in any way if the apostasy has not [yet] come first and that man of lawlessness has been revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above everything that is called God or is worshipped, so as for him to sit down in the temple of God, exhibiting himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was with you I was telling you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5)

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- What did Paul mean when he asked them, "Do you not remember that when I was with you I was telling you these things?"
- What did he teach them when he was with them? He likely taught them what Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 24 when they asked Him directly what would be the signs of His coming, and of the end of the age. Jesus also mentioned several events that would have to take place first before the Day of the Lord would finally arrive:

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     Nation shall raise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines and earthquakes in [diverse] places. But all these are the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you up to affliction, and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be scandalized, and deliver one another up and hate one another... When therefore you shall see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, that having been spoken of through the prophet Daniel, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains... for then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be. And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved, but on account of the chosen those days shall be shortened... but immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in the heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth wail, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Learn the parable of the fig tree: When its branch becomes tender and puts forth leaves, you know that the summer is near. Thus, you also, when you see all these things, then know that it is near, even at the doors. ... Then two will be in the field, with one being taken and one left behind; two grinding at the mill, with one being taken and one left behind. (Matthew 24:7-9, 15-22, 29-33, 40-41)

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- Jesus mentioned several things here. Eventually the Antichrist would arise, conquer Jerusalem, and set up the abomination that causes desolation, after which the Jews would flee for their lives.
- Then there would come a time when believers turned on one another and delivered one another up, when the nations turned upon them and persecuted them to their deaths. By this event, Jesus was referring to the same thing Paul was when he told the Thessalonians there would first come a great apostasy from the faith.

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The Apostasy Must Take Place First

- The apostasia is not "the departure," as many Pre-tribulationists want to interpret it. It meant literally "the apostasy," as we still use the term today.
- This word was used of those who apostatized from political or religious groups.

     ἀποστασία, ας, ἡ = Desertion from a particular political or religious body. In the Bible namely, from the true religion.

- An "apostates" was a political deserter.
- In the only other New Testament use, some accused Paul of "apostasy from Moses."

     And [the Jewish believers] are informed concerning you that you teach all the Jews apostasy from Moses in accordance with the Gentiles, telling them not to circumcise their children nor walk in the customs. (Acts 21:21) Overlapping

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- This word apostasia is also sometimes translated as "falling away," and is applied to a phenomenon we see happening today among many Christians. The statistics say that 90% of Christian youth who are being raised in the public schools are departing from the faith once they're out of the house and on their own, and if these trends hold America is going to increasingly go in the same direction Europe went, where churches are now being converted over into markets and mosques, and Christians are very much in the minority.
- But this is not what's being referred to here by the word "apostasy." Paul was referring specifically to a time when great masses of Christians will betray the Lord to save their own lives specifically as a result of intense persecution; the most intense persecution in the church's history.
- Jesus described it as a time when many would be "scandalized," which is a literal translation of the Greek there. A scandalon was the snare for a trap, and becoming trapped in a compromised situation is what the Lord was referring to. When they were taking Jesus to be interrogated and crucified, Peter sought to deny he was the Lord's disciple, but there was evidence against him. Someone said, "But your accent is Galilean," which is where Jesus was from, so Peter was essentially caught in a scandal. So, too, will many in the end-times try to distance themselves from Christ and profess they are not Christians, but they will have evidence against them that they are by association, which will force them to betray other believers and deliver them up to their deaths in order to save their own lives. 

     After a little while, those who stood by came to Peter and said, "Truly, you are one of them also, for even your accent makes it evident." Then he began to curse and swear, [saying], "I do not know the man." And immediately a rooster crowed. (Matthew 26:73-74) Overlapping

_____________________________________________________________________

- Do we see this kind of apostasy taking place yet? The simple answer is: No, we do not.

                                               

- Certainly there is Christian persecution - even severe persecution - in many regions of the world today, such as in nations like N. Korea, or the Muslim countries of the Middle East, like in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. But the persecution referred to by Paul here will be so severe it causes a mass exodus from the faith, and it is something still set to be fulfilled in the future, as the time of the Antichrist draws nearer.
- Thus, when you know what exactly you are looking for, it becomes easy to tell that we still have a ways to go before Christians are hated by ALL the nations of the earth, and persecuted so severely that multitudes betray the Lord and deliver each other up to their deaths.

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The Fourth Beast Must Also Arise First

- Both Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ also made reference to the Antichrist coming first. Paul referred to him as "the lawless one" who would take his seat in the temple, and Jesus referred to him as he who would set up "the abomination that causes desolation" in the temple. This was a reference to the statue the Antichrist would erect thereafter as a permanent reminder to the Jews that he was essentially their god now.
- But we know from other Biblical prophecies that in order for the Antichrist to arise, there will have to be an empire already established in the earth that he can assume power over.
- We know this from how this empire is described in Daniel, Chapter 7:


     As for me Daniel... I drew near to one of them that stood by, and I sought to learn of him the truth of all these things. And he told me the truth, and made known to me the interpretation of these things. The four beasts are four kingdoms that shall rise up on the earth, which shall be taken away, and the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom and possess it for ever and ever. Then I enquired carefully concerning the fourth beast, for it differed from every other beast, being exceedingly dreadful. Its teeth were of iron and its claws of brass, devouring [its victims], and utterly breaking them to pieces, and it trampled the remainder with its feet, and concerning the ten horns that were in its head and the other that came up, and rooted up some of the former. That horn had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things, and his look was bolder than the rest. I beheld, and that horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them until the Ancient of days came, and He gave judgment to the saints of the Most High, and the time came on that the saints possessed the kingdom. And he said, "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on the earth, which shall exceed all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth and trample and destroy it. And the ten horns are ten kings that shall arise, and after them shall arise another who shall exceed all the former ones in wickedness, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak words against the Most High and wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and law. And power shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. But judgment has sat, and they shall remove his dominion to abolish it and utterly destroy it. And the kingdom and power and greatness of the kings under the whole heaven were given unto the saints of the Most High, and His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all powers shall serve and obey Him. (Daniel 7:15-27, LXX)

_____________________________________________________

- This passage states clearly that the ten horns will be ten kings that shall arise, and Daniel 2:44 states that "In the days of those kings the God of Heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed."
- This means the ten kings will be alive together at the time when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, and puts their reign very clearly still in the future.
- This is important to understand because there are many that teach that all these prophesies have been fulfilled already, and nothing remains before the Lord can return. This is false. We need to be watching for an empire to emerge that will be led by ten kings, and this empire will be characterized by military conquest unlike anything the world has ever seen before.
- When it says "Its teeth were of iron and its claws of brass, devouring [its victims]," it's victims here are the nations this empire will conquer. Teeth, claws and horns are the means by which the beasts of the earth kill and destroy one another, and these being made of iron and brass suggests that the weapons of war this empire uses will be exceedingly strong, and able to do great damage on earth.

                                                         

- That the empire will utterly break these nations to pieces, and "trample the remainder with its feet" means nothing will be left. The nations it conquers will be completely subsumed and assimilated into the empire as conquered territory.
- What is crucial to understand is that this empire will have to be fully manifest in the earth before the Antichrist can come. This is clear from the words, "and there were ten horns in its head, and [then] another came up that rooted up three the former." It means that when he emerges he will usurp three of the ten kings that head up the empire
- This empire led by ten kings, then, will already have to be in place before the Antichrist can arise to do so.


                       

__________________________________________________
 
- As will be covered in later studies, the apostles believed this fourth beast was Rome, and because it was already established in the earth, they had reason to believe that an emperor could soon arise to fulfill this prophecy. 
- Do we the same reasons to believe the Antichrist could emerge at any time? No. There is no such empire of unparalleled conquest even existence in the earth at the present time. There are suggestions it may eventually take shape among the Muslim nations of the Middle East, but if so it still has a long way to go yet.
- Thus, until we see an empire of military conquest unlike anything this world has seen before taking shape, we have no need to become concerned that the Day of the Lord has arrived yet.


__________________________________________________

False Christs Must Also Appear First

- Another sign that will precede the Day of the Lord will be the rise of false Christs and false prophets, who will perform signs and wonders powerful enough to deceive even the very elect away from the truth:

     Then if anyone says to you, "Behold, the Christ is here, or there," do not believe it. For there will arise false Christs and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead if possible even the elect. Behold, I have foretold you. If therefore they say to you, "Behold, He is in the wilderness," do not go forth, or "Behold, He is in the private rooms," do not believe it. For as the lightning comes forth from the east and appears as far as the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:23-26)

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- Paul mirrored this teaching as well in what he was telling the Thessalonians in Chapter 2:

     The coming of [the lawless one] will correspond with the demonic activity of Satan, [manifesting] in all the power, signs and wonders of falsehood and in all the deceitfulness of unrighteousness unto those who are perishing, on which account they have received not the love of the truth for them to be saved. And it is for this reason that God is sending them this demonic activity which endorses error for them to believe the lie: So that all may be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:5, 9-12)

- More will be covered on this passage in later studies, but do we see these false prophets and false Christs operating in the earth who can call fire down from heaven, or levitate into the sky, or other such powerful false signs? No, we don't. And until we do we shouldn't be concerned that the Day of the Lord has come yet.

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Future Studies In 2nd Thessalonians

- Describe the first two on camera, and then put the entire list up of ACTUAL titles (rewrite list)

Study #1: The future location of the Lake of Fire
Study #2: The return of Christ to avenge His own in flaming fire
Studies #3-5: The Antichrist's coming reign of genocide
Studies #6-7: Several things that remain before the Antichrist can be revealed
Studies #8-10: The false Christs that will come, and what they will likely teach
Study #11: Satan's coming attack on the Christian traditions
Study #12: Remaining pure of heart against the Devil's attacks
Study #13: About combatting the financial exploitation of the Church



     Lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11, KJV)

- Youtube Channel

                                             


4
Welcome / Happy Birthday / Happy Birthday Naomi25 !
« Last post by MoreBloodWine on March 14, 2019, 12:40:56 AM »
Guess what everybody, today is Naomi25's birthday so lets wish them a happy birthday with lots of presents !
5
Welcome / Happy Birthday / Re: Happy Birthday Heart2Soul !
« Last post by Hidden In Him on February 26, 2019, 01:44:35 PM »
Hopefully you're not working yourself too hard, sister.

Happy Birthday, whatever you're up to today.
Hidden  :)
6
Welcome / Happy Birthday / Happy Birthday Heart2Soul !
« Last post by MoreBloodWine on February 24, 2019, 12:47:01 AM »
Guess what everybody, today is Heart2Soul's birthday so lets wish them a happy birthday with lots of presents !
7
Study #20 / 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
« Last post by Hidden In Him on January 09, 2019, 01:29:34 PM »
The Importance Of Not Quenching The Spirit, Part 2

     While congregations could give place to the Devil if they allowed bitterness and strife to enter in, the will of God was that it be the Spirit who manifested Himself among them. And Paul now revealed what such manifestations should look like: Continual rejoicings, incessant prayers, blessings and thanksgivings being offered up to God in all circumstances, particularly in tongues, their continuance of prophetic utterances, and ultimately the complete sanctification of the church in body, soul and spirit. 

     See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all. Rejoice always, pray incessantly, and give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus towards you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not hold prophecies in contempt, but prove all things. Hold fast to the good, [and] abstain from every form of wickedness. And may the very God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your entire spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is the One calling you, who will also perform it. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-24)

     The apostle Paul would say essentially the same thing in Ephesians, and in the same order. Instead of giving themselves to conduct that quenched the Holy Spirit among them (Ephesians 4:21-32), they were to give themselves to practices that edified the church (Ephesians 5:18-21):

     Let not the sun set on your provocation, nor give place to the Devil. Let the one stealing steal no more, but rather let him labor, working good with his own hands that he may have something to impart to those who have need. Let no foul word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for edification when needful, that it may bestow grace upon the hearer. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by which you were sealed till the Day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and indignation, and wrath, and shouting, and slander be removed from you, together with all malice...
     And be not drunk with wine wherein is foolishness, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking unto yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praising in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 4:25-31, 5:18-21)


     If the absence of genuine supernatural gifts is any indication, it would appear most churches and even denominations today have long since quenched the Holy Spirit among them and now simply operate in the flesh. For many it's no big deal, since they attest that the supernatural gifts were only necessary during New Testament times in order to establish through signs and wonders the Bible as the true word of God in the earth. But on closer analysis the spiritual gifts were actually accomplishing something just as significant that they overlook: The sanctification of the church. Though most downplay its importance, the absence of supernatural gifts today makes the sanctification of most churches a virtual impossibility.


Rejoicing In Trials: A Manifestation Of The Spirit

     To rejoice in the midst of trials was not a normal human reaction. For Christians in the early church, it was evidence that the power of God was present among them, leading them to rejoice even in the midst of sufferings and persecution. This is clear from passages like 1 Peter 1:3-9:

     Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has given us new birth unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead... unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, regarding which you exult, though now if necessary for a little while having been put to grief through various trials so that the proving of your faith, much more precious than perishing gold and proven by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love, believing in Him whom you do not now behold, yet you rejoice with an inexpressible and glorious joy, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of [your] souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

     Technically, the Greek actually reads here "a joy that is inexpressible and has become glorious." Why? Because in the midst of trials and sufferings it was evidence that the Holy Spirit was present among them, empowering them to not just endure such things but suffer them joyfully in Christ, to their glory. One such instance can be seen in Hebrews. The believers addressed there did not simply endure he plundering of their goods, but accepted this joyfully:

     Call to remembrance the former days, in which having been enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings; partly in being made a spectacle through both reproaches and afflictions, and partly in having become partners with those also going through them. For you also sympathized with my bonds, and accepted with joy the plundering of your belongings, knowing that you have for yourselves a better and [more] enduring possession in Heaven. (Hebrews 10:32-34)

     This was a manifestation of the Spirit of God abiding within them. As he did with the Thessalonians, Paul likewise told the Philippians to "rejoice always" in the Lord in the midst of enduring negative circumstances. They were not to allow any form of anxiety to overcome them but rejoice continually in the Lord. Tempering their anxieties in this way was a work of the Holy Spirit, for the peace and joy they continued to walk in regardless went beyond what anyone or even they themselves could understand in the natural. Their reactions were not the result of rational thinking, but something that could only be accounted for through the presence of Holy Spirit among them:

     Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice. Let your temperance be known unto all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God that exceeds all understanding shall safeguard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)


Offering Blessings And Thanksgivings In The Spirit

     Just as "rejoice always" was a command to continually abide in the Spirit, so too were the next two phrases of "pray incessantly, [and] give thanks in everything." These two went together, in that through tongues the Holy Spirit was constantly blessing the Lord and giving Him thanks for His works among them. This is evident from what Paul said about praying in tongues in First Corinthians:

     But now, if I come to you, brothers, speaking in tongues, what shall I benefit you if shall not speak to you in either revelation, or in knowledge, or in prophecy, or in teaching?...For if a trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for war? So also you, if you do not give intelligible speech by means of a tongue, how shall that being spoken be known? For you will be speaking into the air...  Therefore, let the one speaking in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray in the Spirit, but I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing praise in the Spirit, but I will also sing praise with the understanding. Else if you bless in the Spirit, how shall the one occupying the place of the uninstructed say "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? For you give thanks well, but the other is not being edified. (1 Corinthians 14:6, 8-9, 13-17)

     They were doing something similar at Pentecost. As Jesus promised, the apostles began to be His witnesses to the world that day, when the Holy Spirit came upon them in fire to proclaim His wonderful works from the dawn of creation:

     But [Jesus] said to them... "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in both Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”... And when the day of Pentecost was to be completed, they were all together in the same place. And suddenly there came out of heaven a sound as of the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared tongues as of fire being distributed unto them, and sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit was giving them to speak.
     Now there were Jews dwelling in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. Having arisen at the rumor of this, the multitude came together and were confounded, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and marveled, saying, "Behold, are not all these speaking Galileans? And how are we each hearing in our own dialect from which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and those inhabiting Mesopotamia, and Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia... Cretans and Arabians, we hear them speaking in our own tongues the great works of God. (Acts 1:7-8, 2:1-11)



Testing The Spirits Behind Prophetic Utterances

     Do not quench the Spirit. Do not hold prophecies in contempt, but prove all things. Hold fast to the good, [and] abstain from every form of wickedness. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)

     Why would they potentially hold prophecies in contempt? Because Satan was sending in false prophets among them to give supernatural credence to false and heretical doctrines that could potentially corrupt the church. One such example was the woman Jezebel spoken of in the Book of Revelation, who together with her family was regularly present in attendance at the church at Thyatira:

     To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God... I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and teaches and misleads my servants into committing sexual immorality and eating meat sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time that she might repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will cast her on a [sick] bed, and those committing adultery with her into great affliction if they will not repent of their ways. And I will strike her children with death, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and will repay to each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:18-23)

     According to the early church fathers, these were the same doctrines preached by the Gnostics, an early heretical sect who were followers of Simon the Magician mentioned in the Book of Acts. According to Irenaeus, he taught that sexual immorality and eating meat sacrificed to idols were both acceptable practices for followers of "Christ." It was also recorded that he and his followers performed "signs and wonders" to confirm their version of "Christianity," but the prophecies, exorcisms and other works of power they accomplished were through the power of demons.
     So was there any way to prove if a prophecy was coming from a demonic spirit or the Holy Spirit? Yes, a very simple way, as described by the apostle John:

     Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits whether they are of God. For many false prophets are gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ having come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard that it should come, and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1-3)

     They were to prove the spirits by forcing them to confess which "Jesus" they were preaching. The "Christ" taught by the early Gnostics had supposedly not come in the flesh but merely in the spirit. Therefore, if anyone in the congregation prophesied something questionable, they were to ask that spirit if Jesus Christ had come in the flesh. Any spirit that denied this was to be rejected, lest it ultimately begin seducing the congregation into sin. Rather, they were to abstain from "every form of wickedness," meaning not only rejecting the false prophecies being uttered by demons but the sinful practices being promoting by these spirits as well.
     Under such circumstances it is easy to see why some might have held prophecies in contempt. But Paul's command here was not to do away with prophecy altogether in light of these things but to prove all things and hold fast to that which proved to be truly from the Lord. How many today have done away with prophecy completely in fear of what Satan might do, in direct violation of this commandment of the Lord in First Thessalonians?


Without The Gifts, There Can Be No Sanctification

     And may the very God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your entire spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is the One calling you, who will also perform it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

      Paul was not addressing them individually but as a church here. The command was to the entire congregation; that they be sanctified and preserved blameless through the power the Holy Spirit, and the manifestation of the supernatural gifts among them. Why? Because it was the Lord Himself who would protect them and preserve them blameless in spirit by exposing evil spirits prophesying falsehoods among them. The Lord Himself would preserve them blameless in soul by rebuking demonically-inspired behavior, lest they give themselves over to things like bitterness and strife (James 3;6-15). And the Lord Himself would preserve them blameless in body by bringing judgment upon the sexually immoral, and/or excommunicating them from among the congregation, just as was referred to in First Corinthians regarding the man who was fornicating with his father's wife (See also 1 Thessalonians 4:1-4):

     Sexual immorality is commonly being reported among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, such as for one to have sex with [his] father's wife. And here you are having become inflated with pride, and rather did not mourn because the one having done this deed might [soon] be removed from your midst!  For, indeed, I being absent in the body but present in the spirit have already judged regarding the one having done this thing as being present: In the name of the Lord Jesus, when you have been gathered together in the power of the Lord Jesus, and with my spirit, you are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved on the Day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)

     What do these passages imply with regard to the sanctification of the church? It means that without the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself supernaturally among congregations, there IS no sanctification of the church, nor can there ever be. The Presence of the Spirit is what sanctifies congregations, as Paul likewise attested elsewhere, telling the Thessalonians in his next letter:

     But we ought always to give thanks to God concerning you, brothers, who have been beloved by the Lord, in that through the sanctification produced by the Spirit and the faith produced by the truth God chose you unto salvation, to which end, through our gospel, He [even] called you to attain to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

      Through the manifestation of gifts like prophetic utterance, the Lord was exposing and expelling wickedness in all its forms from the Christian congregations. But where does that put us today, now that few operate in such things any longer? Satanists regularly attend churches pretending to be believers in Christ, yet secretly curse and undermine the work of God at every turn, and they usually go undetected because the gifts of the Spirit are not in operation. Fornication and sexual immorality run rampant, particularly in the younger churches, yet such sins are hidden from view and go unexposed because the supernatural gifts are not in operation. And what of those who regularly give their souls over to gossip, slander, bitterness, contentiousness, envy, jealousy, and other such foul spirits? Only when the Lord Himself again returns to exposing and chastising such things through the utterances of the Holy Spirit will there be any hope of again attaining true sanctification in the churches. Until then, preach against such things until you are blue in the face, but they will not receive correction, even from the pastor. Spiritual uncleanness will be the order of the day in every church until the fear of the Lord returns, and the Lord Himself again sanctifies them through supernatural manifestations of the Spirit.   





8
Study #19 / 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
« Last post by Hidden In Him on December 02, 2018, 12:32:42 AM »
The Importance Of Not Quenching The Spirit, Part 1

     Even in Pentecostal churches today, few seem to teach on the importance of not quenching the Holy Spirit. Maybe this is part of why we see so little of the gifts being practiced today. But it was clearly a focus of the apostle Paul's teachings from the earliest days of his ministry, and one of his driving points as he closed this first letter to the Thessalonians:

     But we beseech you, brothers, to know those laboring among you, and taking governance over you in the Lord and admonishing you, and regard them exceedingly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace amongst yourselves. But we exhort you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be long-suffering towards all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all. Rejoice always, pray incessantly, give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus towards you. Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-19)

     Paul had just gotten through comparing them to "soldiers of light and soldiers of the day," who therefore should not give themselves to spiritual "drunkenness and sleeping," but remain prepared for attacks to come from the enemy at any time:

     We who are of the Day should remain sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of deliverance, for God has not appointed us unto wrath but to obtain deliverance through Him who died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ, that whether you may watch or we may sleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore exhort one another and edify each other, even as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:8-11)

     In order to remain strong in the face of such attacks, Paul exhorted them to edify, i.e. spiritually strengthen one another as spiritual soldiers, and since true spiritual edification came only when the Holy Spirit was speaking through them to one another, any activities that quenched the Holy Spirit were to be avoided. Paul mentioned some of these in his exhortation to the Ephesians as well:
 
     Be angry yet sin not. Let not the sun set on your provocation, nor give place to the Devil. Let the one stealing steal no more, but rather let him labor, working good with his own hands that he may have something to impart to those who have need. Let no foul word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for edification when needful, that it may bestow grace upon the hearer. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by which you were sealed till the Day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and indignation, and wrath, and shouting, and slander be removed from you, together with all malice. (Ephesians 4:26-31)

    There were certain recurring activities mentioned in the New Testament that were leading to strife, bitterness and infighting within the churches; things like bitter doctrinal disputes, power struggles, and theft and cheating. These activities needed to be corrected, lest their prevalence lead to some giving themselves over to the influence of demonic spirits rather than God.


Watching Lest Churches Give Place To The Devil

     How were believers giving place to Satan within the churches? James mentions one of them clearly. Too many were presuming to be teachers, and then getting into bitter arguments with one another over doctrinal disagreements. But the supposed "wisdom" they were sharing with one another in such circumstances was not coming from the Holy Spirit but from the enemy, since according to James it was "earthly, soulish, and demonic," and leading to them cursing one another:

     My brothers, do not become a multitude of teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation... If you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth. This is not the wisdom coming down from above, but is earthly, soulish, and demonic. For where jealousy and contentiousness are, there is restlessness and every evil thing. (James 3:1, 14-16)

     Along with letting the enemy have their tongues, another instance was when believers stole from each other, and/or mooched off of one another. This was the sort of provocation Paul specifically named as leading to some giving place to the Devil.

     Be angry yet sin not. Let not the sun set on your provocation, nor give place to the Devil. Let the one stealing steal no more, but rather let him labor, working good with his own hands that he may have something to impart to those who have need. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
 
     What they were probably stealing here was clothing or money, which was provoking some to anger and resentment, just as mooching off of others by taking bread without working was causing problems elsewhere like among the Thessalonians. These sins needed to be corrected, lest they lead to serious divisions being created within congregations. But chastising those who were sinning could also lead to resentments, which is why Paul urged that those who did such work be highly regard in love for their work's sake. Taking governance over others and correcting them for their behavior was not always easy work, but it was necessary. They were charged with watching out for their welfare, and for the welfare of the congregation as a whole.

     Obey those who have governance over you, and yield [to them], for they watch over your souls as those who will give an account, that they may do this with joy and not groaning, for this is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

     Let the elders doing well in taking governance over you be counted worthy of double honor, especially those laboring in word and teaching, for the scripture says, "You shall not muzzle the ox that treads the grain," and "The workman is worthy of his wages." (1 Timothy 5:17-18)


Strife Was Leading To Immaturity In The Gifts

     The responsibility to admonish the disorderly fell first and foremost upon the elders, but Paul commanded everyone in the congregation to admonish them, if in no other way then by avoiding and shunning them until they corrected their behavior, as he would tell them in his second letter:
 
     But we command you, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to avoid every brother who is walking irresponsibly, and not according to the tradition they received from us.... For even when we were with you we were commanding you that if anyone is not willing to work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some are walking irresponsibly among you, and not working at all but are being meddlers. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-10)

     Satan was using such situations to generate resentments among the brethren. Among the Thessalonians, it appears some did not appreciate having to feed others only to watch those who were not working mooch off them while lazing around and meddling in their personal affairs. So the command was for everyone and not just the elders to admonish such brethren, lest their behavior lead to resentments and ultimately to divisions within the church quenching the Holy Spirit among them.
     A similar situation almost resulted in a rift being created between Gentile and Jewish believers early in the church era, when the Gentile believers took offense to their widows being passed over when it came to the distribution of food:

     But with the disciples multiplying in those days, there arose a murmuring of the Greeks against the Hebrews, because they were overlooking their widows in the daily distribution. (Acts 6:1)

     The potential result of such situations would be spiritual immaturity instead of spiritual growth, as everyone's attention turned from God to petty disputes and resentments. Spiritual immaturity was also present among the Corinthians, and a close analysis reveals it is no coincidence that they were operating in the spiritual gifts with a similar immaturity. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Paul informed them that they were still babes in Christ and unable receive the meat of the word because there were divisions among them. So too would he tell them that they were operating in the gifts more like children than like true spiritual adults, in that many were only speaking in tongues, which without an interpreter was doing almost nothing to edify the congregation:

     So you also, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek that you may abound unto the edification of the church. Therefore let the one speaking in a tongue pray that he may interpret... Brethren be not children in [your] minds, but be babes in malice. Rather be mature in [your] minds... If anyone speaks in a tongue, let it be by two or three at the most and in succession, and let one interpret. And if there be not an interpreter let him be silent in the church, and speak unto himself and to God. (1 Corinthians 14:12-13, 20, 27-28)

     How many Pentecostal congregations today walk in the same spiritual immaturity specifically because division and infighting has distracted them from seeking the greater gifts? How many have quenched the Spirit of God among them because their membership neglected to admonish those bringing strife and division to the church?


Spiritually Edifying The Fainthearted And The Weak

     Meanwhile, some were succumbing to the fears of what Satan might do to them through persecution. Paul told Timothy that God had not given Christians a Spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Yet the fainthearted were growing fearful of afflictions, while some may have been growing weak to a place where they might give in to Satan's temptations to turn from Christ to avoid afflictions and persecution. This is what Paul was concerned about earlier in the letter when he told them:

     Therefore, no longer enduring, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and send Timothy our brother and a servant of God, our fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and exhort you over your faith, so that none of you should be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed unto this, for even when we were with you we were telling you beforehand that we were about to suffer affliction, even as it came to pass, as you know. And because of this, I also, no longer enduring, sent to know of your faith, lest perhaps the Tempter did tempt you, and our labor should be in vain. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5)
     
     Thus, the fainthearted and those weak to temptations were not abiding in the Holy Spirit as they should. God's was a Spirit of love, power and a sound mind. They needed to be encouraged that Satan would have no victory even over those he managed to kill, hence Paul's encouragement earlier in the letter: 

     But I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are [now] sleeping, so that you not be grieved even as the rest who do not have hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also will God through Jesus bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For we say this to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are still alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remaining shall be caught away in the clouds to a meeting of the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore, encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

     As for those enduring hardships and afflictions, the proper mentality was that these only built up for them an even greater reward in eternity:

     Though our outward man is being destroyed, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, gains for us an eternal weight of glory that builds from excellency to excellency, while we look not at the things that are seen but at those things which are not seen; for the things seen are temporary, but the things not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16b-18)


Not Returning Evil For Evil, But Pursing The Good

     Here is the single-biggest contributor to the quenching of the Holy Spirit in congregations. Why? Because returning evil for evil builds a type of momentum that eventually can't be stopped, like kindling that eventually turns into a forest fire that can destroy everything in its path. This is why James taught to be slow to speak. By controlling the tongue, they could stop the momentum Satan was trying to build up in attempting to overwhelm and if possible destroy congregations with strife. James used several analogies to make this same point.

     If we put bits in the mouths of horses for them to obey us, we turn about their whole body. Behold ships also, being so great and driven by violent winds, are [nevertheless] turned about by a very small rudder in whatever direction the helmsman wishes. So also is the tongue a little member yet boasts of great feats. Behold how large a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire [kindling] a world of iniquity. Thus is the tongue becoming established within our membership, defiling the whole body and setting aflame the wheel of momentum, being set on fire by Hell. (James 3:3-6)

     Emotions like anger are powerful things, and once they build up that can be difficult to control, much like a horse getting up to a full run, or a large ship under full sail. But we have been given a bridle and a rudder to turn powerful emotions back and slow their momentum to a crawl, and this is the tongue. The trouble that Christian leadership noticed they were having during New Testament times was trying to get entire congregations to abide by this commandment.

     For every species of beasts, both of birds and of reptiles and of creatures of the sea, is being subdued and has been subdued by the human species. But no one among men is able to subdue the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of death-dealing poison. By this we bless [our] Lord and Father, and by this we curse men who have been made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth goes forth blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be. Does a fountain pour forth sweet and bitter water from the same opening? My brothers, is a fig tree able to produce olives, or a vine figs? Nor is a fountain able to produce salty and sweet water... (James 3:7-12)

     Just as Jesus taught that a tree was known by its fruit, so Paul taught that a believer should "speak only that which is good for the use of edifying." Believers in Christ during church meetings were to be fountains through which God's Spirit would spring forth true living water at all times, and not the waters of bitterness that might arise from them if they started returning evil for evil. They were to only "pursue the good," which meant only following up on what the Spirit of God was doing among them rather than what Satan might be.
     Why is it important to understand that our current passage was about operating in the gifts of the Spirit? There has to be ministry in the Spirit in our churches. Without it, we are simply meeting in the flesh, and nothing will come of it. Having identified those actions that will quench the Holy Spirit, Paul will now turn to stressing that they continue in those which would manifest the fires of the Spirit burning among them: Rejoicings, prayers in the Spirit, the utterance of prophecies, and the sanctifying of the entire congregation.




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Study #18 / 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11, Part 4
« Last post by Hidden In Him on November 13, 2018, 02:19:57 PM »
Putting On The Whole Armor Of God, Part 4

     Let us now take a look again at what Paul was saying about the armor of God in First Thessalonians. He made some driving points here that he left out in Ephesians:

     But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to be written to, for you yourselves know accurately that the Day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, "Peace and security," then sudden destruction shall come upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they shall not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness that the Day should overtake you as a thief, for you are all sons of light and sons of the Day.... we who are of the Day should remain sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of deliverance, for God has not appointed us unto wrath but to obtain deliverance through Him who died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ, that whether you may watch or we may sleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore exhort one another and edify each other, even as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, 8-11)

     As in Ephesians, many think the armor of God was for engaging in spiritual warfare, but nowhere in this text was spiritual warfare mentioned or discussed. The entire context was about preparing for Christ's return as a Deliverer from afflictions and persecution. As in Ephesians, the context was about standing "in the evil day," when persecution would flare up against them. Spiritual armor was needed to protect them against the slander and false accusations that would be leveled against them, when they would be dragged before city magistrates and sanhedrins and interrogated. With the apostles Paul, Silas and Timothy, it sometimes ended in them getting flogged and beaten.
     The driving point here in First Thessalonians was to always be ready for enemy attacks, for they could come at any time. This was evident in what he said in verses 5-7:

     We are not of the night nor of the darkness. So then, we should not sleep as the rest, but watch and remain sober, for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who drink get drunk at night. But we who are of the Day should remain sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of deliverance. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-7)

      What he was saying here was that the spiritual army they were a part of must always stay on alert. They could never let their guard down, because if they did like soldiers who got drunk at night and/or fell asleep on their watch, the enemy's attacks would take them by surprise. They had to be "soldiers of the day," or in other words remain vigilant and focused upon one thing only: Defeating their enemy, and not letting their guard down and giving themselves to drinking and sleeping.
     Needless to say, this is what the body of Christ needs today. He needs soldiers He can raise up who will be more disciplined than any army in the flesh, because our enemy never sleeps and is watching our every move. Only if we have trained ourselves to be on guard against him at all times will we succeed.


Why Put On The Breastplate Of Faith And Love?

     Believers are commanded to put on the breastplate of faith and love because these are proofs of our righteousness before both God and man. This can be seen in viewing what Paul said about the armor in Ephesians and then comparing it with what he said about it here in First Thessalonians. There are a few subtle differences, so let us again quote Ephesians to compare the two passages:

     Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the strategies of the Devil, because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against [spiritual] authorities, against the world rulers of this dark age, against the spirits of wickedness in the heavens. Because of this, take up the whole armor of God so that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having subdued all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having girded your waist about with the truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having strapped your feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace. Above all, having taken up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the wicked one. Also, through all prayer and supplication, receive the helmet of deliverance, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying in the Spirit at all times, and remaining wakeful unto all perseverance and supplication so as to pursue this same need for all the saints, and for me, that in the opening of my mouth with boldness there may be given unto me utterance to make known the mystery of the gospel. (Ephesians 6:11-19)

     To repeat, New Testament believers were wrestling against principalities and powers in that these high-ranking spirits were inciting wicked men under their influence to raise up persecution against the church, with "the evil day" being whenever this persecution would flare up against them. The faithful were to put on the armor of God to help them stand before interrogators. The belt of truth served as a defense against lying witnesses and false testimony; the breastplate of righteousness as a defense against accusations of "sinning" for disobeying authorities, both religious and civil; their feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace to potentially convert their interrogators should opportunity arise; the shield of faith as a defense against attacks especially on their faith in Christ; the sword of the Spirit to expose falsehoods with the truth through the use of scripture; and the helmet of deliverance as an encouragement to always continue fighting for the truth, knowing the Lord would continue to deliver them until their ministries were finally completed.
     Like in Ephesians, the helmet was "the hope of deliverance," and like in Ephesians he was talking about deliverance from persecution, only here he described it as coming at the return of Christ, adding "for God has not appointed us unto wrath but to obtain deliverance through Him who died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that whether we watch or sleep we may live together with Him." Like in Ephesians, the focus here was on the living. The dead (i.e. those who "slept") didn't need to worry about being delivered from the wrath to come because they were already dead. But Paul's point was that the Lord had promised to deliver His own who were alive on the earth before His wrath commenced. Thus, whether delivered by the hand of providence (Acts 9:29, 2 Corinthians 11:33), by the supernatural power of God (Acts 14:19-28, Acts 28:3), or at the return of Christ (Mark 13:26, Matthew 24:30), the faithful would be delivered one way or another.
     But there were also subtle differences in the breastplate. In Ephesians it was Righteousness, whereas here in Thessalonians it was Faith and Love. That both are mentioned together suggests they were to be interpreted as one. Thus, the breastplate was essentially "faith which causes believers to act in love," and by acting in love they meant towards their enemies especially, since this teaching was given in context of using a warfare analogy.
     Christ likewise spoke of responding in love in this same context:

     But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer [him] the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, forbid [him] not the tunic also. Give to everyone who asks you, and from him who takes away what is yours, do not ask [for it] back. And whatever you desire that men should do for you, do likewise unto them. For if you love those who love you, what credit is it to you? For even the sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is it to you? For even the sinners do the same. And if you hope to receive from those to whom you lend, what credit is it to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, that they may receive in kind. But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend, hoping for nothing back, and great shall be your reward, and you shall be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. (Luke 6:27-35)

     In another place, Jesus corrected the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees, for they taught the exact opposite:

     You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But I say unto you to resist not evil, but whoever strikes you on your right cheek turn to him the other also... You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say unto you, Love your enemies and bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you and pray on behalf of those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven. For He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain upon the just and the unjust... therefore you shall be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:38, 43-45, 48)

     By their own testimony, the apostles obeyed this command, as always in the context of enduring persecution, defamation, character assassination, slander, and ridicule from their religious enemies. These were proofs of their righteousness before all:

     To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, are insufficiently clothed, receive beatings, and wander homeless. But we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless. Being persecuted, we forbear. Being defamed, we encourage. (1 Corinthians 4:11-13a)


The Importance Of Never Taking The Breastplate Off

     Again, by telling them to stay "sober and alert," Paul was saying that like soldiers they needed to remain prepared for attacks at all times. This is because those who proclaim the truth have targets placed on their backs, and the enemy watches night and day for when they might have their guards down. For Christians who proclaim the word, it is no accident if in traffic drivers inexplicably start harassing them, laying on the horn, or otherwise driving rudely; if strangers in the marketplace seem to despise them for no apparent reason, without a word even being spoken; if family or friends turn on them unexpectedly and betray them; even if fellow Christians begin slandering them without provocation or just cause. There are demons driving this opposition, and even if you don't give people reasons to attack you, these spirits will fabricate them in order to make life Hell for you for proclaiming the truth.
     But Christians were to provide good conduct in the sight of all men by walking continually in love, even when vehemently opposed. Walking in love is what Paul referred to as "putting on the armor of light":

     Recompense evil for evil to no one, providing good conduct in the sight of all men if possible, from yourselves [at least] living peaceably with all men, not avenging yourselves, beloved, but giving place to wrath. For it has been written, "Vengeance is Mine. I will repay," says the Lord. Therefore, if your enemy should hunger, feed him. If he should thirst, give him something to drink… [and] be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
     Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For "You shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not lust," and if there be any other commandment, it is [now] being summed up in this word, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love works no ill towards [his] neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And knowing this, the time, that it is the hour to be awakened out of sleep. For now is our deliverance nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent and the Day has drawn near. We should therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 12:14, 17-21, 13:8-12)


     Paul was essentially equating love here to righteousness, because by walking in love believers were fulfilling all of the law simultaneously. But they needed to do so continually, as James also taught. The commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" was like a mirror believers needed to never turn away from. If they did, they would lose sight of the person they were becoming in Christ, fall back into their old sinful ways again, and begin returning evil for evil once more:

     Therefore, my brothers, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not cultivate the righteousness of God. Wherefore... receive in meekness the implanted word which has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if a man is a hearer of the word yet not a doer, this is like a man observing his maturing face in a mirror, yet he observed himself and went away and immediately forgot what he was like (James 1:19-23)


The Breastplate With No Sword Is Meaningless

     As strange as this may sound, in terms of fighting the spiritual war against the kingdom of darkness, it is of little value to walk in love if we are not proclaiming the word of truth. The sword of the Spirit is what the enemy fears because it is what has the power to convert men's souls, and he largely concentrates his energies on those opening their mouths to speak God's word.

     And [Jesus] opened His mouth, and taught them, saying... "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt becomes tasteless, with what shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing, but to be thrown out, and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world, a city being situated on a mountain that cannot be concealed. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket but upon a lampstand, and it shines for everyone in the house. Thus, let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matthew 5:10-16)

     Jesus here informed them that there was no way they could avoid persecution. Because He had chosen them as His disciples, they were now like a city being situated on a mountain where there was no way they could avoid drawing attention. He had placed them like a lamp on a lampstand, so their responsibility now was to let their light shine and not back away out of fear of persecution. As He told them elsewhere, they were to proclaim it even if threatened with bodily harm:

     If you should suffer on account of righteousness, blessed are you. But be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give a defense to every man who requests a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear, having a good conscience, that whereas they may speak against you as evildoers they may be made ashamed who speak evil of your good conduct in Christ. (1 Peter 3:14-16)

     Here, love is mentioned in connection with giving a defense of the gospel, which suggests again that their good conduct was a defensive weapon, designed to protect them against accusations of unrighteousness. Others were "made ashamed" of speaking evil against them when they treated them with love, kindness, and humility despite being mistreated and falsely accused.
     But likewise today, without the sword of the Spirit we are not a threat to the enemy. Certainly we must walk in love, but the Lord professed very clearly that He did not come to send peace on the earth but a sword. It is because the sword of His word is what threatens the enemy's territory, and translates men from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son.
 

Stephen's Speech: The Armor Of God In Action

     In closing, one of the best examples found in the word of God on how the armor of God was being used is found in Acts, Chapter 7, where Stephen gave his speech before the Sanhedrin. He was dragged before them to give a defense for why he was supposedly speaking evil of the Jewish temple, and saying Jesus of Nazareth was going to supernaturally destroy it:

     Then they produced men, saying, "We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God." And they stirred up the people, and the elders and the scribes, and having come upon him they seized him and brought hm to the Sanhedrin. And they set up false witnesses, saying, "This man does not cease to speaking words against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him saying that this Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place, and change the customs which Moses delivered unto us." And having looked intently upon him, those sitting in the Sanhedrin saw his face as the face of an angel.
      And the high priest said, "Are these things so?" And he said, "Men, brothers and fathers, listen..." (Acts 6:11-7:2)


     These were false accusations, and exaggerations of what Stephen likely taught. What the New Testament believers were now teaching was that the Jewish temple would be destroyed by the Romans, and that the church had now become the true temple of God on earth (Matthew 24:1-2, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 2:13-22). But because Stephen was preaching Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, whom they had crucified, they bore false witness against him to vilify him by suggesting he was somehow in favor of the Jewish temple being destroyed.
      Despite these false accusations, Stephen remained girded in the belt of truth. And once he began to address them, the word of God began cutting through these lies and exposing what Satan had spoken through the false witnesses. Stephen traced through the history of Abraham and his descendants to show how God had specifically chosen the land of Israel to be the place where His people would serve and worship Him (v.7). The tabernacle was the first makeshift temple built in the wilderness (v.44), but eventually King Solomon built a true temple for the Lord in Jerusalem (v.47). But Stephen then used the sword of the Spirit by quoting Isaiah 66:1-2 to prove from the word of God that the Lord ultimately never desired to dwell in temples made by human hands but in the hearts of men, a teaching the Jewish leadership were still unwilling to hear:

     But the Most High does not dwell in temples made by hand. As the prophet says, "Heaven is a throne for Me, and the earth is a footstool for My feet. What house will you build me?" says the Lord, "or what place for My rest? Has not My hand made all these things?" Oh stiff-necked and uncircumcised in hearts and ears, you always contradict the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you as well. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who proclaimed in advance the coming of the Righteous One, whom you became the betrayers and murderers of, who received the law by the ordinations of angels yet did not keep it. (Acts 7:48-53)

     By calling them "stiff-necked and uncircumcised of hearts and ears," Stephen was telling the Jewish leadership they were still carnally-minded, and thus contradictory to what the Holy Spirit was now teaching. But while this was a rebuke to them, it was not spoken in hate. Before Stephen even began his speech, they noticed how he had the face as it were "of an angel, which meant the anointing of God rested heavily upon him, and holiness, purity and love were visible on his countenance. He then began his speech by addressing them with endearing terms, saying, "Men, brothers and fathers, listen." Even when they began stoning him to death, Stephen still displayed love in his heart for them by asking God not to hold that sin to their charge (v.60).
     Thus, from beginning to end, Stephen remained clothed in the breastplate of love and righteousness. Whether he consciously understood "the armor of God" teaching yet or not (given that Paul's letters were not written yet), he nevertheless walked very powerfully in it, and thus served as one of the greatest examples in New Testament times of what a true soldier of Christ was supposed to look like.






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Welcome / Happy Birthday / Re: Welcome to the site Naomi25 !
« Last post by Hidden In Him on October 30, 2018, 01:09:20 AM »
Huh...good point. I hadn't actually considered that, to be honest....that if we're looking for it to be Antichrist, then it's not likely he'd be among the very Church he is going to persecute. Sort of changes the angle of it a bit, doesn't it?

Yeah. Doesn't make much sense.

I was never introduced - or subjected, LoL - to Historicist interpretations of scripture when I came to Christ. I guess I just didn't force it, but left it up to God's timing as to when He would explain end-times prophecy to me. I had friends who got deep into it, but I didn't get the sense that they were all that accurate. But while I never was introduced to Historicism or Preterism all that much, I sure have read a lot of it lately. ChristianityBoard is overrun with those interpretations now, as well as several others.
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