2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (ESV)
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Paul is here reassuring the church that they did not, as some were saying, miss the Lord’s return. The end of time will be ushered in by the “man of lawlessness” taking over the world as I understand it. We certainly seem to be approaching that day quickly. The rebellion that Paul mentions above is also referred to as a falling away. People who claim to be Christians will fall away from the true church, and follow doctrines that are contrary to godliness.
How will we know which doctrines to follow and which are from the pit of Hell? By studying the Scriptures together, challenging one another. We must continually ask ourselves if we understand the Scriptures correctly. We must seek understanding by checking our own thoughts and understanding against known orthodox teaching, and ask godly men and women how they see it. But in all this, we must know the truth of the Scriptures, so that when someone says something that does not align with the Word of God, we will recognize it. Even Paul encouraged the church to check what he said against the Scriptures—The Old Testament was all they had at that time—to see if what he claimed they said about the Messiah was true.
Paul did not get his feelings hurt when he was challenged, he gave a reasoned response.
We may well be approaching the end of things as the early church believed 2000 years ago. But we may not be as well. We will not know for certain until the “man of lawlessness” is revealed and sets himself up in the temple–which needs to be built again–to be worshiped, and absolute obedience is required or people will be killed.
One thing is certain. The Lord will come again. It will be soon. How soon is the question. We must keep watch, and stay true to the Gospel. It is going to get tougher to be a true Christian, because the evil one is at work in this world. He is spreading lies and hatred that will put the church in a difficult spot. The church will be hated once again as general rule, rather than as the exception to the rule.
May God bless all of us this day, and lead us into truth, and not temptation.
by Virgil Stripes