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The Return Of Christ

Link to return_thes.mp3

Hello and God bless you.

Paul writes the first letter of Thessalonians to a group of believers that are only a few months into their new life as Christians.   The second letter to the Thessalonians was written about 6 months after the first letter. 

In the first letter Paul reiterates what he had taught while he was there.  Paul’s time in the town of Thessalonica was brief: only a few weeks.   Paul had told them about the promised return of Christ but two major questions had come up:            

1. Some had died and now there were questions about what would happen to those who die before Christ returns. 
2. There was a false rumor moving through the church that Christ had already returned and they had been left behind.

The combination of the information provided in these two letters gives a good basic summary of the return of Christ.   We would do well to understand this basic and direct teaching of Paul concerning the return of Christ.  Using this as a foundation, those who are so inclined can delve into Daniel, Revelations and the many other scriptures that illuminate the future events in a figurative way.

Paul’s letters to Thessalonica are unique, because they contain very little reference to the Old Testament.     Contrast that with the book of Romans which was written years latter to a group with many converted Hebrews.  The book of Romans has extensive references to the old Hebrew writings.

For modern Christians with a limited understanding of the Old Testament and Hebrew idioms, the two little books of Thessalonians are a straight forward and easy to understand place to begin.  The Thessalonian letters and the letter to the Galatians are the earliest New Testament books written by Paul.   These three books give the most basic and easiest to understand description of the gospel as revealed to Paul.    

Once we are fully versed in Galatians and Thessalonians, Paul’s later wittings from prison to the churches at Colossae, Ephesus and Philippi give a fuller revelation of the gospel as it relates to us in this time period.  After that a study of the book of Romans rounds out the understanding of how the gospel of the mystery is related to the old covenant with Abraham and later the laws of Moses.    This is the approach that will help recovering performance based religion addicts understand the rest and peace that we have been called into.   Religion addiction, like all other addictions, is based upon false assumptions and expectations.   We should not be surprised when the word of God proves our assumptions wrong.  When that happens, rejoice! And be glad!  Praise Him for His truth.   Rest in His mercy and grace.  

Lack of understanding of the mystery gospel of Paul leads to performance based religion.   When our relationship with God starts anywhere but Christ in us, we miss the whole point of Christianity and end in the bondage of religion.   We are not a religious people.  We are a Christ people.  Christianity is not a religion. Religion is about WHAT you do to become acceptable to God.  Christianity is about WHO we are in Christ because of what God has done.    Once the WHO question is decisively answered, the “what we do” question is just a supernatural result of Christ in us, which is who we are. 

Look with me at the verses in First Thessalonians that describe the coming of Christ for his saints:  We will start in Chapter 4 verse 13.

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,
concerning them which are asleep, (dead) that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

I can think of no subject that has had more sensationalism and hype applied than the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.   There seems to be an endless number of theories plus all of the Hollywood images that mix eastern and pagan philosophies into an everything goes tradition.  This tradition has been melded into the traditional Christian religion of our day.    All of these sources are to be rejected in the face of the simple and direct writings of Paul.    Paul says he does not want us to be ignorant.  Then he proceeds to lay out the simplicity of what will happen.   The verses speak for themselves: 

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant,
brethren, concerning them which are asleep, (dead)
that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also which sleep(are dead) in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, (revelation)that we which are alive and remain
unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede)
them which are asleep. (dead)

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5
 1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord
so cometh as a thief in the night.

3 For when they shall say,  (they: third person, those outside the body: unbelievers.) Peace and safety;
then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

4 But ye, brethren,  are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

(Ye: you plural, brethren: the believers.   We are not in the dark, we have Christ in us the hope of glory. Evidently there is something that we should be looking for to warn us of the time.)

4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

Listen closely to what Paul is telling us here.  This flies in the face of the religious idea that we are hapless, helpless sinners waiting to be judged by a vengeful God.  Religion would tell you that you just don’t know for sure until the judgment day whether or not you measure up.    What a bunch of hoo haw!  We have Christ in us!   God has made us to sit in the heavenlies IN Christ at the right hand of God.   There is no question that we are children of light and not left in the dark.  If you have been born of God’s seed, and have Christ in you, God is talking to you.   You are not left in the dark .  Wake up!  Listen, watch!   Remember Romans 8:1?  “There is therefore now no condemnation to those of us that are in Christ Jesus …

5 Ye are all the children of light,  (Do you remember 1Jn 1:5  “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”  If God is light, and we are born of God’s seed then we are the children of light.)

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

 7 For they that sleep  sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together,  and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Now, lets go to the second letter to the Thessalonians Chapter two, verse one. 

After hearing the first letter from Paul, two major questions concerning Christ’s return overwhelmed the church in Thessalonica.  Some misunderstood and stopped working because they thought Christ would return at any moment.  They were living off others and not contributing to the community of believers.   There were still others that believed the false rumor that Christ had already returned and they were left behind.  

Paul clarifies the expected return of Christ and gives important insight into the appearing of the “man of sin” and the “falling away” that will precede Christ’s return, which is our sign that the time is near.   Read with me:

2Th 2:1  Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

2Th 2:2  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter
as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.  (is already come)

NIV  2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.

2Th 2:3  Let no man deceive you by any means: [for that day shall not come,] except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

2Th 2:4  Who opposeth and exalteth himself  above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

2Th 2:5  Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

2Th 2:6  And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. (what withholdeth? Paul just told us: the man of sin.)

Now you know!  Paul just told you why you can be sure that Christ has not already come because the man of sin has not been revealed yet but he will be revealed in his time.

2Th 2:7  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:
only he who now letteth will let, (letteth = holds back)
until he be taken out of the way.
(Come into being out of the midst.)

King James “taken out” is the Greek  1096 ginomai
   1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be,    
       receive being

   2) to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen
   2a) of events
   3) to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage
   3a) of men appearing in public
   4) to be made, finished
   4a) of miracles, to be performed, wrought
   5) to become, be made

KJV “of “  1537 ek {ek} or ex {ex}
   1)    out of, from, by, away from

KJV “the way is 3319 mesos {mes'-os}; from 3326; adj1)

   1)    middle
   2)    the midst
   3)    in the midst of, amongst

Green’s Interlinear:
7 For the mystery of lawlessness
Already is working, only He is restraining now, until He comes out of the midst.

The King James, mystery of iniquity:  The secret of sin or the sinful secret, was already at work in the first century.   The devil has a plan and he is working his plan to pull the church away from the truth.  What is the truth?  The simple gospel of the mystery: Christ in you; you in Christ at the right hand of God; the body of Christ; each individual an equal member; fully sharing in the calling and ministry of Christ.   

The devil has made significant progress.   When will the man of sin, the son of perdition come into being in the midst of us?  Only God knows.  But Paul tells us here that it will be our sign of the times.   We will know and we have not been left in the dark.  We won’t have to guess if it’s him.  We will know it.

2Th 2:8  And then shall that wicked be revealed,  whom the Lord shall consume  with the spirit of his mouth,
and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

2Th 2:9  Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2Th 2:10  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness
in them that perish;  (why?) because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

2Th 2:11  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

2Th 2:12  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

2Th 2:13  But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

2Th 2:14  Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(We have obtained the glory!  It’s Christ in you the hope of glory!)

2Th 2:15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions  (Paul’s gospel) which ye have been taught,
whether by word, or our epistle.

2Th 2:16  Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself,  and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us
everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
(Not works but grace)

2Th 2:17  Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

2Th 1:12  That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ  may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

So there it is;  the word of God, written by revelation by Paul, the master builder.  Paul, the one who received the revelation of the mystery: The body of Christ, Christ in you the hope of glory, a new race, a new man, all things new, where there is neither male nor female, Jew or gentile, but we are all one in Christ. 

This is the revelation of God concerning the return of Christ.  Straight forward:  Simple.  This is who we are.  This is what will happen.  This is what we are to look for.   Watch and be ready.  We can make it more complicated if we want to but …..  Why join in with the children of the night?  

Paul comforts and encourages us to not be deceived or discouraged.  He exhorts them (and us) to stick with the gospel they received from him.   They would be soon visited by the judizers from Jerusalem.  We too, have been indoctrinated by the descendants of the judizers.  Many in Thessalonica, along with most in the other early churches were deceived and bewitched into going back under the laws of Moses and into bondage.  Only a remnant, throughout the past two centuries, have lived free, manifesting and walking in Christ.   

We must watch and wait,
    We must sink into the breastplate:
        The breastplate of faith and love,
            Living in the hope of Christ in us,
                Which is our helmet of salvation.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free and be not ensnared again in the yoke of bondage. 

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