We will begin with the first chapter of I Thessalonians and then go to the first chapter of II Thessalonians.
I Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we read this first chapter I want you to pay attention to what Paul has to say about this church in Thessalonica. In this first verse he says they are in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I Thessalonians 1:2-4 We give
thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers,
3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,
4 Knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
I want us to see that this is not a lukewarm church. It is a people dedicated to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, dedicated to a work of faith and labor of love.
I Thessalonians 1:5-10 For
our Gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy
Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you
for your sake.
6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
7 So that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.
8 For from you the Word of the Lord sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.
9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10 And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
This is a dedicated church, a church that had entered a labor of love and work of faith, and from them the Word sounded forth to every place. Would you say the life of Christ was coming forth in these Thessalonian Christians? Yes, I would. The life and nature of Christ was coming forth in them. Now, let’s go to the first chapter of II Thessalonians.
II Thessalonians 1:1-3 Paul,
Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other.
Their faith was growing exceedingly and their love for one another abounded. I want us to get a picture of this church in our mind. They are moving in more than the average church.
II Thessalonians 1:4-5 So
that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and
faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,
5 Which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.
Paul speaks of their faith in the face of persecutions and tribulations. Verse 6 through the end of the chapter are very familiar verses to us, particularly verse 10 where it says He shall come to be glorified in His saints.
II Thessalonians 1:6-10 Since
it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble
7 And to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
10 When He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed, in that day.
Pay particular attention to the rest of this chapter.
II Thessalonians 1:11-12 Therefore
we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this
calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of
faith with power,
12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are returning to this chapter again because I felt there was yet some misunderstanding of what we have been teaching concerning the Lord’s coming to be glorified in His saints. These Christians in Thessalonica were a people who were appropriating the presence of the Lord, and His life was coming forth in them. That is why Paul could say all these wonderful things about them. Even so he then adds, “We pray that our God would count you worthy of this calling.” The life and nature of Christ coming forth in them is not the same as this special coming to be glorified in them. Do you understand what I am saying? I think we will once we go back over this some.
There are different Greek words translated “coming” in the English. One is apocalypse, which means unveiling or revealing. The Book of Revelation is the Book of Apocalypse. It is the revealing of Christ. Now we realize what a revelation of Jesus Christ means. It doesn’t mean that He is suddenly in the room with you. It means you have a revelation of Him; He is revealed to your heart.
Another word is parousia, which literally means “presence.” Many times we experience the presence of the Lord without Him appearing in bodily form.
The Greek word translated “comes” in verse 10 of our text is erchomai. It means “to go” or “to come” or “to come and go.” It is also unique that it is a verb always used in the present tense or present tense continuous. Thus, we understand the concept of a continual coming of His presence.
Christ being glorified in us means He is functioning in and through us. He comes and goes through a people in a present-tense way. This is how He is glorified. Colossians 1:27 says that Christ in us is the hope of glory. That is what the Thessalonians were experiencing, and that is what we are experiencing also to some degree. As His life and nature comes forth in His people they are experiencing the hope of glory and are being prepared for His coming to be glorified in them. Then He comes forth in them to minister His judgments through them. He is revealed with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who do not obey God are not only sinners of the world. Very many Christians do not obey God either.
Paul had a lot of good things to say about the Christians in the church at Thessalonica. Their ministry was a labor of love and a work of faith. Their good works were abounding and were spoken of in many places. The Lord was moving through them! But the ministry of the Lord through them was not the same thing Paul spoke about in II Thessalonians 1:6-10. That is the reason Paul said in verses 11, “Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling.” That is, “Thessalonians, you haven’t experienced this yet.”
I am concerned that we do not assume to have something we do not have. We may be God’s chosen elect, but we don’t want to think along those lines. What do we want to do? Appropriate His nature! Don’t hold back! Minister what He is in you and believe for Him to go and to come through you. We have a ways to go yet. We have much to learn. God is going to finish the work He has started in every one of us. I just caution on this one thing: Let’s don’t assume to have experienced something we haven’t experienced. The Thessalonians had not experienced this coming of the Lord yet. His nature and life was coming forth in them and Paul was praising them for their ministry, but then he added, “I pray that you will be counted worthy of this calling of the Lord Jesus Christ to go and to come through you as He ministers judgment.
Copyright © 2004 by Henry DuBose