Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

Many people balk at the possibility of God judging anyone. These people prefer to view God as loving and forgiving, but not as a God of condemnation and judgment. However, there is a massive problem with this understanding that God does not, and will not send people to a place of punishment. The problem with this view of God is that, in a sense, God not judging or condemning is possibly one of the most unloving things that He could do. 
These people greatly desire God to forgive everyone, but do they truly desire those who are the abusers and persecutors to receive no recompense for the evil they have done? Do they truly desire those who received no justice before death to go on forever without having punishment for their wickedness executed on them? Those who murder others and “get away with it,” do these people truly want God to dismiss that? In light of those who have harmed others physically, emotionally, and mentally, is a just God supposed to sit by without condemnation and leave off vengeance? That would not be loving. That would be unloving to every other person.
God does punish the wicked. He does execute His wrath on the unrighteous. He will execute vengeance on evil doers. All those who sin are due the payment for their sins, and that punishment will come on all those who fail to put their faith in the saving work of Jesus. The disbelieving will receive to themselves the just wrath and punishment of a loving, wise, and holy God. While the unbelieving will receive judgment, those of us who believe will receive the grace of God that He chose to extend to us from the foundation of the world. This reality should leave believers everywhere grateful that a loving God would extend forgiving grace to them in spite of the punishment that is due them.
When we read 2 Thessalonians today, we find a clear articulation of those who will receive God’s punishment. It is not good enough to say that those who are bad will receive God’s punishment. Many people don’t want to hear that they are sinners. They don’t like the prospect of someone else telling them that they are wrong. When it comes to their sin, they furthermore don’t like being told that their sin is distasteful to God and that God will punish them for it. Because of this truth, many think that Christians are telling them that they are going to hell because of the specific sin that they are bound up in. They use phrases like “do you think I am going to hell because I…?” These poor people see this one sin as the thing that is guaranteeing their place in God’s condemnation. While we know that sin is the cause for God’s wrath on mankind, the final judgment of a man comes not to his vice or transgression, but rather to his response to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If he accepts it in faith, he can be forgiven. Paul says very clearly to the Thessalonians however, that if he rejects it and “believes not the truth” he will receive God’s eternal condemnation.

Food For Thought: Read John 3:16-18. What does Jesus say is the reason that men will be condemned?