Leadership

Do Not Let Anxiety Steal Your Joy

Do you struggle with anxiety? You are not alone. An estimated 40 million adults in the United States have been affected by this nemesis. In fact, so many have been affected that the healthcare industry spends $42 billion dollars a year to combat this plague. This number is 1/3rd of the total cost of mental healthcare in the U.S. Aren’t these alarming statistics?

I must admit. I am part of this statistic. I struggle with anxiety. It’s like a dark rain cloud that hovers over my psyche. It leads to high blood pressure, isolation, fear, and depression. Worst of all, anxiety steals my peace and joy in Christ.

While anxiety likes to rear it’s ugly head, it’s not invincible. It’s conquerable. Don’t let anxiety lie to you. It is prone to say, “I am who you are. Your personality is anxious. Just live with it.” But this is not true.

Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The creator of the universe told us to be calm. If we ask, He will give us a peace that surpasses all human understanding  (Philip. 4:7).

I know my anxiety is inflamed when I forget this marvelous truth–that Jesus gives us His peace. He is the Prince of Peace. This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John. 10:27-28).

Do we believe this? If so, why worry? Oftentimes, our focus is on self rather than God. We rely on our own strength. Quite frankly, it’s pride that keeps us worried because that means we are trusting in our own talents to get us through life’s constant challenges. But our talents are finite. As humans, we are broken, incomplete, and susceptible to mistakes. Trusting in self will only exacerbate the worry because infallibility doesn’t exist within. It only exists in our Creator. He is the true conqueror.

Furthermore, when the world let’s us down, we become accustomed to disappointment. We are used to trust being breached. Worry sets in because trust is replaced with doubt. But once again, our relationship with others is different from God. God doesn’t make mistakes. His promises are never empty. When he says, “Peace I give you,” this is exactly what will come to fruition.

I know it’s difficult to fight anxiety. When you do, don’t dwell on the fear. Put on the whole armor of God. Remember, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, philosophies, and powers (Eph. 6:12).

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us exactly what to do when we are tempted to worry. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Here’s a thought. “There’s a traffic jam. I am going to be late to work. I may even get fired from my job.” How do you combat this? Be proactive. Call your employer. Tell them, “I am sorry but I will be running a few minutes late.” 99 out of 100 times, they will understand your predicament is out of your control.

What do you do next? In every situation, including your drive to work, present your requests to God. What are your requests? God, help me right now. I am feeling anxious in the car. I might be late for work. Please calm me down. Grant me your peace. You are ultimately in control. Amen.

Here are some other tips to help you overcome anxiety.

  1. Call a friend and share your inner struggle.
  2. Attend church consistently and maintain fellowship with believers who can pray for your situations.
  3. Read the Bible before you start your day.
  4. Listen to Christian radio while driving to work.
  5. Take deep breaths and count slowly from 1-10.
  6. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Enjoy life.
  7. Find a hobby or activity you enjoy doing that will replace fear and worry with recreational joy.
  8. Journal your anxious thoughts and pray for God to take them away.
  9. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
  10. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep (7-8 hours).

Any other ideas? Please feel free to comment below!

Martin Luther Misquoted by Evangelicals

Today, evangelicals defend Luther’s pithy statement: “Justification by faith alone in Christ alone.” Here is what R.C. Sproul, founder of Ligonier ministries, has to say about Luther’s theological accomplishments.

“Luther blazed the rediscovery of justification by faith alone, and he restored the church’s focus to Christ alone.” – R.C. Sproul

But does Sproul accurately portray what Luther meant by justification, or is he, along with other evangelicals, misquoting the Reformer?

Many protestant denominations believe that God grants salvation to each person based solely on the faith of the person, apart from any action taken by that individual. In theological circles, the idea is called sola fide: saved by faith alone.

According to Luther, he would disagree with modern evangelicals on what “faith alone” encompasses. Faith shouldn’t be separated from repentance and baptism. Luther is being misquoted. For instance, in Luther’s Large Catechism, He describes the synergistic relationship between baptism and faith.

[I] affirm that Baptism is no human trifle, but that it was established by God Himself. Moreover, He earnestly and solemnly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved. No one is to think that it is an optional matter like putting on a red coat. It is of greatest importance that we hold Baptism in high esteem as something splendid and glorious. The reason why we are striving and battling so strenuously for this view of Baptism is that the world nowadays is full of sects that loudly proclaim that Baptism is merely an external form and that external forms are useless…. Although Baptism is indeed performed by human hands, yet it is truly God’s own action (1978, pp. 98-99).

While scholars differ on what Luther meant, it’s quite clear his soteriology (study of salvation) involved baptism. If salvation is dependent upon baptism, then was Luther contradicting his own theology: Justification by faith alone in Christ alone?

No. He is properly defining faith. Faith is not spiritually divorced from works (Jam. 2:24). Faith is not physically separate from our actions like Gnostic theologians would like us to believe. Faith clings to the water (Mark 16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:4-6; Gal. 3:27). Faith is faithfulness. Faith is obedience (Acts 2:38). To define faith absent from obedience is no faith at all.

Unfortunately, justification by faith alone in Christ alone has caused many to misinterpret Scripture. While we are saved by faith, our faith is never alone; it is fused with repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). And that’s why Luther himself included faith, repentance, and baptism as part and parcel of the gospel. He understood their symbiotic relationship as it corresponded to the reality of salvation. “Faith clings to the water.” – Martin Luther.

Here is a typical response when an evangelical hears baptism as part and parcel of the gospel.

“Baptism as a necessary means to secure salvation? To require baptism for a believer is adding works to the gospel, which is a foe to grace and an affront to God.”

The key difference between this statement and Luther’s is Luther did not believe baptism was a work of man. In fact, baptism is the opposite of a work. We are baptized in the name of “Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16; Acts 2:28). We are placed into Christ (Gal. 3:27) through His death, burial, and resurrection. It’s all about what He accomplished. Baptism tells the world, “I can’t save myself. I need Christ. The flood of judgment is upon me. Place me in the ark of salvation through your blood. Call on the name of the Lord.” Baptism without faith is just going under the water, but baptism with faith is being born again (John 3; 1 Pet. 3:21).

Personally, I believe the confusion is a result of modern evangelicalism today. Instead of “repenting and being baptized for the forgiveness of sins,” we tell unbelievers to ask Jesus into their hearts for salvation.

First, nowhere in Scripture does it teach us to ask Jesus into our hearts for salvation. Secondly, the sinner’s prayer is a modern form of Gnosticism because it tries to separate the physical and spiritual realities and undermines what the Bible teaches. Thirdly, and most dangerously, if one takes the view that salvation occurs before baptism, then they are treating baptism as a work rather than a promise from God.

If you take the position that salvation comes first and baptism second, then you have to treat baptism as an act of obedience. You are putting it on the other side of the cross alongside sanctification. When you do that, you misguide people to what baptism really means.

I understand why people might say requiring baptism for salvation is a works-based salvation. It’s because evangelicals have been taught baptism is a work of man just like tithing and fasting, rather than a promise from God.

If Martin Luther were here today, I think he would be shocked how often he is misquoted. In fact, in the quote above, when Luther said the “world nowadays is full of sects that loudly proclaim that baptism is merely an external form and that external forms are useless,” I think he is talking to the modern Protestants. I find it ironic that the very ones who defend Luther’s “justification by faith alone in Christ alone” today are similar in theology to the very ones Luther objected to during the Reformation.

The End Times: An Exegetical Study on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

 

The Text on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

(1) Moreover, we urge you brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him (2) not to be quickly shaken in mind or in a constant state of being troubled, neither by a spiritual gift of prophecy, nor a spoken word, not by a letter, as if from us, saying that the Day of the Lord has come. (3) Do not let anyone deceive you in any way, because it will not be until the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition, is revealed. (4) He is the one who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself that he is God. (5) Do you not remember that when I was with you, I was repeatedly telling you these things? (6) And as to the present, you know that which restrains him, that he may be revealed in his time.  (7) For indeed the mystery of lawlessness is already working, only the one who now restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way (8) and then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the breath of his mouth and will bring to an end by the glorious appearance of his coming; (9) whose coming is by the powerful influence of Satan, in all power–both signs and wonders of falsehood (10) and in every deceit of unrighteousness for those that are perishing, this is because they did not love the truth so that they might be saved. (11) And for this reason, God sends them an inward working of delusion to believe what is false, (12) for the purpose that all may be judged, having not believed the truth but delighted in unrighteousness.   

The Interpretation

(2:1)Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοίPaul introduces a change from thanksgiving and prayer in the previous chapter with the preposition δὲ in the phrase Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφο Moreover, we urge you, brothers. This epistolary section is addressed to new believers in Thessalonica in the first chapter, indicating an urgency to listen to the teaching they are about to receive from Paul because false teaching has infiltrated the community (v.2). Furthermore, the Greek preposition ὑπὲρ regarding further clarifies that the members were concerned about whether Jesus was coming soon or not. Paul is going to correct these errors from the Gnostic teachers.

The two nouns, coming τῆς παρουσια and being gatheredεπισυναγωγης are only governed by one article with the conjunction καὶ and are therefore considered to be the same event. This gathering is argued by post-tribulationists to explain both nouns have the same referent because of the TSKS construction. However, some scholars argue that this is a misinterpretation of Sharps rule because the nouns of the verses are impersonal substantives. Therefore, both nouns might not be referring to the same event but could be separate as dispensationalists would argue.

(2:2) εἰς τὸ μὴ ταχέως σαλευθῆναιThe object in this construction, εἰς τὸ μὴ of ερωοτωμεν has two infinitives: σαλευθῆναι, an aorist that looks at the action without completion and θροεῖσθαι, which defines the action as continual: we urge you not to be quickly shaken in mind or in a constant state of being troubled. This suggests that the Thessalonians have either had trouble doctrinally before or Paul is trying to prevent them.  

In the next phrase, μήτε διὰ πνεύματος μήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε διἐπιστολῆς “neither by a spiritual gift of prophecy, nor a spoken word, nor by a letter, these three nouns are functioning as genitives of source. They all clarify the two infinitives σαλευθῆναι and θροεῖσθαι as being the reason for the difficulty in the Thessalonian church. Moreover, the instrument or means διὰ by which these two infinitives are effected by stands together in negative correlation with the triple μήτe being due to μηδὲ.

Paul is stating the teaching they received through the spirit, the word, and the letter did not come from him but false teachers. Through the spirit, πνεύματος, was by means of a spiritual gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:12; 1 Th. 5:19-20). Whatever medium this life giving spirithad on the community, allegedly it had Pauls authority just as the Thessalonians said about the spoken word and the letter they received. Paul intends to correct this mistake.

The construction ἡ ἡμέρα is most commonly used with the meaning the period between sunrise and sunset.However, the construction τοῦ κυρίου is added here as an appointed day for the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. The verb ἐνέστηκεν is used by Paul to negate that it is present and argue for a future day of trouble. Paul describes in the following verses what events must first take place.

(2:3) μή τις ὑμᾶς ἐξαπατήσῃ κατὰ μηδένα τρόπονPauls language here is emphatic: Do not let anyone deceive you in any way.”  First, the verb he prefers ἐξαπατήσῃ, is in the subjunctive, referring to Satans subtle deception (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14). Second, ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ ἔλθῃ “because it will not be if not shall have come is a rare expression of the Aorist subjunctive with the negation μή. This elliptical condition is incomplete because the corresponding apodosis does not follow. Paul could have been using a rhetorical device known as anacoluthon to emphasize his urgency to warn.

Afterwards, Paul states the day of the Lord will not come until three events occur: the apostasy, the man of lawlessness is revealed, and the restrainer removed (v. 6-7). Although the temporal adverb πρῶτον helps to clarify the sequence of events in which the apostasy would be followed, the absence of ἔπειτα (then) verifies these events will occur simultaneously. The difficulty is interpreting how long these events will transpire before the end.

Paul and other New Testament writers express that this time of apostasy will be an increase of wrongdoing and opposition to God (Matt 24:10; Mk. 13:5; Lk. 8:13; Jude 18; 2 Tim. 3:1-9). The leader of this rebellion, ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας, can be translated as the man of sinor of lawlessness(Ps. 89:22). He is identified as the son of destruction ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας not only because he opposesGod but because he exalts himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped (2 Thess. 2:4; Dan. 11:36-37).

Moreover, this genitive of relationship ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας “son of perdition is paralleled to Σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, The Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:16). Christ will be revealed in all his glory and the Antichrist (1 Jn.2:18) will be followed by his destruction in the lake of fire with the rest of Gods enemies (1 Thess. 5:3; Rev. 17:8).

Daniels prophecy in 11:30-45 and Pauls teaching in 2:3-4 are clearly paralleled. They both state that the man of sinwill influence the world with smooth words and deceive those who forsake the holy covenant by acting wickedly, fulfilling the apostasy in 2:3. Then, he will persuade others to become godless and persecute those who remain loyal to Gods covenant ( Dan. 11:32-35).

Finally, this lawless one who will (2:4A) ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν ἢ σέβασμαoppose and exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship,will meet his end under Gods judicial judgment (Dan. 11:45; 2 Thess. 2:8) when he sets himself in the temple as God.  λεγόμενον θεὸ refers to would be gods and the true living God. Paul articulates this phrase to prevent believers from placing the true God in the same position with the idols of the pagan world.

(2:4B) ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσαι, ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἔστιν θεός… Next, the lawless one commits the greatest blasphemy so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself that he is God( Is. 14:14; 47:8; Ezek. 28:9). This is known as the abomination of desolation ( Dan. 9:27; 11:31; Matt. 24:15-16; Mk. 13:14). Scholars interpret this event in (3) ways: Occurred during first and second temple Judaism before its destruction in AD 70, the current rebuilt temple under the new covenant, the church (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:16), or Gods heavenly temple (Ps. 11:4; Acts 7:49; Heb. 8:1-2).

First, since Paul has already stated in his letter that the man of lawlessness has not yet been revealed (v. 3, 6-8), we can eliminate first and second temple Judaism of the past. Second, the noun ναὸν (temple) is made definite by the article and the possessive genitive τοῦ θεοῦ (of God). This explains a physical building was intended, not believers who are the temple of the living God (1 Cor. 6:19). The best clue in the text is the conjunction ὥστε with the infinitive. It indicates tendency or purpose not realized. Therefore, the lawless one will attempt to dethrone Gods heavenly throne not in a physical place, but through the powers of this dark world and through the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).

(2:5) Οὐ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ἔτι ὢν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ταῦτα ἔλεγον ὑμῖνThis is now the fourth time in these two letters where Paul expresses the first person singular and the fourth of six instances where Paul exhorts them to remember what they had been taught (1 Thess. 2:9; 3:4; 4:1; 5:1-2; 2 Thess 3:10). The first person implies that he felt personally responsible for the instruction he gave to the Thessalonians and the writing of the letter (1 Thess. 5:27), even though it was written with the assistance of Timothy and Silvanus. Pauls authority implies that the church already accepted apostolic authority.

Moreover, Paul applies a stative verb ἔλεγον (I said) with a transitive preposition πρὸς(with). πρὸς is the only preposition whose force is overridden by the verb, making it static or an undefined duration: Do you not remember when I was yet with you, I was repeatedly telling you these things?The imperfect tense of ἔλεγον also verifies the view Paul was in Thessalonica longer than the three Sabbath days (Acts 17).

(2:6A) καὶ νῦν τὸ κατέχον οἴδατεκαὶ νῦν τὸ κατέχον οἴδατε, εἰς τὸ ἀποκαλυφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ καιρῷ…“and as to the present, you know that which restrains him, that he may be revealed in his time. The church knew about Pauls previous teaching concerning the apostasy and the man of lawlessness. Also, they knewthe unnamed restrainer (v. 6-7) as either the Roman government, the archangel Michael, an angel of Satan, the Holy Spirit, or the pre-tribulation church.

In Greek, the usage of the neuter gender κατέχον is an abstract expression where a singular appears when one would naturally look for a plural. This verse is synonymous with ὁ κατέχων in the next verse, implying the same object or person. Therefore, the best explanation is this person is Michael and his angels fighting against the adversary (Dan. 10:13; Rev. 12:7). Lastly, this restraint is placed on the man of lawlessness for a purpose that he should be revealed in the time that is right for his revealing.This shows God is in control and the lawless ones fate is determined.

(2:7A) τὸ γὰρ μυστήριον ἤδη ἐνεργεῖται τῆς ἀνομίαςτῆς ἀνομίας is the descriptive genitive in subordinate relation to the subject of the clause τὸ μυστήριον. The text would therefore be rendered: For indeed the mystery of lawlessness is already working.Though this mystery is presently at work in the world, it wont be fully revealed until the second coming of Christ for at least two reasons: God is concealing this truth to harden unbelievers (Rom. 11:25; 2 Thess. 2:11-12) and transform Christians at the appointed time (1 Cor. 15:51), or the mystery is too difficult to grasp because it transcends human understanding.

(2:7B) μόνον ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι ἕως ἐκ μέσου γένηται…“only the one who now restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way.” There is an ellipsis in this passage. μόνον is related to ἕως and identifies a limitation involved with the mystery until the object is removed and the Antichrist is revealed. Though we can only speculate on who this restrainer is, the text implies that the end was not immediate (v. 2). Paul clarifies “the one who restrains” is still actively present in the world, further justifying the parousia has not yet come.

(2:8) καὶ τότε ἀποκαλυφθήσεται ὁ ἄνομος, ὃν ὁ κύριος [Ἰησοῦς] ἀνελεῖ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ καὶ καταργήσει τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ...The conjunction καὶ and adverb τότε denote that Paul is no longer referring to the present but to the future when the lawless one will be revealed and destroyed by the Lord. The phrase τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ is referring to the passage in Isaiah 11:4: “And He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked (NASB).”

Moreover, καταργήσει τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ declares that God will not only destroy the evil one with the breath of His mouth, but also with the appearance of his coming. τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ refers to an unexpected personal appearance of hidden divinity. It is used both of Jesusincarnation (2 Ti. 1:10) and his appearance in judgment (1 Ti. 6:14; 2 Ti. 4:1; 8; Tit. 2:13). This defeat is not only focused on the man of sin but also the destruction of all evil (1 Cor. 15:24), culminating in the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

(2:9) οὗ ἐστιν ἡ παρουσία κατἐνέργειαν τοῦ Σατανᾶ ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει καὶ σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν ψεύδουςThis passage speaks about the coming of the Antichrist. Paul uses the same word ἡ παρουσία from verses 1 and 3, and οὗ is the relative pronoun that refers to the lawless one in verse 8. The παρουσία means the state of being present at a place (1 Cor. 16:17; Phil. 2:12). When Christ returns at the end of the age, he will make his presence felt by the revelation of his power to judge the world (Mt. 24:4; 1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Pet. 3:4). The lawless one will mimic Gods power under the influence of Satan, bringing false power, signs, and wonders to the Earth upon those who are perishing. Since the unrighteous will have no love for the truth, they will be deceived and follow the strong delusion that God permits from Satan (Col. 1:21; Eph. 4:17-19; Rom. 1:25).

Some scholars suggest that πάσῃ and δυνάμει are connected with all three nouns (power, sign, and wonders) and that ψεύδους is to be taken with all three substantives, rendering the phrase: in all power, signs, and wonders of falsehood.Others restrict the adjective πάσῃ and translate the two nouns: In all power–both signs and wonders of falsehood. The latter interpretation is more correct because only God is all-powerful, and Acts 2:22 and Hebrews 2:4 specifies that only Jesus has this unique power: δυνάμεσι καὶ τέρασι καὶ σημείοις οἷς ἐποίησεν διαὐτοῦ ὁ θεὸς ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν, καθὼς αὐτοὶ οἴδατε.

(2:10) καὶ ἐν πάσῃ ἀπάτῃ ἀδικίας τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις, ἀνθὧν τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο εἰς τὸ σωθῆναι αὐτούςThis verse describes the trickery of the lawless one and how it affects the deceived. Not only does he come with false signs and wonders, but also with any other plan to forward his deception. The word for deception, ἀπάτῃ, expresses the idea of seduction that comes from wealth (Mt. 13:22; Mk. 4:19), empty deceit (Col 2:8), pleasure that involves one into sin, or deceptive trickery from an outside force (2 Thess. 2:10). Clearly the wicked will perish not only because of the schemes of the devil, but because they did not have a love for the truth.      

There is only one passage (Lk. 11:42) where ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας the love of the truthis used with the objective genitive and the adverbial negation οὐκ. This means they did not love the truthrather than the truth did not love them.  Jesus Christ, who is the incarnate Truth, has a love for his creation, desiring that no one perish but all come to repentance in faith (2 Pet 3:9). However, when He came to His own people (Jn. 1:11), they did notreceiveἐδέξαντο Him to be saved σωθῆναι. This infinitive communicates the purpose of the main action which we recognize by the preposition εἰς τὸ. Consequently, Paul is declaring that since they do not receive this truth to be saved, their only other option is to perish (1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:15; 4:3).

The verbal participle ἀπολλυμένοις describes the unbelieving world as experiencing destruction by being put to eternal death (Mk. 1:24; Lk. 4:32; Rom. 14:15). This death is described as being lost, fading from beauty and splendor, (Js. 11:11; Rev. 18:14) and of the way of the godless, which is lost in darkness (Ps. 1:6). Moreover, it emphasizes the failure to obtain what one anticipates, such as heavenly rewards (Mt. 10:42; Mk. 9:41) or lose their connection with God just as wine that has lost its flavor or sheep that have gone astray from their shepherd ( Jer. 27:6; Ezek. 34:4; Jn. 6:12).

(2:11) καὶ διὰ τοῦτο πέμπειαὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς ἐνέργειαν πλάνης εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι αὐτοὺς τῷ ψεύδει[And for this reason, God sends them an inward working of delusion so they believe what is false]. Since they have rejected the gospel, God begins to execute judgment upon them by sending a strong delusion so they cant distinguish between the truth of the gospel and the falsity of Satan. Paul comments in other passages where God allows sinners to indulge in the sin and errors they have approved (Ps. 80:12-13; Rom. 1:24; 2 Tim. 4:4) by giving the man of lawlessness the ability to propagate these lies.

God will πέμπει “sendthis strong delusion: The idea here is someone, whether human or transcendent, is dispatched to communicate a message (Lk. 20:11; 2 Cor. 9:3). In the context of this passage, the sending is an idea of moving from one place to another. It takes on the meaning to instruct, commission, or appoint. Therefore, God has appointed this strong delusion just as he did when he hardened the Israelites in the Old Testament (Isa. 6:9-10). For example, God sent a spirit to energize false prophets before Ahab and Jehoshaphat to bring down their alliance (1 Kgs 22:19; 2 Chr. 18:18-22).   

The next phrase, ἐνέργειαν πλάνης, is the only occurrence in the New Testament where πλάνης is a genitive of the object and signifies the aim of active inward energy: the state of being deceived.In addition, the nominative subject ὁ θεὸς, is emphatic, suggesting the reality it is God who is working out his moral purposes through the evil agencies to bring this strong delusion.

Its important to recognize that God does not cause their unbelief, but he sets the stage for them to demonstrate it. For example, an undercover cop doesnt participate in the evil of setting someone up, he simply pretends to follow so that the trap is set to capture the evildoer. Genuine believers will not be deceived in this way because we have been saved through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (NASB v.13).

(2:12) ἵνα κριθῶσιν πάντες οἱ μὴ πιστεύσαντες τῇ ἀληθείᾳ ἀλλὰ εὐδοκήσαντες τῇ ἀδικίᾳ…[in order that all may be judged, having not believed the truth but delighted in unrighteousness]. The purpose of πέμπει in the previous verse is contingent upon the purpose in εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι. Therefore, the ἵνα κριθῶσιν πάντες clause depends on εἰς τὸ: that all might be judged.Most scholars syntactically agree that this is a purpose clause because God is sending the delusion to fulfill the destiny of both the righteous and the unrighteous.

Furthermore, the aorist active participle πιστεύσαντες “having believedis used eight times to describe believers (Mk. 16:16; 2 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 4:3), and negatively, of those who did not believe (2 Thess. 2:12; Jude 5). Its considered an independent substantival, with the aspectual force of gnomic and continual: everyone who continually does not believe.

The aorist participle ὐδοκήσαντες and the dative noun τῇ ἀδικίᾳ are an example of the instrumental dative case of cause.The syntactical structure expresses the idea of cause, motive, or occasion and changes between the idea of association and means: delighted in unrighteousness. Unlike believers, who are producing the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5), the wicked are sowing corruption and reaping the consequences. The use of these two aorist participles strengthen the idea that Paul was thinking about the path they had chosen when they rejected the gospel more than the lifestyle that resulted from the choices they made.

These warnings by Paul were a sober reminder to the Thessalonians not to be shaken in mind or alarmed by deception (v. 2-3) so they would avoid perishing with the world. His purpose in admonishing the Thessalonians was to care for their souls. In the remaining verses (v. 13-16), Paul reminds them they have been saved by the truth of the gospel for the glory of the Lord, who loves and comforts their hearts.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barker, Kenneth and Kohlenberger, John. Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.

Barton, John, and Muddiman. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Baugh, Steven M. A First John Reader: Intermediate Greek Reading Notes and Grammar.

Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing Company, 1999.

Beale, G.K. 1-2 Thessalonians: IVP New Testament Commentary. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2003.

Black, David Alan. Its Still Greek to Me. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998.

Bridges, Linda. Smyth and Helwys Bible Commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Macon: Smyth and Helwys Publishing, 2008.

Buttrick, George, Knox, John, Scherer, Paul, Bowie, Walter, Terrein, Samuel, and Harmon, Nolan. The Interpreters Bible. New York: Abingdon Press, 1955.

Carson, D.A., France, R.T., Motyerand, J.A., Wenham, G.J. New Bible Commentary. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1994.

Carson, D.A. and Green, Gene. The Letters to the Thessalonians. Vol. 12. Leicester: Eerdmans Publishing House, 2002.

Danker, Frederick William. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early

Christian Literature, 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Elwell, Walter Evangelical Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989.

Fee, Gordon The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2009.

Frame, James Everett. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul to the

Thessalonians. Greenwood: The Attic Press, Inc., 1979.

Holmes, Michael. 1 and 2 Thessalonians: The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Press, 1998.

Kostenberger, Andreas, Kellum, Scott L., and Quarles, Charles L. The Cradle, the Cross, and the

Crown. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2009.

Longman III, Tremper, and Garland, David The Expositors Bible Commentary: Ephesians-Philemon. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Press, 2006.

Menken, Maarten J.J. 2 Thessalonians. London: Routledge Press, 1994.

Moulton, James Hope, Howard, Wilbert Francis, and Turner, Nigel. A Grammar of New

Testament Greek. Vol. 3. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1908.

Robertson, A.T. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research.

Nashville: Broadman, 1934.

Shogren, Gary Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervans Press, 2012.

Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Tappan: Fleming Revell Company, 1940.

Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New

Testament with Scripture, Subject, and Greek Word Indexes. Grand Rapids: Zondervan,

1996.

Wannamaker, Charles A. The Epistle to the Thessalonians: A Commentary on the Greek Text.

Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990.

Williams, David New International Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992.

Teaching Handout: Summary of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Introduction: The culture attempts to influence our beliefs about the apocalypse end times.What are some rumors you have heard before concerning the end of the world? How did this make you feel (upset, nervous, skeptical)?

Transition: The Thessalonians had also been alarmed about rumors that the Day of the Lord was already present and Paul writes to instruct them.

Background of 2 Thessalonians:

1.) Authorship: The Apostle Paul [possibly Silvanus and Timothy]

2.) Date: A.D. 52-54; immediately following his first letter to the Thessalonians

3.) Destination of the Letter: To the church at Thessalonica

The Purpose of the Letter:

1.) The persecution from the Jewish mobs and others in the city had grown worse, causing the Christian community to despair. He wanted to write to comfort them in Christ (2 Thess. 2:16-17).

2.) Because of their increased persecution, false prophets were convincing them that the end was already present, even writing a false letter (2:2)

3.) The nearness of Christs return caused believed to neglect their vocational responsibilities. Paul writes to not walk in idleness but to continue in their vocations (2 Thess. 2:11).  

Outline of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12: (taken from Michael Martin)

Regarding the Day of the Lord (2:1-17)

 

  • The issue identifies (2:1-2)
  • The Eschatological error corrected (2:3-10)
  • Rejection or acceptance of the Truth (2:11-15)
  • Concluding prayer (2:16-17)

 

Concluding Observations

 

  • How did Paul address the Thessalonians?
  • What misconceptions do we have about the end of the age?
  • Who do you think the man of lawlessness is based on the text?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Thessalonians that we can apply or avoid in our life?

The Ingenuity of the Heart Palpates God’s Handiwork

Did you know the heart circulates blood through at least 1,500 miles of vessels in your body? In order to achieve this feat, the heart needs to keep beating 100,000 times per day.

Can you imagine how much energy and friction the heart produces? That’s why God designed a special lubricant inside the pericardial sac that allows the heart to move around with little friction. If it were not for this protected sac, the heart would create enough heat to kill us.

Here is another interesting fact. Do you ever need to tell your heart to keep beating? No. The answer is because the heart is part of the autonomic nervous system, which continually transmits signals without fail. It is intelligently designed to generate these electrical signals to the muscles in the upper chamber for maximal equilibrium of the body. I am glad I don’t have to tell my heart to beat every second so I can concentrate on writing this paragraph.

Paul was right when he said, “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen in nature (Rom. 1:20).” Humans, who are part of the natural world, are a testimony to the ingenuity of God.

Despite the ingenuity of the heart’s design, it won’t last forever. There will come a day when our heart stops. Thankfully, the same God who designed our hearts to sustain us physically has given us a spiritual heart that will last for eternity.

He gives us these encouraging words in Ezekiel 36:26: “I [God] will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Do you believe this? You may have a healthy heart today, but is your spiritual life in tip-top shape? If not, go to the cross. Ask God to pardon you of your sickness. He tells us in Acts 2:38 to “repent and be baptized” for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is no greater news than this!

Adapted from Heart-Constantly Beating Death by Heather Brinson Bruce

Why Be Anxious When God Is All You Need?

“But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:19

I will be the first to admit: I worry. Anxiety oozes out of me, especially before take off on an airplane. There’s even times when I sincerely doubt God is all I need. But regardless of what I think or feel, God’s word never lies. He “shall supply all our needs.”

Do you believe this? If you lost your job tomorrow, would God be enough? If you were diagnosed with terminal cancer, does this passage no longer apply? Of course it does.

God is with us every step of the way. No matter our circumstances or difficulties in life, he surely promised this: “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).”

The other day I was complaining to my better half–my wife, about finances, ministry, school, and family. After my two-minute tirade, she gently asked me these questions. Do you have a house? “Yes” I replied. Do you go to bed hungry? “Of course not” I retorted. Does your family support what you do? “Absolutely.”

It dawned on me that God has always supplied all of my needs according to his riches. The only thing that changed was my attitude; not the situation. I believe when we become anxious, bitter, and pessimistic, our outlook on life is what makes our situation depressing. It’s all a matter of perspective. If we perceive our circumstances as the glass half-full rather than half empty, we realize God hasn’t moved at all. It’s us who need to change.

Whenever you feel anxious or doubt God’s goodness, take a moment to write down all the blessings in your life. My list would be as follows: Thank you God for my health. Thank you for giving me the financial opportunity to attend school. Thank you Jesus for my wife and kids who love me.

Take a moment to write 5 examples of how God has blessed you or taken care of your needs. It is my sincere hope and prayer that you will look up and never forget there is a loving Father who loves you more than you can even imagine!

As a Christian, I can’t Vote for Clinton or Trump.

 

As a Christian, I can’t support Trump’s misogynistic worldview, Clinton’s age-based discrimination of the unborn, or Johnson’s extreme view of limited government, which is borderline anarchy. Thus, I have decided to vote for a write-in candidate for President, Evan McMullin. He is a conservative leader with conservative values. You can find out more about him here. 

When I told my Facebook friends I wasn’t going to vote for Donald Trump, this is what one individual told me: “You will be handing the future of the Supreme Court, our boarders and, sanctity of life over to Hillary Clinton…..simple as that.”

Here is how I responded: I will not be handing over the sanctity of life, our borders, and the future of the Supreme Court over to Hillary Clinton. The Republican party bears that responsibility.

I am deeply concerned with the sanctity of life, but the way to win this battle is not solely through the political process. If conservatives are deeply concerned, then the way to combat it in Kokomo is to follow your local pro-life board. They are always looking for help. Call them up and ask to take a lead.

Second, build relationships with broken sinners who see the value of parenting a precious child. Visit them before they walk into an abortion clinic. If they already performed an abortion and regret it, buy them lunch and pray for healing.

Third, create a website and blog about the problems relating to abortion and how to bring awareness. Speakfortheunborn.com is a great example of a blog you can mimic in your local area. Crowdfunding is a great resource to use in order to generate funds to expand.

Fourth, continue to support local agencies like the Pregnancy Resource Center. I know your church has done a great job supporting this great agency, but maybe there is an opportunity to do even more. You can always write a letter to the Editor and share your heart on these issues.

As Christians, we are called not only to show up, vote, and stand for our convictions, but also pour our lives into hurting people who desperately need the grace of God. That includes everyone! In the end, each one of us will give an account for how we responded in this election. I won’t tell you who to vote for and I think there are good arguments on both sides. But as for me, this is what I have chosen.

Another friend of mine told me that not endorsing Donald Trump is like a neighborhood pal that wanted to play baseball with the rest of us but his team lost badly, he became upset and went home even though we said we were playing.

Here is how I responded to this argument. Good thoughts. I agree with you that loyalty is important. However, what if you found out the rest of your baseball team was bullying other kids in the neighborhood without your awareness. Even though you made a pact in the beginning to play until the end, would it be right for you to stay loyal to these friends? The only way to remain loyal is to ask your friends to apologize and change their behavior. But after the second presidential debate, I believe Trump made it clear he hasn’t changed. I hope he does, but at this point, the trajectory only looks worse for him. Surely I will pray for him, but he should have been removed from the team to protect the Republican party’s reputation. The Republican party will never be the same again.

I understand the emotional difficulty it has become to choose the right president for this year’s election. I still believe it’s vital you vote for somebody, but remember. As Christians, Jesus is our President. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. While we serve this great nation America, it’s not our permanent home. Therefore, let’s be good citizens of the United States as we continue praising Jesus as the King of our hearts. God bless you all.

Dear Church, Carry One Another’s Burdens!

 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).” 

The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to the Church in Galatia. He knows church life can get messy. Church is not a place for the righteous, but a hospital for sick people. It’s a community for broken sinners who desperately need the forgiveness and grace of God. Therefore, as Christians, we must carry one another’s burdens just like doctors must heal their patients. Of course, the primary physician is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Moreover, the Bible says when we carry one another’s burdens, we will fulfill the law of Christ. Really? How can we fulfill the law of Christ? Remember what Jesus said: The law is summed up by these two commands: love God and love neighbor (Mark. 12:30-31). Therefore, when we love one another deeply through the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives reflect the very one who fulfilled the law for us. So we ourselves can’t fulfill the law, but the Holy Spirit within us can (Eph. 2:7-9).

The Apostle Paul makes it clear it’s only Christ who perfectly obeyed the law.”Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified (Gal. 2:16).”

At first glance, it seems like a contradiction. Paul is saying we can fulfill the law by carrying one another’s burdens, but then he says by the works of the law no one will be justified. So what is he saying? I think Paul means that when we carry one another’s burdens, we reflect the “image of God.” As Jesus said in Matthew 25:40:”The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40).” So when we carry one another’s burdens, we are bearing the image of the one who fulfilled the law by carrying all of our sins on the cross. Praise the Lord!

Here are a few ideas you can do to carry your neighbor’s burdens.

  1. When they share your burden with you, don’t say: “I will pray for you brother.” Instead, say, “Let me pray for you right now!”
  2. Write them a letter, encouraging them to continue fighting through their trials. Remind them that all things work together for their good according to Scripture.
  3. Think of a way you can serve them. If they are elderly, go and rake leaves. If there are busy Moms in your congregation, start up a bible study at the church and offer free childcare.
  4. Meet weekly with a brother or sister over a cup of coffee. Read a book together for accountability purposes and end in prayer.

There are many way a church can carry one another’s burdens. If you have any additional ideas, please feel free to comment below. Have a blessed day!