Promise to the Persecuted

Promise to the Persecuted

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:11
Date: 09/15/2012  Lesson: 11
"The second coming of Jesus is the culimnation of all Christian hope."
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. Wherever you are joining us from - a very, very special welcome. I hope you've had a wonderful week wherever you are. And you are ready to sing some songs and study the Sabbath school lesson with us because we are ready here at Sacramento central. Whether you are listening here on the radio, watching live on our website at 'saccentral.

org' or on the various television networks, through dvd - however you are joining us, welcome. Pull out your hymnals and sing along with us. Our first request - 'when we all get to heaven' - this is a good one. What a day of rejoicing that will be - #633 - this is a request from jizelle and patrick in antigua and barbuda, greg in ArKansas, lindsay, cathy and family in australia, brittany, victoria, and greaves in California, ena in Canada, camilo in colombia, lennart in denmark, nicola and eremasi in germany, jonathan in ghana, corrine and cheryl in india, molly in Iowa, viveca in the netherlands, Esther in the netherlands antilles, randy in Ohio, vera, robert and rodolfo in the Philippines, jerlyn in saudi arabia, kenny, thelma, and Micah in seychelles, felia jane in south korea, shafana in taiwan, vikki, veronica and stephen in trinidad and tobago, arnold and relyn in united arab emirates, sameer in the united kingdom, and joy in the u.s. Virgin islands.

We want to hear each and every one of you singing loudly with us. We're going to do all four stanzas - #633. This past week I've been thinking a lot about heaven and I've been talking to my little boys about it and they get excited because, you know, they want to play with all the animals and that's where their minds are and that's wonderful - it excites me. But I've been thinking about walking on the streets of gold. And then I think, 'oh, I just want to sing with the angels - I want to hear the angels sing - forget about singing with them, I want to hear them.

And then, I think about, 'but we're going to see Jesus.' And that is the most exciting thing. And if you don't know him down here on this earth, how would you ever know him in heaven? So I hope that that is the desire in each of your hearts today forever until Jesus comes, so when he does come you will know him and you will be excited to go home with him. If you have a favorite song that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming program, it's very simple. Go to our website - 'saccentral.org', click on the 'contact us' link and you can send in your favorite requests. Today, our new song was requested by absolutely no one.

So we're going to learn it and I have a really interesting story to tell you about it. It's #22 - as we are working our way through the hymnal singing songs that we don't know, this one is very interesting. It was written by the music director in John calvin's church in geneva, switzerland and he worked there from 1551 and his name was bourgeois - and the interesting thing about this was - I have this handy little book called 'a companion to the seventh day adventist hymnal' so this is where I'm getting the information from. 'All was not easy for bourgeois under calvin's stern discipline. He experienced the gamut from enjoying full citizen's rights and exemption from serving on duty to being jailed for making unauthorized changes to some of the tunes.

' So back then it was all gregorian chants, we all sing a cappella in one part - blah, blah, blah, okay? 'After bourgeois was scolded, calvin secured his release. The alterations that caused his arrest were later officially sanctioned; however, he was unable to get the approval of the genevan authorities to introduce part singing in public worship' - which we just take for granted. We sing in four parts, we love the harmony, that's great - but he got into trouble for that. 'And so he returned to paris where he could have more freedom and at this point he seemed to vanish from sight and nothing more is heard of him' - but we have this song in our hymnal - #22 which has four-part harmony and we're going to sing this one today and learn it. I just thought that was very interesting.

You forget what it was like back then and we just take our singing for granted - beautiful songs with four-part harmony. God is our song - #22. That last stanza - when it says, 'God is our silence when no songs are sung' - when you are in that place where you can't sing - you're grieving - whatever it is that's paining your heart and you can't find the words to sing, God is there in that silence. I like that. Let's bow our heads for prayer.

Father in Heaven, thank you so much for giving us these beautiful songs that we're discovering in our hymnal. You gave the words and the music to people hundreds of years ago and they can still touch our hearts today. Thank you so much for speaking to us in the different ways that you do through Your Word, through songs, the Holy Spirit. Father, keep touching our hearts. Keep talking to us and may we always have ears so that we can listen to you.

Please don't let the things of this world get so loud that they drown out your voice. Be with us as we open up your word and we study together. In Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson study is going to be brought to us at this time by Pastor Doug Batchelor. He is our senior pastor here at Sacramento central seventh day adventist church.

It's good to learn a new song. When I became a Christian every song in the hymnal was a new song - for me. I didn't grow up singing those songs. Welcome. I've been traveling a little bit so I've not been here to teach and I'm glad to be able to come back and study the book of Thessalonians - or 1 and 2 Thessalonians with you - and good to see you all again.

I want to welcome those who are part of the extended class that study with us. We've got people all over the world - it's always fun to see the folks who are calling in the song requests from literally around the globe and I admire when debbie or jolyne try to announce or repeat the names of these people - because some, I think, are tough for us with our American tongue. I want to welcome those who are members of the Sacramento central church - also scattered around the country and some other parts of the world. And I should mention from time to time, if you're in that category - where your only connection with the church is through maybe satellite or the internet because you're off at some mission station or there's no local church you can attend, we have a mechanism where you can be part of this church family. If you'd like to know about that, just go to 'saccentral.

org' and you'll contact our church office and melissa - pastor white - and we'll talk you - type you - through the process of how you can be one of our online members. That's 'saccentral.org'. With each lesson we try to offer a study guide. We want to keep you reading good, inspired material and this is a book that goes along with our lesson today. It's called 'compromise, conformity, and courage'.

'Compromise, conformity, and courage' - I could hold it up like they do on tv. And if you'd like a free offer of that, just go to # - ask for offer #774 - call the phone number 866-study-more - -788-3966 - Did I mention it's free? So we'll send that to you. After you read it then share it with somebody. We're going to get into - for the first time today - 2 Thessalonians - 2 Thessalonians. We've been studying, for the first roughly ten sections in this book, background for Thessalonians and then just Thessalonians, and now we're going to delve into Thessalonians and in our lesson 11 today, we're just dealing with the first 12 verses of the first chapter of Thessalonians.

And what I would like to do is maybe give you an outline of the book - because this will be the first time we're getting into the book and then we'll delve into that chapter - I'll read it with you and we'll talk about some of the different components in that lesson. Oh, and by the way, for your Sabbath school lesson - this is lesson #11 and it is dealing with the subject - a lot of things but specifically with persecution. 'Promise to the persecuted' and that's lesson #11. Now, the 2 book of Thessalonians also written by Paul - probably written from corinth - it is probably written shortly after he had written 1 Thessalonians. You might wonder, 'why are these two books written so close together - back-to-back? Well, one thing is they sort of know that they were written close to each other because when you look at the travels of Timothy and Paul and silas, they never stayed in one place very long and the fact that they are still in corinth gives us the idea that the first letter made it to the Thessalonians, they read it, and whoever the courier was they saw there were some other issues happening there - maybe the leaders of the church said, 'you know, we still have some other problems' and there's still some misunderstandings even after your first letter - they told the courier, who went back to Paul and Timothy and silas and said, 'oh, we've got to clarify a few things.

' So they sent 2 Thessalonians. We'll get into what some of those other things were they needed a little more clarification on when we study the lesson. It's really broken up into three sections. It's a perfect outline for a letter. First it has encouragement in persecution, thanksgiving.

Second: explanation of the day of the Lord. Third: exhortation to the church. Now, he's got to say some tough things in the letter, but the first thing he does is says, 'I thank God for you.' And then he thanks them for the good things they're doing. And then at the end he exhorts them - he says, 'now there are some areas where we need improvement. And you know, that's always the best way to approach somebody in a letter is first say, 'you know, I thank God for you and I appreciate this.

' You don't want to ever start a conversation with someone saying, 'you know, you're doing something wrong.' First you win their hearts - you affirm them - you approve them, and then you get into some of the things where they need to maybe make some positive changes. So Paul does that - very brilliant the way he writes the letter. Now I'm just going to read with you - I'll read it for you - Thessalonians chapter - no, I'm sorry - 2 Thessalonians chapter 1, verses 1 through 12 - and then we're going to back up and start going through the lessons. And, you know, the reason we do this is theoretically, by the time we end this quarterly, we've at least read through and 2 Thessalonians. So here we go, "Paul, sylvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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, 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, 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; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 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. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he comes, in that day, to be glorified in his saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed." All right, so - oh, I left two verses out - sorry. "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, 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." Okay, that's the first verses. Now let's go to the lesson and we're going to try and break it down. I just wanted to read through it and that's what we're going to study today, so if I run out of time - and if I prepare my lesson the way I should, I shouldn't run out of time.

I get a lot of letters - I got another one this week. 'Pastor Doug, you always run out of time. Could we have longer classes?' Someone actually said, 'could we go 90 minutes?' And I thought, 'why, you don't go 90 minutes in your church?' Most churches - but the idea is that you want to study so that you have leftover material. What you don't want to do is run out of material so that's one reason we seem to run out of time. Okay.

Memory verse - 2 Thessalonians , verse 11 - and if you'd like to say it with me, this is from the english standard version - are you ready? "To this end we always pray for you that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power." Oh, I like it better in the King James - but that's it anyway. All right, getting into the study itself, it begins with - first it has fresh greetings - and I've got some verses I'll ask you to read. Where are the microphones? Okay, ray has one. Do we have one on the other side? You have one there. Okay.

Somebody look up for me Thessalonians - yes, I mean first - 1 Thessalonians 4, verse 17. Now who has that? We gave out one - right over here. Dave is here visiting. Hi dave - dave boatwright is an old friend - don't stand up to read, we're not ready for you. Sit down and we'll get the camera focused on you.

He's so excited. First I want to lead up to that. Thessalonians 1:1 and verse 2 - we're going to read the opening again. "Paul, sylvanus" - does everyone know sylvanus is just silas - it's the same name, it's more official. "Paul, sylvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

" Now, the purpose for this letter is that they've run into some other problems that came back probably from the courier. Some of these problems dealt with he talked so much in Thessalonians about the imminence of God's coming - some of you, for instance, it says in Thessalonians 4:15, "we say to you by the word of the Lord that we who are still living at the coming of the Lord will not go before those who are sleeping." Now, what would that lead a person to believe? Well, that some of those maybe who are right there alive back then 1900 years ago in thessalonia were going to be alive when the Lord came. Paul wasn't saying you who are hearing this, he's saying, there will be some who are alive when the Lord comes and there are some who are dead when the Lord comes and he explains the scenario of how they're raised in the sequence. All right now David, go ahead read 1 Thessalonians 4:17. This is from the King James.

I'm kind of like you, I invested a lot of time in memorizing king James so I like that. It makes it easier. Yes. "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." So there's another example of where they're talking about what's going to happen to us when the Lord comes? And they had become so excited about that - some of them had quit their jobs to quit working their fields - they're wanting others in the church to support them while they were doing evangelism in town and Paul, in 2 Thessalonians, has to address that. We'll get to that in just a minute.

Again, 1 Thessalonians 5:4 - we're looking at the first letter to understand why he's writing the second. Thessalonians 5:4, "but you, my brothers, are not in dark that that day overtake you like a thief." And verse 6, "so then let us not take our rest as others do, but let us be self-controlled and awake." He wanted them to be busy - to be working - but they also had work to do. That's why he says - somebody look it up for me - Thessalonians 3:10 - who's got that - hand right back here - you got that? We'll get you a microphone. You know, the Bible tells us a lot about occupy until I come. Jesus said a lot about his second coming, but does he tell us to just sit on our hands? Not to plan ahead? Someone said one time that the best way for a Christian to live is to live a holy life like you might die tomorrow and plan like you might be here 1,000 years.

So if you're going to build a house - and I know, I've learned the hard way - don't build a house saying the Lord's going to come in 20 years so I don't have to build it well, because then years will pass and the house is falling down. Do everything so that the Lord is proud of you when he comes and burns it up. So - you know what I'm saying? That you've done a good job and - because you don't know how long. I looked at a picture of the wailing wall last night and I thought to myself, 'that was well built.' You know, they're showing part of the wall that was not only built by herod the great but part of it probably by Solomon. And after nearly 3,000 years - ,900 years - still there.

Built it well. So a Christian needs to do everything unto the Lord, do it well, live a holy life like every day could be your last but don't be lazy and say, 'well the Lord's coming so' - all right, that's our verse. You're going to read that for us. "For even when we were with you we gave you orders saying, 'if any man does no work let him not have food." He that does not work shall not eat. Now, of course, there are some people that might have been handicapped or old and infirm and Paul addresses that but they had people who were healthy, wealthy - no, they weren't wealthy - they were healthy and fine and they were just leaving their farms and saying, 'well, the Lord's coming any day - no sense in planting the crops and doing the work - I'll let others do that - I'm just going to preach.

' Paul said everybody ought to work - matter of fact, he said, 'we gave you that example. When we were among you we worked. We were not being a burden to anybody.' And so that's another reason he had to write this letter - to say, 'look, you need to be industrious and keep working. All right, and then we've got 'Paul's thanksgiving' is the second section for the second day and that's 2 Thessalonians , verses 3 and 4. Someone look up for me Matthew 10, verse 22.

Got a hand right here. And I'll read this for you, Matthew 2 - I'm sorry - Thessalonians 2 and this is chapter 1, verses 3 and 4. I said that all wrong. Thessalonians 1, verses 3 and - that's what happens when you're a dyslexic preacher - you just - you get all those Numbers mixed up. "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your" - notice - "patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure.

" Now the title of this lesson is 'promise to the persecuted'. First he talks about boasting - isn't boasting a sin? Well, he's not boasting about himself and even Paul did that one time - he said, 'I'll speak like a fool now and it's going to sound like I'm boasting but there's a purpose in it.' He said, 'I was a jew of the jews. I've been beaten this many times and shipwrecked and in the water three days.' He said, 'I'm just letting you know that I've really suffered for what I believe.' Well, here he says, 'I'm boasting in you.' He's kind of talking like a parent that is well pleased with their child. Come on, 'fess up. How many of you who are parents, when your kids accomplish something, you don't mind telling others about it.

Is that sinful or is that normal for you to be well pleased with some accomplishment of your child? And Paul is saying, 'these churches - they're like my children and I'm telling the other churches about, 'oh how things are so good now in the thessalonian church.' And they're so faithful and they're growing and doing evangelism' - and he's talking about all the good they're doing and so it's a sanctified kind of boasting if you will. But what are they - what are they going through? Patience and faith in persecutions and tribulations that you endure. Now, somebody read for me - I think jo - you're going to read Matthew 10, verse 22? "Matthew 10:22, "and you will be hated by all for my name's sake, but he who endures to the end will be saved." Now, this is the core of really what this lesson is all about. The church there in thessalonia, it was on a crossroads in the roman empire and there was a large Jewish synagogue there. They got some persecution from the other faiths in town.

They got a lot of persecution even from the jews, who they had the most in common with, theologically, and some of that persecution actually had to do with maybe property being confiscated, being asSaulted, being derided, losing their jobs, all kinds of challenges. Have you ever felt like you were persecuted? You know, sometimes a person looks at us cross-eyed and we think, 'I'm suffering for Jesus.' And, you know, everyone likes to be liked. Just this couple weeks ago I was invited to a Christian function in Washington, d.c. With some of the mucky mucks in politics and other religious leaders and one of the religious leaders found out I was coming and said, 'well, you know, he's a seventh day adventist.' And I was uninvited. Eh, that's not bad persecution, is it? I slept okay that night.

I mean, that happens periodically. Have you ever, because of your specific denomination - have you ever felt like you were slighted or persecuted? And it's happened many times where I'm on a plane or I'm traveling and I'll meet somebody and, you know, 'what do you do?' And 'I'm a pastor.' And, you know, natural next question is 'what church?' And I say, 'oh, well I'm a seventh day adventist.' And sometimes they say, 'oh, that's interesting' or 'I've got a friend who's an adventist' or 'what do you believe?' And they're honestly open and sometimes they go, 'oh.' And it's - 'you're one of them. You eat different and go to church on a different day' and so you feel a little persecuted because of your faith for those things. But that's not bad. You know, there's a website - a Christian ministry called 'voice of the martyrs' and I don't mind sharing that if you look at their website they just list some of the more recent things going on around the globe where Christians are really being persecuted for their faith.

We don't have a lot of persecution in North America - a little bit. You know the persecution that Christians get in North America is generally a lot of Christians are sort of derided and persecuted because it's like you can be anything in the world in North America, but don't be a Christian. If you're a real Bible Christian then you're considered, you know, ignorant and it's just not very cool. You can have all kinds of weird occultic spiritualistic ideas and they'll put you in the headlines saying, 'isn't this neat?' But if you say 'I'm a Bible Christian' they'll turn the camera somewhere else. So, in that sense, we might be persecuted, but you go to other parts of the world - for instance - July 6th, kenya africa - this year.

'A church was attacked - 17 were killed - at least 17 Christians were killed in simultaneous attacks on two churches - sorry - near the somalia border on Sunday, July 1. A group of masked assailants launched grenades and opened fire with asSault rifles on a roman catholic church and an african inland church.' So here you've got a protestant and catholic church both being attacked because they are Christians. And 17 killed - more than 40 were wounded in the attacks simply because - and isn't that interesting - catholics and protestants. North korea - do you know if you're a Christian in north korea you're in big trouble. Now in south korea, what they do to try to get the Word of God to those in north korea who aren't allowed to read the Bible or share the Bible is they waited for a windy day when a typhoon came - when it was overcast and the soldiers on the border couldn't see - and it says, 'on July 19th this year the balloon team launched, near paju, south korea, 30 balloons carrying new testaments.

' - These are large balloons and when the wind is right they let them go, they go across the border, and they eventually land and the poor people get them and they have to hide their Bibles. So the south korean Christians are trying to reach the north korean Christians. You can't really call it an air raid so they can't retaliate with bombs - you're just sending balloons over with Bibles. There's a clever idea - with balloons with Bibles. But that's because they're not allowed to read the Word of God and if you're a Christian there and you're caught with a Bible it's serious consequences.

So if one of those balloons comes down and you get one, you need to hide it. Iran - iranian revolutionary court recently upheld pastor farshid fathi's six-year sentence for political offenses, forcing him to complete a prison term - he's being kept in prison for over six years - it started 18 months ago. He was arrested just for Christian work. They call it 'political activities'. You've probably heard of Christians who are being imprisoned in iran and in other islamic countries - so when it talks about persecution and we read it in the Bible, I don't think most of us in north America really can relate to the kind of persecution they went through for their faith.

Now, is persecution all bad? No, it says in the Bible - Matthew 5, verse 10 - somebody look up for me 2 Timothy, :12 - who's got that? Timothy - we've got a hand right back here - elizabeth - you know the man with the microphone. I'll call on you in just a second, but let me read this for you. Matthew 5 - if you've got a Bible this is red-letter - Jesus said, following the beatitudes, "blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake" - blessed - "for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you" - this is the longest of the beatitudes - "blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven.

For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matter of fact, Jesus said 'woe unto you when all men speak well of you for so they did of the false prophets.' But the true prophets - you've read the story before of micaiah and what happened to him - all the prophets of baal were telling ahab and jehoshaphat 'rah, rah, rah - go attack the syrians. All things will be well.' Micaiah, he came and ruined the party and said, 'no, they won't go well.' And he was put in prison for telling the truth. And sometimes, if you stand up and tell the truth - even though everyone around you is saying something different - you might be considered a party pooper but Jesus is pleased with you. He said, 'rejoice if you're persecuted for righteousness sake.' All right, go ahead, read for us - what did I tell you? Timothy 3:12? Yes. It says, "yes, and all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

" All who want to live Godly. Now, if we don't have very much persecution in this country could it be because there's not a lot of Godly living in the churches? If we had more Godly living I think we'd be more of a threat to the enemy and we'd probably see more persecution. You don't mind my telling you the truth do you? But if we were really living holy lives that were a rebuke to this wicked culture that we're in, it would be a threat to the devil because the Gospel spreads when people are really living out their faith - and you'd see, I think, more real persecution. But because we're all sort of nominal Christians - we're sort of in the Lukewarm category, we don't threaten anybody and the devil says, 'I don't mind you going to church. You just stay there and enjoy yourself.

I'll even make you more comfortable and get us preachers who will preach smooth things and say, 'peace, peace' and you could stay right there and take a nap.' The devil doesn't care. But if you start living Godly and you start fighting against sin and temptation and you start experiencing revival in your life - trying to spread the real Gospel - the devil's not going to sit back, you will be persecuted. It might take him awhile to drum up his organization but he won't let that go for very long before you will meet with real opposition. And he might persecute you - and I'm not saying there's nobody in the country living that way, there are. Sometimes he persecutes them through peer pressure.

Sometimes the devil persecutes them with trials that come upon them, like job. There's all different ways that the devil might choose to persecute - it's not just the politicians that put you in jail or militants that are going to come and shoot up your church. There's all different ways the devil persecutes those who are living out their faith. Corinthians 13, verse 7 - now you notice we just read here in Thessalonians 'patience and faith, persecutions and tribulations that you endure.' Notice that word, endure. I said in 1 Corinthians 13 - in that wonderful chapter about love - what is one of the characteristics of love? 'Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

' So when we love the Lord we may have to endure some persecution. What did Jesus say in both - well, we just read this - Matthew 10 - 'you'll be hated for my name's sake - he that endures to the end will be saved.' It's also in Mark, 'he that endures to the end' - there'll be some persecution you're going to have to endure. I would much prefer being saved and not having to endure any persecution. But the Bible tells us if you really follow Jesus - well, I ought to let Christ speak for himself. There's some other verses here.

John 15 - somebody look up for me John 17:14 - who has that? Right here. You'll be next - I'm first. John 15, verses 18-19 - red letter - Jesus speaking here, "if the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

" Now you might have to ask this question, does the world hate you? Or are you pretty comfortable in the world? Now, I'm not suggesting that if you're comfortable that you go out and just try to be obnoxious for Jesus until everybody hates you, but it is a sobering question - you have some people that say, 'I'm being persecuted.' And the only reason they're being persecuted is because they're just being obnoxious. And, you know, some people say, 'oh, it's because of my faith.' And it's not because of their faith, it's because they're just really difficult. the Lord wants us to be loving, and tactful, and diplomatic, and kind, and good. But you live a holy life and persecution will come. But you have to ask yourself, 'if the world loves me, am I sharing my faith? Am I agitating for Jesus a little bit?' I think it was billy Sunday, once - he got done preaching a revival sermon and a man came up to him and said, 'pastor Sunday, you're really rubbing the cat's fur the wrong way.

' - Because billy Sunday was preaching against alcohol and they had a saloon in that town. And billy Sunday said, 'I'm not rubbing the cat's fur the wrong way' - he said - 'the cat's going the wrong direction. If the cat would turn around I'd be rubbing the cat's fur the right way.' All right. Read for us John 17:14 please. John 17:14, "I have given them Your Word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

" If we're preaching the real Word of God, it's not going to be embraced by the world in general. Jesus said, 'I came not to send peace but a sword - meaning, in the word that it would be divisive. It's not that we want it to be, but if you're preaching straight truth it often is going to cause problems. Revelation 16 - Revelation 16, verse 7 - it says, "I heard another voice from the altar saying, 'even so, Lord God almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.'" Oh, you know what? I forgot to read the next section that we're under - 'suffering as a sign of the end' - we're on that day that deals with suffering as a sign of the end - in your lesson - and it's based on 2 Thessalonians 1:5,6, "which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you might be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you." So, you know there's a great tribulation that comes at the end of time and who does that great tribulation come upon? Who do the seven last plagues specifically fall upon? Oh, it says, those that have the Mark of the beast are the ones who get the noisome and grievous sore. Matter of fact, during the final seven last plagues, God protects his children.

When the ten plagues - notice ten plagues fell on Egypt, right? Count them. When the ten plagues fell on Egypt, the children of Israel suffered right along with the Egyptians for the first three plagues. You subtract those three and you got seven left. Did God protect the children of Israel for the last seven plagues that fell on Egypt? Yes. Will he protect us during those seven last plagues? So the tribulation that's coming to the world - and that's why it tells us in Revelation that - I read that to you already - "I heard the voice from the altar saying, 'even so God almighty'" - and that's Revelation 16:7 - "true and righteous are your judgments.

" You're being just - and, by the way, Revelation 16 is in the seven last plagues saying 'these judgements are true and righteous because you are vindicating your people - you're judging and troubling - bringing tribulation on those who trouble them.' All right, that then opens the way for - oh, there's one more I want to give you - John 16, talking about tribulation and suffering again - John 16, verse - John 16, verse 2, "they'll put you out of the synagogues" - now what does the word synagogue mean? Church. "They'll put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service." Some of them will actually think they're serving God and you will be evicted from the churches because of what you believe. Now that tells us that in the end there'll still be churches. Matter of fact, the beast power tells everyone to go to church. It tells them all to worship, right? So there's evidently going to be a couple different varieties of church and those who don't join this church that worships the beast, they're going to be cast out.

And it says - finally it says, "whoever kills you" - it's not just that you're cast out - "whoever kills you will think he offers God service." Can you think of someone in the Bible that thought they were serving God by killing Christians? Didn't Paul sincerely think he was serving God when he killed - or at least participated in the murder - he was an accomplice in the murder of stephen. And he probably was guilty of more - it says he was going into synagogues and men's houses and dragging out men and women and they were being persecuted for their faith. And Paul thought he was serving God. But he was wrong - finally Paul got kicked out of church because he was converted and he was ultimately killed for his faith. So what they were going through there in thessalonia, these things are going to be very relevant for us someday.

Okay, 'fire and destruction' - this is 2 Thessalonians 1, verses 7-9. Somebody please look up for me Jude, chapter 1 - there's only one chapter - verse 7. Who has that? We gave out, I think, most of these verses - who got Jude 1:7 - anybody? If not it could be I left it off my list and we'll take - you have it? But you're going to volunteer? Okay, we'll give you a microphone. Jude verse 7 - just a minute - I first want to read these verses. This is, again, 2 Thessalonians , verse 7, "and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 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.

These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power." Now does that mean that they're going to be burned forever and ever? Everlasting destruction - how many times can you destroy something? Do you keep destroying it over and over forever? Or does it mean the results of the destruction are everlasting? They are destroyed forever. Now, if you want to know what that means - go ahead, read for me now Jude verse 7. "Even as sodom and gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh are set forth for an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." All right, notice that word 'vengeance' again and you find vengeance in the verses we're considering. Eternal fire - does that mean fire burns forever or the destruction from the fire is eternal? So if you burn something up with a fire from which there is no resurrection and from which there is no recovery, that is an eternal fire. The results of that fire are for eternity.

The wicked are burnt with eternal fire. Now, if you want to know what kind of fire that is, what kind of fire were sodom and gomorrah burnt with? Didn't we just read how are the wicked destroyed? 'Even as sodom and gomorrah, and the cities around them' - talking about those cities of the plain that were destroyed with fire and brimstone - were they burnt with this kind of fire? Yeah. Do they exist today? No. Are sodom and gomorrah still burning today? No. So whenever a person wants to know 'what is this hellfire like? What is this eternal destruction?' He said it's like sodom and gomorrah - they are destroyed forever, they're burnt up forever - that's what it means when he uses that word - the result of the fire is eternal, the fire is not still burning.

The fires of hell cannot burn forever and ever because the fires of hell rain down on the earth upon the wicked. It means it would be forever on hell burning - on earth burning. You see what I'm saying? Let me give you another verse. Deuteronomy 32, verse 41. Remember, Jesus is coming taking vengeance on those who know not the Gospel - Deuteronomy 32:41 - this is the last sermon of Moses.

"If I whet my glittering sword," - whet means to sharpen. They used to have a whet stone and they'd put some moisture on the stone and they'd sharpen their swords before they went into battle. - "If I whet my glittering sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and reward them that hate me." Now, it sounds pretty severe - you know, we sing that song 'mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, he's trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored' - the Bible says vengeance is the Lord's. God watches - he's very loving, very merciful, very patient - longsuffering - but he keeps an accurate record and those sins that are not under the blood are going to be repaid when he comes. And Paul is reminding the Thessalonians 'love your neighbor, be kind to them because they've got a serious judgement that's coming.

' Now, when you read that verse that we just looked at in verses through 9 - 2 Thessalonians 1 - it almost sounds like God says 'either you love me or I'll kill you.' Notice how that's worded - it says, 'in flaming fire' - verse 8 - "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and who obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." You mean if you don't obey the Gospel? I thought the Gospel was good news. If you don't obey the Gospel you're going to be destroyed with flaming fire? That sounds pretty serious because the good news of the Gospel is the power of Christ to be a new creature, a new heart, and to obey. And so when we reject that there's only one destiny left. The world is already under judgment, right? Jesus did not come to judge the world. The world is guilty of sin - we're already condemned.

We've all sinned - fallen short. The penalty for sin is what? Before Jesus ever came we're all under this death sentence. So he comes and he offers good news - he says, 'if you believe me - if you follow me - if you obey me' - that's what belief means - to listen to what he's saying. He says, 'then, if you reject the Gospel, the only alternative left is flaming destruction and vengeance.' And then - well, you know, I wonder if I ought to take another moment or two and just talk about that - what that looks like. How many of you remember in Revelation where it talks about the souls that are under the altar that are crying saying, 'how long o Lord until you take vengeance on us?' It talks about those who are beheaded for the word of the Lord and the name of Jesus Christ - and the blood of abel that cried out to the Lord.

Do you remember that? And the Bible says that Jesus declared, when he wept over Jerusalem, he said, 'on this generation' - and the destruction that fell on Jerusalem was pretty severe - he said, 'on this generation all of the blood from the blood of righteous abel unto the blood of Zechariah, The Son of berechiah, who was slain between the porch and the altar is going to come.' So God had been so patient - for four thousand years - but there was going to be an eruption - you know how eruptions happen with volcanoes? All that magma sort of builds up and it builds pressure and it builds pressure and everybody above ground might think that things are okay and every now and then that volcano might burp out a little smoke and ash as a warning, but most people don't listen until finally there's an eruption and God, when he comes, there is going to be an eruption of wrath. When Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 a.d. There was an eruption of wrath that had pent up - an eruption of judgment and vengeance that had built up that came on that generation. Could that happen in our country? Do you think we're storing any bad behavior up that is going to be recompensed? It doesn't sound patriotic when you say that but it's biblical. I'm very patriotic - I love my country, but that's what concerns me.

I think, not only here but in other parts of the world, we're setting a bad example in some things - in some unGodly behavior. All you've got to do is surf through the channels in a hotel room and find out what's going on in people's hearts and minds. Why did God destroy sodom - I'm sorry - well, yeah, sodom and gomorrah - that's all happening too - but even in the time of Noah it says, 'the thoughts of men's hearts were only evil continually and violence filled the land.' And then, of course, I mention lot and Jesus said, 'as it was in the days of Noah, as it was in the days of lot.' Are those things happening again? Are people being entertained with immorality and violence? And it's almost like it's worshiped. Does the Lord take note of all that? Is there going to be a judgment day someday? God is longsuffering to usward not because he doesn't hate sin and not because sin will not be judged, but because he doesn't want any to perish. He's stretching out mercy and the Gospel as long as possible.

He's going to keep the boat at the shore - at the dock - waiting for people to get on board as long as he can, but eventually the volcano is going to erupt and that boat's going to leave just before that happens - you've got to be on board. And so Paul is talking - he's reminding them there's going to be a judgment and that you will be saved - endure, be patient, and those who mistreat you - now, it doesn't sound Christ-like sometimes to think someone's being really mean to me but their day's coming. You never want to think that day, but let's just face it, there are some people who are downright evil. Think about what mordecai did - I'm sorry - what haman did to mordechai - wanting to exterminate a nation of women and children just because mordecai wouldn't bow down to him. And when that judgment came and haman was hung on the gallows he had prepared - you don't think they felt a little sense of vindication by that? Sure.

And God has those same senses of justice - that's what it is, it's a sense of justice. Well, I'm looking at the clock - I'm about out of time. Last section, 'glorifying Christ', verses 10 through 12, "when he comes, in that day, to be glorified in his saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you is believed. 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; that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ might be glorified." What was the ultimate purpose for their existing a people in thessalonia? That the name of Jesus Christ might be glorified in you. Has the mission statement of the Gospel changed or is that what he wants for us as a church? That the name of Jesus Christ might be glorified in you - singular, individually and in you - collectively as a church.

That we might bring glory to his name is our purpose, amen? This is the purpose of life that we give glory to God. We've all fallen short of that glory - whether you eat, whether you drink - whatever you do - God wants us to do it unto his glory and that's, by the way, where your greatest joy and fulfillment and happiness is going to come from in living for the glory of God. I've just got a few moments left. One more time, if you didn't hear at the beginning we have a free offer we'll send you. It's called 'compromise, conformity, and courage' - just call the number on the screen please - 866-study-more, that's -788-3966 and ask for offer #774.

God bless you friends. Thank you for studying with us. Yep, time is up.

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