Thessalonians 1:6-10Purposes 2-4
By Marcelo Tolopilo
I hope you have enjoyed reading the previous Lighthouse articles on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10. We have considered a glimpse of what the return of our Lord will look like, as well as the first of four purposes for His second coming.
We have seen that when Jesus returns there will be absolutely no mistaking His appearing. As I wrote previously “the scriptures tell us clearly that the return of the Lord will be visible, stunning, and unmistakable.” Jesus will light up the sky with myriads (hundreds of millions?) of mighty, holy angels circumscribing the earth with His glory! When our Lord comes again no one will say “Gee I wonder what that was?” or “Look at the pretty lights.” The whole world will be gripped by the sight of His appearing.
We also began our study of the purposes behind Christ’s coming.There are of course several driving forces that are bringing the Lord’s return ever nearer. The first such purpose we discussed is judgment, #1, Christ will return to punish those who afflict His people and reject the gospel. In verse 6 Paul writes “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you” and in verse 8 he adds “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus …” Jesus is coming to judge the unbelieving. For a fuller view of this first point we invite you to review our previous articles on our web blog. For the time being let’s unpack the remaining three purposes driving the second coming of our Master.
Purpose #2, Christ comes to bring relief to His afflicted
While the Lord Jesus returns to afflict those who have persecuted His people, #2 He will also return to bring relief to His afflicted. Paul writes, 1:6-7 “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire” (emphasis added).
Let’s face it folks, life is often difficult. Yes there is joy in our journey – “without question!” – and yet our sojourn in this life is fraught with manifold sadness. Parents sometimes have to look on helplessly as a young child succumbs to the deadly ravages of disease. Others awake one morning to find the lifeless form of a baby inexplicably taken by SIDS. A woman suddenly discovers a curious mass that is the harbinger of life altering cancer.
As we go out into the highways and byways of life we proclaim Christ and for many this brings ostracism from the world around us, and sometimes even from beloved family members. Some of us are compelled by our conscience and scripture to take an unpopular stand for what is true and right and in the process find ourselves standing alone, rejected, suffering loss while those in error seem to prosper without consequence. Often those who serve Christ with a sincere heart are misunderstood, indeed vilified, and subsequently dishonored by the very ones whom they have served.
I know people who are presently experiencing what I have just described in the above two paragraphs, and frankly I could fill pages cataloging the hardships of faithful Christians – folks within my sphere of ministry. Imaging the countless testimonies of Christians undergoing suffering in the world today, especially in lands hostile to the gospel. And even though our Master stands with us to sustain us, and empower us to persevere, our suffering is real.
Paul experienced God’s grace to endure, but he also felt the burden of his suffering. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 he wrote, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus …” God’s grace is abundantly sufficient in our sufferings (2 Corinthians 12:9), but all of us long to be robed in the dress of eternity. I praise God for the suffering the Lord has taken me and my family through, but one God given reason I can persevere through difficulties is the knowledge that one day this suffering will end, and when it does all of it will evaporate into insignificance because of the surpassing glory and value of heaven.
This is why Peter and Paul could refer to the hardships of this life – though real and relentless – as suffering “for a little while” (1 Peter 5:10), and “momentary, light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). Both Peter and Paul were looking forward to the day when Jesus will bring eternal relief to His people. Our suffering, the affliction of all God’s people, will vaporize in an instant when we see Jesus.
Speaking of the believer’s future state the apostle John wrote, “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Jesus is coming “to give relief to you who are afflicted“ (2 Thessalonians 1:7).
Purpose #3, Christ comes to be glorified in His people
Thirdly, The Lord Jesus will return to be glorified in His people. Paul gives us this very fact in 2 Thessalonians 1:10a “when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day.” I want you to notice two simple but profound truths in this phrase. The first is that when Jesus comes He will be glorified. He will be exalted because of who He is. All creation will see the power, beauty, wonder, excellencies of Jesus in His bodily return and therefore He will be honored as He should be.
My friends that is not the case in this present day. Jesus is hated in this world. The world may get sentimental about the name “Jesus Christ” but that’s because they imbue that name with their own false connotations. The world is continually reinventing Jesus to suite its fancy. However, when the Jesus of the Bible and His message is clearly proclaimed, that same person and message confronts man, and at that flashpoint the world turns on Christ with vicious disdain. The Lord Jesus said “The world cannot hate you (speaking to His unbelieving brothers), but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” (John 7:7).
That is the state of things today. The world hates the true Jesus because it cannot bear Him or His message. Consequently, the present world system expresses its hatred for Christ in almost limitless forms. His fair name is used flippantly as if it had no value; often we hear the name of our Lord used as a byword for anything false or filthy; His existence is denied by some, His life demeaned by others; His cross wore without reverence; His servants treated with shame and contempt; His blood trampled under foot by those who reject His saving work, etc., etc.
The world hates Christ and does not honor Him, ah yes, that is true presently, but Jesus is coming back and when He splits the sky He will be glorified! He will be seen for who He is and He will receive the honor He is due. His enemies will clap their hands over their mouths and He will be glorious and perceived and honored as such.
The second thought that I would like us to understand in the first part of verse 10 is the particular conduit for His glory when He returns. Certainly the Lord is glorious in and of Himself, but in this context Paul arrests our attention with these words “He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day.” Did you catch that?
How will Christ be glorified on that day? By manifesting His glory in His people. We, the trophies of God’s grace, will reflect back to Jesus the wondrous beauty of what He has accomplished in us! US!!! Think about this, though we were formerly loathsome, reprobate, sin sick, hell bound enemies of God, now we are the redeemed and beloved, and one day we will be transformed to mirror back to Him His perfect glory. We will be perfect trophies of divine grace, and He, the Lord Jesus, will be thoroughly glorified in us.
My friends I don’t know how that affects you, but I can’t wait for that to take place. I grow weary of my sinful heart, my petty spirit, my lack of faith, my wayward mind, ad nauseaum! There’s a day coming when all that will be purged from my body forever and I will reflect perfectly the glory of Christ to Christ and to all creation! Jesus will return to be glorified in His people!
Purpose #4, Christ comes to be worshipped
Lastly, when our Savior returns He will come to be worshipped by the throng of the redeemed. I am intrigued by the way Paul expresses this truth. He says in verse 10 “… when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.”
When the Lord Jesus comes in His glory, as Judge and King, He will evoke our unrestrained worship. When the saints “see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2), for who He is, He will take our breath away! We will be awed by His presence and simply marvel at Him. I imagine there will be one glorious, collective gasp of awe in the congregation of the redeemed at that moment. The sight of Him, though terrifying to condemned humanity, will be so glorious to us that our jaws will drop in wonder, and our hearts leap in spontaneous worship of our beautiful Savior.
I look forward to the day when we will reflect His glorious perfections, and when we – with sanctified, transformed, purified senses liberated to know and experience God – will worship our King with an awakened sense of holy awe. With that hope in our hearts let us cry out with the apostle John, “… Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20-21)