THE BIBLICAL MINDSET FOR LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS
In the letters to the Thessalonians, we find the best biblical posture for living in the last days.
Since the Lord ascended to heaven, the followers of Christ have been looking for His return. All throughout the New Testament this mindset can be read and felt. But the New Testament writers never acted or wrote like many Christians of today. What would it sound like if Paul had said, “do not worry about this Roman Empire and staying true to the Lord, Jesus will be here any time to get us?” Or “brothers, we know the persecution is great, but don't worry, we will be out of here at any moment.” This un-biblical attitude is a by-product of escapism theology and unhealthy. The proper mindset is to have, is the one to persevere, live holy lives and be faithful unto the coming of the Lord.
The times that the early church went through were horrible. If anyone had reason to hope for the Lord's return to deliver them from such times, they did. But the message was to hold fast, persevere, don't give up, etc.
In the letters to the Thessalonian church, Paul reminded them of some of what he had been teaching them in regard to the return of the Lord. There is no doubt that he taught them much more, but thanks to his letters, we can see some of it.
In first Thessalonians, he reminds them of taking comfort that those who die in Christ (fallen asleep, as he puts it), are in Christ still and reminds them about the forth coming rapture and to take comfort in it all that it means. (comments added are in blue).
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. (notice they are with Him now) 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first (their bodies). 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
And Paul has much more to say, as in the next chapter as he is continuing.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (this is when the antichrist kills the two Witnesses) 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.”
What if, after the first part of the section of Scripture posted here, he had said, “but don't worry, just hang on a little longer and we will be beamed out of here?” He didn't for it would be an unhealthy mindset. Once again, the proper mindset is to have, is the one to persevere, live holy lives and be faithful unto the coming of the Lord.
Look at what he said next:
1 Thessalonians 5:6-11 “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. (to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord) 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
Where is the escapism mindset? It is not here. He continues his exhortation to stay strong, help others and to live godly lives.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.”
And then he says this:
1 Thessalonians 5:23-28
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 25 Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”
Paul always shared the Gospel, taught and exhorted people to live holy lives... even unto to the coming of the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 1:2-12
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, 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. 11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Notice he said that he wants them (and it applies to us today) to be “counted worthy for suffering persecution for the kingdom of God and that when the Lord will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels who in flaming fire will take vengeance on those who trouble believers for the kingdom's sake and who refuse the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul is praying that these Christians, his own personal converts, will be counted worthy of the Lord at His coming. Not a hint of: “Oh brethren, the Lord will be here any moment, just hang in there.”
Notice he called it “that Day” as he does again.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. (he is addressing a rumor and/or possible mindset) 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the (1.) falling away comes first, and (2.) the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
That Day is the day of Christ, the rapture, vs 1 “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him.” And Paul wants the followers of the Lord that the Lord converted through him and that he personally discipled, to be ready and make it. He warns them that “that Day” will not happen until two things happen first, no matter what you hear from demons or people or even fake letters supposedly from Paul or others with him.
The same is true today. No matter what some people say, from misquoting Paul or anyone else, that Day will not come until two things that he speaks of, happen first. And Paul says what these two things are: 1. the falling away must happen first and 2. then the son of perdition, the man of sin must be revealed who will oppose God and exalt himself against the Lord to the point of sitting in the temple (3. three things now, because at the time of this writing, the temple has not even been built) showing himself to be God.
It is a strong warning about what has to happen before the Day of Christ and our gathering together to Him.
He has more warning and not a hint of, “the Lord can come any minute”
2 Thessalonians 2:5-12
“Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? (he had taught them before) 6 And now you know what is restraining (the two events that must be fulfilled), that he may be revealed in his own time (personal opinion, but this he should be He because Paul is talking about what must happen before the Day of Christ). 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed (evil one), whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
2 Thessalonians 2:5-12 Amplified Version,“Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now [from being revealed]; it is so that he will be revealed at his own [appointed] time (the Lord at the rapture). 7 For the mystery of lawlessness [rebellion against divine authority and the coming reign of lawlessness] is already at work; [but it is restrained] only until he who now restrains it is taken out of the way. 8 Then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by the appearance of His coming. 9 The coming of the [Antichrist, the lawless] one is through the activity of Satan, [attended] with great power [all kinds of counterfeit miracles] and [deceptive] signs and false wonders [all of them lies], 10 and by unlimited seduction to evil and with all the deception of wickedness for those who are perishing, because they did not welcome the love of the truth [of the gospel] so as to be saved [they were spiritually blind, and rejected the truth that would have saved them]. 11 Because of this God will send upon them a misleading influence, [an activity of error and deception] so they will believe the lie, 12 in order that all may be judged and condemned who did not believe the truth [about their sin, and the need for salvation through Christ], but instead took pleasure in unrighteousness.”
2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 King James Version
“And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”
This is a much debated section of Scripture and one that many only look at certain verses to argue about who is restraining the evil one. By arguing about “who restrains” many miss the rest including “what” restrains. There are events that must happen first, before our gathering together unto the Lord at the day of the Lord. God is restraining, no matter what He uses to restrain. What does it mean “until he who now restrains is taken out of the way?” The pre-trib mindset says this proves their Rapture beliefs as it is claimed to be the rapture and the Holy Spirit is removed from earth. And then further say that people will be saved after the rapture (to explain why Christians are still here in the tribulation as Jesus said we would be), though the Holy Spirit is removed from earth according to that doctrine. What erroneous doctrine. No one can be saved without conviction and the revelation of Jesus Christ, which can only be revealed by God who works with man through Himself, Holy Spirit. The Bible does not say it is the Holy Spirit or even that he is removed. The Bible says “until he is taken out of the way.” We know from Revelation 13:5 and Daniel 7:25 the evil one is given authority over the whole earth including Christians for 3 ½ years. In the Greek language that Paul wrote this letter in, he used the phrase taken out of the way, which was commonly used to allow one thing pass by moving something else. It is bad speculation to take this phrase and say it means Holy Spirit is removed from earth. It was the way they spoke at the time and simply means, that whatever God is using to hold the enemy back, is moved or removed from doing so, so that the enemy can proceed forward.
The real point is: the Lord will be revealed at the rapture as Paul wrote previously and then by the stopping of restraining the evil one until the right time; which at that time, he will come out from among us. The One New Man Bible in 2 Thessalonians 2:7b-8 says: “only He is restraining him at the present time until he would come out from among you. And then the one without Torah will be revealed, whom the Lord Y’shua will destroy by the breath of His mouth and will abolish by the appearance of His coming” And that is the point. To get caught up in arguing about who is restraining is to miss it.
Paul had also said previously that the Lord is revealed at the rapture.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10
“and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, 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.”
And the Lord is revealed at the rapture as it is said in many places, even by the Lord Himself. (See the message, Every eye will see Him) It will be the greatest day for Christians and the most dreadful day for the lost, those who troubled the kingdom of God and rejected the real Lord and His pardon. Why, many ask, will God's wrath be poured out on them?
Consider the next verses in 2 Thessalonians that Paul wrote.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Those who know their God and His Word, will not fail in this. The bride does make herself ready and she will go through great persecution first. Jesus said so. In Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Revelation 6:9-11, 13:6-10, 6:15 and many other places in the Bible.
The rejection of the Gospel and the persecution of God and His kingdom is a dangerous thing. And those who reject the Gospel and join in with the devil and his antichrist will pay a terrible price and it will be the result of their own doing.
Let's heed the urging of the Holy Spirit through these Scriptures. Lets share the Gospel with love, action and words while it is still allowed. Hold fast to our Lord and stay ready, living holy lives, separate from this world. If there is no difference between an alleged Christian and a lost person then the alleged Christian is sadly mistaken. Christians do not lie. Christians do not get drunk. Christians do not shack up and live in sin. Christians do not have sex outside of marriage. Christians do not use foul and vulgar language. Christians do not disregard what God says about living holy lives and loving others. Christians do not have unforgiveness in their hearts and lives. As John wrote, “He that loves not, knows not God.” Our heavenly Father says, if we do not forgive then we are not forgiven. Every time someone prays the Lord's prayer it is clear. “Forgive us as we forgive others.” If we are not forgiving others, then we are not forgiven. As we forgive, we can also be forgiven.
Let us live true to the Lord and His calling, until the day He comes. Like Paul, I pray we be found living worthy when He comes. Or as Paul put it:
“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
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Copyright 2016 E. Cockrell May be used for personal study or instruction but shall not be copied and/or distributed in whole or part without permission or for financial profit.