Friday, April 26, 2013

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday April 28, 2013
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HOPE COMES FROM GOD’S GRACE
 (Hold fast to the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST when times get hard)
(2 Thessalonians 2)

In 2 Thessalonians 2, verses 1-12, the Apostle Paul writes of eschatological truths that aren’t revealed to us anywhere else in scripture. Here he deals with the doctrinal errors concerning “the last days”, which, had infiltrated the Christian Church at Thessalonica during its infancy. These doctrinal errors were the root cause of some of the practical errors that Paul would later address in chapter 3 of this epistle.
New Christians, naturally, tend to be somewhat more vulnerable to false teachings because they have not yet had a chance to ground themselves in the truths of the Holy GOD’s Scriptures. However, any Christian, especially in this day and time, is subject to be misled by the many charismatic personalities that come to us live, and through various mediums, seeking only to make a buck off the gullibility of those who refuse to read GOD’s word for themselves.
These days, perhaps more so than in any other era of human existence, professed Christians must have an experiential, private, personal relationship with GOD if we are to navigate safely through the Luciferic attractions of this world. As I mentioned in the last installment, false rumors had been circulating through the church saying that Paul had identified the hardship and tribulations that the church was going through, as “The Last Days”, or, the onset of the “Day of the LORD”, an Old Testament phrase that is used in prophecy to indicate a series of events associated with the “end times”, or the end of the world as we know it.
Here Paul explains and cautions that the Thessalonians must not fall prey to such false teachings that were apparently coming to them from various sources that appeared to be authoritative. These confusing and erroneous messages made it hard for the Thessalonians to distinguish the biblical warnings from the current troubles that they were experiencing. In others words, just like in today’s society, they were confusing the “news” of current events, such as earthquakes, wars, and other natural and man-made disasters as a sign that the end is here. But in reality these things are just news, and our world has always suffered with such catastrophes as these, and, it always will, until JESUS’ return.
In his explanation, Paul refers to three events that must occur before the judgments of the day of the LORD can take place. They are;

·          The apostasy” (verse 3), or, “falling away”, which means “the deliberate abandonment of, or departure from, a professed position or belief” (in this case “Christianity”).
·         The revealing of “The Man of Lawlessness”, in the Greek, “ho anthropos tes anomias”, or “The Antichrist” (verses 3-4, 8) who will be fully characterized by his lawlessness, and particularly by his sin and complete active violation of all moral principles known to man.
·         A removal of restraints by the HOLY SPIRIT, which had been keeping this personified antichrist at bay. Here Paul paints a picture of a man who will be completely energized by satan, and who will lead mankind into a final, but futile rebellion against the GOD of Heaven. In fact, he will exalt himself above everything that is called god, and even set himself up in the Christian Church itself, to be worshiped. In effect, Paul is telling the Church that the end is not here until all three events have come to pass.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17, Paul urges the church to stand firm and rejoice in their salvation, and, when CHRIST does come, they will rejoice with HIM in HIS glory. He also advises them to do the things that they had been taught in the beginning, which are right according to the LORD, and to continue to do them, even when times become difficult (during the Great Tribulation).
A person’s best response to difficult times is to persist in doing that which is right in the eyes of the LORD. We must show confidence in GOD’s love and long-term, eternal commitment to us. Paul was not relying on the Thessalonians’ inherent power to do what is right, but rather, he was relying on their confidence in GOD to work in them, through the power of the HOLY SPIRIT, which is given to all Christians, because they believe on CHRIST JESUS.
The SPIRIT and the Bride (the Christian Church) say come. But the lure of this world and satan says the same. The HOLY SPIRIT in us will always try to compel us toward CHRIST. Unfortunately, however, the “sin nature” in us will always try and tug us back toward the World. That battle that wages on within us, between “the reason to do right” and “the passion to want to do wrong” stays with us long after we accept the gift of salvation. However, through our strength in CHRIST (the HOLY SPIRIT in us), we can successfully overcome the gravitational pull of this world, just as JESUS did, and find ourselves in “the ultimate happy ending” that has been prepared for us by GOD, since the foundation of this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander 





                                 
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