Summary: Christ’s Deity
Biblical Text: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
“Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”
Last Sunday you will remember that we talked about the first prayer Paul included in his second epistle to the church at Thessalonica. This is the second prayer that burst forth spontaneously from his pastoral pen, as he considered the plight of these fragile converts. We don’t know the special circumstances under which Paul wrote, but all indications in the first and second epistle are that they needed consolation.
They were a young church, just delivered from paganism. Like lambs in the midst of wolves, they stood against bitter foes. Their teacher, Paul, had left them alone, and their immature convictions faced a formidable enemy. That’s why, over and over again, in both of Paul’s letters, we read references to the persecutions and tribulations they endured, and to the consolation of the promises of God.
But whatever they were facing, the prayer, which puts special emphasis on COMFORT, is as much needed by us as it could have ever been by them:
For there are no eyes that have not wept, or will not weep.
No breath that has not sighed, or will not sigh.
No hearts that have not bled, or will not bleed.
The prayer that went up for these long since comforted brothers in their forgotten sorrows, is as needed for us – that God, who has given everlasting consolation may apply His balm to our feverish brows and “comfort our hearts and stablish them in every good word and work”.
In the first of Paul’s three-part prayer we notice his emphatic recognition of the divinity of Jesus Christ; a statement that would have been a familiar reassurance to the Thessalonian converts. “Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself” – this is a solemn accumulation of Christ’s imposing, impressive and august titles. Then Paul goes on to affirm Christ’s association with the Father. The remarkable thing about his affirmation is the fact that JESUS is mentioned FIRST. Those of us who are familiar with Paul’s well-known benediction used so often in his correspondence know that this is a deviation for him. Paul habitually says, “From the God, the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ”. But here, in the midst of Thessalonian turmoil, Paul points FIRST to CHRIST. This would have been an egregious and profane error on the part of any Jew, except for one hypothesis…Paul believed Christ to be the Only Begotten Son of God! The church at Thessalonica needed a pastor to remind them that we come to the Father THROUGH the Son – the REAL Son of God.
Paul was thinking about a LIVING Christ when he wrote these words from Corinth to help the poor men of Thessalonica. He was thinking about a Divine Christ when he dared to say, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Father”. Is that your belief about Christ? Do you regard Him as a sharer of the throne and of the divine attributes of God? There are only two options: Either Jesus was a good man who died and lies in an unknown grave, ignorant of all that is going on here, and the notion that He can help is a delusion and a dream, or else He is the ever-living Divine Christ, to whom we poor men and women can speak with the certainty that He hears us, and who wields the energy of Deity, and works the same works as the Father, to bless the souls that trust Him! You can’t have it both ways…Jesus is either Deity or delusion.
Then we look at the great fact on which this prayer is built, as Paul sites the historical act of Christ’s sacrifice, reminding the church that He “loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace…” Love always finds its voice in GIVING. Love is nothing unless it is expressed. Love is the infinite desire to bestow, and its language is always a gift. According to Paul, there is ONE EVENT in which Christ’s divine love is manifested, one act in which all the treasures, which God can bestow upon mankind are conveyed and handed over to the world – Christ and Calvary.
In all the sweep of magnificent and profitable deeds to come from heaven’s storehouse, there was none so all-inclusive of God’s love than the gift of Jesus Christ on Calvary. Christ is our hope – and the ultimate gift through which everlasting consolation is bestowed upon men.
“Everlasting consolation and good hope” – There is just as much emphasis upon Paul’s adjectives as upon his nouns. What good is consolation unless it is everlasting? And what benefit does hope possess, unless it is good? We need a comfort that will NEVER FAIL amidst all our prolonged and repeated sorrows. Bandaged wounds bleed again.