Summary: II Thess #2: DON’T become easily unsettled or alarmed; Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way Do stand firm and hold on
Do’s and Don’ts
SCRIPTURE READING: II Thessalonians 2:1-8
Have you noticed that the Second Coming is a big topic in pop-culture lately? Several years back, a Gallup Poll recorded that 62% of Americans believe Jesus Christ will return to earth someday. (George Gallup, Religion in America, Leadership, Fall 1987)
More recently, a Time Magazine survey recorded 59% who believe the Book of Revelation will come true. (July 1, 2002: The Bible & the Apocalypse!) Some of you have probably read at least part of the Left Behind series of novels written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. In 10 books, they lay out a fictionalized preview of events leading to the Second Coming. The series has become an international best seller, and 2 movies have been made from it so far.
Even secular Hollywood has been pumping out a steady stream of films about the End Times. Films like End of Days, Armageddon, and the Omen trilogy are just a few examples. The point is, people who are picking up their information about the end of the world from movies, TV shows, and novels are bound to get confused.
That was the problem in Thessalonica. They had received a letter from someone who claimed to be Paul. The letter said that Christ had already come again … and somehow they had missed it. Because of all the confusion about the Second Coming, Paul gave them some Do’s and Don’ts in chapter 2.
He starts out with 2 Don’ts:
• Don’t become easily unsettled or alarmed vs.2
• Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way vs.3
1. DON’T be distressed or deceived II Thessalonians 2:2-3
Some Christians actually avoid learning about the Second Coming of Christ because the whole scenario scares them. They don’t want to think about the End of the World, so they ignore those parts of the Bible. But that’s a real problem, because the Bible is full of Prophesies about the Last Days.
Over 1800 references appear in the Old Testament, and more than 300 in the New Testament. In fact, all but 4 of the 27 books in the New Testament talk about the Return of Jesus Christ. The last book --- Revelation --- is dedicated to prophecy about the Last Days. It is obvious that God wants us to know how it will all end.
We should not be afraid to learn about the Last Days … as long as we are learning it from God’s Word. The problem comes when we get our information from other sources. This is why Paul warned the Thessalonians: Don’t let anyone deceive you …
Ever since the days of the early Church, there have been False Teachings about the Coming of the Lord. Let me list just a few Deceptions.
• In A.D.135, a man named Montanus proclaimed that the New Jerusalem would soon descend from heaven to earth and land in what is now Turkey. He was wrong.
• About 100 years after that, a historian named Hippolytus records that a Bishop convinced his followers to sell all their possessions and follow him into the wilderness because the Lord was on His way. He was wrong, and his followers were left homeless and hungry.
• Skip ahead to the year 999. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was filled with people weeping and trembling. They were sure the thousand-year-mark would be the time. Eventually they went on home to their usual routines.
• During all the Middle Ages, there were many groups who taught End Time Doctrines. Many of them set dates and caused a lot of confusion. Some taught that the Puritans were setting up the “New Jerusalem” on American soil and would usher in the Millennium.
• In 19th Century America, there was a surge of interest in the Second Coming. In fact, that’s when a farmer named William Miller taught that Christ would secretly snatch away believers before the public coming. (This is now called the Rapture.) Miller predicted the Rapture would occur on March 21, 1842. He revised the date to April 3, 1843, and over 3,500 followers jammed the Boston Advent Temple. The next day, he lost some followers, but he continued to set dates.
• You’ve heard of some of the groups that grew out of the teachings of the Millerites. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and 7th day Adventists trace their roots back to Miller. Other groups that trace back to Miller are Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God, and a variety of “Yahwehistic” groups who sometimes call themselves “completed Jews.”
• Date-setting did not stop in the 1800’s. Recently the Reverend Colin Deal published a book titled Christ Returns by 1988 – 101 Reasons Why. Thousands of people bought that book. Susan remembers being in a class at UTSA on the Day when Deal said Jesus would Return (I think it was the day of the Jewish Feast of Trumpets) Susan remembers wishing he was right so she could avoid the exam she had to take that morning.