Summary: A call to faithfulness and fruitfulness while waiting for Christ’s return; an overview of 2 Thessalonians.
What To Do ‘Til Jesus Comes
2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:3-5
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: A university student was seen with a large "K" printed on his T- shirt. When someone asked him what the "K" stood for, he said, "Confused." "But," the questioner replied, "you don’t spell "confused" with a "K." The student answered, "You don’t know how confused I am."
Confusion is a good word to summarize our next book in our journey through the New Testament—2 Thessalonians. This little book was written to a group of young Christians who were struggling with some serious confusion regarding the Second Coming and the end of history. 1 and 2 Thessalonians were probably among the first books written by Paul the apostle and missionary. He had planted the church amidst controversy and opposition. He was forced to leave the city after only a few weeks. He leaves with great concern for the new believers. He sends Timothy back to find out how they were doing. Paul’s sidekick returns with a good report and also some questions. 1 Thessalonians responds to that report.
A few months later, Paul again receives word of some confusion among these young Christians. 2 Thessalonians is the response to this second report. Our Bible translations organize the book into three logical chapters. Each chapter provides an answer to our questions about “what to do ‘til Jesus comes.
Chapter 1: Until Jesus comes, between now and then, followers of Christ must persevere in the face of persecution. Such an admonition is needed. It is easy to fall prey to the idea that the Christian life is supposed to be a refuge from all the hard stuff of life. What hard stuff is left will be taken care of when Christ returns. Our task in the mean time is to try to skate through as easily as possible, always looking for the path of least resistance. Nothing could be further from the truth!
We are called to persevere. Perseverance is more than just surviving. It is thriving even in the midst of hard times, not just wishfully hoping that they don’t come. Jesus warned his disciples, “In this world, you will have persecution.” Paul insisted that “all who are faithful will be persecuted.”
How do we persevere in the face of hard times, thrive rather than just survive. First, by continuing to grow in faith. Faith is not a static thing. You have it and that’s it! Faith is a living, growing relationship with God. Faith is either growing or shrinking. It cannot remain the same. Can we say of our faith what Paul said of those in this book? “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more …”
Second, we persevere by increasing in love for one another. That’s the rest of the verse I just read, “the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.” We are not in this alone. We need each other. Our love for one another, our dependence on each other in fellowship, keeps us strong and protects from Satan’s worst. Alone we are vulnerable. Together we are stronger. Together in Christ, we are invincible.
Note how Paul applies Christian love and unity to this subject in Philippians 1. “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God” (Philippians 1:27-28).
This brings us to the key to perseverance emphasized in 2 Thessalonians—keeping an eye on the future. We believe that Jesus is coming back. Whatever happens now must be viewed in that light. Note how chapter 1 offers hope in the face of hard times—especially hard times at the hands of wicked people. “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”