MP3: The Rapture Road Thru 1 Thessalonians 2
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
Since the first installment of The Truth Will Set You Free podcast series titled “The Rapture Road,” Vic Batista of Miami’s Calvary Chapel Broward and Nathan Jones of Lamb & Lion Ministries have been teaching through the biblical prophetic book of 1 Thessalonians in a verse-by-verse study. We will now discover how the Thessalonians responded to Paul’s approach to sharing the Gospel in 2:13-20.
The Christ Killers
Nathan Jones: First Thessalonians 2:13-16 reads:
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.”
Vic Batista: We learn from this passage that many Thessalonians took the Gospel to heart, and others did not, and some rather quite violently. Verse 16 reveals something simply amazing that there had been those who were “forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles.” In Christ there is no division between Jews and Gentiles. Well, there shouldn’t be any. Christ provides salvation for everyone who believes in Him. Revelation 5 tells us that in Heaven there’s going to be multitudes saved from every tongue, nation, and language. In Christ, salvation has come to all who would open their hearts and receive it.
Nathan Jones: And yet, when it came to Paul preaching to both the Jews and Gentiles in Thessalonica, quite a number of both were in quite an uproar over the Gospel and even had Paul and his team kicked out of town. There are usually two camps of unbelievers. There are those who could care less, stating, “You believe what you want to believe and I will believe what I want to believe.” Then there’s the other camp consisting of those who join such groups as the Freedom From Religion activist group made up of militant Atheists. They are the ones who not only disagree with your faith, but try everything they can to prevent you from sharing the Gospel.
The second attitude was the one Paul ran into in Philippi and again in Thessalonica. His detractors didn’t just say, “Well, alright, Paul is teaching this, so why should I care?” Instead, they mobbed screaming, “We are going to make sure he never speaks here again!”
And so, in this passage, Paul is speaking out against those people who forbid Christians to speak and share their faith. These unbelievers are the same people and have the same heart as the Jews and the Romans and all who killed Jesus Christ and the prophets. They forbid the knowledge of God to pass on to other people so that they might be saved.
That’s why every time one of these Mikey Weinsteins from the Freedom from Religion type groups attack Christianity at the Air Force Academy or other such organization it gets me mad, because these God-haters just can’t live in peace alongside religious freedom. No, they have to shut down the message of God and erase it from society. Why? Because they know in their hearts and their consciences that the Word of God does change people’s lives, and they don’t want to see people’s lives changed for Christ.
We live in a country founded on religious freedom, where each of us can all believe what we want to believe. That condition is uniquely rare in the world. But, to have these militaristic Freedom From Religion type groups out there shutting down the Word of God because they don’t want Christ’s name exalted or advanced, well these are the very same type of people who actively sought to kill Jesus Christ. They are at war with God, and so at war with His children.
A Crown of Rejoicing
Vic Batista: Even though Paul and company were expelled from Thessalonica, let’s look at 2:17-20 concerning how Paul dealt with the disappointment and hindrances Satan gave him.
“But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. Therefore we wanted to come to you, even I, Paul, time and again but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.”
What an eye-opener! Ephesians 6 tells us that we Christians don’t truly wrestle against flesh and blood, but the satanic forces behind this world. Verse 18 reiterates this truth that the hindrances Christians often times encounter come directly from Satan and his demons.
Nathan Jones: Whether these God-haters realize it or not, they’re in truth working for Satan. The principalities and powers, the spirit-filled forces of Satan, work tirelessly behind the scenes. These Freedom From Religions groups and others like them, these militant Atheists, and Muslims like ISIS who kill every Christian they can, they are probably not mentally thinking they are working for Satan, but the Bible states they are. Paul understood the spiritual battle going on behind the sharing of the Gospel. He saw that the reaction of the people in Thessalonica against the Gospel was because their master was really Satan, whether they understood this fact or not.
Vic Batista: When it comes to the salvation of Muslims, it’s neat to see that God is setting many of these people free. Satanic warfare blinds the hearts of many people, but we cannot forget that also behind the scenes the Holy Spirit is at work.Vic Batista: Satanic warfare blinds the hearts of many people, but we cannot forget that also behind the scenes the #HolySpirit is at work. Click To Tweet
Nathan Jones: He is! Paul continues to move forward with the Gospel message, and why? Because He knows that when Jesus finally takes Christians home, He will judge us based on our good works in order to bestow upon the saints their eternal rewards. Our good works here are formed by the lives of people we have impacted for Christ.
Paul found great joy knowing that the founding of the church of Thessalonica would be joyously celebrated by Christ and credited to Paul as a good work. Jesus will then say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Paul and his team ministered to the Thessalonians and brought many to Christ, and even though he no longer resided among them, he still ministered to his spiritual children and helped them to grow in the Lord.
Paul will receive the crown of righteousness that’s believers in Christ wear throughout eternity. Our good works are represented by various crowns. It’s so important then that we don’t hide our faith from the world. Don’t circle the wagons and cease having any interaction with non-Christians. The Great Commission calls Christians to get out there into the world and bring the Gospel to the lost. We minister to their needs, both physical and spiritual. These works form our crown of righteousness, the very crown that we will lay before the Lord’s feet in an eternal act of worship.
Our Hope and Joy
Vic Batista: Notice that chapter 2 ends with a reminder that our Lord Jesus Christ will be coming back again. Almost all of the chapters in 1 Thessalonians end with a reminder concerning the coming of the Lord. Christians should, therefore, embrace the fact that the Lord is coming back, and when He does, we will all win in the end.
Nathan Jones: All throughout the Bible we are told that Jesus is coming back, even three whole times in Revelation 22. Jesus promised that He’s coming back in glory. Therefore, the inhabitants of the world need to be ready, and they can do so by accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior.Nathan Jones: Jesus promised that He's coming back in glory. Therefore, the inhabitants of the world need to be ready, and they can do so by accepting #JesusChrist as their Savior. #salvation Click To Tweet
Vic Batista: For those who don’t have that saving relationship with the Lord, how can they begin that relationship, even right now?
Nathan Jones: You must surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Accept Him as the Son of God. Pray from your heart something like, “Dear, Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and be my Savior and Lord of my life.” And Jesus promises He will do just that. He will forgive you of your sins. He will cleanse you of your guilt. And, you will now have that hope and joy of knowing Jesus Christ forever and living with Him in His home in Heaven.
In the tenth part of our travels along the Rapture Road and our verse-by-verse study of 1 Thessalonians, we’ll move on the chapter 3.