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2 Thessalonians 1:10-12: When He Comes

It’s good to know that if we are in Christ, there will be no eternal punishment! Indeed, instead of punishment it will be glory for believers! That day when Jesus comes again there will be rejoicing as we meet our Savior face to face.

Loma Leeds, A blind lady in our church in Miami used sing the hymn, “Face to Face.” I always marveled at how real this hymn must have been for her. The very first face she will ever see is the face of her Savior!

Face to face with Christ my Savior,

Face to face--what will it be

When with rapture I behold Him,

Jesus Christ who died for me?

Face to face I shall behold Him,

Far beyond the starry sky;

Face to face in all His glory,

I shall see Him by and by!

–Carrie Ellis Breck (1898)–

We have visited the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia where one of the greatest preachers America has ever produced, former slave, John Jasper (1812–1901) was pastor. After God saved him he started preaching. People of both races from all over the world crowded into his church to hear him preach. It was reported that there were traffic jams for blocks, as carriages lined the Richmond streets trying to get to his church on Sundays.

One time he was preaching about heaven and his soul became so full that he could not go on. He stopped preaching and just cried and cried, trembling and shaking. He waved his hand towards the door for the audience to leave, feeling that he could not go on. He turned and staggered away from his pulpit, but all of a sudden he gained his composure and raced back to the edge of the platform. He yelled, “When old John Jasper gets to Heaven and the angel comes and says, ‘John Jasper, don’t you want your robe?’ I am going to say, ‘Yes sir, but not right now. Where is the Lord Jesus?’” ”And when the angel says, ‘John Jasper, don’t you want your crown and all the stars in it for the souls you led to Christ?’ I am going to say, “Yes sir. I want my crown but not now. Where is the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved me and died for me?’ ‘John Jasper, don’t you want your white robe? and don’t you want to see your mansion?’ ‘Oh yes,’ he answered, ‘but not just yet. There will time enough for all that. But now just let me stay where I am for ten thousand years and gaze and gaze and gaze at the face of Jesus.’” John Jasper’s last words were: “I have finished my work. I am waiting at the river, looking across for further orders.”

(Author’s note: I have heard this story and read this story many times through the years and there are several different versions. So I don’t know if this is the exact wording, but the substance is accurate).

Verse 10a: “…when He comes, in that Day…”

“When He comes” is literally, “whenever He shall come.” “That day” is a frequent Old Testament designation for the “Day of the Lord,” which includes all prophetic activity, the rapture of all believers, the great tribulation, His revelation at the end of the tribulation, Armageddon, final judgment of mankind, and then eternity.

There will be two stages to His coming again. 1. The rapture, when His bride, the church will be “caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). 2. The revelation, when Jesus comes with His saints at the end of the great tribulation to judge the Antichrist, the false prophet and human government that opposes to God. This is the culmination of earthly, human rule at the “battle of Armageddon” (Revelation 19).

The next event on God’s timetable is Jesus coming. He, Himself said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).

Jesus also says:

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27).

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matthew 25:31).

The Bible is God’s Word, it is absolute truth! I stand on the inspired (God breathed), infallible, inerrant, and absolutely true Word of God. “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). “Every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5-NLT).

So when Jesus says, “I will come again” you can take to the bank! It will happen! “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13).

Verse 10b: “…to be glorified in His saints…”

The Lord Jesus Christ is coming to be glorified in His saints. Today He is in us as the hope of glory, but He will return soon to be glorified, marveled at, and admired by all of His believers.

“Glorify” has a double meaning, Christ is glorified in people who are glorified in Him, verse 12, “…that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him.” “Glorify” in Greek is doxazo meaning to honor or praise, to cause the dignity and worth of some person or thing to become manifest and acknowledged. Today we now live in a body that is less than glorious, it is weak, full of pain, subject to human frailties, and will eventually die. But our Lord desires to transform us into a resurrected body of glory like His.

Christ is in us as the hope of glory today, “Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory” (Colossians 1:27 NLT). But someday soon Christ will appear again to transfigure this body of flesh into the body of His glory. The body of Christ’s glory is a resurrected body, a body saturated with God’s glory and transcendent over any corruption and death. “He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control” (Philippians 3:21 NLT).

Christ said, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified” (John 12:24). "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again” (John 12:27,28). “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come…He will glorify Me” (John 16:13,14).

Verse 10c: “…to be admired among all those who believe…”

The Lord Jesus will be admired by His saints, who will see, for the first time, the greatness of the deliverance He has accomplished for us!

“What a difference between the first and second comings of our Lord! When he shall come a second time it will be to be glorified and admired, but when he came the first time it was to be despised and rejected by men. He comes a second time to reign with unparalleled splendor, but the first time he came to die in circumstances of shame and sorrow. Lift up your eyes, you sons of light, and anticipate the change, which will be as great for you as for your Lord; for now you are hidden even as he was hidden, and misunderstood even as he was misunderstood when he walked among the sons of men. “We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” His revelation will be our revelation, and in the day in which he is revealed in glory then his saints shall be glorified with him.” –C.H. Spurgeon

The glory and majesty of Christ is hopefully seen in his people now as we glorify Him, but when He returns His glory will be seen realistically in every believer as He is magnified in us!

“One of the most exhilarating experiences in life is to see a wonder or a marvel so great and so glorious that we are utterly amazed, speechless before beauty. That's how it will be when we see Jesus coming in His glory.” –John Piper

“The idea is that the glory of that day will far surpass anything of which we can have any idea before we behold it, and when we do behold it we shall be lost in amazement.” –Leon Morris

Verse 10d: “…because our testimony among you was believed.”

The Thessalonians will participate in the glory of the Second Coming because they believed the gospel. We will not share in this because of our morality but because of the work of Christ on the cross. Christians have a marvelous future because we believed the gospel.

Christianity, or the doctrine of salvation by Christ, is a testimony. A testimony is the proof necessary in matters that cannot otherwise be decided by rational deduction: as in these two cases:

“Well the Thessalonians certainly didn't want to miss this. And lest any of them should be in fear, he adds at the end of verse 10, ‘For our testimony to you was believed.’ You'll be there with the believers. You're one of us. You'll be there. You believed. Your faith is real. And that's the deciding point, beloved. Paul said, "When we came to you and preached, you believed it. When we gave you the gospel, you believed it. You obeyed the gospel of the Lord Jesus, you know God. You will be included." He's promising them relief. The key is belief for relief; unbelief for retribution. The choice is yours.” –John MacArthur

“Paul's uplifting message ends with the most uplifting vision of all. It ends with what we might call the reciprocal glory. When Christ comes he will be glorified in his saints and admired in those who have believed Here we have the breath-taking truth that our glory is Christ and Christ's glory is ourselves. The glory of Christ is in those who through him have learned to endure and to conquer, and so to shine like lights in a dark place. A teacher's glory lies in the scholars he produces; a parent's in the children he rears not only for living but for life; a master's in his disciples; and to us is given the tremendous privilege and responsibility that Christ's glory can lie in us. We may bring discredit or we may bring glory to the Master whose we are and whom we seek to serve. Can any privileged responsibility be greater than that?” –William Barclay

Paul’s Prayer:

Verses 11a: “Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling…”

Whenever you see the word “therefore,” ask, what is it “there for?” The Greek word oun is used here, meaning “consequently,” “these things being true,” “with this in mind.” So Paul’s is saying, consequently, these things (Christ’s coming and the judgment) being true, and in view of the coming glorification of Christ in His saints, we “always” pray for you.

The “always” strongly states how often these believers were on Paul’s mind and heart.

“This calling” is that which had brought them into the kingdom, and led them to become Christians. “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:30). “For no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws them to Me, and at the last day I will raise them up” (John 6:44 NLT).

“who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1).

“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).

Verse 11b: “…and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power…”

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

“And if you be faithful to his grace, he will fulfill–completely accomplish, all the good pleasure of his goodness in you; which goodness is to be apprehended and is to work by faith, the power of which must come from him, though the act or exercise of that power must be of yourselves; but the very power to believe affords excitement to the exercise of faith.” –Adam Clarke

May God fill you with all that good which is pleasing to him.

Verse 12: “…that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me…” (John 17:21-23).

“That the name of the Lord Jesus may be glorified.” This is our goal as believers, that God and Christ may be glorified in our lives. Our own happiness and that of others should be subordinate to this ultimate end. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Our good works should so shine before men that others may glorify God, that Christ may be glorified in and by us, and then we shall be glorified in and with him.

Let me conclude with a reminder that Jesus is coming soon. The time is short, we are rapidly coming to a new age on earth. We are looking for the glorious return of Jesus Christ to earth, and this time it’s going to be different! When Jesus was here on earth He was never treated as He should have been.

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him” (John 1:10).

“For even His brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5).

“The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).

He owned no real estate, “And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).

He was buried in a borrowed tomb, (Mark 15:43). He had only one garment (Mark 27:35).

He was betrayed by a disciple who swore he would never do that, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them” (Mark 14:10).

Where were His disciples when He was going through His trauma? There was a cloud of dust on the road leading out of Jerusalem as they ran frightened, fearing the same thing would happen to them! Only John stood by Him.

The world mocked Him, spit on Him, scourged Him, jammed a crown of thorns down upon His head, plucked out His beard, beat Him mercilessly, and finally crucified Him. Our word “excruciating” means “out of the cross.” He suffered tremendous pain, indignation and humiliation, and for what? For us! “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures!” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Next time it’s going to be different: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Are you ready? “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28,29).

“John brings up a challenging image. When Jesus returns, some people will be afraid, because they never knew Jesus. ‘Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22). But some who know Him will be ‘ashamed before Him at His coming.’ They will realize that they have been living worldly, unfruitful lives. In one moment, the understanding will overwhelm them that whatever else they accomplished in life, they did not abide in Him as they could have. Paul the Apostle speaks of those who are barely saved, that will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, ‘yet so as through fire’ (1 Corinthians 3:15). There are those who, for at least a moment, the coming of Jesus will be a moment of disappointment rather than glory. “If you abide in the faith of him, holding his truth, following his example, and making him your dwelling-place, your Lord may come at any hour, and you will welcome him” (Charles H. Spurgeon).

Life was filled with guns and war,

And everyone got trampled on the floor.

I wish we'd all been ready!

Children died the days grew cold,

A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold.

I wish we'd all been ready!

A man and wife asleep in bed,

She hears a noise and turns her head, he's gone.

I wish we'd all been ready!

Two men walking up a hill,

One disappears and one's left standing still.

I wish we'd all been ready!

There's no time to change your mind

The son has come and you've been left behind.

(Larry Norman)

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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