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2 Thessalonians 1:7b-9: Payback!

Verse 7b: “…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels…”

“Revealed” in Greek is apokalypsis means unveiling, disclosure, or revelation and uncovering. The Second coming will be a revealing of Himself to the world, which means it will be a revelation of His glory and power. “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel’” (Psalm 2:7-9).

In these words we have an awful description of the day of judgment, and of the process of that solemn day.

1. The Judge: The Lord Jesus, shall be revealed from heaven: Since His ascension, the heavens have contained Him, and concealed Him from our sight and senses; but He shall then visibly appear, and locally descend from the highest heavens into the region of the air. He shall come in the clouds, and every eye shall see Him.

2. His attendants: The mighty angels, every one stronger than an host of armed men. As the work Christ comes about is a great and mighty work, so he will have instruments strong and mighty, sufficient for that work; yet doth Christ make use of the angels, not for necessity, but for majesty, he can do his work without them.

3. The manner of his coming: In flaming fire, by which the heavens and the earth shall be burnt up, and in which the damned shall be eternally tormented.

4. The end of his coming: To take vengeance on the ignorant, and on the disobedient, on such as knew not God, and on them that do know, but obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus. –Adapted by the author from William Burkitt, Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament.

“Oh, what a glorious day must that needs be, when so many glorious suns shall shine at once; the Lord Christ outshining them all, velut inter ignes luna minores! He will not leave one angel in heaven behind him, Mark 8:38.” –John Trapp

Jesus Will Outshine Them all

Oh what glory awaits me, in heaven’s bright city.

When I get there what sights I’ll behold.

A million scenes of great beauty will demand that I view them.

But Jesus will out shine them all.

Sparkling rivers flowing. Happy faces all glowing.

Land of splendor where night never falls,

Golden glass gives reflection of that city’s perfection.

But Jesus will outshine them all.

Mansions will glisten on the hills of glory,

Happy reunions on streets of pure gold.

Angel choirs singing glad praises forever!

But Jesus will outshine them all.

–Gordon Jensen–

Verse 8a: “in flaming fire taking vengeance…” and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…”

“…taking vengeance” “O Lord, the God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, let your glorious justice shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult? They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage. They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless…” (Psalm 94:1-6).

How can a man of God deny eternal punishment for all of those without Christ. I know eternal retribution is not a popular subject, but as a man called by God to preach His Word, I can do no other. Paul writes, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). He also writes, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

In an editorial from the Los Angeles Times, June 19th, 2002: entitled, “Hold the Fire and Brimstone,” by –Staff writers, Mike Aaron and William Lobdell.

“Mention of hell from pulpits is at an all-time low. The downplaying of damnation shows the influence of sectarianism on Christian theology.”

“In churches across America, hell is being frozen out as clergy find themselves increasingly hesitant to sermonize on Christianity’s outpost for lost souls. There has been a shift in religion from focusing on what happens in the next life, to asking, ‘what is the quality of this life we’re leading now?’ You can go to a whole lot of churches week after week, and you’d be startled even to hear a mention of hell.’” –Harvey Cox Jr., eminent author, religious historian and professor at Harvard Divinity School.

Hell’s fall from fashion indicates how key portions of Christian theology have been influenced by a secular society that stresses individualism over authority and human psyche over moral absolutes. The rise of psychology, the philosophy of existentialism and the consumer culture have all dumped buckets full of water on hell. The tendency to downplay damnation has grown in recent years as non-denominationalism ministries, with their focus on everyday issues such as child-rearing and career success, have proliferated and loyalty to churches has deteriorated.

“It’s just too negative,” said Bruce Shell, a senior professor of church history at Denver Theological Seminary, “…churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer-oriented. Churches today feel the need to be appealing rather than demanding.”

A 1998 poll by Barna Research Group found that church-shopping has become a way of life. One in seven adults change churches each year; one in six regularly rotate between congregations. That fickleness has helped give rise to mega-churches, evangelical congregations of more than two-thousand people that mix Scripture with social and recreational programs in a casual atmosphere. Mega-churches routinely pay for market research on what will draw people to their ministries and keep them coming back.

“Once pop-evangelism went into market-analysis, hell was just dropped.” Said Martin Marty, Professor emeritus of religion and culture at Chicago University Divinity School. “When churches go door to door and conduct market research analysis, they hear, ‘I want better parking spaces. I want guitars in services. I want to have my car greased while I’m in church.’”

But Hell is far from dead! A May, 2001 Gallup poll of adults nationwide found that seventy-one percent believe in hell, they just don’t want to hear about it.

The landscape of evangelicalism is rapidly changing. In an article by Robert Brown in Christianity Today, entitled, “Evangelical Mega Shift” about “New Model” evangelicalism, which is really nothing but “old model” modernism or liberalism. For example, new model evangelism redefines hell, ie: “No one could possibly be in hell who would rather be in heaven. The wrath of God never means sending people to an eternal hell, it can simply be translated bad consequences.”

The tendency to deny a literal hell has penetrated Evangelicalism deeply. In a recent survey forty-six percent of evangelical students said, “Preaching about hell to unbelievers is in poor taste.” Worse, three out of every ten born again believers surveyed believe good people will go to heaven when they die, even if they have not trusted Christ as Savior.

Quite often I have been asked through my years in ministry, “Are you a fire and brimstone preacher?” or “I don’t like fire and brimstone preaching.” Here is just a sampling of Newspaper advertisements from Evangelical, User-Friendly churches:

“There is no fire and brimstone here! No Bible thumping! Just witty messages.”

“Our services have an informal feeling. You won’t hear people threatened with hell or referred to as sinners.”

“As with all pastors, the answer is God. But our pastor slips Him in at the end, and even then he doesn’t get heavy. He doesn’t even use the H-word. Call it the light gospel.”

“The sermons are upbeat, relevant, and best of all, short! You won’t hear a lot of preaching about sin and damnation. Preaching here doesn’t sound like preaching, it is sophisticated, urbane and friendly talk.”

“The pastor preaches a very upbeat message. It is a salvation message, but the idea is not so much being saved from then fires of hell. Rather it is being saved from meaninglessness and aimlessness in this life. It’s more of a soft-sell.”

After reading these commercials from some of today’s Evangelical churches, we do not have to wonder, when looking at the church of the “last days” Jesus says to them, “You make Me sick!” Revelation 3:16, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

Here is truth from God’s Word:

Hell is a real place! Our Lord Jesus spoke about the fires of hell thirteen times to every one time he spoke about heaven. Several times Jesus said, “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9).

There are fifty-six passages in the English Bible that use the word, “hell.” Most are translated as “sheol” or “hades,” meaning, “grave” or the “unseen state of the dead.” Ten passages use the word, “Gehenna,” a place of burning, referring to the Valley of Hinnom where refuse was burned outside of the city of Jerusalem. Bodies were dumped there. The fires burned continually. Gehenna is described as the future abode of those who do not know Christ.

Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Matthew 13:49,50, “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just…”

Matthew 25:41, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Matthew 25:46, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Mark 9:43, “ If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched.”

John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

2 Corinthians 5:11, “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…”

2 Thessalonians 1:9, “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

Revelation 20:15, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Revelation 21:8,“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

The Bible describes hell: “Lake of fire; furnace of fire; fire and brimstone; hell fire; outer darkness; everlasting punishment; everlasting fire; and everlasting destruction.” Hell is a place where you die, die, die, die, and yet you never die! It is everlasting punishment from the presence of the Lord!

Verse 8b: “…taking vengeance on those who do not know God

Many people know about God but really do not know God! “They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord” (Hosea 5:4).

To know about someone or something means to accumulate facts or information, in this case, God. Hundreds of volumes have been written by scholars and well-meaning people trying to provide information about God. One can spend many years in theological study and fill their head with information about God and never know God!

The fundamental difference between knowing about God and knowing God is about a personal relationship. Because God is a person, you can know about him but you don’t really know him until you have a personal relationship with him.

John 17:3,And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

Verse 8c: “…taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:16,17).

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

What is the Gospel? Paul, inspired by God’s Holy Spirit writes: “I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1Corinthians 15:1-4).

Jesus and the Gospel:

“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14,15).

“Then He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem’” (Luke 24:46,47).

Paul gives the formula:

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9,10,13).

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of His people. Because of His atoning death, we can know God personally, and we have the rights and privileges of the children of God.

Verse 9: “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…”

The word “punished” means to pay a price, to pay a penalty. God will repay the persecutors of the church at Thessalonica by giving them “everlasting destruction” in return for rejecting the gospel and persecuting the messengers of the gospel. They will not escape God’s retribution. “Destruction” means ruin, death. The use of “everlasting” here shows that God’s judgment is final with no appeal.

The final judgment of God is “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).

“The misery of hell will consist not only of physical torture, but the agony of being cut off from every avenue of happiness. God is the source of all good things (James 1:17). To be cut off from God is to forfeit all exposure to anything good. Hell will be a state of perpetual sin; yet those suffering there will possess full understanding of sin’s horrors. Remorse, guilt, and shame will be unending, yet accompanied by the conviction that the punishment is just.” –

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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