Life Changing Letters 2
Questions regarding the return of Jesus Christ have been asked by every generation. Paul brings clarity to our confusion by providing insight as we seek answers to questions about the Second Coming. Is there soul sleep? How will existing believers join those who return with Christ? What about those who died before Christ first came? What about cremation? When will the rapture happen? How do we encourage one another when end time events often seem ambiguous? In this study of 1 Thessalonians, we are encouraged to keep our focus on one main thing: love for God and our neighbor as we watch, pray, and prepare for our Lord’s return. 2 Thessalonians moves us beyond confusion about the Second Coming of Christ to the powerful delusion of the Antichrist. Paul offers five aspects about Satan’s deceptive influence about which we must be aware:
- the Day of the Lord,
- the Man of Lawlessness,
- the Great Restraint,
- Displays of Satanic Power, and
- the Great Delusion itself.
We can be safeguarded from Satan’s maniacal influence once we learn to properly test everything, holding fast to what is good. Whether in ancient eras, during the days of the early Church, or in our own times, myths have often sidetracked people from essential truths about God’s kingdom. Great and diverse civilizations have their own tailored, yet conflicting accounts of the origin of gods, creation, man, and more. The early Church faced a plethora of false teachers hawking secret knowledge. Modern scientism exalts itself over God, the Bible, and faith in Christ. How can we know what is true? Jesus said we shall know the Truth (Him) and we will be set free (from myths). God has not left us without logical reasons for faith, and this lesson explores many of them. When a person knows they are near the end of their life, their thoughts become more focused on things eternal. So it was with Paul as he wrote 2 Timothy, the last of his recorded Epistles. In this letter, we find three sets of final instructions for Timothy. Each portion of Paul’s counsel is surprisingly relevant for our day as well. People who write a last will and testament often give directives about physical possessions. Paul, however, urges us to look further — much further. How much time, energy, and attention do you spend caring for possessions that will pass away rather than for things of eternal value? Confidence in the future gives us courage to live in true freedom today. Such is a key takeaway from a study of the sister books, Titus and Philemon. The freedom that Paul experienced was all based on his surrender as a bond-slave to Christ. This is how he introduces himself in his letter to Titus. And the story of Philemon and his slave Onesimus gives Paul the opportunity to remind masters, slaves, and his readers that true freedom can only be experienced when we follow in Paul’s steps. The very aspects of surrender to God that we may think will cause us to feel stifled and in bondage will in reality lead us into realms of joy, peace, and victorious freedom we may have never known.