Justice for All
Justice for All
Words of Faith 4-16-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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2 Thessalonians 1
 All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.  God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you  and 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.  He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power  on 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.
Things had been tough in Thessalonica, and Paul knew about it personally. The church had been persecuted from the beginning.
Initially, a group from the synagogue stirred up trouble against any who listened to Paul and followed in the way of Jesus. They started a riot and then managed a local ban on Paul and his message. They probably argued that this religion was hateful and stirred up trouble. This group even traveled out of town to Berea to cause trouble for Paul (Acts 17)! In Thessalonica, a contentious relationship continued between the church and the city officials and those who rejected the message Paul had preached.
Paul encouraged the Thessalonians with a somewhat rare reference to the judgment and justice of God. Most of the time, Paul did not waste words on those who opposed him. This was part of the plan and course of action. But here, Paul talked about justice. God is just. He will handle those who have opposed the Gospel of Christ. He will manage the destiny of those who cause trouble for the church of Jesus Christ.
Justice will come in two ways. God will pay back trouble to those who trouble you, and He will give relief to those who are troubled. But this relief will not be immediate. There may be relief along the way but the real day of justice will come when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His mighty angels. Wow! Paul painted a scene of justice so dramatic and brilliant that it would make George Lucas and Steven Spielberg gasp. This revelation, in itself, will be an act of justice that will settle all arguments once and for all. There will be no more words, pleas, sermons, or apologetics. Truth will be revealed.
Paul made it clear that in this day of justice there will be punishment for two groups-- those who do not know God and those who chose not to obey the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. This may not seem fair in the minds of some, but there is one thing we can be sure of-- God is just (1:6). God will set everything right that needs to be set right.
There will be an everlasting punishment. Part of this punishment is to be irretrievably "shut out" from the presence of the Lord and the majesty of His power. The Lord will be glorified in His holy people, and this will include the Thessalonians.
It was important for the Thessalonians to know that when the Lord judges them, they will be declared worthy of God's kingdom. But why is this? Endurance in trials does not make one worthy of heaven. One does not earn heaven by suffering. But endurance in trials does demonstrate one's worthiness. A Christian is made worthy by God's grace, which he receives as a free gift by faith in Jesus Christ. His trials simply expose what is there already by the grace of God. It is the grace of God that makes it possible for a Christian to withstand the fires of human experience. This grace is a Christian's only claim to being worthy of God's kingdom.
It seems that the purpose of the Thessalonians' sufferings was to bring glory to God by manifesting His grace in the way they bore up under their trials. Their suffering demonstrated that they were considered worthy of God's kingdom. In another sense, they were suffering as soldiers of Christ.
There is a lot here to grapple with. There is indeed an encouragement in knowing that there will be justice and those who persecute the church will get there comeuppance so to speak. God is just. But there is also great grief associated with that thought as well.
There is a startling reality related to the importance of the Gospel and the consequence for those who reject it. As we look around there is a war going on to prevent the proclamation of the Gospel and the stakes are eternal. Some of those judged by the Lord are those who never bothered to get to know God, but others are those who have chosen not to obey the Gospel.
All this we hear in an arena of increasing persecution. Persecution of the Christian faith is growing in our world every day. In some countries, Christians are burned alive for their faith. In the so-called free world, every religion is celebrated except for Christianity which is seen as an offense in the public square and the school room. Christianity is the only fair target for ridicule in arts and entertainment. Paul's words paint a grave picture for those who don't know God and those who choose to reject the Gospel in disobedience. We are spurred to proclaim the truth more carefully than ever.
The battle for the day is about so much more than Christmas trees and Menorahs-- "Holiday Greetings" and Nativity scenes in public places. These are just the most visible signs of the rigid intolerance toward the Gospel that is much like what Paul experienced in Thessalonica. The real battle is much more for the hearts of people who need the Gospel of Life that is found only in the grace of the Lord Jesus. This is the real message of the season. This is what the Thessalonians were fighting for, not retribution or comeuppance. The real victory was to win the hearts of the lost for Jesus.
Father God, I am grateful for Your justice. I trust that all things will be made right. Give me the courage and the words to share Your Gospel at this season. Help me to help You to win the hearts of the lost for Jesus. Give me a charitable heart toward those who do not know You and those who have chosen disobedience. Help me to share the message of Life. In Jesus' name.