In this sermon, Pastor Babij teaches on the perseverance of the saints. Pastor Babij explains how true saints (Christians) will persevere in the faith amid a general increase of lawlessness and apostasy before the Day of the Lord. As Christ’s coming gets closer, many will fall away from the faith, and many false teachers will arise. The Holy Spirit-indwelt church is the current restrainer of lawlessness but will be removed so that the man of sin and lawlessness may be revealed. Pastor Babij reminds listeners that true Christians will endure by faith to the end and thus one day experience total rest and safety with God.
Let’s take our Bibles this morning. Being that I have kind of finished in some sense the seven churches of Revelation and now we’re heading into the holidays, I wanted to just go back and I want you to take your Bibles and turn first of all to Matthew chapter 24.
Remember, in the last several messages, the five warnings the Lord Jesus gave the churches and also the two churches identified in Revelation as having no warnings or condemnations. Again, reminding you that the church is the main instrument on earth, the main institution on earth, that the Lord has ordained to get the gospel to the world and to sanctify those who have obeyed the gospel and have become part of the body of Christ. The church remains the lampstand that holds the light and its commission to share the light in its area. So then, the one great mission of the church is to share the light. I’ve been saying that every single week.
However, in each of the five churches that were warned about their sin, they were also given counsel to repent of their sin, so that the light of the gospel would not be further diminished. God’s mercy also gave the churches counsel on how to be rescued from their backslidden condition. The way was to repent of that sin, put it to death, and get back to where they fell from. You hear Christ say in Revelation 2:5 that if they don’t do that, then they will no longer bear the light and God will remove that church, or remove the lampstand which is the church, unless they repent. The first church was to repent of declining love. The second church was to repent of allowing the truth to slip by tolerating that doctrine influenced by the culture. The third church was to repent of its compromising with sin and tolerating sinful practices is in the church. The fourth church was warned that they should repent of sinful complacency, meaning that they were self-satisfied without being aware of the possible dangers. And then the fifth church, Laodicea, was the church of spiritual indifference. They lacked interest, care, and concern for spiritual things. The church became lukewarm. Of course when the church becomes lukewarm for the Lord, that is a nauseating condition, and He does not like it at all and wants the church to repent. Now many believe that this last church is kind of the church that’s going to be more at the end of the church age. We’re of course pretty much are at the end of the church age. I don’t know when the Lord’s coming back. So if the church does not bear and hold the light of the gospel of Christ, who will hold it? No one will hold it.
So the message to all the seven churches have been given in the backdrop of the coming of the Lord. The Lord is coming. That’s one of the motivations to keep being faithful. Upon Christ’s return to the earth, it will be exceedingly difficult for sinners to believe upon Christ. It will become exceedingly difficult for churches to do regular ministry. It will be exceedingly difficult to do the regular normal things that we’re so comfortable with and used to because of the times that are coming.
Now there are several reasons for this. That’s why I want you to look at Matthew 24. The first reason during the time of the end, for these difficulties, is that the times themselves will be difficult for all people, especially for true believers. If you notice in Matthew 24:9 it says:
Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
They’re showing there’s a difficult time coming. In fact, Paul tells young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. He says:
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
And why will those times come? And why will they be difficult?
For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.
Avoid these people. Stay away from those people. They are infectious. They are poison to the church, to the gospel, to your own Christian growth in life.
Also during the time of the end, there will come a time when an apostasy from the faith will occur. And I’m going to look more about that in Thessalonians this morning. In Matthew 24:10 it says:
At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
Fall away from what? Well, I’m going to look at that. Then the third thing during the time of the end: as the truth of the gospel advances, so will the lies of the devil. And it says in Matthew 24:11:
Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
It will be a time marked by unprecedented spiritual deception and demonic darkness. If I turned over to 2 Peter, which I want to get to in January, it says in chapter 2 verse 1:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
Are there false teachers today? Maybe false teachers that you don’t even consider to be false teachers. Let me just mention one of them. Joel Osteen has the largest church in the US. But don’t be deceived by the size and success. The best he has to offer is that he is a positive thinker and a motivational speaker. He wants his followers to have their best life. Actually he wrote a book – “Your Best Life Now”. But when Osteen is evaluated through the lens of Scripture, he lines more up with being a false teacher than a true teacher. And be sure, discernment is very much needed in this area because some of you may have listened to him and maybe you still do. I warn you to stop listening to him.
And when I get to 2 Peter, as I just mentioned sometimes this coming year, you will find that included in the message of the epistle of 2 Peter, the apostle Peter actually warned the church that false teachers are coming. When you keep reading to Jude, Jude says they’re already here. And when you get to reading Jude, you’ll find that that’s exactly the case. He was actually going to write on something else, but that was such a great burden by the Holy Spirit on his heart, he decided to write on false teachers are here. And some have evaluated Osteen as being a pagan religionist. He is a quasi pantheist. That means he believes all religions are a way to God, that Jesus Christ is not exclusive, the only way the truth and the life to God. He also thinks that people have the power within themselves to change their lives. He says anyone can create by dreams and words the things he desires.
Of course, that is the health, wealth, happiness, and success mantra of that movement for a long time. In fact, this has been consider the law of attraction, the health and wealth system. It appeals to the base sinful lust and passions of the corrupt human heart. Osteen says that God wants to give you the desires of your heart. Well, if you’re considering Psalm 34, you have to delight yourself in the Lord first before He gives you the desires of your heart. And if you delight in the Lord first, your desires will be His desires and not your own. That’s not what He means. And by the way, God’s word for Osteen is not the Bible, but the word that comes to him and his people mystically and spiritually that tells them what they should want. It is the health wealth and prosperity camp and that is their usual mantra all the time: believe, visualize, and speak out. You can create your own reality. Matter of fact, that’s how one gets what they want.
Actually Osteen said that I know these things are true because they work for me and my wife. That’s the philosophy of pragmatism. Pragmatism has been around in the United States for 40 years. In fact, pragmatism is a homespun “ism”. It’s an Americanism. What does it say? If it works for me, it must be true. Whether it’s true or not is not the matter. What the matter is is that if it creates for me a good reality and it works for me, then it’s true for me. It may not be true for you, but it’s true for me. And whatever is true for you is true for you. In other words, you can believe anything you want and it doesn’t have to be examined by anybody. And that’s the culture we live in right now. Believe what you want. Your opinion is just as valid as the next person’s. It’s not examined by anything truthful or any standard.
So what’s the source of all this kind of teaching? Well the source is Satan himself. This is how the mystery of iniquity is working in the world to deceive people to think they are doing fine when they are not doing fine, that everything is peaceful when things are not peaceful in the spiritual sense. When in reality they think they are secure, and yet they are on the broad road that leads to hell. So this is satanic, and his teaching is satanic. It’s not just off-center. It is demon manufactured and propagated because the health wealth prosperity and the fulfillment of your dreams and desires – that is what Satan always offers to people. He’ll give you what you want. That’s what he’ll do. And he’ll give it to you until you are destroyed. You know what that’s called? That’s really called temptation. He will tempt you. He will present something to you and then when you take it and you grab it, then it will be conceived in you and you will bear forth sin.
So based on the lust of the flesh, on the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. This is what the corrupt, fallen, unregenerate people want all the time. That is why it works so well. That’s why it gathers such large crowds. That’s what people really want. Satan turns sinful temptation into honorable desires. The reason why these false teachers are so successful in what they do is because they are in league with the devil. Well, that’s false Christianity. It’s a false view of God. It’s a twisted view of Scripture. Look at what 1 John tells us. It says:
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrist have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.
So when you see an entertainer like Kanye West be pretty much endorsed by Osteen and then him turning around and endorsing Osteen as legitimate Christian teaching and ministry, that’s very problematic. And it looks good. It sounds good. It’s attractive. And we would think that can’t be wrong because of all the things connected to it. But if you don’t look at it through the lens of Scripture, you will be deceived. See, there are many false prophets today. Satan is working most through religion. That’s how he deceives people. He’s recruiting people to the narrow road through religion, but it’s not the narrow road. It’s actually the broad road, because as many people as you want can get on it and they think they’re heading in the right direction and they’ll find out they’re not. Unless the gospel comes in, the true gospel, and unless the Spirit of God convicts them of sin, they will head that way and they will slip off into a lost eternity without Christ.
So during the end, as the true gospel advances, so will the lies of the devil. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Make sure it’s not you. Also during the time of the end, the hearts of people will grow cold because people will be a law unto themselves and disregard God’s law and civil order. Look at Matthew 24:12:
Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
The church is to bear the light of the gospel. Let me back up for a minute. When I’m done with something and moving on, there’s other things that come into my mind. If you think that lawlessness will increase – lawlessness where? Everywhere. Just think in the last couple years how many police have been disrespected and even killed because of the rhetoric that has been generated. Teachers are leaving their profession in the highest percentage ever for this reason – because there is a lack of consequences for unruly students and parents and administrations who do not back up the teachers, where they cannot teach. Why? Because lawlessness is increasing in people’s hearts, from the lowest level, from the lowest grades. I’m not talking about high school. I’m talking about kindergarten, first grade, kids being violent and disruptive in the class and the parents not doing anything and the administration is afraid to do anything. We live right now in these days.
But thank the Lord. I said that the church is to bear the light of the gospel right up until the end. And if you notice in Matthew 24:14, it says:
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
So this is God’s plan. The gospel, no matter what time it is, how bad it gets, how dark it gets, the gospel is still going to be preached, until the last person hears it, trust Christ, and is saved. Only God knows that. And then the end will come. So God will be calling elect sinners to salvation by the irresistible call of the gospel right up until the day that Christ takes out His church and then of course Christ returns. The time of the return of Christ, God will have a people prepared to receive Him.
So this Lord’s day, let me consider that in the midst of all the difficulties of life, we must continue to meditate on what will happen. What will take place so we are not duped and deceived? In this life, God permits his people to be troubled and plagued, either with wars or chaos or crimes of all kinds and other injuries. Through these things, God sets before us how unstable and fleeting all the goodness of mankind would be and how all humanity is subject to mortality, that they’re heading down a bad road.
We must always be ready to contemplate the age to come. Such contemplation, I believe, transforms us and helps God’s people to live according to the teachings of Christ, always considering ourselves as strangers and pilgrims on the earth who seek the joy and the peace of God’s future kingdom, because we’ll not find it in fullness here.
So thinking rightly about the end time events will keep us awake and it will keep us sober. It will also bolster our faith and bring really the comfort that we need in the midst of trials, especially those who will endure trials for the sake of the gospel itself, for the sake of living a holy life. Those who live holy will suffer persecution.
So the Thessalonians, and that’s where I want you to turn now, understood based on the Old Testament that the day of the Lord began with a period of intense earthly suffering and really serves as a prelude to Messiah’s personal return to the earth. The Thessalonians had already demonstrated their resolve and perseverance under trials, where it says in 1 Thessalonians 2:14:
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews.
So they understood what it meant to have persecution. But since the first letter of 1 Thessalonians, another letter came that was not written by the apostle Paul, but was written by someone else. It was called a pseudo letter or a false letter. In that letter, someone had concluded that they had indeed entered into a period called the day of the Lord already. Brethren, if one day you woke up, and someone you thought was in the know told you your persecution shows that we are already in the day of the Lord, when you were expecting the coming of the Lord Jesus and are gathering together to Him, you would be confused and frightened also. The second epistle of 2 Thessalonians is coming to a people who are confused and frightened that somehow they missed the coming of the Lord and are now in the day of the Lord. That’s why he writes. He writes to correct a false letter that came to the church.
So the main concern in these matters is that the beloved Thessalonians would not be deceived. That’s the whole point of all Scripture, that we would not be deceived. Christians are in the know. We know what the truth is, and the truth is going to help you evaluate everything else that’s going on. So he intends, the apostle Paul, to dispel their ignorance by teaching that the day of the Lord could not have already come or taken place. So these believers thought because of some false information, that they were in the day of the Lord and they were in tribulation. The apostle Paul explains to them and to us that the day of the Lord has not yet come, because if it did, he says you’re still here. If you’re the church and you’re still here, then the Lord didn’t come. That’s what he gets at.
So the day of the Lord cannot come as long as the coming of our Lord and our gathering together to Him has not taken place. Scripture record that there are certain things that must occur before the full force of God’s eschatological judgment will be manifested. I want to kind of consider those three things that are going to be present before the day of the Lord comes, as spoken of in the Old Testament.
And the first one is 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. Notice what he says there:
Let no one in anyway deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first.
So the first thing that must occur before the day of the Lord is that there is going to be an apostasy. It must come first. You just can’t get away from the force of what this particular text is saying. Don’t be deceived and be led astray by such incorrect information. Paul broadens the warning to go beyond the conversation in the letter. He includes: listen, don’t be tricked by anyone. Don’t be gullible when a new deceiver or false teacher pulls off some stunt in religion which get your attention. The word he uses here is that let no one deceive you in any way, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first. The word first means first of several in a sequence of happenings. In other words, the day of the Lord is not present unless first in sequence within that day there comes an apostasy.
Now the word apostasy comes from the Greek word apostasia, which is translated “fall away” in this passage. So the word is closely related to the Greek word for divorce or to be separated. It seems clear that the word here means a religious revolt. It is not clear though whether Paul means the revolt of the Jews from God or the gentiles from God or of Christians from God or of the apostasy that includes all classes within and without the body of Christians. Apostates are those who fall away from the true faith, abandoning what they formerly profess to believe. That’s what an apostate is. The term really describes those whose beliefs are so deficient as to place themselves outside the scope of true christianity. For example, a liberal denomination that places themselves outside the scope of true Christian, that denies the authority of Scripture or denies the deity of Christ. They would become an apostate denomination. Now don’t forget that what the kingdom parables taught – that we are in the seed sowing age in which good wheat (which are the children of the kingdom) and imitation wheat (which are the children of the evil one) are mixed together and will be mixed together until the end of the church age. So there are true believers and tares in the church. Now saying that, it could be that it is the tares that begin to leave from inside the true church. Those who fall away into apostasy demonstrate that their faith was never real to begin with. In fact 1 John writes about this in 1 John 2:19. Listen to what he says:
They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
he’s saying there that people are going to leave from inside the true church, and they are going to deny the true faith and leave. Now, that could be very confusing to people. That can be very disheartening to people when that happens. Of course true Christians do not apostasize. I want to emphasize that. They persevere until the end. Actually the title of my message is the perseverance of the saints, but I’m not going to get to that part this morning. That’s next week. But there’s some examples in Scripture of general apostasy. When Jesus Christ, in John 6:66, was preaching to the multitude, they all left him. And he said to his disciples: will you leave me? They said: no Lord, you have the words of eternal life. So they were disciples, but they were not true disciples because when Jesus really gave the gospel to them, they said I’m not signing up for that. I’m out of here. We have Hymenaeus and Alexander in 1 Timothy chapter 1. It says about them:
keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.
And then we have Demas under Paul in 2 Timothy 4:10:
For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me.
But he was following him. So he was with them. And believe me those times when people you think are believers and then all of a sudden something happen, like it says in the parable of the sower, some tribulation comes in their life, some difficulty comes in their life, something happens in their life, and all sudden they say: I’m gone. I’m gone. I’m not doing this. A real believer never does that, because they know the truth. They hold to the truth. So these are all examples of a larger and a wider-spread religious apostasy that will take place in the last days prior to the day of the Lord.
Also Scripture record that there is another thing that must occur before the full force of God’s end-time judgment will be manifested. And what’s the second thing? Right here in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 – the man of sin. It says:
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed.
I’m breaking up verse number 3 in these sections because it’s a sequence of things that are taking place. It’s not a one-time event. It’s a sequence of events that happen. Christians are not unaware of it. So the attributes of His character cannot go unnoticed in the passage. Where’s Paul getting this information? He’s getting it from the prophet Daniel. He already had given a good description of the evil character of this end time man. It says here that he’s a man of lawlessness, who is not satan. We are not talking about Satan here. He is energized by Satan but he is not Satan. He is some definite person who is doing the work of Satan. But note here that the implication is that the man is hidden somewhere who would be suddenly manifest at a particular time. He will be revealed or disclosed at a particular time.
If you go back to Daniel, we find in Daniel that he gives and lays out his character. He says in Daniel 11:36:
Then the king will do as he pleases,
That means he will be a man who is self-willed. As he desires, meaning that he has an unchallengeable authority. Antichrist will arrogantly believe that he can function sufficiently well without any divine help. So the bottom line is that antichrist does whatever he wants when he’s on the scene, whenever he wants to whomever he wants, without restrain, with no one ever questioning it, lest they be in trouble.
A second thing that it says in our texts in verse 4:
who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or objective of worship,
The antichrist will go far beyond anything the world has ever seen, not only because he is self-willed but he also is egotistical. In Daniel 11:36:
he will exalt and magnify himself…
Meaning that he has a huge ego. And he’s likable. He’s a man of peace. The verbs used in Daniel is that he will exalt and magnify himself -those are verbs in the Old Testament only used of God. And he inserts himself against God. Then if you noticing our text in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, it says:
so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
The antichrist will present himself to the world as being God. That’s his ultimate goal. His ultimate goal is to present himself as the only one to be worshipped. So that means from Daniel 11:36: he’s atheistic. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god. Antichrist will be an atheist and reject all religions except the one he establishes when he declares himself God. And then notice verse 5 what he says. It says:
do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
Paul had already a long conversation with the Thessalonians about what’s going to happen before the day of the Lord. So he’s reminding them of something they should have already known, but somebody wrote a letter and confused them and they didn’t know what to believe. Paul’s reaffirming what he first taught them. He’s bringing them back to the truth. And then versus six of chapter 2, it says:
And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.
In other words, you know what’s holding him back. That is, the man of lawlessness, this lawless one who is not Satan, but some definite person who is doing the work of Satan, energized by Satan, hidden away somewhere, will be manifest. When he is manifest, he will be known. So the real purpose for the restraint is that it has a divine purpose. That is the restraint. The man of lawlessness may be revealed in his time, at the proper time. In other words, when God wants him to be revealed. So the Lord’s all in control of what’s happening in the end time. That means something presently is being exercised to hold back the unveiling of this man of sin. One commentator said the restraint prevents the premature manifestation of the man of sin as the very embodiment of iniquity. So you see, this man of sin can only be revealed when the time is ripe, when history is ripe. This man of lawlessness will only be revealed at a divinely appointed time. Yes, God knows how to control the activity and advancement of evil.
Look at verse seven. Here’s a third thing – there’s going to be removal of the restrainer. It says verse 7:
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
You must agree with this passage that the aggressive forces of evil are already operative and evident all around us. Wherever we look, we see that there is lawlessness, that there is wickedness. And the wickedness is becoming unhinged, uncontrollable. People are not willing to do anything about it as we once did. So it was then and it is now and maybe now in a greater extent. So who’s the restrainer? Who does it refer to?
Now it says here for the mystery of lawlessness. The mystery does not mean something mysterious or unintelligible, but rather something formerly unknown, but now is revealed. Paul’s revealing it to them and us. That is something undiscoverable by mere human search is now only known when God reveals it. The lawlessness of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is not simply referring to disorder or the violation of law, but is referring to what is behind the lawlessness. Behind the lawlessness is the aim of the devil to overthrow the law of God and establish his own rule. That’s always behind lawlessness. When we see the crazy stuff going on and there’s no sense at all on how they conclude those things, you know Satan has his fingerprints all over it. That’s what he does. He deceives. He deceives through people, through people that have their own agenda.
So even though this evil man of sin is not revealed yet, the spirit that will permeate his career is already operational. Even though this lawlessness is working now, it is working under restraint. That means lawlessness is not as bad as it will be. Something is in the way of it fully gushing out. And that will not always be the case. The restrainer, it says in our text in verse 7, will be removed. Until it is taken out of the way, the only holding back now till out of the way he becomes. That whatever or whomever is performing the restraining function, it will be taken out of the midst of everything. Then there will be a manifest unrestrained monstrous evil, which will go to such depths that it will defy explanation and description.
So who’s the restrainer? Who’s holding things back? Well all sorts of interpretations that you read through and commentaries. Some say it’s the Roman Empire. Some say it’s the human government. Some say it’s Satan himself. Some say it’s Elijah. Some say it’s the angel Michael. Some say it’s the preaching of the gospel. And others are saying different things. There are all kinds of interpretations of the passage, but the important question one must ask and answer is: what is able to hold back the endeavors of Satan the enemy? Who’s powerful enough to do that? If Satan is the prince of power of the air, then I believe that there has to be someone very powerful to be able to hold him back. So the answer is only a supernatural being can truly hold back the workings of Satan. The fact that the restrainer will be out of the midst seems to speak of one who is now in the midst. This seems to point clearly to the Holy Spirit. See, the Spirit of God who is now here in person as an indweller of the saints and as an indweller of the temple of god. In other words, it is the church in-dwelt by the Spirit of God that is holding back the evil one.
So you see how important the church is? You see how important holiness is and godliness? You see how important truth is? As we move through our life, the most important thing is going to be what you think about God and how you understand the Word of God and what’s happening next. God doesn’t want us to be deceived. He wants us to know these things, so we know what to expect.
So the indwelling spirit will be out of the midst of this present scene when the returning Christ calls the church to Himself. Since the removal of the restrainer takes place before the manifestation of the lawless one or the evil one, I believe the text implies that it will be a pre-tribulation rapture. In other words, the church is going to be taken out before all these things take place. The church has to be removed so satanic iniquity and lawlessness and the mystery of lawlessness can explode into the world.
Now I need to remind you that it doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit will be taken out, but the restrainer. Meaning this – the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way. The difference lies in the change of meaning between residence and presence. As a member of the Godhead, the Spirit is omnipresent. He always has been in the world. He was there when the world was created. He certainly will continue to be present during the Seven year tribulation period. But at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit assumed the special relationship to the church as its indweller, as its teacher, as its giver of Scripture. But after the completion of His work in the church, He will resume the relationship to mankind He had before Pentecost. So it doesn’t mean the Spirit of God is removed completely. The Spirit of God now works during the tribulation in a different way because the church is no longer there. So when the Holy Spirit, which is the indweller of believers making up the body of Christ the church, removes His residence, not His presence, then and only then can the man of lawlessness be revealed. Consequently, the church must be removed before the man of sin is exposed. If you read the text and the flow of the text, that’s exactly what takes place.
So the Spirit will be taken out of the way in at least two senses. Number one: the temple in which the Spirit dwells, that is the church, will be removed. After the rapture of the church, after we’re caught up together to be with the Lord, the Lord doesn’t come back down to the earth for the church. He comes in the clouds. We meet Him in the clouds. We go back to heaven with Him for the time the tribulation is going on on the earth below. During that time, that’s when the Lord brings the tribulation and the wrath of God upon the ungodly world. And then also what He is doing is He is raising up preachers, 144,000 is going to preach the gospel. We have the two angels preaching the gospel. We have the two witnesses preaching the gospel. And Israel realizes that they’re not saved and they need Christ. So they look back to Isaiah 53 and they realize Him whom they had pierced and they begin to believe. In the mid-section, the three and a half years section of the tribulation, they begin to come to Christ. Paul says in Romans where all Israel be saved nationally. It doesn’t mean every Jew will be saved during that time. Nationally, they’ll be saved in the land. And that’s when of course there’s a battle with Satan and the Lord wins and the Lord comes and then we have the Millennial period after the tribulation period.
If you noticed in Thessalonians, notice verse eight says:
Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth…
The Lord will slay him with the breath of His mouth. The power that precedes from the Lord Jesus is no match for the antichrist. In the story, the little red riding hood and the three little pigs, the big bad wolf blew the straw house of the little pig down with ease. The Lord Jesus is good and destroys with ease the blasphemous individual by the breath of His mouth, the power of God. That really comes right out of Isaiah 11:4 where it says:
But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
So it will be easy for the Lord to take care of the enemy. And of course it will be decisive. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8, at the end it says:
bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
The Lord will end it. And He ends it by just showing up.
So in summary, Paul positively and in more detail tells us that what these events are and in what order they will occur. Expressions used like now, at the proper time, already, then. There’s three groups that he’s actually presenting in this text. First, there’s the present events, the restraining power going on right now. The mystery of lawlessness is at work, but the man of lawlessness has not been revealed yet. We’re in the present right now. That’s happening right now. And then the future events before the end, there’s going to be the apostasy. There’s going to be the restraining power that is removed so the man of lawlessness can be revealed and he can unleash his wickedness and his plan across the whole world. And then you have false signs and wonders that come with him to deceive people. The best way to deceive people is to have a little bit of magic there. Sleight of hand is always a good way to deceive, and he’s going to do that. Then at the end, which is the third set of events, is that the man of lawlessness is destroyed, the day of the coming of the Lord is at hand, and the wicked perish. In verse 10, it says:
and with all the deception of the wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
Here’s people that outright rejected the gospel, and they have not been saved. So what does God promise us? Not wrath, but rest. Not judgment, but His presence. See, that’s what He promises is church. And then we will come back with the Lord in the Millennium to rule and reign on this earth with Him. I’ve been mentioning that and I’m going to mention some of that when I talked about the perseverance of the saints next week.
Here’s the point that I want to make today to close. Despite this unparalleled spiritual opposition, all believers will be kept secure by God and we’ll persevere to the end. They will not apostasize. God will preserve all those He has saved by His grace and will transport them safely to heaven. The elect will be divinely enabled to overcome and be a perseverer, right to the end. And that’s what it says in 1 John 5:5:
Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
And that’s just not basic knowledge. That is transformation. That is a whole life commitment to Christ. You know what you believe. You know in whom you believe. And you entrust your whole life to Him. And you know that now His plan is set before you. You are ready to live for Him. No matter what comes, you’re not ready to step off and deny Him at all. That’s what a real believer is, but God enables you to do that. What’s the Lord doing right now in heaven? He’s interceding for the saints. If the Lord didn’t intercede for the saints, we could never get to heaven. He’s keeping us in His prayers, that we would not be duped or deceived or walk away, but will be faithful to the end. Amen? That’s God’s Word. Are you ready? Are you ready? I pray that you are. And if you don’t know Christ, now is a good time to come, when the Spirit of God is speaking and the Word of God is coming into your ears. Repent, believe, and trust Christ.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You this morning again for the the Word of God. Lord, it is so unveiling. It’s so exacting. It’s so detailed. Thank You, Lord, for the things that are there for our benefit, for our instruction, for our encouragement, so we can be edified, so we can know the plan of God. Thank You, Lord, that You didn’t speak about these things in some corner, but on a rooftop, so all can understand and believe. And I pray, Lord, that those who don’t know You, who have never come genuinely to trust You and You alone as their Lord and Savior, I pray today if there’s someone here today that You’re calling the salvation, that You would call them and bring them to Yourself. That they may want to turn from everything they’re trusting in and turn and trust completely in You and in Your work on the cross. I pray Lord You would save people. Lord I pray You would continue to keep our church to be a light-bearer to the world. And I ask this in the precious name of Christ. Amen.