II Thessalonians 1:1-11

                                                    February 8, 2009

 

Paul, after the address and salutation, commences this Epistle by rendering thanks to

God for the welcome intelligence he had received of the increase of the faith and love

of his Thessalonian converts,  so that he was enabled to boast of them throughout all

the Churches of Achaia, on account of their steadfastness in the endurance of continued

persecution. Their present suffering was an evidence of a future state of retribution,

when the justice of God would be vindicated, and affliction would be rendered to

their persecutors and rest to them the persecuted, on that great day when the Lord Jesus

would appear in glory for the destruction of his enemies and the glorification of his people.

The apostle expresses his constant prayer for the Thessalonians that God would enable

them to walk worthy of their high vocation, so as to be made partakers of

that glory which would be conferred on believers at the advent.

 

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vs. 1-2 – the address and salutation are almost the same as from

            I Thessalonians 1:1 – below is the exposition from that text:

 

Paul. He does not call himself “an apostle,” not because the

Thessalonians were newly converted (Chrysostom), or from tenderness to

Silvanus who was not an apostle (Estius), or because his apostolic

authority was not yet recognized (Jowett), or because he had merely

commenced his apostolic labors (Wordsworth); but because his apostleship

had never been called in question by the Thessalonians. For the same

reason he omits this title in the Epistle to the Philippians; whereas he

strongly insists upon it in his Epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians,

because among them there were many opposed to his authority. And

Silvanus. The same as the Silas of the Acts. He is mentioned as a chief

man among the brethren, and a prophet or inspired teacher (Acts

15:22, 32). His Latin name renders it probable that he was a Hellenistic

Jew, and, like Paul, he was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37). He was sent

with Judas Barsabas from Jerusalem, to convey the apostolic decrees to

Antioch; and he accompanied Paul instead of Barnabas on his second

missionary journey (Acts 15:40). He suffered imprisonment with Paul

at Philippi; and was engaged with him in preaching the gospel in

Thessalonica, Beraea, and Corinth. His ministry at Corinth is honorably

mentioned by Paul in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians (2

Corinthians 1:9). After this there is no more mention of Silvanus in the

Acts, and it is doubtful whether he was the Silvanus by whom the First

Epistle of Peter was conveyed to the Churches of Asia (1 Peter5:12). 

 Ancient tradition, erroneously supposing that Silas and Silvanus

were different persons, makes Silas the Bishop of Corinth, and Silvanus the

Bishop of Thessalonica. And Timotheus. The well-known disciple of

Paul. He was a native of Lystra, having a Greek father and a Jewish mother

(Acts 16:1). He joined Paul and Silas on their second missionary

journey at Lystra, and was with them in Philippi, Thessalonica, and

Corinth. He was with Paul on his third missionary journey, and was sent by

him on a mission to Macedonia and Corinth (Acts 19:22;  1Corinthians 16:10),

and accompanied him into Asia on his last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4). He

was also with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment, when he wrote the

Epistles to the Philippians and Colossians (Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1).

Afterwards he resided at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3); from which he was recalled to

Rome by Paul shortly before his martyrdom (2 Timothy 4:21). The last mention

of Timothy is in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Know ye that our brother

Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you”

(Hebrews 13:23). According to ecclesiastical tradition, he became

Bishop of Ephesus, and there suffered martyrdom. Silvanus and Timotheus

are associated with Paul in his address to the Thessalonians, not to give

weight and authority to his Epistle, but because they assisted him in the

planting of the Church at Thessalonica, and were now with him at Corinth,

when he was writing this Epistle. Silvanus is placed first, because he was

the older and had been longer with the apostle, and, as is evident from the

Acts, was at this time the more important of the two (Acts 16:19; 17:4).

By being included in the address, they are represented as joint authors of the

Epistle with Paul, although they were only so in name. It is possible that Paul

employed one of them as his amanuensis in writing the Epistle.

 

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v. 3 – “faith growth exceedingly …and charity (love) toward each

            other aboundeth

 

v. 4 – “patience and faith”

 

            in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure”

 

In order for patience to be of any value in the sight of God, it must

be combined with faith.  Stoicism is never extolled in scripture.

 

To be a true Christian in the time of peace is a great matter; but to

be a true Christian in the season of persecution is greater.  Faith is

then tested in the furnace.

 

vs. 5-10 – THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

 

There will be a righteous judgment of men.

God is not forgetful or indifferent to the sufferings of His saints.

 

 

I. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THIS JUDGMENT. “Seeing it is a

righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict

you; and to you who are afflicted rest with us.”

 

1. An appeal is made to man’s innate sense of justice. A want of this

element of justice in human character is regarded as a defect. A right minded

man is indignant at wrong, and delights in the retribution that falls

upon wrong doers. This sentiment of justice is but a reflection of Divine

character, for we are made in the image of that God who hates sin with “a

perfect hatred’ (Psalm 139:22).

 

2. God is not unrighteous who taketh vengeance” (Romans 3:5), for

He has established in his government of the world an inseparable

connection between sin and misery. Therefore we may expect to see a

Divine retaliation upon transgressors — “affliction to them that afflict you”

the penalty partaking of the very character of the sin. On the other hand,

God is not “unrighteous to forget your work of faith and labour of love.”

The afflicted shall be recompensed with “rest,” as well as reward for all

their patience.

 

II. THE TIME OF THE JUDGMENT. “When the Lord Jesus shall be

revealed from heaven.”

 

1. There is a day appointed for the judgment of the world; for God “hath

appointed a day in which He wilt judge the world in righteousness by that

Man whom he hath ordained” (Acts 17:30, 31).

 

2. The day is that which is to be the manifestation of the Lord from

heaven. He is now in heaven, “sitting at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56);

but he shall then come forth in glory to those who “wait for him,” to

the judgment of the world.

 

3. The time of the judgment is unknown to man. The day of the Lord “shall

come as a thief in the night.”

 

III. THE SUBORDINATE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE JUDGMENT.

 

1. The angelic retinue. “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with

the angels of his power.”

 

   (1) They manifest His power and enhance His glory. They will be with Him

   when He “shall come in glory, and shall sit on the throne of His glory”

   (Matthew 25:31).

 

   (2) They execute His purposes, whether of wrath or mercy.

 

       (a) They “gather together His elect from the four winds” (Mark 13:27).

 

       (b) They “shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and

        them that do iniquity, and shall east them into a furnace of fire”

       (Matthew 13:41, 42).

 

2. The flaming glory of His manifestation. It shall be “in flaming fire;” not

as the instrument of vengeance, but as enhancing the glory of the Divine

presence. “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall

devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He

shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His

people (Psalm 50:3, 4).

 

IV. THE RESULTS OF THE JUDGMENT TO THE TWO CLASSES.

 

  1. The class of persecutors. “Those which afflict you.”

 

    (1) Wicked men cannot endure the saints. It is with them as with Cain, who

    slew his brother. Wherefore? “Because his own works were evil, and his

    brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).

 

    (2) The cry of the saints rises to heaven against them. “How long, O Lord,

    holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that

    dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10).

 

    (3) The persecutors are of two classes. “Them that know not God, and that

    obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

       (a) The first class refers to Gentile persecutors. “They know not God.”

       Ignorance is their great sin. They had resisted the light of nature.

 

         (a) It was wilful ignorance, for they had the truth brought to their

         doors in Thessalonica;

         (b) their ignorance made confidence in God impossible,

         (g) as well as an intelligent worship of God.

 

      (b) The second class refers to Jewish persecutors — “that obey not the

      gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As ignorance was the sin of the Gentiles,

      disobedience was the sin of the Jews. They knew God, but rejected the

      gospel of Christ. They were fiercer persecutors of the saints even than the

      Gentiles.

        (a) Christ is the Author of the gospel as well as its theme.

        (b) The gospel is to be obeyed as well as received, and is therefore

        calledthe obedience of faith;” for faith without obedience is dead,

        as obedience without faith has no value.

 

 

(4) The judgment upon the persecutors. It is described first generally and

  then more definitely. The Lord Jesus shall take vengeance upon them. They

  shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the

  Lord, and from the glory of his power.” This represents “the wrath of the

  Lamb” (Revelation 6:16, 17).

    (a) The judgment is everlasting destruction. This does not imply

    annihilation — an idea equally opposed to Scripture and to the facts of

    natural science. The term “everlasting” associated with it neutralizes the

    idea of annihilation, which implies a point of time in which the wicked

    cease to exist. The duration of the punishment will be as the duration of the

    blessedness (Revelation 16:26; Hebrews 9:14; Matthew 25:46).

   (b) It involves separation from “the face of the Lord, and the glory of his

    strength.” It is heaven to “see Christ as He is,” to be “with Him where He is,

    that they may behold his glory.” The sum of all woe is, “Depart from me.”

    A great gulf is fixed between the saved and the lost (Luke 16:26). The

    wicked are to be outside the apocalyptic city of God. “Outside are dogs”

    (Revelation 16:14, 15).

 

2. The class of saints. The results of the judgment as affecting them are

thus described.

 

  (1) They are to be accounted “worthy of the kingdom of God.”

     (a) They are heirs of it, as children of God.

     (b) They are called into it.

     (c) The kingdom “shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most

     High” (Daniel 7:27). “The saints shall judge the world” (1Corinthians 6:2, 3).

     They shall “inherit the kingdom” (Matthew 25:34). This is “the grace that is to

     he brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).

 

  (2) They shall receive rest — “rest with us,” as the Lord’s recompense for

  all their sufferings. It points to their release from persecutions.

    (a) There is a rest — a sabbatism — “for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).

    They “shall rest from their labours, and their works do follow them”

    (Revelation 14:13).

    (b) It is rest in the fellowship of all saints — “rest with us.”

 

 (3) The effect of the Lord’s second advent“that He may be glorified in

      His saints, and be admired in all them that believe.”

    (a) The Church is to be “the glory of Christ.” Jesus said, “The glory which

    thou gavest me I have given them” (John 17:10, 22). “The beauty of

    the Lord God shall be upon her,” and “His glory shall be seen upon her”

    (Psalm 90:17); Isaiah 60:2). The Church is addressed thus: “There

    shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem

    in the hand of thy God” (Isaiah 62:3).

 

 

   (b) Christ shall be an Object of wonder to believers in that day. “To be

    admired in all them that believe.” The wonder will spring out of the

    extraordinary manifestations of His glory and power.

 

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v. 5 – “a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God”

 

These words imply that the sufferings of the righteous and the prosperity

of their wicked persecutors was a clear proof that there shall be a future

state of retribution, when the inequalities of the present state of things will be

adjusted, when the apparent violations of justice will be rectified, and when

matters will be completely reversed — when the persecutors will be

punished and the persecuted rewarded (comp. Philippians 1:28, “And in

nothing terrified by your adversaries; which is to them an evident token of

perdition, but to you of salvation and that of God”)

 

that ye may be counted worthy” – this does not mean that man can

merit salvation as a reward – all men are sinners and salvation can only

be obtained through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, God’s only

Son!

 

the kingdom of God” – the Messianic kingdom which Christ will

establish at His coming.

 

v. 6 - A righteous thing with God. Not only will the justice of God be displayed

in the rewards of the righteous, in counting them worthy of the kingdom of

God for which they suffer, but it will also be displayed in the punishments

to be inflicted on their persecutors. To recompense tribulation to them

that trouble you. We have here an example of one of the most common

defects of our English Version in rendering cognate words by different

terms, and thus creating needless perplexities and giving rise to erroneous

interpretations; the words “tribulation” and “trouble” are cognate, and

hence the verse ought to be rendered as in the R.V., “If so be that it is a

righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you.”

 

The righteous judgment of God is now associated with the Second Person

of the Godhead.  It is as Jesus, or Savior, that He is to fill the lordly office,

and to exercise the lordly prerogative of Judge.

 

from heaven” – the heavens which opened to receive Him will again open,

that He may reveal Himself on earth for judgment.

 

with His mighty angels” – His angelic host – as an army of an earthly

sovereign, intended to give the impression of power!

 

in flaming fire” – the fire itself shall prove each man’s work “of

what sort it is” -  I Corinthians 3:13 – as separating it from all impurity –

this judicial fire must have a fearful aspect to the ungodly.

 

“A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him:  thousand

thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand

stood before Him:  the judgment was set and the books were opened.

……..I saw in night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came

with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they

brought Him near before Him.  And there was given Him dominion,

and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages,

should serve Him:  His dominion, is an everlasting dominion,

which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be

destroyed.  Daniel 7:10,13-14

 

Ver. 7. And to you who are troubled — afflicted — rest. The word

rest here is a noun in the accusative, not a verb, as English readers might

at the first glance suppose. It literally denotes relaxation, case. The

meaning of the passage is that it is a righteous thing with God to

recompense rest to you who are afflicted. The recompense of the

persecutors — those who afflict, is affliction; the recompense of the

persecuted — the afflicted, is rest (comp. Matthew 11:28, 29). The rest

or relaxation here mentioned is that which awaits believers, not in this

world, but in the next, “where the wicked cease from troubling, and the

weary are at rest” (Job 3:17). “There remaineth a rest for the people of

God” (Hebrews 4:9). The happiness of heaven on its negative side, as

freedom from earthly affliction and persecution, is here stated. It is rest to

the weary, freedom to the enslaved, release from sorrow, suffering, and

pain, relaxation from toil, ease from noise and turmoil, the quiet haven of

peace after being tossed about in the tempestuous ocean.

 

When theLord Jesus shall be revealed; or, more literally, at the revelation or

apocalypse of the Lord Jesus. The advent of Christ is generally expressed

by another word, parousia, denoting “presence;” here the word is

apocalypse, bringing before us in a more vivid manner the visible

manifestation of Christ. The advent of Christ is the period when He who

has hitherto been concealed will be manifested as the supreme Ruler and

Judge of the world. From heaven; where now he is concealed from human

view, seated at the right hand of God. With his mighty angels; (see notes at

end of lesson) not with His host of angels, but, as it is in the margin of our Bibles,

with the angels of His power” — serving His power and proclaiming His might.

It is the uniform declaration of Scripture that Christ will come to judgment

attended by His holy angels (Matthew 16:27; 24:31; Jude 14). And

these angels are “the angels of His power,” sent forth to execute His

commands. By their instrumentality the dead shall be called from their

graves, and the wicked separated from among the just (1 Thessalonians

4:16; Matthew 13:49).

 

Ver. 8. In flaming fire; not the instrument of punishment — “in

flaming fire taking vengeance;” but a further description of the glory of

Christ’s appearance — “revealed in flaming fire.” In the Old Testament

God is represented as appearing in flaming fire, as when He manifested

Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2; Acts 7:30); and

especially His coming to judgment is represented as coming in fire

(Psalm 97:3). What is there asserted of God is here referred to Christ

(comp. Revelation 19:22). There is also a probable reference to the

Shechinah or cloud of glory in which Christ will appear for judgment

(Revelation 1:7). Some also suppose a reference to the fire of the universal

conflagration which shall usher in the last day (2 Peter 3:10), and

others to the fire which shall consume the ungodly, but it is best to restrict

the expression to the glory of Christ’s manifestation. Taking vengeance;

literally, giving; that is, awarding or allotting vengeance, representing the

act, not of a conqueror or of an avenger, but of a righteous Judge. On

them that know not God — the unbelieving Gentiles — and that; or

rather, on them that; a second class being here denoted. Obey not the

gospel of our Lord Jests Christ; namely, the unbelieving Jews. The

ignorance of the one and the disobedience of the other were the causes of

their punishment.

 

vs. 9-10 – The Coming of Christ for Judgment

 

Ver. 9. Who; namely, the unbelieving Gentiles and Jews. Shall be

punished; literally, shall pay the penalty; shall suffer punishment (R.V.).

With everlasting destruction; or rather, even everlasting destruction; the

words being in apposition. “Destruction’’ here denotes ruin, death; the

word is only used in Paul’s Epistles (1 Corinthians 5:8; 1Thessalonians 5:3;

1 Timothy 6:9). The Greek word translated“everlasting,” from dogmatic reasons,

has given rise to much controversy.  Here it appears to denote eternal — eternity

to come. The eternal punishment of the wicked seems here asserted; a terrible

declaration, which the mind shudders to contemplate.

 

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from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” –

consigned to a state of misery for which their creation was not intended!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From that glory which has its origin in His power — the wicked will be

banished from the manifestation of His power in the glorification of His

saints. The punishment of the wicked on its negative side is here stated. As

the presence of the glorified Jesus will constitute the happiness of heaven,

so banishment from His presence will constitute the misery of hell, because

the soul is then cut off from the source of all good and of all holiness.

 

No look of love, no look of the infinite graciousness of the Savior, will

be turned toward them.  As an earth without sunshine, so must it be,

to be away from the face of Christ!

 

The Lord’s will is “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me,

be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast

given me:  for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” –

                                                                                    John 17:24

 

The Lord, having given grace, will also give glory. We may think of the glory

as the blossoming forth of the grace. As the flower comes to beauty of form,

so they shall be made beautiful to look upon in their higher order of being.

Their glorification is here presented under the special aspect of the glorification

of Christ in them. As Judge, he is to carry out his own word. “And the glory which

thou hast given me I have given unto them.” As He is in them as the source of

their holiness, so is His beauty to shine forth in their outward form. From heaven

we “wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of

our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory,

according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto

himself.”  (Phillipians 3:21) - This glorification of Christ in the saints shall call

forth the wonder of the assembled universe. They shall marvel at the infinite

benignity and power of Him who out of darkness has made light, who upon rebels

against His Father’s authority has stamped His own glorious image.

 

 

v. 10 - When; defining the period when this judgment of the wicked

will occur. He; namely, the Lord Jesus. Shall come to be glorified; the

purpose of His coming. In; not “through,” or “among,” but “in,” as the

sphere or element of His glory. His saints; not the holy angels who will

accompany Him to judgment, but holy men whom He has redeemed with His

blood. Christ will be glorified in His saints, inasmuch as their glory was the

result of His sufferings and death, and their holiness is the reflection of His

holiness; “They will reflect as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.” And to be

admired; wondered at, praised. In all them that believe; or, believed.

The work of faith is past; the result of faith, the state of sight and glory,

has commenced. The glorification of believers will thus become the

glorification of Christ. The glory of Christ does not arise from the

punishment of the wicked, but from the glorification of believers. Christ

will indeed be glorified in the punishment of the wicked. His justice will be

manifested and vindicated; but His glory will be especially seen in the

manifestation of His mercy toward believers.

 

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The difference between His first and second coming.  Then He came to

save the world, now He shall come to judge the world. Then He came

as Son of man, now He shall come as Son of God.  He shall come to award

punishment to His enemies; they shall be forever banished from His presence,

the Source of all happiness, the Author of all holiness. He shall come for the

salvation of His people — to conquer all their enemies, to rescue their bodies

from the grave, to acknowledge them as His before an assembled universe,

and to receive them into the abodes of eternal happiness.    John 14:1-6 –

And:

 

in that day”  - THE WHOLE UNIVERSE SHALL GIVE ITS ASSENT!

 

vs. 11-12

 

The second petition of our Lord’s prayer is “Hallowed be thy Name,”

and this the apostle applies to Christ; he prays that His Name may be

hallowed among the Thessalonians — an incidental proof of His divinity.

May be glorified in you, and you in Him; a twofold glorification: Christ is

glorified in believers, when by their holiness they promote His cause and

reflect His glory; and believers are glorified in Christ, when they receive

out of His infinite fulness.

 

                                    Christ glorified in His saints.

 

1. By their holy conduct they display His character. His image is impressed

upon them; they mirror forth the glory of the Lord.

 

2. By their active exertion in well doing they advance His glory.

 

3. Their future glorification is the glory of Christ. The glory of His work, in

that He saved them; the glory of His grace, in that He redeemed them; the

glory of His power, in that He has rescued them from all their enemies.

Throughout eternity believers will be jewels in the Saviour’s crown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional notes:

Vers. 7-10.

                                                The great day.

 

I. THE JUDGMENT OF THE WICKED.

 

  1. The revelation of the Judge. It is the Lord Jesus, who once was despised

  and rejected of men; He is ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and

  dead. He shall come as God once came down on Mount Sinai, in the like

  awful glory.

   

    (1) With the angels. They shall gather the wicked from among the just, and

    shall cast them into the furnace of fire. The angels will be the ministers of

    His justice — the blessed angels who are now the messengers of His love

    and grace. Now they rejoice over each sinner that repenteth; then they will

    cast the impenitent into the everlasting fire. We think of the angels as

    gentle, loving, holy, as our friends and guardians; they are so, so far as we

    are Christ’s. They desire to look into the mysteries of redemption; they

    announced the Saviour’s birth; they ministered to Him in His temptation, His

    agony; they celebrated His resurrection and ascension. Now they are sent

    forth to minister for them that shall be heirs of salvation; they encamp

    round about those who fear the Lord, and deliver them. They help in

    carrying on His blessed work of love. But they are holy; they hate evil; they

    must turn away from those who have yielded themselves to the dominion

    of the evil one; they must execute at the last the awful judgment of God.

    Fearful thought, that the blessed angels, loving and holy as they are, must

    one day cast the hardened sinner into hell, as once they cast Satan out of

    heaven.

 

    (2) In flaming fire. The Lord shall be revealed in flaming fire, in that glory

    which He had before the world was. His throne is fiery flame (Daniel 7:9).

    He Himself is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)   The sight will be appalling

    to the lost, full of unutterable terror; “they shall say to the rocks, Fall on us;

    and to the hills, Cover us.” “By thine agony and bloody sweat, by thy cross

    and  passion, good Lord, deliver us.”

 

  2. The lost. Two classes are mentioned here.

   

    (1) Those who know not God — the heathen. They might have known

    Him. Some of them did know Him. They had not the Law, the outward

    Law, but it was written in their hearts; (Romans 2) God spoke to them in the

    voice of conscience. They listened; they did by nature the things contained in

    the Law. Such men, we are sure, God in His great mercy will accept and save.

    But, alas! the fearful picture drawn by St. Paul in the first chapter of the

    Epistle to the Romans represents with only too much truth the general

    state of the heathen world in the apostolic times. Their blindness was

    criminal; it was the result of willful and habitual sin; their ignorance was

    without excuse.

   

    (2) Those who obeyed not the gospel. All, whether Jews or Gentiles, who

    had heard the preaching of Christ. They had heard, as we have, all that the

    Lord Jesus had done and suffered for us; they had had the opportunity of

    hearing His holy precepts. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into

    the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” To know the gospel

    and not to obey it, to have the light around us and not to admit it into our

    hearts, not to walk as children of light — this must bring the judgment of

    God upon the disobedient. The greater the light, the heavier the

    responsibility of those who sin against light and knowledge.

 

  3. The punishmtent. The Lord Jesus will award vengeance. “Vengeance is

  mine; I will recompense, saith the Lord.” Terrible thought, that vengeance

  must come from Him, the most loving Saviour, who loved the souls of men

  with a love so burning, so intense in its Divine tenderness! But it must be

  so. The exceeding guilt of sin is manifest in this; it turns the chiefest of

  blessings into an increase of condemnation; the cross is utter death to the

  impenitent and the ungodly. And that vengeance takes effect in destruction.

  The destruction is eternal; then it is not annihilation. It is the destruction of

  all gladness, hope, all that makes life worth living; it is the exclusion from

  the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. Only the pure in

  heart can see God. The lost souls cannot see His face. The exclusion is

  eternal; is it endless? It continues through the ages; will those ages of

  misery ever end in restoration? Can a soul, once so hardened in guilt that it

  must be shut out of the presence of God, ever repent in that exclusion? It

  sinned obstinately against light during its time of probation; can it recover

  itself now that the light is withdrawn? It is hardened through the

  deceitfulness of sin and the power of evil habits; can it break those chains

  of darkness now? These are dark, awful questions. We may ask, on the

  other hand, how can “God be all in all,” if sin is to exist forever? how can it

  be that “in Christ shall all be made alive,” while there is still a hell in the

  universe of God? The subject is beset with difficulties and perplexities; it

  excites bewildering, harrowing thoughts. We must leave it where Holy

  Scripture leaves it. We would gladly believe, if it were possible, that there

  is hope beyond the grave for those who die unblest; but such an

  expectation has no scriptural authority beyond a few slight and doubtful

  hints. Who would dare to trust to a hope so exceeding slender? No; if we

  shrink in terror from the thought of being one day shut out of God’s

  presence into the great outer darkness, let us try to live in that gracious

  presence now.

 

 

 

II. THE GLORY OF THE RIGHTEOUS.

 

  1. Its time: when He shall come. They suffer now; sometimes they are

  persecuted, their name is cast out as evil. But they have their consolation;

  they see indeed through a glass darkly, but yet they do see by faith the

  glory of the Lord; they are changed into the same image from glory to

  glory as by the Lord the Spirit. They have a glory now; but it is an inner

  spiritual glory derived from the indwelling of the blessed Spirit whom the

  world seeth not, neither knoweth. Now they are the sons of God; “when He

  shall appear, they shall be like Him, for they shall see Him as he is”.

 (I John 3:2)

 

  2. Its nature: the unveiled presence of Christ. He shall be glorified in His

  saints. “I am glorified in them,” He said, when about to leave them. When

  He comes again, that glory shall shine forth in all its radiant splendour. He

  shall be admired in all them that believe. The glory of His presence abiding

  in them shall arouse the wondering admiration of all. The lost spirits will

  wonder; they will be amazed at the strangeness of the salvation of the

  blessed. “This is he” (Wisd. 5:3, 5) “whom we sometimes had in derision…

  how is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the

  saints?” The very angels will wonder at the exceeding glory of the Lord

  shining in His saints. For He will change the body of their humiliation, and

  make it like the body of his glory.  (Philippians 3:21)

 

LESSONS.

 

1. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; let us keep that

    awful day in our thoughts.

 

2. Think on the fearful misery of eternal separation from God; live in His

    presence now.

 

3. We hope to be like him in His glory; let us take up the cross..

 

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in that day”

 

At the Judgment Day there shall be a separation of destinies – destinies

now are apparently mixed and disarranged without any evident regard

to justice.  It will not be so then.  There will be a clear division between

the sheep and the goats – Matthew 25:31-46 – “And they shall be mine,

saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I

will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.  Then

shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked,

between him that serveth God, and him that serveth Him not”.

                                                                        Malachi 3:17-18

 

The day when the Lord is to render vengeance to the ungodly, that is

to be the day when He is to be glorified in His saints, and to be

marveled at in all them that believe.

 

In His presence there is fullness of joy! – Psalm 16:8-11

 

THE PERSONS CONDEMNED. Two classes are named.

 

1. Those who are ignorant of God. The heathen world seems to be here

referred to. Why should these benighted people be punished for their

ignorance? Because they might have known God (Romans 1:18-20).

But they can only be punished in so far as their ignorance was wilful and

came from moral causes, i.e. in so far as they “held down the truth in

unrighteousness.’’ Doubtless there have been good heathen men who have

not committed that offence.

 

2. Those who obey not the gospel. People of Christendom are now referred

to. It is of no use to live in a Christian nation, nor to belong to a Christian

Church, nor to believe in the truths of the gospel, if we do not obey the

gospel. Obedience is the one test. Heathen are only condemned for wilful

neglect of God, Christian nations for disobedience to the Christian gospel.