Christ United Methodist Church
November 15th
  • Hymn of Praise
  • Gloria Patri
  • Hymn of Prayer
  • Doxology
  • Fear can be crippling. Fear of this virus, fear of violence, fear of economic collapse, fear of losing control of the way our lives once were are all real fears that many of us have and are experiencing. If I may make a confession to you, one of my greatest fears is the coming tribulation period. I will not preach about the theology of the Rapture and if I think it will or will not happen for I don’t want to give you any false hope, or cause you to strictly focus on when or if the rapture with happen. Truth is that yes, we will be caught up in the air with Christ as we read from Paul last week. However, we cannot fully understand what the church will go through until we are caught up in the air with Christ. So, now in this second letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul tells them the prophecy of who John the Younger in his book called the Revelation of Jesus Christ calls the Anti-Christ.
    Oh the fear that the title of Anti-Christ conjures up is terrible. Maybe it is because of my days in youth group when we went through these Christian versions of a haunted house called Judgement House. The story was the same but with different characters and maybe a various of scenes. Typically it was of a group of friends, one or two were Christians and one or two were not. Tragedy strikes and they die. So you would walk room to room and the story unfolded in different scenes that would always include a room that represented Hell and a room that represented Heaven. I made it through one of those and chickened out at another. So that is why for a long time, I really didn’t like to think much about what the end of this world will be like. As I have gotten older, it has gotten easier. I don’t fear it as much. Instead, I understand that we are in the end times, but I see God working still and giving us so much work to do to keep His church busy until He gets back. That is what I focus on, making sure that I do the best job I can with the time that I have left.
    Pray and read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
    2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 NRSV
    As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

    Fear Verses Hope

    We have defined fear and hope before. We can fear the Lord, by giving Him respect and submission. If you give God total respect and full submission than it is easy to understand how you can not fear anything else. You have left it all to God, and given God all control. What is there to fear if you know that God is in control of everything and you love Him with all that you are? Hope is when we release our fears and see that God truly does want the best for His people. Hope is know that God is at work and that miracles are still happening today. Hope, like fear, requires action for it to be real. Do you coward away in fear or are you courageous with hope?
    In this passage, Paul tells us that we should not be cowards of the future and act as though we have no hope. Then Paul goes on to describe the one who is Lawless, the Son of Destruction. He tells us what this person will do when it becomes their time to rise in power. Paul is also careful to state that Jesus will easily defeat this Lawless One, and also that the Lawless One will only deceive the perishing, or as we defined them last week, those who are alive but asleep. So, if you are awake and alive in Christ, what is your fear?

    Apocalyptic Fear

    These verses here in Thessalonians, Daniel, and the Book of Revelation can all be terrifying if we read only about the wrath of God and what the Anti-Christ will do to the world.
    Apocalypse is a genre of writings or storytelling, whether prophetic or fiction regarding events leading up to the end of the world. If the world is ending, then it can’t be happy or easy. So when we talk about the Apocalypse, it does seem scary for those who have no hope for a future beyond the end. So I want to introduce you to a new word.

    Eschatological Hope

    Eschatology is the study of the Kingdom of God that is coming and that is already here. You see we have hope in a future beyond the end. We have a King who already has our future planed out for all eternity. If we live for Christ, Christ is know and will be forever our King. We already live in God’s Kingdom on a spiritual level. After the apocalypse, we will live in the fully, seeing with new eyes and a new body. Christ is coming for His people. As His people, our job is to welcome others into the Kingdom and make more disciples of Christ with the time we have left. That should be our main focus. We should not be worrying about what is going to happen next. Yes, we see the signs that the end is soon. However, that should make us work harder and faster in showing others the love of Jesus. Jesus means everything to those who love Him.

    Why are we looking for the Anti-Christ when we have Christ right in front of us now?

    Jesus, our Savior is already with us. It is far more important to teach our children to follow Christ than it is to worry about what the world will be like for them when they become our age. Are we equipping others with the Armor of God or are we just scaring others with worry and fear?
    With all that we have gone through just this year with plagues, violence, and multiple natural disasters, I have come to, we will survive. We have survived so far. I don’t know if we will see the Anti-Christ next year or not. I don’t know if things will get worse or get better. But I do know that it does not benefit us to worry and fear tomorrow. We can not control what will happen. We need to know the hardships that will come from the Anti-Christ and we need to know the wrath of God and the warning signs that have been given so that we can prepare. We prepare by getting our spiritual houses in order and telling other about Jesus with passion and urgency. Instead of anticipating the wrath of the Anti-Christ, we need to be living with the hope that our King is soon to return.
    In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
      • 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12ESV

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