First Thessalonians 007 – Ministry Priority

First Thessalonians 007 – Ministry Priority
1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 27, 2022 • First Thessalonians



First Thessalonians 007

Ministry Priority

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

November 27, 2022

Dr. Andy Woods

How You have met our needs, certainly physically above and beyond what we sometimes even hope or ask for. But beyond that, you’ve met our needs spiritually. You’ve made us complete in Christ. And we recognize that because of that, we don’t have to come to You begging and pleading with you. We already have rights standing with You because of the provision of Your son. We’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. And so, Lord, today our hearts are overflowing. And we just come to You today, to your church, just to worship You, which is our reasonable act and work of service. And I do pray, Lord, for the illuminating Ministry of the Spirit whereby we can understand the deeper things of God. I pray for that Ministry of Illumination here in Sunday School and also in the main service that follows. I just pray that You would be with Sugar Land Bible Church and everything that’s happening here in the entire building from the moment we open to the moment we close, we just pray that You would have Your way today. And to prepare our hearts to receive from Your word we’re just going to take a few moments of personal silence to do personal business or confession before You. Not to restore position, but sometimes we get in the way of what You want to do. And we know that fellowship can be broken. And when that happens, that hinders our ability to receive from You.

So that we can receive from You in an unhindered way we’re just going to take a couple of moments personally as we exercise first, John 1:9. We’re thankful, Lord, for the provision You made for us. Not just our position, but even when fellowship can get broken, made rest provision for us. To first John 1:9, that if we confess our sins, you’re faithful and just to forgive us. And cleanses from all and righteousness. And so now, Father, we do invite the Ministry of Illumination via the Holy Spirit as we look into Your Word today, we’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said, Amen. Well, if you can locate First Thessalonians 2:10. First Thessalonians 2:10. And we are in the middle of I think this is less than seven, if I remember right, but. It doesn’t really matter what number the lessons are. We’re just moving verse-by-verse through the Thessalonian letters in Sunday school. But when we started looking into the book, we sort of laid the foundation for the book. Tried to answer the who, what, where, why, when type of questions. And we observed at that point that the book has two parts. Chapters 1 through 3 Paul is looking backward to the experiences that he had with the Thessalonians because he was their spiritual father.

He planted the church there in Thessalonica before he was driven out. And after he was driven out, his theological enemies, in this case primarily unbelieving Jews, tried to wean Paul’s audience away from Paul’s teaching. And they began to circulate a lot of things about Paul that weren’t true. So what he has to do in the first three chapters is restore his reputation, which had been trashed. And he does that in the first three chapters. And then beginning in chapters 4 and 5, with his reputation restored, he’s now in a position to correct them. You can’t correct people when you don’t have any credibility by which to correct them. So that’s why Paul structures the book the way he did. In my view, there were three lies being circulated about Paul in Thessalonica. The first lie was that the conversion of the Thessalonians really wasn’t true. It wasn’t real. You just got talked into something. And this is what they were saying to Paul’s converts. And so I think Paul is spending the first chapter of the book explaining to them that their conversion really happened. Because the things that were happening in their lives, like right there in the middle of the list, joy in the midst of tribulation, these things could not be happening absent the Ministry of the Holy Spirit. These things were supernatural. And so having dealt with that subject, one of the second lie that was circulated about Paul was his motives were impure.

He was just in it for himself. So why listen to a guy like that? And so what Paul does in chapter 2 verses 1 through 12 is he responds to the charge of impure motives. And in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 2, he says, My message is pure, my motives are pure and my method of ministry is pure. And then beginning in verses 3 through 12, he just amplifies on each of those three points. He talks about the purity of his message in verses 3 and 4. He talks about the purity of his motives in verses 5 through 8, and he talks about the purity of his ministry method in verses 9 through 12. And so we actually read and studied last time verse 9. And so let’s pick it up here with verse 10 as Paul here is defending the way he does ministry. He says to the Thessalonians, “You are witnesses.” Why does he say that? Because he’s the one that gave them their spiritual birth. Obviously, God is the one that gave them their spiritual birth, but, God- Paul rather, is the instrument that God used. So, “You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved towards you as believers.” So he’s basically saying here, if anybody has an accusation to bring against me, go ahead and bring it.

Because my entire conduct when I was with you was above reproach. It reminds me very much of what he would later write to young Timothy concerning the purity of spiritual leaders in God’s church. Paul would write to Timothy in First Timothy five one and two. He would say, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” So how should we conduct ourselves in God’s church related to personal relationships? Well, when you’re interacting with an older person, an older man, you treat them just like you would your own father. When you’re interacting with a younger person, you would treat them just like you would your own brother. When you’re interacting with an older woman, you would treat them just like you would your own mother. And then when older men are interacting with younger women, how should they treat them? And if we follow this, we’d save a lot of problems in the church, wouldn’t we? A lot of these scandals that go on wouldn’t exist anymore. But he says the younger women as sisters. An older man is to treat a younger woman as a sister. And then he says, “In all purity.” So these are tremendous principles related to how to act in a local church, how to conduct yourself as a spiritual leader, particularly when you’re interacting with all of these different age groups.

And Paul back in verse 10 of First Thessalonians 2:10 says, This is basically what I practice when I was with you as believers. My conduct was blameless. So, therefore, the accusation against me that somehow my ministry method is impure is without merit. And he goes on in verse 11 and he says, “Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children.” So when I was with you, I basically acted like your father. Now, if you go back to verse 7, which we studied last time, he says, “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her children.” So basically what Paul is saying is, I was your spiritual mother, verse 7, and I was your spiritual father. So think of all of the things that a mother does in terms of care, concern, nurturing. You know, the female, the woman, the wife, the mother it’s almost like she’s perfectly designed, you know, by God to exhibit those characteristics towards her children. And Paul says That’s what I was like when I was with you. I was like your spiritual mother. But then in verse 11, he says, I was also your spiritual father. So think about the things that a father brings into a family or relationship.

At times the father has to be the disciplinarian. The father is basically trying to, and not that there can’t be overlap in this between husband and wife, but by and large, the father is trying to prepare the children for adulthood. And so Paul says, I was both when I was with you. I was your spiritual mother. I was your spiritual father. And it is interesting to me how God has designed men and women to look at the same issue through completely different lenses. And in a family that’s functioning under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you’ll see both of these things come to the surface where the mother is nurturing and the father is more preparation, disciplinarian, etc. And there- and I don’t want to go too far astray on this, but there is a tremendous advantage- and the world system will hate what I’m about to say here, but there is a tremendous advantage to growing up in a family with a mom. Female, okay. And a dad. And we’re living sort of in this time period of the same sex movement where we’re being told that, well, two dads is okay, two moms is okay. And the basic problem with that is men and women are different. You guys agree with me on that? What’s that saying? Oh, men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Something like that.

And so they analyze the same issues through completely different lenses by God given design. And when a child grows up with two women in the household functioning as a so-called married couple or two fathers in the household functioning as a so-called married couple the perspective that the other gender brings is missing from that child’s life. Now you talk like this today and you’re canceled, and you’re banned and you’re called a hater. But the truth of the matter is this is the design of God. Moms and dads functioning under the Holy Spirit together, playing different roles in the life of a child. And I totally recognize that when I say something like this, this day and age, a lot of people think I’m attacking them because they may not have grown up in an ideal household. But the truth of the matter is, even though a lot of us may not have grown up in the ideal household, there’s still a divine standard. I mean, even if we violated the standard or grown up with less than the standard, the standard is still there. And as long as the standard is still there, there’s something to go back to. But we’re basically living in a society right now that’s trying to erase the standard. And there is a standard. I even believe that my ability to talk like this openly, the days of my ability to do this are very numbered because the legislation in our world, particularly United States, is moving in a direction where, if you say anything related to traditional families, you’re going to get your tax-exempt status removed.

You’re going to open yourself up to lawsuits, etc. So let me just bring to your attention something that we reported on in our last Pastor’s Point of View program. This comes from the Washington Stand .com and it’s entitled- it’s by Suzanne Bowdey. November the 15th, 2022. It says Senate Marriage Bill Declares War on American Parents. So here’s what this particular writer says. She says, “The second Joe Biden’s pen hits the paper to sign H.R. 8404…” Have you heard of this legislation? You should become aware of this as fast as you can. One of the best sources that will tell you the progress of this legislation is the attorney, Matt Staver. And I forgot the name of his organization, but you can Google it in H.R. 8404, and he’ll bring you up to speed on it. But it says, “The second Joe Biden’s pen hits the paper to sign HR 8404 into law, the microphones across the country’s local school board meetings- the same ones that thousands of moms and dads have used to speak their peace- will be turned off. The bill itself threatens…” And here’s a citation from the legislation. Quote, “The attorney general may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court against any person who violates subsection (a) for declaratory and injunctive relief,” close quote.

“In other words, if you hold the belief that marriage is a union of a man and a woman- the mainstream view for all of human history- and stand in the way of the Left’s redefinition in any way, the full weight of the Justice Department will be brought to bear. As if that weren’t enough, a private right of action- meaning everyday citizens can sue based on some perceived violation of their rights- is encouraged for anyone ‘harmed’ by your biblical beliefs.” So, I mean, not only will this legislation- if it passes- allow the Justice Department to come against any organization that stands for traditional marriage, but the legislation actually encourages Americans to turn in other Americans. Which is really a Stalinesque tactic. That’s what Stalin got done in Russia through communism. Cause he created a situation where some people were spying on other people and turning them into the state. This is what this legislation opens the door to. The article goes on and it says, “Carrying that out to its logical conclusion, parents who object to graphic or inappropriate curriculum in the classroom would be targets. If people thought the ‘domestic terrorism’ label was bad, this legislation effectively turns every same-sex marriage enthusiast into an agent of the Department of Justice.” And so you should be aware of H.R. 8404.

And you should look into that because this is about ready to become law. Matt Staver and his organization indicates that there might be a way to stop it. But all things being equal, this could very well become law. And you have, of course, situations with Jack Phillips, in Colorado, who is an evangelical Christian. Where a same-sex couple shows up at his place of business. He’s in the creative industry, he’s a cake decorator. And they basically demand that you make a same-sex cake for our wedding. And Jack Phillips politely says, Well, my conscience as an evangelical Christian won’t allow me to do that. Here are five other bakers in the Colorado area that could help you, but I’m going to have to opt-out on that. Well, immediately he’s sued and dragged through the court system and they basically try to bankrupt him and ruin him because he dares to have a different perspective than the left concerning same-sex marriage. You have a similar case, I believe, out of Washington, where the exact same thing happened with a woman named Baronelle Stutzman- if I’ve got her name right. And it’s very interesting to me that these same-sex couples, they never show up at a Muslim bakery. Because, boy, you think the Christian view on homosexuality is severe, try it out in a Muslim country. Where they’ll like, toss you off a two or three-story building if you happen to be a homosexual.

So they never target the Muslim bakeries. They’re always intentionally targeting members of the creative industry that they know have evangelical convictions. And it’s the idea that you are going to comply with what we do, whether you have a conscience on the issue one way or the other, we don’t care. I mean, it’s the equivalent of a Jewish baker. And Nazis show up at the establishment of the Jewish baker and they say, We want you to create a Nazi cake with a swastika on it. And we want this for our Nazi event. Now, if you force that Jewish baker to bake the cake, you’re using the force of law to get the Jewish baker to go totally against his conscience. That’s the equivalent of what’s happening to Jack Phillips, Baronelle Stutzman, and others. And that kind of situation is about to get a lot worse. If, God forbid, H.R. 8404 becomes law- in fact, right out in front of this church, one of our elders at large was telling me about this. This happened, I don’t know, maybe six months to a year ago, someone came through here and saw the cars and yelled out to this particular elder at large, Where does this church stand n same-sex marriages? As if it’s any of their business. And if you want to know where this church stands on things, you can always come in and participate in the Bible study or read our doctrinal statement.

But why in the world would someone drive by a church and shout that out to somebody if they didn’t have some kind of intention to turn us over to the authorities? So I know in the midst of Thanksgiving and Christmas, as families are gathering, nobody’s really thinking about this. It is very interesting that they try to push this or they’re pushing this H.R. 8404 on everybody after the midterms are over. So there’s no accountability voting-wise to what they’re doing. They specifically waited for the midterms to end. And let’s slip this on through. But this very very sadly has the potential of becoming law in the United States. And as a Christian, you should be aware of it. I recommend Matt Staver, his website. Kelly Shackleford’s website is very good. That will give you the progress of this legislation. But pro-family groups all over the country are sounding the alarm on this. And I think pastors ought to sound the alarm on this, because to be honest with you, I’m in the free speech business. I mean, I’m able to do this and make these statements about same-sex marriage because of something that our founding fathers gave us, that they recognized as coming from God, an unalienable right. It’s enshrined in our First Amendment called Freedom of Speech. And I am concerned that at the end of the day with the Department of Justice becoming involved and Americans turning in other Americans, that conservative groups all over the United States of America could have their free speech erased in a nanosecond.

And so even my ability to make simple points from the biblical text about moms and dads- not going on some kind of harangue about it, but bringing it up when it’s conspicuous, in the biblical text that we’re studying verse-by-verse- even that ability to do that, because of this militant mindset that we will violate your conscience if you do not accept our lifestyle, even my ability to do that might be something that’s rapidly evaporating. So I bring that to your attention. Going down to verse 12, Paul the Apostle says as he’s defending the purity of his ministry motives, “So that you,” that’s the Thessalonians, “would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” And what Paul is explaining there is what he was trying to produce in Thessalonica. He was not just interested in winning a bunch of Thessalonians to Christ. Obviously, that’s the most significant issue because that determines heaven or hell. But he was also interested in their walk as Christians. He wanted them to walk circumspectly and according to their calling. And he said I want you Thessalonians to walk as if you’re members of God’s kingdom. In other words, you’re members of God’s kingdom, you should act like it.

You know, you’re the royal family of God. You should act according to your calling. And Paul says That was my motive when I was with you in Thessalonica. Now, you’ll notice there in verse 12, we have this word ‘kingdom’. It’s the Greek word basileia. “So that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” And very, very sadly, many evangelicals will take that verse and they’ll use it to argue that we must be in the kingdom now. Kingdom Now Theology. In which case I like to say, if this is the Kingdom, I must be living in the ghetto section of town because I certainly don’t see kingdom conditions. So what do we do with this word Kingdom, basileia? Is this talking about a kingdom now? Is it talking about a kingdom future? And all you have to do is connect it with the word glory at the end of the verse. “So that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own…glory.” Now, when is the Christian going to be glorified? Well, the Bible says our glorification is yet future. We teach here the three tenses of salvation. Justification, the past tense of salvation. Sanctification, the present tense of salvation. Glorification, the future tense of salvation. In justification, I am delivered from sin’s penalty. At the point of faith, alone in Christ alone, and that happens in a nanosecond.

The moment someone trusts in the Savior for salvation is the moment they are justified before a holy God. As the theologians say, at a punctiliar moment in time. In other words, in the brief nanosecond that it takes to trust Christ a person is made right with God. They’re justified. But you’ll notice that God doesn’t just leave us to flounder around after we get saved. He moves us into the second tense of our salvation which is sanctification, where we are gradually- see, unlike justification, sanctification is a process. Justification is not a process. It takes place in an instant. Sanctification is a process where we are gradually being delivered from sin’s power. As we become aware of our resources in Christ or the Christian life. And we appropriate those resources by faith moment by moment. And as we’re doing that, hopefully what’s happening in our lives- and you have to be in an environment that teaches these truths or else you’re kind of left to your own devices. Hopefully, as that is happening, we don’t become sinless, but we are sinning less. I’m certainly not the man I should be in this area, but I praise God that I’m not the man I used to be. And we want to be kind of on this upward trajectory. Is this part of salvation guaranteed? No, it is not. There are many, many Christians that get saved and really never grow.

To get saved involves obeying one command. To grow in Christ involves obeying multiple commands. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as is the habit of some. Study and show yourself approved as a workman who need not be ashamed but accurately handles the word of truth. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not indulge the sin nature. Do not let sin reign in your mortal body. These are all commands splintered throughout the Bible, particularly the Epistles telling us how to live. I mean, you have to become aware of what those commands are, and then you have to be aware of the resources that God has given you to obey those commands because you can’t obey them through your own power. And the two resources are the Holy Spirit inside of us. Romans eight. And the other resource is our baptism or our identification in Christ. Romans six. Because I have been baptized or identified into Jesus Christ when he died, I died. When he was buried, I was buried. When he rose, I rose. When he ascended, I ascended. And that’s something that is positionally true about every Christian. So every time you’re tempted to go back to the sin nature in the middle tense of your salvation- because you still have a sin nature. Amen. Does anybody want to second-guess me on that? I mean, we still have a sin nature.

The difference is you have a new nature that wants to please God. The old nature doesn’t just take a vacation. It’s still there to tempt. But you have the ability to tell that send nature No. And replace it with something better in terms of an activity because of your baptism into Christ, Romans six. And the Holy Spirit inside of you, Romans chapter 8. And then in the third tense of our salvation, we’re glorified. And this is where we’re just delivered from sin’s very presence because we won’t have a sin nature anymore. Nothing to draw me back into sin. And that happens at death. Or the rapture of the church or whichever comes first. So glorification. All you have to do is die. Or be raptured. And it might be harder for God to get us off the ground after Thanksgiving if the Rapture should occur today. But God’s all-powerful, so no problem. Justification. All you have to do is trust in the Savior. But the middle tense of your salvation is more tricky because you have to be aware of what your resources in Christ are. You have to be aware of the biblical commands and you have to actually step out in faith and start to obey God’s commands under God’s power. Some do, some don’t. That’s why there’s a Bema Seat judgment of rewards. To reward those that have made progress in the middle tense of salvation. Because sanctification, as I’m trying to describe it, is not guaranteed for all believers.

So I have been saved. I am being saved and I will be saved. And so when you look at the far right hand column and you see glorification, you see that glorification is something completely future. And you’ll notice that Paul links ‘kingdom’ and ‘glory’. If glory is future, then so is what? So is kingdom. So what he’s saying is you’re going to enter the kingdom one day when Jesus establishes it on the earth. So act like somebody who belongs to a higher kingdom than your present world system. Reflect kingdom values on the earth since you’re a citizen of the kingdom despite the fact that you won’t enter the kingdom until later. This is why second Corinthians 5:20 explains our position as Christians in the world, as ambassadors. If I’m America’s ambassador to Iran, for example, I am not in Iran for regime change. I’m not in Iran to overthrow the Iranian government. What I am doing as an ambassador in Iran is I am representing American ideals and American values on foreign soil. That’s what an ambassador does. So since the kingdom is yet future, we are still to act and conduct ourselves in this life as if we were ambassadors. I’m not in this world for a regime change. I mean, Jesus is going to establish his kingdom one day. He doesn’t need me to do it.

My function is not to bring the kingdom in. That’s something Jesus himself will do at the end of the tribulation period. What I am here to do, though, is represent values of the coming kingdom in the devil’s world and function as an ambassador. The New Testament uses all kinds of verbiage to describe this, like salt and light, things of that nature. We reflect God’s light in this world because God’s coming kingdom is a kingdom of light. So when Paul was with the Thessalonians, what he was encouraging them to do is to act in a manner worthy of their calling. As citizens of a future kingdom that was yet to come. And you can see that Paul is taking this idea of kingdom and putting it into the future because he connects it with the word glory. Or the word doxa there in verse 12. Just so you don’t think I’m cooking up crazy ideas, the view that I’m expressing here on the coming kingdom you can find in scholarship. One of my favorites is E. R. Craven. All the way back in 1874, he says concerning First Thessalonians 2:12, the verse that we’re looking at here, “The preposition in the Greek is ice. But since believers on earth are not yet in glory, the whole expression is manifestly *proleptical.” Now there’s a word for the day, proleptical. Because that’s going to come up in our Genesis study.

So people are going to say, What did you learn at Sugar Land Bible Church? You’re going to say, proleptical. What is proleptical? You notice we have a definition there at the bottom. It says, the representation of something in the future as if it already existed or occurred. See our future glory is so certain that Romans 8:29-30 talks about it as if it has already happened. The coming kingdom of Jesus on planet Earth is so certain that the Bible can actually present it as if it’s already a happening reality because it is absolutely certain. I mean, it is coming. It’s like in First John 2:17 where John uses the present tense to say the world is passing away. And here we are 2000 years later. I’m touching the earth right now while I’m on a little platform here. But your feet are touching the earth and it’s still here. So people say, well, John got it wrong. How could he say the world is passing away when it hasn’t passed away for 2000 years? Because that’s how biblical language functions. The passing of this world is so certain that John describes it in the present tense. That’s what’s called political. And so that’s how to understand this idea of the kingdom. The kingdom is coming because it’s connected with glory and its arrival is absolutely certain. So if that’s true, then how should we conduct our sojourn here upon the earth? We should conduct our sojourn here upon the Earth as if we’re citizens of a coming kingdom which is coming with absolute certainty.

So here’s the prophecy chart that we like to refer to. We at this church are pre-millennium. What does that even mean? Pre means first. Millennium. Millennium is Latin. Milli, 1000. Annum, years. Millennium literally means 1000 years in Latin. So we are pre-millennium, meaning when is this thousand-year kingdom going to come? Is it going to come before Jesus returns? Or after Jesus returns? A lot of churches out there will tell you that it’s happening now. We’re in the kingdom now. They’re called Amillennialists, meaning there is no earthly kingdom. Because we’re in the kingdom now in spiritual form. In which case you have to rewrite all of the passages that explain what the kingdom will be like. A lot of churches are post-millennial, meaning Jesus is going to come back to a world that’s in apple-pie order because the church will have succeeded in bringing in the Kingdom of God. It must be very discouraging to believe that and read the newspapers. But that’s why you go to so many churches and all they talk about are political things on the right. They talk about their political issues on the left, they talk about social justice and rectifying institutionalized racism and universal health care. And everybody needs a minimum income.

They talk about the environment and, you know, the hole in the ozone layer and all of these kinds of subjects start to dominate the pulpit because they’re basically post-millennial. They’re bringing in their version of the kingdom. That’s called Post millennialism. Amillennialism and Pre-millennialism, the little Post-millennialism. Who cares? Well, the reason you should care is it controls what a church thinks it ought to be doing. We’re not here preaching that we’re bringing in the kingdom. Either from the right or from the left. What we’re preaching is Jesus is going to set up the kingdom. And in the meantime, we’re not bringing in the kingdom. We’re fulfilling the Great Commission. We’re winning Sons of the Kingdom. Or inheritors of the kingdom through evangelism and discipleship. But we’re not bringing in the kingdom itself. And so you have to think very critically about these kingdom views because it controls what you think the church should be doing. I mean, if I believe that we were bringing in the kingdom, you would hear totally different content at this church than what you currently receive. It would be mostly political social justice-type stuff. We’re of the persuasion here that Jesus will bring in social justice when it’s time. Jesus will fix structural and institutional racism in his timing. In the interim, I am- we are reaching and teaching, evangelizing, and discipling. We’re winning souls of the coming kingdom. We don’t waste people’s time with this idea that we’re bringing in the kingdom now.

Because that is not an assignment that Jesus ever gave to the church. What Jesus actually said in Matthew 16:18 is He said, “I will build My…” Notice he doesn’t say, I will build my kingdom. Did you catch that? “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” We’re trying to cooperate with what he is already doing. And what he is doing in the world right now is he’s not bringing in the kingdom. He’s building his church. This new man or the body of Christ that are citizens of the coming kingdom. And so if you don’t get this kingdom issue straight in your mind, you’ll end up your whole life confused as a Christian related to what the church should be doing. So we are not Amillennial, the kingdom is now. We are not Post-millennial, meaning we’re going to bring in the kingdom and Jesus is going to come back and find the world in apple-pie order. We are Pre-millennial. What does that even mean? You look at the chart here he comes back first. Pre. Then the thousand-year kingdom manifests. Now, why would we think that? Because His return is described in Revelation 19. This kingdom is described in Revelation 20. Now, the last time I checked, Chapter 19- you guys with me on this? Chapter 19 comes before chapter 20.

I mean, if Amillennialism and Post-millennialism and all these other views were right, the order of those chapters would be reversed. So it’s sort of a relief to understand that this world can deteriorate, which it is, and yet it’s directly under the providence of God. Because the current age is not the kingdom. What is happening in the current age is He’s building His church. I would argue that He’s right now- He laid the foundation of the church with the apostles and prophets. He’s been building the church into this metaphorical temple for 2000 years. You’re part of that. I’m part of that. I would argue right now He’s putting on the roof because the building is almost finished. And one of these days the Body of Christ will be completed. Paul, in Romans 11:25, calls it the full number of Gentiles will have come in. And in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the completion of the building, metaphorically speaking, the church will be translated to heaven via the rapture. And then God in the final seven years of human history will put his hand back on Israel, bring them to faith, rescue them from the beast. And at the end of that seven-year time period, He will bring in his 1000-year kingdom to a converted Israel. So when Paul says back in verse 12, “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”

He’s not preaching Amillennialism or Post-millennialism. He was Pre-millennial. Because he’s connecting kingdom with glory, which is yet future. And he’s simply saying, Gosh, since you’re going to inherit this kingdom act like it in the present. You know, act like an ambassador for the coming kingdom. I mean, your life as a Christian should be so circumspect and transparent and an open book where God is using you that people can sense, Boy, something is really different about you. And they become thirsty. Salt makes you thirsty, doesn’t it? They become thirsty for what you have. And what do you have? You have citizenship. Yet future in a coming kingdom. So E.R. Craven here back in 1874 is expressing that. Because the truth of the matter is the future- if you understand it- it motivates behavior in the present. Because a lot of people, they don’t want to take verse 12 as a future kingdom because they say, Well, that doesn’t relate to my life. I need this to relate to me. Because after all, the Bible is all about me, right? Instead of exegesis, it’s narcigesis. I’ve got to see myself in every passage. And so living in this sort of narcissistic age, a lot of people don’t teach the future kingdom the way I’m explaining it, because they want to be in the kingdom now or else the verse doesn’t relate to me.

That’s the big concern everybody has. But the truth of the matter is, the more you understand the future. The more it changes your life in the present. Because the future reveals the priorities of God. What’s going to last and what’s not going to last. And if you understand what’s going to last and what’s not going to last in the future, it changes the way we think in the present. In terms of aligning our own lives with God’s priorities. This is the whole point in Second Peter 3:10-11. Peter makes an eschatological judgment- statement here. Something totally future. Verse 10, he says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” Well, Andy, do you believe in global warming? Well, yes, I do. It’s right there in verse 10. God is going to take this whole world and light it on fire and destroy the whole thing. That’s an eschatological statement. That is something yet future. And you’ll notice that Peter doesn’t say, okay, great Bible study, y’all. Hope you enjoyed this revelation. Because verse 11 follows verse 10. In other words, what he’s saying in verse 11 is if this is going to happen and it is, it’s an absolute certainty.

And it should change the way we live presently. So after making that eschatological statement, Peter says verse 11, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be…” In other words, a knowledge of the future impacts our behavior in the present. “What sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” In other words, if I really understand verse ten then, according to verse 11, I’ll have a natural propensity for holy conduct and godliness. So the future changes our behavior in the present. You cannot even understand the priorities of God and what’s going to last and what’s not going to last unless you study the future. I mean, we know everything is going to be destroyed by fire. Everybody in the Bible is looking for the big bang. Well, there’s your big bang right there. It’s just the big bang is at the end. The poor evolutionist puts the big bang at the beginning, but God says there’s a big bang, but it’s at the end. And since everything is going to be destroyed with intense heat in this way, only two things are going to survive the fire. Only two things. Everybody today wants safe investments, right? What is an investment? An investment is something that you pour your energy and your resources into. And you want it to last. The Bible says there’s only two safe investments.

The first is people. Because people are made in the image of God and they’re designed to live forever. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has put eternity into the hearts of men. So every time you pour yourself into a human being, mentoring, discipling, counseling, evangelizing, parenting. You’re making an eternal investment. And that’s a safe place to put your energy and your resources. And then once you get outside of that, the only other safe investment that I know of is the what? The Bible. BIBLE. Basic instructions before leaving Earth. How about that? What is the Bible? Its basic instructions before leaving the earth. B. I. B. L. E. That’s the book for me. This book will stand the test of time because the book of Isaiah Chapter 40, I want to say verse 8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our Lord abides forever.” Jesus, in Matthew 24:35, said, “Heaven and earth will pass away.” Kind of sounds like what Peter says there in verse 10. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word will…” What? “Never pass away.” So if I put time, effort, energy, and resources into this book, I’m making an eternal investment. I mean, even coming to this church and sacrificing a Sunday morning to sit under this kind of teaching is an investment of time. And yet God wants you to understand that when you do that, you’re making an eternal investment.

So what you see here is that a knowledge of the future, verse 10, impacts behavior in the present, verse 11. Because verse 10 shows you what’s going to last and what’s not going to last. And when I understand what’s going to last and what’s not going to last, I can reprioritize my life so that it is lived for not temporary things, but eternal things. This is the significance of Bible prophecy. My professor, J. Dwight Pentecost. I heard him say this in class. I have since found this quote in one of his books called Prophecy for Today, which is another prophecy book I’d recommend to you. He says, quote, “A short time ago, I took occasion to go through the New Testament to mark each reference to the coming. Of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to observe the use made of that teaching about His coming. I was struck a new with the fact that almost without exception, when the coming of Christ is mentioned in the New Testament, it is followed by an exhortation to godliness and holy living.” Which is exactly what Peter just did there. And I’ll be honest with you, the first time I heard him say that, I really didn’t think it was true. But I’ve made my own study, and you can make your study. Go through the New Testament and watch every time the return of Jesus is spoken of, and you’ll see that it is invariably linked to daily behavior.

Your prayer life, patience under trial, hope in a hopeless age, Et cetera, etc, etc. So with all of that being said, now we’re in a position to understand First Thessalonians 2:12 and the idea that the kingdom is future. “So that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” So the kingdom, just like glorification, is yet future. But how does the verse relate to me if the kingdom is future? Well, it relates to you because the knowledge of the future, the certainty of the coming kingdom encourages our behavior in the present. In other words, if this kingdom is an absolute certainty yet future and I’m going to enter it one day, now’s my opportunity to be an ambassador of the coming kingdom and the present. So we’ll stop there. And next week, Lord willing, assuming the Rapture doesn’t occur first, we’ll try to finish that chapter and maybe get into chapter three as the Lord leads. Let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for Your truth. Your word. And how it speaks into our lives. Help us to be not just hearers of your word, but doers. Be with us in the main service as we study the Book of Genesis together. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said. And happy intermission.