There are 40 conflicts within nations or between nations taking place right now. Will those who initiate war be held accountable for their behavior?
There is an astounding 40 plus million people being trafficked in some form of modern-day slavery. Will the people who benefit from human oppression be judged for this phenomenon?
As of August 2022, 5,371 murders have been committed in our nation. Will murderers escape judgment for their actions?
Belief and Behavior
The fourteenth Psalm identifies a class of people who believe there will be no accounting for their behavior.
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt; they do abominable deeds;
there is no one who does good. (Psalm 14.1)
These fools are not atheists. They claim to believe in the existence of God, but they don’t believe there will be any judgment for their corrupt and abominable deeds.
What we genuinely believe is evident in our behavior. Even though the “fools” of this psalm believe in God, their behavior reveals something else.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the Lord? (Psalm 14.4)
Each number in the vast array of statistics for war, human trafficking, and murder represents a person.
Oppressors believe that they can “eat up people like they are bread” and never be held accountable.
God has something to say to these wrongdoers.
There they shall be in great terror,
for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge. (Psalm 14.5-6)
God is with the poor and righteous.
The church in Thessalonica was poor, persecuted, and oppressed. Because they had placed their faith in Christ, they were counted among the righteous.
Paul wrote to this persecuted church a word of comfort and judgment – comfort for the faithful and judgment on the oppressors.
2 Thessalonians 1.5-10 – This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.
For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels
In a fiery flame, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
When he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
Here are three points to note in Paul’s message.
(1) Abraham asked God, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18.25)
Love, holiness, and justice define God’s essential nature. As the Judge of all the earth, we can count on his justice.
Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness/justice, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5.6).
Righteousness and justice are translations of the same Greek word. The oppressed can count on their hunger for God to make right their suffering to be satisfied.
Paul’s words to the Thessalonians are true for the suffering and persecution at all times in human history.
(2) What qualified people for God’s wrath is they “do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (verse 8).
To know God is more than to know “about” God.
For example, I know “about” Patrick Mahomes, but I don’t know him. I have never been in his presence or exchanged a word with him.
The wrongdoers of Psalm 14 knew “about” God, but they didn’t know him. Their behavior and that of the condemned in 2 Thessalonians reveal that they don’t know God.
(3) The knowledge of God obtained through a relationship with Jesus and the Spirit transforms humans.
In his first letter to the church, Paul described how the Holy Spirit introduced the Thessalonians to a personal relationship with the Lord.
The relationship compelled the church to begin imitating Jesus’s behavior.
1 Thessalonians 1.5-6 – Because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord.
Imitators of the Lord
As imitators of the apostles and the Lord, we will find ourselves practicing certain behaviors.
— We will take advantage of the greatest offer of all, to live in a personal relationship with Jesus.
— Our behavior will begin to resemble a Jesus-kind-of-life.
— We will make every effort to help other people experience the gift of God’s grace.
Rudy Ross and I have decided to continue our New Testament study through to the end of Revelation. Please join us in our study on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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