Advent: December 8

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

God is just: he will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

Christians don’t all have an easy time. God is just in dealing with those who trouble us, but that should not be interpreted as instant justice. God’s just nature is eternal, and there will come a time when injustice, current and historic, will be resolved.

The writer, believed to be Paul, tells us that Jesus will return some day. We all recite this belief in the Apostle’s Creed, and in the Nicene Creed used in Communion services. Jesus had talked of the arrival of the bridegroom in a parable. He’d spoken of his return at his trial, which in itself was considered a blasphemy by those trying him.

As to the fate of those who are on the wrong side at this point, there is much discussion. Some would argue that punishment means punishment, eternal punishment – hot pokers and all that stuff. You might like to find out where in the Bible Satan has a contract with God for this particular task – let me know when you find it. Today’s passage talks about destruction. Paul is saying that the person who does not know God is destroyed.

Even now, it’s not a great line for us to use when sharing our faith with people. As a Town Pastor I encounter people who want to talk about matters of eternity. I work on the principle that God’s love is overwhelming, and that talking about sin and judgment is the wrong tack. If pushed, I don’t tell the person what we read above, but I would emphasise that only Jesus can offer that person eternal life.

We’re by no means through the woods on this, and I note that there is also just the hint that eternal destruction may not be the same as simply destruction.

Let’s get back to the positive. As for those who are in Christ Jesus, they will experience Christ Jesus’ presence and marvel at him eternally.

Do you care about the eternal future of those you love?

Do you care about the eternal future of those you know?

Do you care about the eternal future of someone you fall into conversation with?

Father God, let me be so filled with compassion and love towards those who do not know you, that I may seek and pray for opportunities to share with them the Good News of eternal salvation brought to us by your Son Jesus.