Commentary on "Promise to the Persecuted (2 Thess. 1:112)"
Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, September 8, 2012 - Introduction
In today’s introduction to the lesson author Jon Paulien writes,
“The second coming of Jesus is the culmination of all Christian hope… at the Second Coming, believers will be rescued by God’s spectacular intervention in Christ.”
To be fair, if I heard a Christian pastor say these words I may not think twice about them because I would know that the finished work of Jesus and the resurrection-life given to all believers is the center around which these words would have meaning. It is because of our assurance of salvation that we have a blessed future to look forward to. However, because I know that Seventh-day Adventism defines the gospel as the “three angels message” and the second coming, and because I know that they do not teach the finished work of Christ but rather the ongoing ministry of Christ in their doctrine of the Investigative Judgement, I feel that these words need a little unpacking.
For Adventist doctrine, which denies the spirit of man, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is little more than evidence of His perfect life. In fact, it didn’t even represent the “next phase of His ministry” as they understand it (the Investigative Judgement) because they claim that began in 1844. The resurrection simply shows the Adventist believer what can happen to their physical bodies one day should they pass the Investigative Judgement. Their gospel is the second coming of Jesus, and their hope is in their faithfulness to God’s law which they teach their young to prepare to die for in the “end-times”. To them, Calvary’s meaning is in the fact that Jesus opened a door for them to have a chance at eternal life. It is at the second coming that they will learn whether or not they are going to go to heaven. They look forward to this day because the dead will “come back to life” and they will have a great reunion as depicted in many Adventist artistic renderings of people climbing out of graves and embracing under a sky lit up by angels. The present life of the Adventist is one of sacrificial working to uphold God’s law through the help of the Holy Spirit should they live in a way that does not grieve Him and send Him from their presence. It is truly a fearful gospel that relies greatly on their own personal fortitude.
However, for the Christian, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the climax of all Christian hope! Because of the resurrection we have life in ourselves even now! It is because the curse of sin is broken in us, and because we presently have eternal life (God) dwelling within us now, that we are able to rejoice and worship through the most horrific of life circumstances. This Life (1 John 1:2) is the tangible hope that fueled the faithfulness of the Thessalonian church. It was the resurrection power of Christ in their very body that provided them with the fortitude to press on under such intense persecution. The anchor of the soul in the believer is the gospel of scripture; the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-6)! The gospel has already happened and it is because of this that the believer can look forward to all that is promised as a result of what Christ has already done. It is through God’s spectacular intervention in Christ through the cross and resurrection that believers have been rescued!
Pastor David Shepherdson of Calvary Chapel Nuevo writes about the hope we have in the resurrection on his blog:
“Talking about the assurance of God’s promise, Hebrews 6:19 says, 'this hope we have as an anchor of the soul.' This hope is not of the 'wishful thinking’ variety. This is a solid, unshakable confidence based on who God is and what God has done…It is in the resurrection of Jesus that our eternal hope is actually anchored. He is called the 'first-fruits’ of all those who believe. The resurrection is so central to our hope, that 1 Corinthians 15 says, 'if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins . . . but in fact Christ has been raised from the dead!' The resurrection of Jesus Christ marked the defeat of death, death no longer has the last word over us. As 1 Corinthians 15 says, 'death is swallowed up in victory.' …The crescendo, the culmination, the capstone of all that Jesus did for us, is found in the resurrection. The resurrection is where our hope is anchored. It’s in the resurrection that Jesus Christ conquered sin, death, and the grave—on our behalf. Our hope is no longer based on what we might try to do for God, but it is completely, eternally, based on what Jesus Christ has done for us. That is a sure foundation, a steadfast assurance, a hope that is an anchor of the soul. Our only part is to put our full faith in the finished work of Christ, which makes his victory, our victory!”
Edward Mote, a carpenter who became a baptist pastor later in his life, was deeply loved by his congregation, so much so that they wanted to name their chapel after him. His reply to their request was simply, “I do not want the chapel, I only want the pulpit; and when I cease to preach Christ, then turn me out of that.” When he was 39-years-old, Edward Mote penned the words to a beloved hymn that has come to mean far more to me than I ever understood it to mean as an Adventist.
“My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus name.”
The entire Bible points to Christ’s work on behalf of fallen man. Our story is actually His story and it is all about what He did for us and Who He is! Jesus is the culmination of our hope and of God’s intervention for mankind! It is because of who Jesus is and what He has already done that the believer has hope to anchor the soul. Everything else to come is simply the icing. In the words of Martin Luther, “I would rather be in hell with Christ than in Heaven without Him.”
Copyright 2012 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised September 6, 2012. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Camp Verde, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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