Tuesday, Aug. 11
I’m indebted to Doug, who spoke on 2 Thes. 3:1-5 Sunday. What struck me most was his exposition of “deliverance.” Verse 2 says “And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men.” Paul was persecuted throughout his ministry, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, suffering at the hands of both Jew and Gentile. He is asking the Thessalonian church to pray for deliverance from “wicked and evil men.” Was he asking for persecution to end? Then there’s the enigmatic statement “for not everyone has faith.” Is Paul suggesting that persecution will cease if one has faith? I don’t think so. He’s asking God to encourage those that are being persecuted to remain faithful under their persecution. That’s where the faith comes in. Then he asks the Thessalonian church to pray for them (Paul, Silas and Timothy) that they would remain faithful under persecution as well. Deliverance is not from persecution, but from apostasy. Remaining faithful under persecution is the issue. I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Rom. 8:8: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that well be revealed in us.” And Rom. 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And Rom. 8:34: Christ Jesus . . . is interceding for us.” And Rom. 8:37: “we are more than conquerors.” And Rom. 8:38-39: neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God . . .” All this was Paul’s way of encouraging the Roman Christians who were under persecution. Frankly, I’m not suffering at all. But thousands of Christians around the world are. Many have been killed and more are being killed every day. Paul’s admonition in 2 Thes. 3 is so apropos today. We need to be praying daily for those people—not that the persecutions would cease, but that they would remain faithful. Already their faithful witness has won many to the Lord. And that is why God allows persecution.