As Christians we know we are promised suffering. But we are also promised comfort from suffering inflicted by the enemy. As we become more and more villainized today, it becomes clear that we will soon face persecution for proclaiming Christ. The world is sinking deeper into depravity and does not want to know that The Lord God is their Creator and Judge. There is good associated with suffering for Christ’s sake. If we are Christians who do not undergo persecution, then the world and the enemy is not recognizing Jesus in us and finds no reason to harass us. Verses 5-7 read,
“This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering--6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels”
If those who maltreat us now are not punished now, we don’t have to concern ourselves with it. They will either accept Jesus as Lord or they will suffer on The Day of the Lord, when Jesus returns leading the angel armies. We can get comfort from knowing that will happen. We are comforted by remembering our hope of eternal life. And we are comforted by The Holy Spirit who uses our trials to conform us to Christ’s image as well as giving us the comfort of His love.
The Day of the Lord will come and for those who are not prepared it will arrive swiftly and suddenly like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 puts it this way,
“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.”
Jesus will avenge us. The lost, all those who rejected Christ, all those who hated instead of loved will face God’s wrath. What to us is a beautiful promise will be to them like a horrific everlasting nightmare. Verses 8-9 describe their fate.
“in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,”
While we will be perfected and completed they will suffer eternal destruction. While we will be with Jesus face to face, they will be eternally separated from Him. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). We will, if we are still alive see Him coming and to the Believers both alive and passed on, it will be a beautiful sight. But imagine the horror of those who rejected Him, when they realize they hated Jesus and His followers for no reason, when they grasp the truth that they scorned. They will fall to their knees in defeat and proclaim Jesus as Lord, but it will be too late. We will fall to our knees in joy and worship as we sing and shout His awesomeness. Verse 10 reads,
“when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed”
We look forward to that day, our jubilee, the Sabbath for eternity. But we can’t be okay with letting the lost miss out on the truth. Some reject Jesus outright, but some just don’t know, they haven’t heard. God loves them and wants them to know Him. He doesn’t want them to suffer eternal destruction. (2 Peter 3:9). So we want that too. We have to live a life that glorifies Jesus, that is makes Him famous, loved, and reflects His character to the world. Verses 11-12 read,
“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We know we are not saved by works but good works are the result of our salvation. It is our good works, the use of our gifts, and our intentional self-control that will being others to Jesus. Ephesians 2:8-10 reads,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
So Believers, keep the promise of eternity in your heart and on your mind. Remember it and be comforted, remember it and love one another, remember it and love those who hate you.