Now as you know, we have been talking about the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, His return to this world; and in particular, we find ourselves in the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians. So if you will, open your Bible to 2 Thessalonians chapter 1. And as I told you last time, this is an amazing, amazing little book, this very brief letter of just three chapters, and written to a wonderful church, a church that was marked by genuine salvation and love and grace and hard work.
Their testimony had flourished in the world and it had spread everywhere. In fact, two letters are written to this church, and never in those two letters is there any issue brought up in which they were deficient either doctrinally or in terms of their conduct. They’re a remarkably faithful church. And yet it is to this church that our Lord delivers some of the most powerful, powerful warning passages in all of Holy Scripture, and they come in particular in the fifth chapter of the first letter, and in the first and second chapter of this second letter. So we are looking at these chapters with a view to better understanding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me read for you a portion of the first chapter after his introduction and we’ll pick it up in verse 3.
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed – for our testimony to you was believed.”
The key here is verse 7, the statement, “The Lord Jesus will be revealed.” The Greek word for “revealed” is apokalupsis. This is the apocalypse, this is the unveiling, that’s what that word means, the uncovering, the full revelation of the glory of the Son of God.
Now we talked about last time the fact that the first time He came He came in humility, He came veiled. In fact, “He was in the world, the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not,” John 1:10. He said on many occasions, “You don’t know Me, you don’t know My Father.” They did not recognize Him.
There was a brief glimpse of His second coming glory given to the disciples at the transfiguration. At the end of Matthew chapter 16 the Lord says, “Some of you standing here are going to see My glory.” And then Peter, James, and John were taken to the Mount of Transfiguration. He pulled back the veil of His humanity and His glory was manifest, His second coming glory, and they, you remember, fell over as dead men.
But apart from that unveiling of Christ on the mountain to those three apostles, His glory was veiled. He promises, however, in the sermon, the last sermon He preached in Jerusalem, the sermon on His second coming in Matthew 24 and 25, He promised that the next time He came He would come in full glory and every eye would see Him. Everyone in the world would see Him return. He said this coming would be preceded by all the heavenly lights going black. And out of the blackness would come the blazing glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Such an overwhelming appearance of His glory. The whole world will see that men would cry for the rocks and the mountains to hide them from the face of such blazing glory.
The Lord Jesus will return, and the apostle Paul says, “He will return from heaven” – where He is now at the right hand of the Father – “with His mighty angels” – who will be the agents of judgment and the gathering of the elect as well – “in flaming fire.” Not earthly fire, but the fire of judgment and the fire of glory.
Now why is He coming back? Why does He have to come back? Why can’t He just take us all to heaven when we die and wrap up history some other way? Why does He have to come back? Why is that necessary? Why is that essential? Two reasons are given here. Two reasons are given. One, retribution, verse 8: “He comes dealing out retribution.” Two, relief. He comes in verse 7, “to bring relief.” Those are the two purposes for His return, and they are bound up in redemptive history and in the display of His own justice, righteousness, and glory.
Now last time we talked about retribution. I just want to take a brief look at it again. Notice verse 8, the word “retribution.” “When He comes from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, it will be to deal out retribution.” It means a full and just punishment, a full and just punishment. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord, Deuteronomy 32. It’s repeated in Romans 12 and repeated again in Hebrews 10. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And that repayment, that final repayment, that final vengeance is retribution that occurs at His return.
Now why is this necessary? And that’s a compelling question that has a very direct answer. Why? Go back to verse 6 again. Why? “It is only just for God to repay. It is only just.” The Lord cannot bring an end to the world, He cannot bring an end to human civilization, He cannot bring an end to human sin, He cannot wrap it up without a final triumph of justice. The world is full of injustice and unrighteousness; it will not end that way. It is only right, it is only just for God to repay. The Greek word is dikaion which means justice or righteousness. And then in verse 9, people will have to pay the penalty. Sinners will have to pay the penalty. It is demanded by God’s justice and His righteousness. The penalty for sin is spiritual death, and then judgment and eternal punishment.
Who will be subjected to this retribution? Three separate statements with regard to that. The first one is in verse 6: “It is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you,” persecutors of the saints. Persecution is mentioned back in verses 4 and 5, where he says concerning them that he thanks the Lord for them, and particularly for their “perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” And then at the end of verse 5 refers to them going through suffering. This persecution, this suffering is at the hands of those who are doing everything they can to harm the people of God. It is only just that the persecutors be repaid by God for their great grave sin.
Warnings come in the Scripture to those who would persecute believers. In Matthew 18, our Lord said, “It would be better for a millstone to be put around your neck and for you to be drowned in the depths of the sea than to offend one other believer. In fact, before you would do that, you would be better off to poke out your eye or cut off your hand rather than engage in something that’s going to cast you into eternal hell.” So those who will experience this retribution are those who have persecuted the people of God.
Secondly, in verse 8, it is those who do not know God, those who do not know God. People ask all the time, “What’s going to happen to the people who don’t know God?” There’s the answer. That is when retribution will answer that ubiquitous question about, “What is God going to do with the Pagans and the people who never heard and the people who don’t know Him?” And the answer is given very straightforwardly here: those who do not know God will be dealt a just and righteous retribution. We talked about that last time. But then there’s a third group, and that is also in verse 8, “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” So you have retribution, judgment, vengeance pronounced upon the persecutors of the saints, those who do not know God, and those particularly who do not obey the gospel.
Now I want to say that there will be degrees of punishment and suffering in hell. In Revelation 20, verse 12, we have a very straightforward statement and it is this, that everyone at the great white throne judgment, all the unbelievers, will be judged and they will be judged individually, not collectively, but individually, based on the record of their deeds. There is a divine record of every human’s life; that record is the basis of the severity of their judgment.
In the tenth chapter of Luke’s gospel we get another insight into the fact that there are differing judgments in eternity. Listen to chapter 10, verse 12: “I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.” What does He mean? Any city that rejected His messengers. It would be more tolerable for Sodom, which is to say there are variances of punishment in the future. The severer punishment – not for Sodom, as horrible as it was – but the severer punishment comes to those who reject the messengers of Christ.
And then he says in verse 13, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” – cities in Israel – “For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. It will be more tolerable to Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You’ll be brought down to Hades!” Those cities which heard Christ speak, those cities in which He entered and preached would be subject, the inhabitants subject to far greater punishment than even the horrible city of Sodom.
In the twelfth chapter of Luke our Lord tells a parable about servants, and He makes a point of the differing punishments that are going to come to the servants at the end of the parable. Listen to verses 47 and 48 of Luke 12: “And that slave who knew his master’s will and didn’t get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. For everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” We throw that statement around, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” That’s not talking about blessing, that’s not talking about reward, that’s talking about punishment, punishment. Some will receive few stripes, some many.
But the severest punishment – as I showed you last time, and I will remind you about it because it’s important. In the tenth chapter of Hebrews, Hebrews 10 and verse 26, “If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” If you just go on in the path of sinning after you’ve heard the gospel, there’s no other sacrifice for sins than that, and you’ve rejected that; a terrifying expectation of judgment results. All that is left when you reject Christ is “a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.”
In verse 29 he says, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” When you trample on the Christ of the gospel and insult the Spirit of grace who pointed to Christ, the next verse says, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And then, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of a living God.” Those who persecutes the saints will feel the retribution and the vengeance of the Lord Jesus. Those who do not know God will have that same vengeance; the punishment will be lesser, but it will nonetheless be the same kind of punishment that we’ll see in a moment. And for those who reject the gospel, the severest punishment of all is promised.
Now how does this punishment come? How is it delivered? What is it? Three features. Go to verse 6. The first feature is simply the word “affliction.” “God will repay with affliction,” general misery. The punishment involves misery, it involves misery that lasts forever.
Verse 9: “These will pay the penalty of eternal” – olethros – “eternal ruin, eternal misery.” And what defines that misery again is in verse 9; it is “away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” It is the utter absence of God – as we talked about last time – to be living in an everlasting moment of misery, a moment that never ceases, and there is nothing of the presence of the Lord, nothing of the glory of His majesty, nothing to mitigate the suffering.
This retribution will come when the Lord is revealed from heaven. We read about that in Revelation 19 earlier; it happens at His second coming. Then in chapter 20 you have the great white throne judgment, where the sentences are meted out, followed by punishment in eternal hell. Paul contemplating this to the Corinthians said, “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” We need to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, so that they can know the truth and come to know God and believe the gospel. Jesus is coming to judge; the holy angels are coming with Him to mete out that judgment as His agents.
But that’s not the only reason He’s coming, that is a just reason. It is just for Him to repay. He created a perfect earth, He created a perfect universe. Sin has distorted it in a devastating, damning way, and it’s only right that He comes back and reverses the curse and brings justice in the midst of injustice, righteousness in the midst of sin.
But, secondly, and wonderfully so, He comes for relief, verse 7, “to give relief,” anesis, rest. Think of it in the broadest possible terms that you can imagine: rest in a cosmic sense, rest in an everlasting sense, rest in an eternal sense, rest in every conceivable sense. Paul said to the Corinthians that when he heard about all that was going on in the Corinthian church he had no rest. He said he was without rest on the inside and on the outside, 2 Corinthians 7:5.
We all understand that life is trouble; it’s constant, incessant trouble, punctuated by brief moments of rest. Now we have entered into salvation rest – the write of Hebrews makes clear – but we have not yet entered into that eternal rest and that eternal relief. The word could mean ease, comfort in its fullest sense. This rest will be given when He comes, as verse 10 says.
Now how are we to understand this rest? First, it is relief from affliction. Back to verse 7, “to give relief to you who are afflicted.” It’s the end of persecution. It’s the end of a sinful world doing damage to us, persecution at any level. It’s the end of the sinful world encroaching upon our lives in any sense and any way. It’s the end of Satan being able to use the world system to tempt us. It’s relief from every form of invasion of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Every evil stimulation is gone. It’s the end of all of that, and it is the end of persecution and suffering and all affliction.
But not just for those who have been afflicted, Paul says, but to us as well – and you can make that “us” as broad as you desire, it’s really encompassing all believers. All of us will be delivered. Some of us have not been persecuted as the Thessalonians were. There have been people persecuted through all of Christian history, and now more than ever in history they’re being persecuted. But for some of us we have escaped that degree of suffering, but we have our own persecution. The world hates us. “All who live godly in Christ Jesus” – 2 Timothy 3:12 – “will suffer persecution.” We all know a certain amount of it. So all of us will receive this rest, all of us this relief. It actually literally says, “along with us, those who have been persecuted along with us,” all believers, all saints.
Now just to help you understand how that works at His coming, go back to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, where we started our study, and the snatching away of the church. We know here that our Lord is going to come and snatch His church up from this world, and that is the next event on God’s prophetic calendar. Verse 15: “This we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” And then, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Be comforted, your rest is coming. And how do you define rest? You define rest this way: being caught up from the grave, caught up from the earth, meeting the Lord in the air, going with Him into heaven and being with Him forever. That is rest. That is complete rest. We will always be with the Lord; never ever again will there be a moment we will not be with the Lord.
Jesus said in John 14, “I’m going to go away and I’m going to make a room for you in the Father’s house. I’m going to come and get you and I’m going to take you to be with Me.” And that is the taking of the church, the snatching of the church.
Notice, our Lord doesn’t come to earth, He doesn’t put His feet on the Mount of Olives. Notice also, He stops in the midair, and believers go up from the earth to meet Him in the air and then are taken back into heaven to be with Him forever. This is not the second coming in judgment, this is not the establishing of His kingdom on earth, this is the next event, the snatching away of the believers. All of us who are true believers will be caught up in the air. The dead in Christ will rise first; their glorified bodies will be created, and they’ll rise with ours – it’ll be transformed on the way up; and we’ll never have another moment away from the Lord. We’ll be in His presence forever; and therein lies our total eternal rest and relief.
On earth, when we’re in heaven we’ll be having the marriage supper of the Lamb and receiving our rewards. But on earth, after the snatching away of the church, judgment will begin. And along with judgment, the work of Satan will come to this world in horrifyingly destructive ways. During that period of time, that period called the tribulation, that seven-year period after the church is taken out, people will hear the gospel. The gospel will be preached because Jews will be saved, 144,000 – 12,000 from every tribe – and they’ll become missionaries preaching the gospel in the world. Two witnesses of Revelation 11 will preach the gospel. The gospel will be preached by an angel flying in the sky. The gospel will spread across the world so that people from every tongue and tribe and nation will be converted. There’ll be a huge number of conversions, probably the greatest revival in the history of the church, history of the world. And of course, Satan will go after believers and persecute them viciously during that same period of time. Many of those believers will be killed.
What happens to them when they die during the tribulation? They’ve come to faith after the church is gone. The only people left in the world will be non-believers; but the gospel is preached, many believe and they’re killed. What happens?
Listen to Revelation 14:13-14. We’ll start in verse 12: “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” – tribulation saints – “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Write, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!”’ – all those martyrs slaughtered by Satan and his forces – ‘Yes,’ says the Lord, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.’” Rest will come to the persecuted believers of the time of tribulation, and rest will come to them when they enter into the presence of the Lord.
The next event at the end of that tribulation is the coming of the Lord in glory. He comes in glory and He establishes His millennial kingdom. Revelation 20 says He comes down to this world and establishes the kingdom for a thousand years. And in that kingdom His people become the agents of the King. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He rules with a rod of iron. He subdues the entire earth. Nations come to Jerusalem to worship Him. This is a time of peace. This is a time of righteousness covering the world. The agents of this are the glorified saints who come back and reign and rule with Him by applying His rule across the world. This brings millennial rest to the world.
As the kingdom begins, all His enemies are destroyed. Satan is bound for a thousand years along with all the demons, and the Lord rules in righteousness. That ends with a rebellion of some. The rebellion is immediately squashed, and that thousand-year period ends, and justice has come back to reign in this world. After that, Revelation 21 and 22, our Lord literally dissolves the universe as we know it and creates a new heaven and a new earth, wherein is eternal rest. This is the rest that is to come. We get a taste of it in our salvation. We get a taste of it in the life of the church. But this is the rest that is to come; and it is defined as being forever in the presence of the Lord in a place where there’s no sin, no iniquity, no transgression, no evildoer, no possibility for any of that. Pure righteousness, pure joy, pure peace, pure love equals pure rest.
Now, why? And this is an amazing point. Why is God doing this? The “what” is the rest. But, why? Answer, same answer that I gave you last time for the retribution: “It is only right.” Verse 6: “It is only just.” It is only just to give relief to those who are afflicted and to the other believers. It is only just.
Think about that. That is a startling statement. It is only just to repay, antapodidōmi – very, very strong word. It is only just. It is essential to God’s nature as holy, to God’s nature as righteous, to God’s nature as just. It is essential that He give relief, it is right to do that. This is an amazing thing to think about. We can understand that it is right, that it is just, and therefore it is necessary for God to punish and repay with vengeance those who rejected Him. We can understand that kind of divine justice.
But how about the other side of that divine justice, where it is just as necessary and just as right and just as equitable for God to give us eternal relief? Now I can understand that it is just for God to punish sinners, but how is it just for God to give rest to us? Isn’t that just grace? It is grace. It is grace from the beginning to the end; but it is also just. And what makes it just is that the Lord Jesus Christ has paid in full the penalty for the sins of His people. And the payment was received by God and God validated it by raising Him from the dead, because God was propitiated, God was satisfied. And God must by His own nature as just and righteous and holy, He must give relief and eternal rest to those for whom Christ purchased it. That’s a powerful reality, isn’t it.
We celebrate the justice of God punishing sinners. The gospel makes it necessary that God also reward believers. That’s why 1 John 1:9 says this: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful,” – and it doesn’t say faithful and gracious to forgive our sins, it says – “He’s faithful and” – what? – “just to forgive us our sins.” He must punish sinners and He must reward saints, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Christ has done. He became a curse for us. He became sin for us. “Salvation” – says Paul in Romans 3 – “doesn’t come by the law or by works, but through Christ and His substitutionary atonement.”
Jesus is coming back to bring justice, justice to the sinners and justice to the saints. And that leads us to the third point, who. Who receives this? Verse 6 says, “God is just in repaying with affliction those who afflict you, and He’s just in giving relief to you who are afflicted.”
To all of us who have suffered at the hands of the enemies of God, to all of us who have had general misery and trouble in the world, there is a just recompense coming. It is just to give us relief and rest. So, first, it comes to all of those who have been mistreated and rejected by unbelievers; that’s the negative. The positive is in verse 10, “when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed – for our testimony to you was believed.”
Back in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, Paul reminded the Thessalonians that when he came he says, “We constantly thank God” – chapter 2, verse 13 – “that when you receive the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” All who believe, all who believe will receive this eternal rest.
Go over to chapter 2 of 2 Thessalonians and verse 13. “We should also” – Paul says – “always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord,” – that’s where it all started with sovereign love – “because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. For it was for this He called you through the gospel,” – our gospel – “that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is sovereign love in eternity past. Sovereign love leads God to choose you. He chooses you by His Holy Spirit, brings you to faith in the truth through the gospel, for the purpose of bringing you to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose is that all who He has chosen, He justified; and all He justified, He glorifies. So who is to receive this relief? All the elect, all those whom God loved from eternity past, all whom He chose, all whom He called, all whom He regenerated, all whom He justified; and it is only right that He bring them eternal rest.
Final question is, “How? How does the Lord do this? In what way?” Verse 10: “When He comes to be glorified,” – whenever literally, hotan in Greek – “whenever He comes.” Or, later in the verse, couple of words later, “on that day, on that day when He comes.” The people who will receive this eternal rest are identified in verse 10 as His saints, His saints, His holy ones, made holy, made holy by grace. Made holy: our sins placed on Christ on the cross.
His righteousness covers us: the ones covered in the righteousness of Christ, the ones who are – let’s borrow the word “in” – the ones who are in Christ and in whom Christ dwells. He comes to be glorified in His saints, not with His saints, not alongside His saints, but in His saints, which means that His glory will be inside of us radiating from us in a way that perhaps we get a glimpse of in the transfiguration of Christ. He will be glorified in His saints. The Lord’s glory will be perfectly displayed, perfectly reflected, perfectly revealed through His saints.
Philippians 3:21 says we’ll have a body like His glorified body. First John 3:2 says, “We’ll be like Him, for we see Him as He is.” This is what Paul talked about in Romans 8:19 as the glorious manifestation of the children of God. The world doesn’t now know who we are; they can’t see we’re like Christ, we’re veiled. But the time will come for the glorious manifestation of the sons of God, and the glory of Christ that is in us will be fully revealed and manifest through us. We will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.
So what will happen in this glorious rest is we will be like Christ, we will be glorified. And, secondly, we will give ourselves to eternal worship. Back to verse 10: “when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed – for our testimony to you was believed.”
We will marvel at Him. We will be like Him and we will marvel at Him forever. Thaumazō is the verb; it’s used a lot by the gospel writers. People constantly marveled at Jesus: they marveled at what He said, they marveled at what He did. They wondered about Him in a way that indicated that they were sure there was some supernatural power. They marveled at Him even when His glory was veiled. We will marvel at Him forever when His glory is unveiled. And His glory shines through us as well.
This is our eternal rest, to literally radiate fully the glory of Christ and be like Him as much as an exalted, glorified human can be like eternal God. We will radiate the glory of Christ, and we will marvel at Him forever and ever and ever. Our souls will be swept away in the highest joy imaginable.
What is the purest and highest joy? It is worship. This will be unending, exhilaration of the human soul, the likes of which you cannot fathom. This is joy beyond joy, beyond joy, beyond comprehension of joy. This is satisfaction at its purest and highest level, ten thousand times ten thousand beyond anything you would ever imagine in anything that satisfies in this world. So He comes. Retribution: misery forever, escalating dependent upon how much exposure you had to the gospel and how you responded. He comes to bring rest, everlasting rest in His presence, not away from His presence; everlasting satisfaction, everlasting joy.
A few years ago there was a very misleading book titled Your Best Life Now. That’s true if you’re on your way to hell. But if you’re on your way to heaven, this is not your best life. The Lord gives us much good, but this is our worst life. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, never entered the heart. It’s not perceivable, it’s not imaginable the things that God has prepared for us. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, He has something far better than we can ever understand.
Let me close with 1 Peter 1, 1 Peter 1, verse 3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to His great mercy He has caused us to be born again to a living hope, a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
The heavenly inheritance is reserved, and we are preserved. The heavenly inheritance is reserved for us. That inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, reserved in heaven for you; and we are preserved by the power of God for that final salvation to be revealed in the last time. Do you live in that hope?
What should be your response? Look at verse 6: “in this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you’ve been distressed by various trials.” Go down to verse 8: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls,” your eternal rest.
Really, if you’re a grumpy Christian you need help, and your help is to get your eyes off whatever makes you that way and start looking at what the Lord has prepared for you. Rejoice greatly because of what is prepared for you. And it is reserved for you, and you are preserved to that day to receive it. You should be living with joy inexpressible, full of glory.
Go down to verse 13: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action,” – simply means continue to be faithful – “keep sober,” – understand the priorities – “but fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Don’t hope on anything in this world. “Fix your hope” – not partially, but what? – completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Like Abraham, we’re all vagabonds, hoping for a city with eternal foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
How strange is it that Christians live so differently than this, that they have so little interest in future glory. Narcissistic, self-centered, materialistic, shallow Christianity with its low view of God, its meager understanding of the glories of Christ, its shallow experiences of real worship, genuine prayer and true holiness shows very little interest in the glory to come. This is glory that the Lord has promised you; and He must do it because it is only right. Christ purchased it for you.
But please notice, it is still grace, verse 13: “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” It will always be grace, won’t it. It will always be grace; He purchased it. Yes. Yes, that means God gives it to us in a just fashion. But the whole thing is going to always be grace, always grace.
We will no more deserve the redemption of these sinful bodies than we deserve the redemption of our polluted souls. Heaven’s not going to be something we earn. We didn’t receive the first part of salvation by grace and then we earn heaven. Heaven is as much grace as anything else. We will no more deserve our home in heaven than we deserve our place in the body of Christ. We will no more deserve the eternal weight of glory than we deserve the Spirit of glory. In this life we will no more deserve sinless perfection of body and soul than we deserve forgiveness of sins committed by body and soul. We will no more deserve unhindered, unbroken, intimate, sweet fellowship and communion with the living Lord than we deserve to worship and pray now. It’s always going to be grace, always. And by the way, Peter says in verse 13, “to be brought,” present tense. It is on the way. It is on the way. It is being brought, literally, and will be delivered at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Why would you idolize the passing world? That just aggravates your misery. Why would you idolize the passing world? That’s disloyalty and a lack of gratitude to God. Idolizing the passing world depreciates heaven, shows a lack of love for Christ Himself. Getting caught up in this world and not having a burning hope for heaven shows little weariness with sin. Getting caught up in the world evidences shallowness in satisfaction. Psalmist said in Psalm 17:15, “I will be satisfied when I awake in Your presence.”
Father, we thank You for Your Word, we thank You for the hope of glory. It is grace and only grace that will bring us there. And yet it is right, it is just; for Christ graciously purchased heaven for us, purchased glory. And so our inheritance is reserved, and we are preserved till the day we receive it. May we set our affections on things above and not on things on the earth. May we say with the apostle John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Come, bring rest to Your people. Amen.
This article is also available and sold as a booklet.