Nov. 8, 1998 2Thess. 2
Local, state and federal midterm elections were held this last week. I trust you fulfilled your civic duty and voted. Too many people say it doesn’t matter, that none of the candidates are worth voting for. That is not a correct view. It may be true that none of the candidates have all the qualities, beliefs or characteristics you feel would be necessary to govern the way we should be governed, but as in all life it comes down to making the best choice from among the choices we are given. It is when we don’t exercise our choice that we then truly have no choice. And it is also true that we can affect the choices we are given by becoming a part of the process.
I like what I read in the paper about Rev. James Meeks from Salem Baptist Church on the south side. He took advantage of Mayor Daley’s law initiative which allows local precincts to vote whether or not they should be wet or dry regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol. Rev. Meeks led a campaign to make several of the precincts around his church dry and they all won. He had an effect. Thirty liquor establishments will be put out of business by the end of the year. It was an effect for righteousness. It was an effect on the way we are governed. And Rev. Meeks has offered to try and find funds to pay 75% of the salaries of employees of those businesses while they retrain for other jobs. That is ethics in practice. Wouldn’t it be a fantastic testimony if all the churches in Chicago pulled together to help him with this?
If you voted, perhaps not all your candidates won in the election. There were some successes, some failures. But again, that is the way life is. We keep working for the successes regardless of the failures. If you are like me, you are open to voting a split ticket on the basis of biblical righteousness and moral value. It may even be that not all those you would vote for are Christian. But in government, moral value, righteousness and ethics count even if it is for human rather than religious reasons. I was pleased that in my old home state of Iowa, Senator Grassley won again. He is a godly man. But I was disappointed that the governorship passed to a new administration that will now promote abortion after over 30 years of pro-life protection in the previous administration. The new governor won on the basis of a campaign slogan that resonated with Iowa voters, “It is time to rotate the crops.”
It appears that Minnesota has wrestled with the major political issues and lost. They lost to a former pro-wrestler named Jesse ‘the body’ Ventura. Sensationalism and commercialism have consumed the heart of America. He won because a majority, especially the young voters, were disenchanted with traditional politics and would vote for anything as long as it was different. This is post-modernism. This is self-delusion and self-destruction. We have lost our vision as a nation because we have lost our vision of God. And I fear we have lost our vision of God because we have grown complacent in the face of his goodness. We have taken the opportunity of peace and have promoted it as opportunity to sin. Is there any difference between us and decadent Rome? The seeds of failure are within all of us. When we stop tending the garden, the weeds take over.
We had a chance on this ballot to clean up the slate of those who sit as judges in our county. At least six of the judges up for retention were rated as unfit by a majority of the local bar associations on the basis of temperament or ability to administer the law. But all judges have now been retained by the voters because of a push in their favor that said all of them were recommended because they were approved by at least one of the bar associations. As voters, we are responsible to seek out the facts and act on them. If America goes bust it won’t be because of the politicians, it will be because the people have been unconcerned. This country of government of, by, and for the people has been deluded into thinking that it will run itself without the input of the individual. But to him who knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin (James 4:17). We are all individually accountable, and doubly so if we have not acted in righteousness, choosing instead not to act. As we all know regarding salvation, a refusal to make a choice for Christ is still a choice (Jn. 3:18).
Perhaps we think that politics and religion should not mix. But we are to be in the world even if we are not to be of it. And what better place than the political arena to be salt and light? The framers of the Constitution had in mind that government should not dictate religion, but that religion should be allowed to have positive effect on government through the morals and ethics of people with spiritual values. The greatest sin of our culture is a growing belief in non-belief; that true religion is a relic of the past beyond which we have evolved. But men still die, and souls are still accountable to Almighty God. And whether or not you agree with anything I have said, the fact remains that the final administration is not yet come in power because the final vote is not yet cast. You see, Election Day has yet to arrive, but it is God’s grace that forestalls it. He is building the strength of his party. There is an eternal election against which no opposition can prevail. And yet it is also an election in which the individual counts.
We choose our party based upon whether we believe in rhetoric or in truth. The results of any election are that there are winners and losers. To which party do you belong? For whom have you, or will you, cast your vote? To whom do you owe allegiance? To whom do you owe favors? What are your issues? Upon what platform do you stand? What campaign tactics tickle your fancy? This election is not a matter of an elephant or a donkey, it is a matter of sheep or goats (Mt. 25:31-46). An election day is coming in which there are no terms of office. God will serve as the election judge. He will cast the last ballot. And he will bestow favors upon all those whom he has elected.
Many are called but most are frozen in corporate or collective cold, these are the stalled who choose not to be chosen except to be bought and sold.
Lee Carroll Pieper
The elect are whosoever will; the non-elect are whosoever won't.
Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887)
This doctrine affords comfort: thy unworthiness may dismay thee, but remember that thy election depends not upon thy worthiness but upon the will of God.
When God elects us, it is not because we are handsome.
John Calvin (1509–1564)
Those who believe in Christ are the chosen or elect:
Mt 22:14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen."
Mt 24:22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
Mt 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-- if that were possible.
Mt 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Lu 18:7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
Ac 9:15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
Ro 8:33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
Ro 9:11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-- in order that God's purpose in election might stand:
Ro 11:5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.
Ro 11:7 What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened,
Ro 11:28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,
Col 3:12 ¶ Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
1Th 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Tit 1:1 ¶ Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness--
1Pe 1:2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1Pe 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
2Pe 1:10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,
Re 17:14 ¶ They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings-- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."
But Christ himself is the first, or elect, among many brothers (Rom. 8:29):
Lu 23:35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."
1Pe 2:4 ¶ As you come to him, the living Stone-- rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--
1Pe 2:6 For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
Since we will be concentrating our efforts totally on prayer this Wednesday evening in preparation for the time of national prayer and fasting Thursday through Saturday and won’t be having our usual Bible study, let us turn this morning to that text for a body of truth about the election day to come. Please turn with me to 2Thessalonians, chapter 2:
1. Confidence regarding any early returns. (vv. 1-2)
We must not be dissuaded about any early returns we might hear of the coming election and the promised results of favors to be given us. The opposition will tell us that we have been promised victory but in fact are being abandoned. We will indeed have a part in the coming administration of our champion, Jesus Christ, head of the party of the Saints. He will gather us about him and cherish us and give us personal instruction on our part in his righteous administration which shall never be overthrown.
2. Premature claim to victory by the opposition party. (v. 3)
We must be patient regarding the timing of his political strategy in which these early returns play a part. The Sinners will be especially mislead by a coming day of the Lord in which all the Saints will be called away for a temporary emergency political convention to refine their part in the platform for victory. This will entice the Sinners to be so bold as to stage an insurrection in which a premature victory is claimed in rebellion against the electoral process. This insurrection will expose the true lawless character of their primary candidate, the antichrist. Be assured he will be overthrown with the final results when all the votes are counted.
3. Presumptuous claim to office by the opposition candidate. (v. 4)
The Sinners’ candidate, the antichrist, will not only prematurely claim victory but will presumptuously claim the installation of office and begin to exert authority over everything that rightfully belongs to the author of the Saints which is God. Since they are temporarily away in convention, he will assume command of all that exists of their infrastructure. In fact, he will even claim the headship of the Saints party and take over the headquarters of their author in the temple, claim to be their author and attempt to receive the worship that belongs only to him. He will run a mud-slinging campaign seemingly without opposition, but we should not be surprised at his desperate tactics. His tactics will reveal him for who he really is and not for who he is trying to be. He will be lured into full exposure for utter defeat. His pride will be his undoing since he will think he has complete command. He will be given latitude to heap up his sins to the limit to be judged by God.
4. Remembering the prophetic plan. (v. 5-7)
We must not forget our party platform or the prophetic plan. With the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Saints, the antichrist can not assume control. The power of the presence of the Saints is too great for the Sinners. Our champion, Jesus Christ, will come for us at the direction of God and at the proper time to put in motion the plan to expose the Sinners long term secret lust for power and the lawlessness of their candidate, the antichrist. His purpose will be to isolate and then terminate the Sinners’ party without threat to the Saints. Once they have been baited and made vulnerable by their own pride, Jesus Christ will return from apparent defeat with the Saints in power as an occupation force with glorified bodies that can never die, an invincible army, and wage a vigorous campaign of truth by frontal assault against the lies, deception and presumption of the Sinners. Their subversive tactics and evil designs have been at work for a long time, but the plan of God to lay them bare in defeat is from before time began.
5. The effectiveness of prophetic strategy. (v. 8)
The Saints champion, the Lord Jesus, will suddenly come and choose his stump and stand on it. He will not be knocked off nor shut up. Every breath from his mouth will wage war with almighty power against his enemies by the eternal power of truth. Even the sight of him will blind those who dare look upon him with unholy eyes. This debate will be so one-sided that the Sinners will have nothing to say in response, indeed, they will not even be able to speak.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Is. 9:6-7) Who says that religion and politics don’t mix?
6. Exposing the motives and allegiance of the opposition party. (v. 9)
The Sinners have their following. Their primary candidate is the antichrist. But their organizer and the head of their party is Satan. Perhaps many in his party are not aware just who it is who runs things. He is the mob boss behind the scenes who pulls the strings and makes the deals his underlings cannot refuse, or so he tells them. He is the big cookie God wants to crumble. With nothing but crumbs in the bag, his followers will be helpless. The antichrist is his front man who performs at his bidding. And some of his bids will be pretty good - good enough to fool the average Sinner without the truth of God. But the truth of God will utterly expose Satan as a charlatan for all the deceit he has used to manipulate them for his own ends in opposing God. His ultimate deception is that he has more power and more to offer than God does. They will all perish with him because they have desired to believe his lies rather than the truth of God made available to them all along.
I've always been amazed by what people will believe. In recent grocery store tabloids, the following headlines were observed:
* Dinosaurs Honked Like Buicks
* Cow Mattresses Help Cows Produce More Milk
* Mom To Be On Diet Of Only Chicken, Lays Huge Egg
* WWII Bomber Found On The Moon
* Woman Gives Birth To 2 Year Old Baby: Child Walks & Talks In 3 Days
* Adam & Eve's Bones Found In Asia: Eve Was A Space Alien
People will read and believe this nonsense, but refuse the evidence concerning God and Jesus Christ.
7. The mistake of those who follow the opposition party. (vv. 10-11)
The Sinners have not listened to truth but to empty campaign rhetoric. They have been given free choice to delight themselves, even if temporarily, in what delusions they desired. This is not that they had no other choices - they made conscious choices to refuse truth. They wanted to be deceived because they loved evil. And so God allowed them to have what they wanted. If it wasn’t him, it must be Satan and all he stands for. God wants willing worshippers. The big mistake is not believing that God has ultimate control, even over Satan. It is a matter of choosing the wrong party, the wrong platform, the wrong favors, the wrong boss. Hell will be populated by those who chose it, even if by default. They are all deceived into their own doom by lies they wanted to believe. Just a believing truth leads to greater truth, a desire for lies leads to more lies - especially that Satan has more to offer than God does.
8. The destiny of those who follow the opposition party. (v. 12)
The empty words of Satan can never save anyone. The destiny of the Sinners who form his party is all the same. They will perish because they didn’t love the truth of God to follow it. They not only didn’t love truth, they delighted in wickedness. Their destiny is the eternal fires of hell reserved for Satan and his angels. The penalty for believing lies is the hell they said didn’t exist. But the truth of God saves from hell. The truth of God is the substitutionary atonement of the death of his Son, Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith. The place of salvation is in the presence of God in heaven. The Saints have chosen not to believe the counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders of Satan and his antichrist which are all lies. The Saints will be rewarded with jobs in the eternal kingdom of our Christ. But mostly they will be rewarded by the eternal presence of what they believed they could count on on earth, namely the truth of God. Only true believers are allowed in the party of the Saints. For this we were chosen because we would believe that Christ saves, the One whose rule will never end, because God casts the last ballot.
9. The destiny of those who follow God. (vv. 13-14)
a. We are a blessing to God for which thanks may be given.
b. We are family members or brothers loved by God.
c. We have been chosen by God in the beginning before we ever knew him.
d. We are being saved through the agency of God’s Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
e. We are being saved through our belief in the truth of God.
f. We have been called to the truth of God through the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
g. We have been set apart to share in the glory of the Son of God.
10. Exhortation for those who follow God. (v. 15)
a. Therefore we must stand firm in the truth of these things we know from what we have been taught.
b. We must hold to these things and not be dissuaded by the lies of Satan who seeks to discredit them and the message of truth.
11. Encouragement for those who follow God. (vv. 16-17)
a. We are assured by God’s love and grace to us in Jesus Christ.
b. This assurance gives us eternal encouragement and hope through the forgiveness of sins.
c. We are therefore strengthened to succeed in every way.
Saints Win! Sinners Lose! Jesus Christ elected to win by a landslide and take office as Priest and King. His faithful followers have also been elected to rule with him. The election judge has declared sovereignty. The righteous truth platform of the Saints obliterates the Sinners’ platform of evil lies. Expect a government of justice and peace. God is still taking applications. Join up! It’s the best party on earth. It is the only party in heaven. Are you ready for Election Day?