In His Letters to the Thessalonians (continued)
The Test At the End (continued)
Now, the Apostle wrote his letters on that, and he said: 'Look here, that does not mean things going wrong; that does not mean disappointment for your expectations. The Lord will not come until those things have happened and come to fullness.' "The mystery of lawlessness does already work". Before He comes, two things must happen.
'First of all, there must take place a great falling away.' A great falling away? Christians falling away? Professing Christians falling away, going away from the Lord, turning back? That is not very practical for these people! Yes, that is exactly what will happen toward the end. The nearer the coming of the Lord is, the more the test will be finding people out. The sieve will be at work. There will be a falling away; there will be many people - professors - who say, 'We are not going with this, we cannot go on with this any longer.' They will go back from following the Lord. It always was so. It was so in the days of our Lord's flesh. At the end it will be like that. "Oh, how disappointing!" Ah, yes, but understand that that is how it will be, and that it does not mean that everything has gone wrong. It is just going to be like that. When the Lord does take away a people, it will be a people who have gone on with Him to the end; and He is testing, testing. 'Now, you Thessalonians, understand that what He is doing is testing you as to whether you will go right on to the end. It has to be made manifest whether the root of the matter is in believers, or if it is only profession. So do not misunderstand the signs of the times."
And then the second thing. antichrist, that man of sin, the devil, seems to be getting more and more of his own way, they thought. And it was so. "But", said the Apostle, "the Lord's days will not come until that man of sin, the antichrist, has been revealed. "Oh, we thought Christ was coming, not antichrist!" Ah, but Christ will not come until antichrist has come. Do not misunderstand things. If there is a mighty movement in this world by satan, the devil seemingly incarnate, a great incarnation of him - it may be in man form or system form, whatever it is - that is dead set upon obliterating everything that belongs to Christ, that is not a bad sign. That is a good sign - the Lord is about to come! That is the good news in the day when the devil seems to be carrying everything away. That is Portentous. The Lord is at hand.
"But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh", said Jesus (Luke 21:28). So if suffering increases, if patience is tested; if satan seems to be having it his way, and getting the power into his hands, do not be deceived - do not allow that to say to you, 'Well, our hope is not being realized.' Turn it round the other way, and say, "These are the very things that say that our hope is about to be realized." This is good news for the day of adversity, good news for Christians in suffering, good news when satan is doing his worst. The Lord is at hand!
The Summing Up Of The Whole Matter
But where shall we sum it all up? We have always sought to find a little fragment in which it can be all concluded, and I think we have it here:
"Faithful is He that calleth you, Who will also do it" (1 Thess. 5:24).
Here is the conclusion and summing up of the whole matter. Yes, beloved ones are dying, going to the Lord. Time is dragging on. The devil is apparently gaining power and doing his worst. We, the Lord's people, are in suffering: nevertheless, God is able to see us though. "Who will also do it." What more do we want? Over against everything else - "He will also do it." That is good news! After all, and in the final summing up, the good news is that it is not left with us. It is the Lord's matter. What is left to us is to believe God, to seek to understand His ways, to be steadfast, to hope unto the end, and then the Lord takes over. "Faithful is He that calleth you, Who will also do it." Good news!
(continued with # 47 - (In His Letters to Timothy)