Another portion of scripture I’ve become aware that has a different meaning than we were taught and I will preface again by saying, “You have heard from the workers and friends for years that 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 means this… but I have found that it means this.”
It is the verses that talk about the falling away that will happen before the second coming of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
King James Version (KJV)
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him ,that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Or put another way…
New International Version (NIV)
The Man of Lawlessness
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
I would imagine those verses are being referenced in the meeting fellowship a lot these last few years because so many workers are leaving the Work and friends are leaving the group. Likely those verses have been quoted when referring to me. The friends and workers are truly sorry and saddened to see so many of their own leave the group or not continue in their ‘place’ any longer. They are saddened by the news and at the same time finding an explanation for it in these verses because there has to be a reason why numbers keep decreasing. I also know from experience that every time a worker leaves the Work, the remaining workers purpose in their hearts that it will never happen to them or else wish it already had. Also, everyone in the group prays that they will keep faithful and never ever leave the fellowship and become a statistic.
I will admit, these are scary verses no matter what translation you read them from; scary only in part though. Scary when Paul is describing the son of perdition (KJV) or the man of lawlessness (NIV). This person who will be THE antichrist and “the one doomed to destruction…a completely evil man who will arise.” He will be Satan’s tool, and equipped with Satan’s power. (v9) The NIV Life Application Bible says, “Throughout history there have been individuals who epitomized evil and who were hostile to everything Christ stands for. These antichrists have lived in every generation and will continue to work their evil” but the son of perdition or the man of lawlessness will be the antichrist.
The portion of these verses that I want to focus on mostly is the part about the falling away that must happen first. In true Paul fashion, he mentions the falling away and then spends the next 5 verses talking rather about the man of lawlessness! We know Satan is the Great Deceiver; deception is his game. This lawless one will be used by Satan to deceive many into not believing the truth and into having pleasure in unrighteousness. (v12) This will happen. This is happening and will continue to happen until Jesus comes again. Everywhere.
People will fall away from God. It isn’t referring to people falling away from a group they belong to but falling away from God. It isn’t referring to just people falling away from the meetings but falling away from God in general.
I know that leaving the meeting fellowship and leaving God are synonymous in the minds of people in the fellowship but that fact just isn’t true. Yes, there are some who leave the fellowship and seem to have walked away from God and even say they no longer believe in Him. They need our prayers. However, many or perhaps most who leave the fellowship have done only that; left the group. They have not left God.
I left the group but I did not leave God. He did not leave me.
The number of people leaving the fellowship or even leaving the Work is a separate issue and begs to be examined carefully and prayerfully. Very difficult questions need to be asked by those still in the fellowship. What isn’t working anymore? Are we defending traditions that through the years have become doctrine? Is it possible there is another way to do things? What are we clinging so frantically to and what have we lost altogether? How closely are we really following Jesus? Are we truly walking by faith anymore? Or did we ever?
Would you dare to ask God if there is any area of your life in which you are being deceived by the Evil One? Remember in those verses, one of Satan’s biggest goals is to deceive us from believing and loving the truth. The truth about God, the truth about ourselves, the truth about life and about salvation.
Yes, this is heavy duty stuff and very, very serious. I began this post with referencing some serious verses. Those verses can be scary, as I wrote, but they don’t need to be. This chapter begins by saying “not to become easily unsettled or alarmed” and ends with the exhortation to stand firm and hold to the teachings of God. Quoting again from the NIV Life Application Bible regarding these verses, “If our faith is strong, we don’t need to be afraid of what lies ahead because we know that this lawless man has already been defeated by God, no matter how powerful he becomes or how terrible our situation seems. God is in control and He will be victorious.”
We are living in trying and unsettling times. We need to keep praying for God’s direction , wisdom and grace continually; for our own sakes and for the sakes of those still in darkness.