July 5, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Wrath Has Come Upon Them Today
“hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.”
1 Thessalonians 2:16
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Evil men have always opposed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, that opposition comes from religious leaders, even supposedly Christian religious leaders, who do not want anyone contradicting their heretical teaching. They would prefer for men to live in spiritual darkness, rather than live in the glorious light of forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:16, Paul reminds the Thessalonians that their own countrymen opposed the preaching of the Gospel to them. As Jews, living in Thessalonica, they also tried to stop the ministry team from going to the Gentiles, after the Jews refused the Gospel. Paul reminds the Thessalonians and us today that sinful men hate Jesus, and killed Him, and will do everything they can to hinder the preaching of the Gospel. Paul and the Jews knew that the Gospel was the power of God for salvation, but the wicked Jews rejected the message of Jesus. Remember, however, that Paul was a Jew, and some Jews would receive the Gospel and be saved. In fact, thousands of Jews received Jesus by faith for the forgiveness of sins under Peter’s preaching at Pentecost (for example, Acts 4:4).
Jesus taught the wrath of God abides upon every man who does not obey the Son of God, Jesus Christ (John 3:36, page 1659). Paul points out that every person hindering the message of salvation fills up the measure of their sins. God measures sins. He knows the bad acts of each man, and will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, Jesus Christ the righteous (Acts 17:31). When we see people hindering our work of spreading the Gospel, we should always recall the words of Paul to the Thessalonians, and know that God sees our opponents filling up the measure of their sins. But God is not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance, by receiving the gift of eternal life from Jesus, by faith alone (2 Peter 3:9).
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we know that opponents will always try to stop us from sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are in Christ today because Christ overcame the opposition and sent someone to share the Gospel with each one of us.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we recognize that the opponents of the Gospel fill up the measure of their sins, and the wrath of God abides upon them. Yet, God loves them too, because Paul himself was a chief opponent of the Gospel before Jesus turned Him to salvation.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we do not expect to encounter opposition, or fail to recognize that Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Application for Today
Today, I will see people opposing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will remind my friends that those opponents are filling up the measure of their sins, and wrath has come upon them to the utmost. Together, we will stand and proclaim Christ, knowing Christ has overcome all opposition. As you encounter opposition to the Gospel today, what will you be thinking?