I am almost finished working my way through 2 Thessalonians as I prepare to preach the epistle in a few weeks. I work on sermons several months before I preach them. I like to have studied a book completely before I begin a series because I like to have the entire argument in my head when I start preaching. This can be a problem if I decide to preach through, for instance, Isaiah!
Anyway, lately I have not been able to get away from meditating on what Paul declares in 1:9 of 2 Thessalonians. After noting that God will deal out retribution to those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, Paul declares of them,
These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
There is coming for the unbeliever a horrifying outcome, namely, eternal ruination. Specifically, it involves being separated from the presence of Christ. In that separation they will also be separated from his glorious power. Apart from God’s grace, we would all face this impending judgment, but because of his great grace, he has been pleased to save sinners and derive praise from them. We cannot change the condition of the lost. We can however proclaim the gospel with concern for their souls knowing that a gracious God is able to save. As Paul reminded the Corinthians, we preach Christ crucified (1:23) but it is because of God’s doing that we are in Christ Jesus (1:30).