2 Thessalonians 1:8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
I think that at first glance this verse seems rather strange to most modern Christians. It certainly wasn’t underlined in my Bible. Why would someone be punished for not obeying the Gospel? We don’t usually think of “gospel” and “obedience” in the same sentence at all. However, since I’ve started reading The Insurgence, by Frank Viola, my eyes have been opened to the Biblical reality that what John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, and all the early apostles preached was the Gospel of the kingdom of God, which is to say, the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is indeed a Gospel of salvation by grace through faith, (Ephesians 2:8-9) but if Jesus is not your Lord, you have not entered in. That’s why John, and Jesus, preached, “Repent and believe the good news.” (Matthew 3:2, Mark 1:15) Of what are we to repent? Our disobedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Part of our problem is that we tend to put “obedience” into a legalistic framework, when the Gospel isn’t legalistic at all. However, when we separate “accepting Jesus as your Savior,” and “making Jesus your Lord,” we are introducing a dichotomy that is not found in the Bible. There is incredible freedom in Christ, (2 Corinthians 3:17) but it is freedom from sin, not freedom to “do your own thing.” Of course, the devil has twisted this so that some have preached blind obedience to human Church leaders, but that’s a complete travesty. However, reading through Acts and Paul’s letters, we find the theme of obedience to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) again and again. (eg. Acts 16:7, 2 Corinthians 5:14) This all fits in with Jesus’ encounter with the centurion, recorded in Matthew 8 and Luke 7. As the centurion recognized, authority comes only as we are under authority. We are not going to have victory over the devil unless we are submitted, obedient, to God. (James 4:7) In church we sing songs like He is Lord, but as long as that is abstract, until He is your Lord, you haven’t entered into the kingdom of God.
Ouch! I have been very adept over the years at doing my own thing, all the while thinking I was a good Christian. I have preached on the Lordship of Christ many times, but have still made excuses not to obey Him in countless little things. Again, He is not a dictator, and I must not listen to that lie of the devil, but He is most certainly Lord, and there must be no question of that in my life. I need to be fully familiar with the Bible, knowing He will never tell me something that violates that, because the devil is a consummate liar who plays off of our pride all too effectively. I am to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit at all times, neither quenching nor grieving Him, because He is my GPS (God Positioning System) and direct line to Headquarters. And in all of that I am to rest, relax, and rejoice, just as He has told me to do.
Father, thank You for how You have been working in me in recent weeks, and that You’re far from through with me yet. Thank You for having me use the phrase, “the good news of the kingdom,” in my faith declarations for about 40 years now. Thank You that I’m starting to understand more and more what that means! May I indeed be effective in communicating the Gospel of the Kingdom, so that many may be delivered from the dominion of darkness into Your kingdom indeed, (Colossians 1:13-14) for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!