Harvest Surprise


Do you see something surprising in the following passage of scripture?
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering– since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8.
There are some things that I am certainly sure about. There are more things that I am not so sure about. I understand what Galatians 6:7 says in context. What one plants, he will have to live with the harvest. I also understand 1 John 1:9, that confession (or agreement with God about our sin and its harm) helps us to accept forgiveness and cleans us from the entrapment that led us away from God. However, I have not fully reconciled the two.
Specifically, I am not certain about those Christians who oppose other Christians in ministry. On one hand, I know that as the passage states, it is righteous for God to afflict those who afflict the ministry of God. But I also know that believers, regardless of how deceived they may become, have a standing forgiveness.
The surprise to me is that the affliction and rest that Paul promises is not affliction in form of temporal consequences of bad choices, as I have often taught, which end at death and stand in forgiveness for eternity. Paul specifically uses the phrase “…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
Two groups are listed as those who will receive affliction at the judgment: Those who do not know Christ and those who oppose His ministry (specifically, those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” One group is undoubtedly the lost, and the other could include the saved who oppose ministries and ministers of sincere surrender.
Perhaps the resolution is found in two judgments: The Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9-11), where the works of believers will be evaluated, and the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), when the souls of each person will have to answer for what they did with the Christ.

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