...Therefore we give thanks and stand firm
By Jon W. Quinn
"But we should always give thanks to God for
you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the
beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the
truth. And it was for this that He called you through our gospel that you may
gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and
hold fast to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or
by letter from us." (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15).
This passage follows a discourse concerning a great apostasy that was to come
upon the church. It would be a time of lawlessness as the authority of Jesus
Christ was pushed aside by those seeking religious (and later even civil)
authority of their own. Man would exalt himself seeking to place himself on
God's throne. Many would be tragically deluded by the power and pretentious
signs of the false one. All those who transgressed will ultimately pay the
price for their rebellion against God when Jesus comes again (2 Thessalonians
From our own perspective we can accurately maintain that the prophesied
apostasy indeed came in the following centuries thus fulfilling the Holy
Spirit's words recorded here. We can also see that the same prideful spirit is
at work in mankind today as many seek to lead many others away from the God of
truth. I am amazed at how many "believers in God" are willing to explain away
plain Biblical teaching about a host of issues, doctrinal and moral. I am not
at all wrong when I say that that our nation is in a similar apostasy and
decline to the one of which Paul spoke in the first part of 2 Thessalonians.
What does a Christian do in such a world?
Give Thanks for the Faithful
"But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the
Lord..." (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Often, in being upset at the godlessness of
those who know not God, we forget the encouraging examples of faith which we
see throughout the world today. To see God's grace at work in the lives of the
beloved of God is compelling and powerful. To read or hear of successes of
others, whether locally or in distant lands, ought to fill our hearts with
thanksgiving. Satan thought that he might win this battle after all...but he
was wrong! Don't ever allow yourself to dwell on the negative, complaining and
moaning, while forgetting the positive influences exerted by God's people, the
salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13,14).
God Has Chosen You For Salvation
"...because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation..." (2
Thessalonians 2:13). From the beginning God had a plan to save those who were
lost in sin. This plan is a part of His eternal purpose, Everything you read
in the Bible about how Jesus saves us is a part of this eternal plan. As the
Scriptures state "This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He
carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord..." (Ephesians 3:11).
By this plan we are chosen by God for salvation. From the beginning, God has
chosen to save us one way to the exclusion of all others. If His way is not
good enough for you, and for many apparently it is not, at least know that
there is no other way at all.
Salvation Through Sanctification
"...salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." (2
Thessalonians 2:13). A part of being chosen by God is sanctification. This
means "to be set apart". This is what happens when one responds to God's plan.
He yields his will unto God's. He places his hope and confidence in God's
wisdom and provision. He obeys the gospel and becomes like Christ in that he
follows the example of Jesus. Without sanctification, there is no salvation.
Two aspects of sanctification is also brought out by the phrase "by the Spirit
and faith in the truth." As we allow ourselves to be led by the Scripture, we
are being led by the Spirit because the Scripture was given to us by the
inspiration of the Spirit. You cannot be led by the Spirit if you are
disobedient unto the Spirit's revelation. Also, faith in the truth is a part
of sanctification. Those who are sanctified remain so by continued faith in
the truth, even when the world provides many other choices.
Called Through the Gospel
"And it was He who called you through our gospel..." (2 Thessalonians 2:14).
God calls us through the gospel and we answer God's call when we believe and
obey the gospel from the heart. This same gospel had been appointed from
eternity before time began. Now it has become a part of time and creation.
Through it the eternal God of heaven calls His creatures home. When we answer
God's call and remain true to it, two things will happen; We will live our
lives on earth for the Lord (sanctification) and we will go to our true,
everlasting home in heaven and be joyfully free (salvation).
Gaining the Glory of Jesus
"...that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians
2:14). The eternal plan of God concerning ourselves will find its wonderful
conclusion as we share with our Redeemer His glory around the Father's throne.
The aged apostle John , inspired by God's Spirit, exclaimed that when Jesus
appears again, that we "shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He
is." (1 John 3:2). Also, recall the promise that Jesus will "transform the
body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory..."
(Philippians 3:21). No human being is worthy to share in the glory that
belongs to the Creator of the universe, and yet, that is exactly what is
Brethren, Stand Firm
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold the traditions which you were taught,
whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." (2 Thessalonians 2:15). So
then, the answer for the faithful Christian as he faces the dilemma of living
in a fallen world as it rebels against the God of heaven to its own ruin, is
to stand firm.
It may not always be easy to stand firm, but it is always possible and always
the best way to deal with any situation in life. We are living parts of an
eternal plan brought into force by Almighty God, born by His love for us. We
shall not disappoint Him.
From The Bradley Banner 5/16/2014
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway