2 Thessalonians Lesson 5: Stand Fast in Hope :: By Sean Gooding


Chapter 2: 13-17

“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”

Last week we talked about Lawlessness and the rise of evil. We can see all around us that evil is being promoted at even the government levels. I saw a video with a famous Hollywood actor in his hometown and saw people loot one of his local pharmacies, and no one did anything. The security guard just stood by and did nothing. This actor was astonished and was wondering why no one was stopping them, and then he had to learn that his prosecutors were no longer prosecuting theft under $1000. So, these crooks could take up to $950 in merchandise, and no one would do anything.

There are rumors that some of these pharmacy chains will be closing their doors in these neighborhoods. My brother works for a huge pharmacy chain here in Canada in their Loss Prevention Department, and he is always busy. Theft is rampant in just about every area of life and commerce. Stealing is just the tip of the iceberg, but it has become so open and so prevalent that it cannot be overlooked.

Today we will finish out this chapter and take a look at how we, as children of the Lord God, should conduct ourselves as we see the growth of evil and also the growth of apathy among our brothers and sisters in regard to Jesus’ soon return. There is a need for even more determined living and more commitment to holding the truth. We live in a time where the contrasts between the children of the Light and the children of Darkness are much clearer; we live in a time when there are some that have been in darkness for a long time but have begun to realize that the darkness is not good at all, and if we live like Jesus and stand for the truth, we may be able to win some into the Kingdom of Light. Sadly, these last days are also exposing the wolves that live among us.

I have seen a lot of ‘Christian’ singers suddenly denounce their beliefs in Jesus and even apologize for their beliefs. Many people have quit going to church as a result of the restrictions that we have lived under for 2 years almost, and they have no intention of returning. Sadly, we have even seen famous preachers and pastors fall. Now, not all of these are lost; some are just falling away and backsliding, but many are not just quitting; they are denying Jesus. As we approach the return of Jesus, more and more of this will happen, and it will shake some of us when we see who will turn on Jesus. But Paul, writing here to the young church, encourages them and us in how we should live expectant of Jesus’ soon return.

  • The Blessed Salvation, verses 13-14

I do not think that I thank God enough for saving me. One of my dear friends, a pastor in Florida, wrote recently that if we truly understood the incarnation (Jesus taking on flesh, blood and bone), we would remove the word sacrifice, in regard to our own living, from our vocabulary. Most of us did not, and many still do not understand the depth of our sinful depravity. We still think we are okay. We have made a few mistakes, but all in all, we are not that bad. Let me give you an experiment. Try to count the times that you sin in a day. No, make it half a day. Honestly, make the effort. Remember that it was one sin that damned the whole human race.

Some will take this verse and try to promote Calvinism, but this verse clearly states that those that are saved need to believe the truth. There is clear action required on our part. Rather the choice is in the method of salvation, through Jesus, and since God knows all that ever has or will happen. He made sure that those of us that would receive it heard the Gospel. In John 4, Jesus deliberately went to the woman at the well in Samaria. He deliberately went to Zacchaeus’ home, and even on the very day of crucifixion, Jesus was there to redeem not just the whole world but that one thief on the cross. How many other men were to be executed, but God made sure that one guy was there on that day.

Jesus came looking for me one night in the spring of 1981 in little Barbados, and that night I put my trust in Jesus as my Savior. When did Jesus come looking for you?

  • Stand Fast, verse 15

The phrase ‘stand fast’ is a military term meaning not to give up any ground. In the dictionary, it is defined as a ‘firm, fixed or settled position.’ Paul is telling us, yes us, notice that he specifies not only things taught in person but those taught in this epistle at the end of the verse, that we are to stand fast on these truths of the scriptures. In particular, but not only, the Gospel. If we waver on the purity and simplicity of the Gospel, then most other doctrines will suffer as well.

There is no greater viewing of the simplicity of the Gospel than the account of the thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43. Here we see how pure the Gospel is and how accessible it is to all people everywhere. Take the time to read it for yourself if you have not read it in a while. But there are 4 elements: this thief acknowledges that Jesus is God, he acknowledges that he is a sinner and is deserving of death, he calls on Jesus to save him, and he expresses belief in the resurrection. He was never baptized, never joined a church, never did any ‘good works,’ never led another to Christ; no, he just believed that Jesus was who He said He was and would do what He said he would do.

We must do all in our power to keep the purity and simplicity of the Gospel. It is in our sinful and prideful nature to add man’s goodness to Jesus’ Gospel, and that is heresy. We cannot be good in the same way that Jesus cannot be bad, ever. If and when we keep the Gospel simple and pure, when we stand on this and refuse to move, this will go a long way to keeping the purity of other doctrines as well.

The Gospel does not change with time; it is not fluid. There is no need to tweak it or modify it. The same Gospel that saved the people in Thessalonica is that very same Gospel we offer now. The same Jesus that died on the cross 2,000 years ago for the sins of the world is the same Jesus we share today when sharing the Gospel. The method of salvation: belief that Jesus is God, that you and I are sinners, that Jesus paid for our sins in full on the cross, and that He rose from the dead is still the only Gospel we have to offer.

Paul once told us that if even an angel were to give us another Gospel, let him be accursed (Galatian 1:8). Yet we all know of at least one huge ‘Christian’ religion that claims that an angel gave them another gospel. They did not get this ‘new gospel’ from an angel of God; there is only one other option. Yet millions upon millions have followed this heresy.

In our world of ever-changing metrics, new words, new meaning to old words, and all-around confusion, it is important that the Lord’s churches be settled and stand fast on the Gospel. Why, Pastor Sean, do you harp on this? Because Paul did and Jesus harped on the simplicity of the Gospel (Read John 3:16-18). Every book, every epistle to the churches or young preachers harp on the Gospel. Jude tells us that he intended to write something else, but the Holy Spirit led him to write about contending for the faith. The Gospel both binds us and separates us. If you meet someone anywhere in the world and get the chance to ask them what they believe about Jesus, the answer will either bind you together as a family forever or separate you as children of God and them, the unbelievers.

No matter what culture, what language, what color, what education level, the Gospel unites us across all boundaries and barriers. You can meet another believer for the first time, and in the Gospel, there is instant familiarity and camaraderie.

We have this husband-and-wife couple in Pakistan; they found us online, and they believe in Jesus for salvation, and he preaches the Gospel to many people. This dear couple and their children are precious to us as a church. We have sent them help and never go a Sunday without praying for them. They know my kids’ names and we theirs, we pray for the small and big issues, and hardly a day goes by that we do not talk online. Yet, we have never met them. But we are an eternal family in Jesus, and this transcends time, language, culture, and even distance. This is what the Gospel does, and we should do all in our power to keep it simple and pure as Jesus and the apostles taught it.

  • Be Established in the Hope we have, verse 16-17

Hope. We don’t often talk about hope much in our lives. We love to mention faith and love from 1 Corinthians 13:13. But hope is just as much a supernatural spiritual gift as faith and love. Hope keeps us sane in this crazy world. Hope keeps us alive when death would seem to be easier. Hope keeps us in the fight when we know that the enemy will be defeated, maybe not today, but for sure. Hope helps us to see the future when the present is painful. Hope gives us something to hold onto when it seems that the ground around us is crumbling. Hope keeps us trusting Jesus even when our own turn against us like it did with Job and his wife. Job 13:15,Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Hope transcends the now and transports us into then. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Hope helps us to write ‘It is Well with my Soul’ over the dead bodies of loved ones. Hope helps us to sing ‘I’ll Fly Away’ at the graveside. Hope gives a temper to our grief here, and we look forward to seeing our loved ones again. We rejoice that they are not suffering any longer even though we miss them. Verses like Psalm 37:25, “I once was young and now I am old, yet have I never seen the righteous forsaken nor his descendants begging bread.” This is a verse of hope that, no matter how bad it gets, God has us in His hand, and we are taken care of. Luke gives us hope in 21:28,When you see these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

It is easy for us to feel defeated and disheartened in these troubling times, but Luke tells us that these troubling times should instill hope in us. Why? Because we see that God’s prophecies are true; what He said would happen is happening. This should bolster our faith and give us hope that He will come back as He said and that one day, all this evil, all this hurt, all this mess will be over and done. Hope establishes us and gives us a firm foundation to stand on. Hope gives us the power to trust God in the darkest times, and hope gives us a firm rock to stand on when the ground around us feels very shaky.

Imagine the hope that Jesus gave to the thief on the cross when he said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” This is the kind of hope that transcends a crucifixion, and it is that same kind of hope that we have in Jesus today. Stand fast, stand up, stand out in it, and while we are doing that, keep an eye out for our brothers and sisters that are hurting and maybe have not grown into the hope just yet. Comfort them and help them find their hope in Jesus.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding

Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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