Log Providence Missionary Baptist Church

Est. 1866                                                                                            Rev. David P. Ballenger , Pastor

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Sunday April 12, 2019

                                                    Subject: " A Growing Resolved"

                                                     Scripture:    II Thessalonians 2:13-3:5


Lesson Outline


I. Introduction


II. Background


III. FUTURE GLORY (II Thessalonians 2:13-14


IV. FIRM FOUNDATION (II Thessalonians 2:15-17)

 

V. PRAYER FOR PAUL’S MINISTRY (II Thessalonians 3:1-2)


VI. EXPECTATION OF GOD’S PROVISION (II Thessalonians 3:3-5


VII. Conclusion


      




Key Verse

“ “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (II Thessalonians 2:15).


I.  Introduction

 Things in this world are constantly changing. Even things that seem constant will someday cease to be.  In contrast, we can always count on God’s faithfulness.  God expects our faithfulness in return.  As Paul came to the end of his second letter to the Thessalonians, in this week’s lesson, he wanted his readers to understand how faithful God is.


II. Lesson Background

The Thessalonians had learned about the second coming of Christ through the first letter from Paul (see I Thessalonians 4:13-18), and also from his personal teaching while he was with them (see I Thessalonians 2:1-2, 10-12). In his second letter to the Thessalonian Christians, Paul was trying to encourage them while they were experiencing a time of difficult persecution (see II Thessalonians 1:1-5).  The persecution was so harsh that many believers thought the day of the Lord, the tribulation period and onward, had begun.  They misinterpreted Paul’s first letter to say that the second coming would be at any moment.  In light of this misunderstanding, Paul wrote his second letter to correct that way of thinking.  The apostle’s intent was to prevent the spreading of this error concerning the coming of Christ that many among the Thessalonians were starting to believe (see II Thessalonians 2:1-3).  Then Paul proceeded to tell them about two great events that were to take place before the coming of Christ: (1) a general apostasy (falling away from the faith), and (2) the revelation of the antichrist.  Paul tells them many remarkable things about Antichrist’s name, his character, his rise, his fall, his reign, and the sin and ruin of those who follow him (see II Thessalonians 2:4-12).  This is where our lesson begins.

III. FUTURE GLORY (II Thessalonians 2:13-14

 A. The fact of God’s choosing (II Thessalonians 2:13). In our first verse, Paul speaks of his prayer for the Thessalonian believers.  He said “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”  Paul thanked God for the Thessalonians and their response to God’s Word which was their part in salvation.  Since Paul had personally founded the church in Thessalonica (see Acts 17:1-9), he referred to these believers as “brethren beloved of the Lord” just as Paul and all believers are.  The reason we are, is because “God hath from the beginning chosen you (us) to salvation.”  The fact that believers are “chosen” or elected to salvation “from the beginning” does not mean we had no choice in the matter.  Even though God knew from the beginning who would accept His gospel message, the doctrine of election involves both divine and human aspects.  On the divine side, God “through sanctification of the Spirit” has made us holy and set us aside for His good pleasure by indwelling us, and making our bodies holy temples (see I Corinthians 6:19-20; I Peter 1:2).  On the human side, every believer’s election is completed because of their “belief of the truth.”  Note:  Simply put, election to salvation on God’s part is providing opportunities for us to hear the Word of God (see Romans 10:14-17), and our part election involves believing that same Word.  While it may be difficult to understand both the divine and human concepts involved in election to salvation, both are true.  While God knows who will or who will not respond to the gospel, we don’t.  As a result, we too must share the message with others and leave the results with God (see I Corinthians 3:6).


          B. The fact of how we are chosen (II Thessalonians 2:14). Continuing his thoughts regarding the believer’s being chosen for salvation, Paul said in this verse “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The apostle here was saying that God had called the Thessalonian believers to salvation through his preaching of the “gospel” so that they could share in the “glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.”.


IV. FIRM FOUNDATION (II Thessalonians 2:15-17) 


 A. A proclamation (II Thessalonians 2:15).  Based on the fact that God had called these believers to salvation, in this verse Paul urged them to “stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”  They were to “stand fast” in their faith despite their present difficulties.  There are many ways for these believers as well as all believers, to remain steadfast in the faith (see Acts 2:41-42: I Thessalonians 5:15-22).  They were also encouraged to “hold the traditions which ye have been taught” meaning that they were to cling to the truths they had “been taught” by Paul.  The apostle noted that those “traditions” or teachings were given to the Thessalonians “by word” or orally when he was with them, and “by our epistle” or the letters that he was writing to them.  Note:  A tradition is simply something handed down to us by others.  At this time in the history of the church, early Christians had to depend on the oral testimony of the apostles and others.  Even though we have the completed New Testament today, faithful pastors and teachers still need to be passing along the truths of the gospel to each new generation (see II Timothy 2:2; 4:1-5).


          B. A prayer (II Thessalonians 2:16-17).


               1. (vs. 16). In this verse Paul says “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.”  In this verse and the next verse, Paul utters a benediction over these believers.  A benediction is simply a prayer that God may bestow certain blessings on His people.  In this portion of his prayer, Paul reminded the Thessalonians that both “our Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father” love us and have given us “everlasting consolation” or comfort.  In addition, we are given “good hope.”  Biblical “hope” is not wishful thinking, but it is a confident expectation of the return of Christ through God’s grace.


               2. (vs. 17).  In this verse Paul prayed that God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ would “Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”  In light of the fact that these believers were troubled over the status of their departed loved ones, Paul was compelled to pray for their “comfort” and that The Father and Son would “stablish” or help them to stand firm “in every good word and work.”  The phrase “in every good word and work” means in everything we say and do we should demonstrate how God has provided us comfort and hope.


V. PRAYER FOR PAUL’S MINISTRY (II Thessalonians 3:1-2)



  A. Prayer for the rapid spread of God’s Word (II Thessalonians 3:1).  This verse says “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you…”  As Paul came to the conclusion of this second letter to the Thessalonians, he still had some things to write about.  He introduced a few more matters of importance with the word “Finally.”  He began the last major portion of his letter by requesting prayer on behalf of him and his companions when he said “brethren, pray for us.”  Of course the word “brethren” refers to the Thessalonian Christians who were now brothers and sisters in Christ with Paul and his associates.  As such, it was imperative that they pray for them and continue to pray for them because he and his associates needed their constant prayer for the success of the gospel ministry.  It was Paul’s habit, and it should be ours as well, to rely on the prayers of fellow believers for ourselves and our ministries (see II Corinthians 1:11; I Thessalonians 5:25).  Note:  Prayer is one way by which the communion of saints is kept, not only by our praying together, or with one another, but by praying for one another when we are apart from each other.  Although saints may be a great distance from each other, we can always meet together at the throne of grace.  To be sure, it is the duty of believers to pray for our ministers; and not only for our own pastors, but also for all good and faithful ministers or servants.  Ministers need and should desire the prayers of other believers.  How remarkable is the humility, and how engaging the example of this great apostle, who was so mighty in prayer himself, and yet begged for the prayers of the least of Christians.  Paul wanted these believers to pray for three things, two of which are in this verse.  First, he asked them to pray “the word of the Lord may have free course.”  In other words, that God’s Word, particularly the gospel, would spread rapidly.  Paul used the figure of a footrace with this reference to God’s Word having “free course” meaning that it would run a rapid race, spreading quickly.  He used this particular figure of a race in other letters a well (see I Corinthians 9:24; Galatians 5:7).  Paul’s desire was that the spread of the gospel would be accelerated with all the obstacles of the enemies of the gospel being overcome.  The gospel message spreads as God prepares the hearts of men to receive it.  As a result, Paul felt that it was of the utmost importance that the Thessalonians pray.  Second, Paul asked them to pray that God’s Word “be glorified.”  When people receive and obey God’s Word, His Word is “glorified” (see Acts 13:48; Titus 2:10).  Paul wanted them to pray that God’s Word would “be glorified, even as it is with you…”  In other words, when the Thessalonians received God’s gospel, it was “glorified” (see I Thessalonians 1:6; 2:13), and Paul yearned for the same thing to happen with others who would hear the gospel.


          B. Prayer for the missionaries’ protection (II Thessalonians 3:2).  This verse says “And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.”  The third thing that Paul asked his readers to pray for was “that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.”  When Paul used the term “we” he was including his entire missionary team, especially Silas and Timothy.  He wanted the Thessalonian believers to pray they he and his fellow missionaries be rescued from the enemies of the gospel.  Paul was encountering opposition in Corinth even as he wrote this letter (see Acts 18:5-6, 12-13).  Satan will always oppose the preaching of the gospel.  He will even use believers to get in the way of God’s work (see Matthew 16:21-23; Acts 5:1-11).  Notice that Paul didn’t pray for the removal of the opposition; he only wanted to be delivered from its power.  God very seldom takes away our trials; instead He protects the believer through them.  The Thessalonians were well aware of the opposition that Paul and his missionary team faced when they traveled from city to city (see Acts 17:1-9).  Paul characterized his opponents in two ways.  First, he said that they were “unreasonable” which means they were opposed to what is right.  They were perverse men who were capable of harmful actions against others.  Second, Paul characterized his opponents as “wicked” meaning they were morally corrupt and evil in themselves, capable of corrupting others.  These enemies of Paul demonstrated their wickedness by their active, deliberate, and harmful response to the preaching of the gospel (see Acts 18:5-6, 12).  Their “unreasonable” and “wicked” ways were due to their lack of faith in the gospel message.  Instead of belief, there was unbelief, which was expressed in their vicious opposition to the gospel message as well as to those who preached it.  We can be sure that there will be those who oppose the gospel message for as Paul said here “all men have not faith.”  In other words, everybody doesn’t believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, therefore those who don’t are lost.


VI. EXPECTATION OF GOD’S PROVISION (II Thessalonians 3:3-5


  A. Our God is faithful (II Thessalonians 3:3). This verse says “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”  In contrast to the faithless men who oppose the gospel, Paul encouraged the Thessalonians saying “But the Lord is faithful.”  In other words, we can depend on Him and He can be counted on to keep His word (see Psalms 119:138; I Thessalonians 5:24).  God is “faithful” to his promises (see Titus 1:1-3), and is “the Lord” who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19).  He will not change the thing that has gone out of his mouth.  Whenever God makes a promise, the performance of it is sure and certain.  Since “the Lord is faithful,” Paul assured the Thessalonians that He “shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”  The Lord would establish them by strengthening them spiritually (see II Thessalonians 2:16-17).  God will accomplish completely everything that He has started in us (see Philippians 1:6).  Because “the Lord is faithful” Paul also told his readers that He will “keep you from evil.”  The word “keep” means “to guard” or “to watch” someone.  The idea is to keep a person safe or to prevent him or her from being snatched away.  In the case of the believer, we can depend on God to guard or protect us from “evil.”  The enemy of believers is “evil,” but in the Greek text, the article “the” appears before the word “evil” indicating a reference to “the evil one,” or the devil.  Satan, the evil one is the personal adversary of God’s people (see I Thessalonians 3:5).


          B. Confidence in the Lord (II Thessalonians 3:4).  This verse says “And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.”  Paul and his coworkers remained confident that God would continue to work with the Thessalonians.  He said “And we have confidence in the Lord touching (or concerning) you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.”  Paul said he and his companions trusted the Lord to enable the Thessalonians “that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.”  In other words, they were confident that God would urge and enable these believers to do “the things” or obey the instructions that Paul and his associates had given them.  By his authority as an apostle, Paul had left the Thessalonians with instructions for Christian faith and living.  What they commanded them to do were the commandments of the Lord, for the apostles themselves had no further commission than to teach men to observe and to do what the Lord had commanded them (see Matthew 28:20).


          C. Directed by the Lord (II Thessalonians 3:5).  Our final verse says “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”  Finally, Paul told the Thessalonian believers that he desired two things for them.  First that “the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God.”  In other words, he desired that the Lord would lead them into a fuller and more complete appreciation of God’s love for them.  God’s sovereign love for us (see Romans 5:5, 8) is unconditional (see II Corinthians 13:14), and should be a motivating factor in our loves.  As His people, we can never be separated from His special love (see Romans 8:38-39).  Second, Paul desired that the Lord would lead them “into the patient waiting for Christ.”  The Thessalonians also needed a fuller and more complete appreciation of “patient waiting” or endurance.  The original term for “patient” used here means “to bear up under hostility or hardships” (see II Corinthians 6:4).  Jesus Christ is the supreme example of enduring trials (see Hebrews 12:2-4).  Paul realized that these believers needed the encouragement of Jesus’ example for their own trials.


 





VI. Conclusion.

The hope of the Lord’s imminent return has helped believers persevere through the centuries, and it can keep us going through the hardest days.  When friends and family disappoint you and life seems unbearable, tell yourself that “He knows what I am going through and will come to take me to the home He has prepared for me.”  When you feel like giving up, remember that you want to be ready to greet Jesus when He comes.  Biblical hope is never “I hope so.”  It is a confident expectation that keeps you standing strong and sleeping peacefully until He returns.