Summary: Contemporary Christians must hold on to the teachings of Christ Jesus until He returns.
2 Thessalonians 2: 1 – 5, 13 – 17 / The First Fruits
Intro: Have you ever been in a situation when you think to yourself, “What the heck is going on here?” --- I used to do that a lot before I got my hearing aides. I was really in a constant state of confusion because I didn’t completely hear or didn’t understand what I had heard. --- Now, I just have to admit to my confusion primarily because I just wasn’t listening. I don’t think I am alone. Confusion seems to be running rampant in our land. Our mental state is always up for debate. Statistics on sanity show that one out of every 4 Americans suffer from some for of mental illness. Think of your 3 best friends. If they are okay, then it’s you. (Rita Mae Brown, PreachingToday.com 11/26/01)
I. The church at Thessalonica found itself, much as we are at times, in a state of confusion over the return of Jesus.
A. The Thessalonians believed the return was eminent and therefore saw no need to do anything but wait.
B. There are those who claim Christ hasn’t returned in over 2,000 years and he ain’t comin’ back soon either. “We are sinking deep and sin, whoopee!!!!!”
C. There have been those who are convinced the world will come to an end in 2012 because of some Mayan prediction. And then Christ will return.
II. Paul writes this 2nd letter to the church to set the record straight. However, there are verses that confused the matter more. (See verses 6 – 12)
A. It has been said, “Some people will believe anything if it is whispered to them.” My grandfather was fond of saying, “Some people will stand for nothing and fall for anything.” Adolf Hitler once said, “if you tell a lie often enough people will believe it.”
B. There was a rumor circulating in Thessalonica that “the day of the Lord” has already arrived. Jesus returned at the resurrection, the judgment of God on rebellion and evil had already happened. Yet there were those who found themselves still suffering and oppressed because of their faith in Jesus. So how were they to respond to the rumors?
C. Paul says that we and they should respond with spiritual confidence by keeping our heads.
III. Paul urges the Thessalonians to remember what he taught them. We would do well in our daily struggles to remember as well. So what did Paul teach them? (Verses 13 – 15)
A. Thanksgiving for 1) what God has done, (chosen you), 2) what God is doing (calling you to work), 3) what God will do (have you share in the glory of our Lord Christ Jesus.)
B. Remembering these things, God will comfort, give you courage and strengthen you in all good deeds and words.
C. VS. 15 – “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions you were taught . . .”
Conclu: A pilot, Henry Dempsey was flying his plane at 4,000 feet when he heard a noise back where the rear stairs are. He turned the controls over to his co-pilot and walked back to check. The plane hit turbulence knocking him against the rear door and it fell open. He was sucked part way out falling face down on the steps grabbing for anything to save his life. The co-pilot thought he had fallen out and diverted the flight to a nearby airport. When they landed, Henry was found with is face 12 inches off the runway with his hands to tightly wrapped around the rails that his fingers had to be pried open. (A Tight Grip by Keith Bunch, SermonCentral.com)
That life and death grip with which Henry Dempsey held on to the stair railing at the back of the plane is the kind of grip we should have on the promises and teachings of Christ Jesus so that we might experience the first fruits of the kingdom of God at Christ’s return.