Summary: Paul had a balanced ministry. In these letters, he moves from prophecy to practical Christian living.
NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
INTRO: Paul had a balanced ministry. In these letters, he moves from prophecy to practical Christian living. He turned from the negative (Satan’s lies) to the positive (God’s truth). and from warning to thanksgiving and prayer.
We desperately need balanced ministries in our churches today. Paul’s emphasis was on the truth of God’s Word, in contrast to Satan’s great lie. Every believer has four responsibilities to God’s truth.
I. BELIEVE THE TRUTH (2:13-14).
In these two verses, Paul reviewed the stages in their salvation experience.
1. - God Loved Them (2:13a). Whatever God does for the lost world springs from His eternal love. God proved his love for us by giving His Son for us.
2. - God Chose Them (2:13b). It is not love alone that saves us, for God loves the whole world, and yet the whole world is not saved. Love reveals itself in grace and mercy.
3. - God Set Them Apart (2:13c). The word sanctify means “to set apart.” Paul is referring to the Spirit’s work in leading the unbeliever to faith in Christ.
4. - God Called Them (2:14). God has used human instruments to bring the Gospel to the lost.
5. - God Gave Them Glory (2:14b). We are awaiting Christ’s return, and then the glory shall be revealed.
II. GUARD THE TRUTH (2:15).
1. Paul had told them about the future rebellion against the truth, the great apostasy headed by the Antichrist. But he also warned that there was a present danger, and that the church must guard God’s truth and not turn from it.
2. God works in this world through the truth of His Word, and Satan opposed this truth by substituting his lies. Human nature is prone to believe a lie and resist the truth. Satan accomplishes his best work through people who call themselves Christian but do not believe God’s truth. They have “a form of godliness” but have never experienced the power of God’s saving truth.
3. The word tradition simply means “that which is handed down from one person to another” (i.e. the truth of the Gospel). He is not referring to man-made religious ideas that are not based on the Word of God.
III. PRACTICE THE TRUTH (2:16-17).
1. It is not enough to believe the truth and guard it; we must also practice it. If we hear the Word, but do not obey it, we are only fooling ourselves.
2. These two verses record Paul’s desire and prayer for his friends: he wanted to encourage them and establish them “in every good word and work.”
3. When Paul was with them, he encouraged them individually as a father does his children. He encouraged them to walk to please God, and to grow in their love for others.
4. Establishment in the Lord is also important. Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica that he might establish them in their faith, and Paul prayed that God might establish them. The child must be taught to stand before he can learn to walk or run.
It is God who establishes, but He uses people to accomplish His work. A great need in our churches is for Christians who will take time to establish the new believers.
Paul was concerned about two aspects of their Christian life: their word and their work, their saying and their doing. If our walk contradicts our words, we lose our testimony.
IV. SHARE THE TRUTH (3:1-5).
We cannot share what we do not believe; and we can best share that which we have practiced ourselves.
The Word of God is glorified in the lives of those who share it and those who receive it. Too much Christian work today is accomplished by human plans and promotion, and not by the Word of God.
It is not enough that the pastor or church leaders alone share the Word; each Christian must be a part of this vital ministry. The word command that Paul used in 3:4 means “a military order passed down from a superior officer.” Christ is the Captain of our Salvation; we are his soldiers. In a battle it is not enough for only the officers to fight; every man must do his duty. This is also true in the work of the local church.
What if an army were run with the same lack of obedience, order, and discipline that we often see in the local church? It would never win the war. If soldiers attended drill whenever they felt like it, they would never be equipped to face the enemy. If the recruits disobeyed their officers’ orders the way some church members disobey the Word of God, they would be court-martialed.
A soldier obeys primarily out of loyalty and fear. But a Christian has much higher motives for obedience: God’s love and Christ’s return.