Summary: Followers of Christ can be confident of salvation and sanctification because of the work of the Holy Spirit. We’re to stand firm and hold to the truth of the Bible in these final days.
The Strength That Lasts
I hope you had a good Thanksgiving! How many of you ate too much? Here are three signs that you may have overdone it.
Paramedics had to bring in the ‘Jaws of Life’ to pry you out of the EZ-Boy.
You set off 3 earth tremors on your morning jog Friday.
When you had your blood drawn to check your cholesterol, only gravy came out.
Let me give you a quiz to see how much you know about this national holiday.
Q: What are unhappy cranberries called?
Q: Why didn’t the turkey eat dessert?
A: He was stuffed!
Q: If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?
Q: What kind of music did the Pilgrims listen to?
A: Plymouth Rock!
Q: When the Pilgrims landed, where did they stand?
A: On their feet!
As we come to our text this morning, we’re going to see that Paul’s desire is for the Thessalonian Pilgrims to land on their feet. We learned last week that these young believers had lost their footing and were unsettled and alarmed because they thought the seven-year Tribulation period had already started. Paul assured them that this was impossible because the Rapture will come before the Rebellion and the Revelation of the antichrist. Believers in Jesus Christ will not be left behind.
You can’t miss the breath of fresh air in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 as Paul shares with us his own giving of thanks. He might not have sat down at a table and overdid it like the rest of us on Thursday, but he certainly outdid himself in one of the most beautiful and concise statements of theology ever written. We’re going to break this passage into two parts this morning. We’ll focus on verses 13-17 as a way to help us get ready for another meal -- the feast of communion. We’ll pick up the first five verses in 2 Thessalonians 3 as our after-dinner dessert.
Notice verse 13: “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord…” The word, “but” serves to introduce a transition from the bad news to the good news as Paul describes his obligation to offer thanks for the work of God in their lives. Based on everything that God has done, Paul tells them to “stand firm and hold to” the truth in verse 15. When circumstances arise that are alarming, and when the powerful winds of persecution start to knock you off the ground, it’s imperative that you take tenacious hold of something and not let go.
Several years ago, a pilot named Henry Dempsey was flying his 15-passenger plane from Maine to Boston. At 4,000 feet he heard a noise where the rear stairs were located. He turned the controls over to his co-pilot and walked to the back of the plane. As he was making his way to the back, they hit some turbulence and he was slammed against the door and it fell open. He was sucked part of the way out, fell face down on the steps and grabbed for something anything that might save his life. His hands caught a railing and he held on with everything he had.
The co-pilot thought he had fallen out and diverted the flight to a nearby airport. When he landed he found Dempsey with his face 12 inches above the runway, with his hands so tight around the rails that his fingers had to be pried off, one by one.
Friends, the life and death grip with which Henry Dempsey held on to that railing is the kind of grasp we should have on the revelation of God, the Word of Truth, the Bible. Now let’s suppose the railing that the pilot held on to was a cable instead of a piece of metal. And let’s say that this cable was made of three thick strands of steel that are set forth in this passage of Scripture.
1. The strand of salvation. Look again at verse 13: “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved…” When the turbulence of life is knocking you around, remember that the Lord loves you and that he selected believers to be saved. I can’t think of anything more comforting than to know that I am the object of God’s unconditional love and that according to Ephesians 1:4, my salvation has almost nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” He said the same thing in 1 Thessalonians 1:4: “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you…”