“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17).
The stability of the church in Thessalonica was important to Paul. In his first letter to them Paul expressed thankful relief that they were “standing firm in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:8). In his second letter to them he expressed concern that they not become “easily unsettled” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). And here Paul tells them to “stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you. . .”
(2 Thessalonians 2:15).
Why all the emphasis on stability? Paul knew the church was going to face some difficult times. Facing persecution would provide a great challenge to their Christian faith. Was their faith in Christ strong enough to withstand the opposition they would face? False teachers would lure them away from a Jesus-centered community. Was their commitment to Jesus deep enough to overcome the bait of false teaching? Worldliness would distract them from their top priorities. Was their faith in things unseen authentic enough to ground them in what was most important?
Hard times were coming. Their faith would be under fire. Stability was essential if the church was to survive. Paul reminds them of some great truths about God and their relationship with Him so that they may the stability they need to face whatever was coming their way in the days ahead. We could use the same refresher of the teachings.
God saved you. When hard times come, remember God has rescued you before and is perfectly capable of doing it again. Your salvation is rooted in God’s call. God initiated a relationship with you. God saved you — you did not save yourself. Don’t get anxious. Stand firm on God’s call.
God’s Holy Spirit transforms you. No, you are not yet the finished product, but don’t let that discourage you. God is not finished with you yet. God will not abandon you in the process of transformation. The Holy Spirit of God is working right now to make over your heart and mind into something possessed of God. When false teachers entice, remember salvation depends on the Holy Spirit’s work. Don’t grow restless. Stand firm on the Spirit’s transformation.
God’s Son shares glory with you. There is nothing for believers to fear in the return of Jesus. The second coming will be a glorious time when Jesus is revealed and shares His glory with us. When the world’s siren song is heard, remember God has called you to something far better than this place. Don’t be afraid. Stand firm on Jesus’ sharing glory.
So you need a stabilizer — something to hold onto? Are you facing persecution? False teaching? Worldliness? Or maybe the big challenge you are wrestling with is just plain old apathy. Well, here is something on which you can get a strong grip – God. Father, Spirit, and Son. God called you, the Spirit is transforming you, and the Son will share His glory with you. Hold onto that!
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.