Read 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 (ESV)
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
Have you ever become discouraged with the daily struggle of being a Christian? Does persecution, false teaching, or suffering ever make you want to give up? What keeps you going?
We know that our works do not save us. Salvation is a gift from God, not a reward for our hard work and good deeds (Ephesians 2:8). And yet, living a life obedient to Christ does require work. We know that we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus told us that as His followers, we have a mission to “go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19-20). As Christians, we have work to do.
But the Bible was also clear that this good work wouldn’t always be easy. We know that in this world, we’ll face trials and hardships. We will suffer and face opposition. Some believers around the world are experiencing terrible persecution. We are also warned that there will be false teachers who seek to lead us astray and cause confusion and division. Sometimes all of this is enough to make you want to resign from Gospel work and just coast until you die or Jesus returns.
Just a few months after Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote them another letter around 51-52 A.D. We can tell from the introduction that Timothy and Silas were still working with Paul in Corinth. He had likely received correspondence stating that since his first letter to the Thessalonians, false teachings had sprung up in the church. And yet, Paul still praised them for their steadfastness and growth despite all of the persecution they were enduring. He reassured them that God, in his righteous justice, would punish those who were afflicting them and causing them so much trouble. He also assured them of his prayers for them: “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
In chapter 2, Paul transitioned back to talking about the day of the Lord, or the second coming of Christ just as he had discussed in 1 Thessalonians. Apparently, now there was a false teaching going around the Thessalonica church body saying that the second coming of Christ was already upon them. As you can imagine, this claim caused confusion and alarm among the believers there! Paul wrote: “Now, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
Paul explained to them that the day of the Lord had not yet come and will not come until “the man of lawlessness” comes (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He pointed out that this man of destruction is being restrained until God’s appointed time. But when the lawless one is revealed, there will be false signs and wonders and wicked deception for the lost “because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). This “man of lawlessness” sounds an awful lot like the Antichrist we read about in Revelation.
That’s why in today’s verses, Paul urged the Thessalonians to stand firm on the apostles’ teachings. Instead of being shaken, upset, and swayed by false teaching, they should stand firm on the true teachings of the Gospel, and thus experience eternal comfort and hope. But Paul also warned them not to become idle but follow their example by working hard to support and feed themselves rather than be burdens to others. Finally, he encouraged them not to “grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
Friends, I know that life can be so hard sometimes that it makes you feel like giving up. But do not grow weary in doing good! Don’t quit and don’t be deceived! There are false messages all around us trying to drown out the truth of the Gospel. But stand firm on His Word. He loves us and He has given us eternal comfort, hope, and grace. We have everything we need to press on and stand firm. Hang in there, brothers and sisters. He’s still coming.
Lord, I confess that sometimes I do grow weary of the constant struggle. Help me to stand firm in the midst of trials. Don’t let me be easily shaken or swayed by all of the false messages the world so loudly proclaims. You are my eternal comfort and hope. Help me to stand on the truth of Your Word. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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