Thursday, July 14, 2016, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “You Never Let Go.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5.
Belief in the Truth (vv. 2:13-14 NASB)
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (See: Eph. 1:4-6). God told Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). The psalmist David wrote: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Ps. 139:13, 16).
For those of us who are in Christ Jesus by faith in him, we were chosen by God to be in Christ Jesus even before he created the world. He chose each and every one of us to be holy and blameless in his sight, not just positionally through the blood of Christ shed on the cross for our sins, but experientially through the power of God’s Holy Spirit working within us, as we cooperate fully with that work of grace. He chose us not only for salvation from the penalty of sin, but also for salvation from bondage to (the control of) sin. He did not choose us merely so that we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He chose us for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
What this means is that we were chosen by God, even before he created the world, to be “progressively transformed by the Lord into His likeness (similarity of nature)” (biblehub.com). This is a process of making us holy, set apart for God, and set apart from (different, unlike) the world, because we are becoming like Christ in thought, word and deed. When we truly have faith in the truth, that faith is actualized by our obedience to the truth so that we are not just hearers of the Word, but we are doers of the Word. It was for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit – the process of making us holy – that we were called of God, that we might attain God’s divine approval (See: Ro. 3:23; Ro. 6:23).
Stand Firm (vv. 2:15-17 NIV)
So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast 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.
Because we were chosen by God for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth, and because it is God who calls us, and thus it is he who equips us, who empowers us, and who transforms us into his image, we are able to stand firm and to hold fast to the teachings of scripture. We just have to appropriate to our lives what he has done for us and what he has provided for us. We have to accept it into our lives and apply his truths to our lives in his power and strength at work within us. Daily we must die to sin and self and we must put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us, but we don’t do this in our own strength or human flesh, but by the Spirit within us.
To stand firm and to hold fast to the teachings of scripture (God’s God-breathed words to us) means that in attitude, thought, word, and in deed, we hold a firm position with regard to the teachings of Christ and those of his NT apostles, who gave us the gospel of salvation. This is not speaking of taking a firm stand intellectually so that we can win arguments with people, though. This is speaking of our lifestyles. If we believe, for instance, that Jesus set us free from bondage to sin, then we should live like we say we believe. We should not give the devil a foothold in our lives, and we should not play with sin.
In other words, and in all practicality, this means that we should not practice gossiping, overeating, slandering others, homosexuality, adultery, lying, cheating, stealing and the like. There should not even be a hint of immorality in our lives, and we should not allow ourselves to be entertained by the sins of others via TV, movies, video games, social media, music and music videos and the like. Jesus Christ should truly be Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and we should live holy lives in submission to him. So many Christians today spend hours upon hours vegetating on TV, movies, the internet, pornography and all entertainment which glorifies sin, and little time with God in his Word, seeking his face and his will for our lives, and then in obeying what his Word teaches. This should not be!
And Be Honored (vv. 3:1-5 NIV)
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
There are so many people today who are preaching a half-truth diluted gospel in order to win friends and influence people. They appeal to human flesh, and they avoid the hard truths of the gospel so that they don’t offend anyone, so that everyone will like them. They teach that we don’t have to repent of sin, and that we don’t have to obey the teachings (instructions) of Christ and of his NT apostles, even though scripture teaches that we must. And, they tell people that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he delights in them even when they are consistently and willfully sinning against him. These are all lies of Satan to try to turn people away from the truth of the gospel, and in order to win people for his kingdom. These liars and deceivers are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and their goal is not your eternal salvation, but to destroy the church.
One of their greatest tactics against those of us who are holding fast and who are standing firm to the teachings of scripture is to try to discredit us and the gospel, and to convince people that we are intolerant, bigoted, hateful extremists who must be rejected, cast aside, and silenced, or reprogrammed. These wolves in sheep’s clothing are among those who are severely persecuting the saints of God throughout the world, and who are bringing this persecution to America, which, up to this point, has not known much severe persecution against those who call themselves followers of Christ. But persecution against serious followers of Christ has been going on for some time now in America, but in subtler ways, to where it is not noticed by the vast majority, yet that is going to change soon.
So, we need prayer and encouragement, and we need to trust in our Lord to sustain us and to empower us to stand strong in our faith in the face of great opposition, and to keep doing what he has called us to do, even if we are hated for it in return. We need to pray that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, because it is being dishonored in so many places now, including within the institutional church in America, in many or most cases. We need to pray to be delivered from wicked and evil people, too, although God may not always deliver us physically. What I mean is that we are taught in scripture that we will share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, and that we will be hated and persecuted for our faith in Christ, and that we are destined for this. Yet, he will deliver us spiritually through these difficult times, if not from them physically and/or emotionally, too. He will carry us through, and he will give us everything we need to endure and to remain strong.
You Never Let Go / Matt Redman
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know You are near
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
… Lord, You never let go of me…