By Diane Caston

Vs. 13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the the Spirit and belief in the truth.

14 To which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Vs.15 “Therefore brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”

Vs. 16-17 Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, which has loved us, and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work .

Like we saw in our study about the Rapture, we see again here the shifting of pronouns from them to you or us. All through the section of this Chapter 2 where Paul declares the hideous and fearful things that will be coming on the earth with the revealing of the Antichrist, he uses the words they and them, referring to the unbelievers. Now as he summarizes this chapter he refers once again to you, or us.

Like the Thessalonians we did not believe the lie, so Paul sums up the message in this chapter with three things that refer to us who believe in Jesus.

1. What God has done for us

2. Encourages us to stand fast

3. Prays for us to have God’s comfort.

Starting in Vs. 13 Paul feels obligated to give thanks to God for these beloved believers in Thessalonica, who from the beginning of time God had called to be ordained for salvation by His sovereignty.

FB Meyers states, “From the beginning! Who shall compute the contents of the vast unknown abyss, which is comprehended in that phrase? The beginning of creation was preceded by the anticipation of Redemption, and the love of God to all who were one with Christ.”

Beloved brethren, divinely loved, this verb is in the perfect tense, therefore past, present and future believers in Jesus are continually, divinely loved by the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:3 TheLordhas appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

Rom. 5:8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He chose the Thessalonians and us for salvation through sanctification. Salvation and sanctification always go together. The word sanctification means ‘set apart’. From the beginning God called you and chose you, then He sanctified you by the gospel through your believing the good news.

Jn 6:64 Butthere are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.

That is where the choosing comes in. God knew before time began who would respond to His loving gift of salvation and who would not. Therefore, He chose those of us who have!

Isn’t it a marvelous thing to think that He chose us from eternity for salvation? Here again is that amazing doctrine that Paul also taught in the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

You were chosen before the foundations of the earth!

Romans 8:29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son (sanctification), that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

These early believers were the beginning of salvation through the gospel. Set apart as an instrument that the Lord could use. The books of Ephesians and Romans expound on this subject. Who He foreknew He predestined, called, justified, and glorified. The Spirit of God reached out to you and touched your heart, made it open to the things of God, so you could hear and respond, and by responding become His very own children. We sometimes take it for granted that we believe until we talk to people who have no interest or spiritual comprehension. Their eyes don’t see, their ears don’t hear; they have no concern for the things of God. How can that be we think! For some reason they did not respond to the call of God like we did. Thank the Lord that we heard, our hearts were moved, and we responded. Think of where we might be if we hadn’t! And how do we respond? By the Spirit and by belief in the truth.

Dual responsibility is taught again and again in scripture. He sends His Spirit to call us; we believe, and that belief leads to action. Here Paul points out that salvation precedes sanctification, but sanctification is the proof that salvation has really taken place. James tells us clearly that “faith without works is dead.”

Phil 2:12-1312Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure .

1 Peter 1:2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

He called me and chose me; obedience is the proof I love Him back. Life in the Spirit is always co-operation between us and the Lord!

I’m presently reading Letter to the American Church by Eric Metaxas. He points out the error of the German Lutheran church in Hitler’s day that sadly many are repeating today. Luther struggled mightily with his flesh. He knew he was a sinner. He knew he needed forgiveness for his sins, so he spent large portions of his day repenting and asking for forgiveness from the Lord. When Luther discovered Romans 1:17.“the just shall live by faith”,he was so mesmerized by this truth that he neglected to teach that works are the evidence that there is faith in the first place. So, the church in Germany in the 1930’s, who were Luther’s children in the faith, was content in having faith and did not stand against unrighteousness when it was being foisted on them! Sadly, many churches do the same today, blurring our obligations to speak up with the idea that somehow the issues we face are just political. Righteousness is never political, and we can’t hide behind that notion. When we see babies being aborted, when we see children being taught filth in school, when we observe the courts being used to punish the innocent, these are not political issues. These are issues where we are called to be salt and light in our world. We need to address them and speak up wherever we can.

And as an amazing incentive of being obedient to Jesus, there is a magnificent reward for believing and obeying. In Vs. 14, we are told, To which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The obtaining of glory, who can fathom that!

“We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we will see Him face to face.” 1 John 3:2

Vs.15 “Therefore brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”

Now Paul exhorts them to stand fast and hold on to the truth! They were facing persecution and needed the exhortation to stand strong and to hold on to the words and promise of God!

Rom 8:18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

He gives compelling reasons to stand fast.

2 Thes 1:4 to face their current distress (persecutions and tribulations)

2 Thes 2:8 to avoid the coming judgement of the world (flaming fire taking vengeance)

2 Thes 2:9 to not succumb to the coming deception (all power, signs and lying wonders)

2 Thes 2:14 and finally to obtain glory (the glory of the Lord Jesus)

And our Beloved provides the ability to stand fast. Paul prays in

Ephesians 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

They were told to stand fast and hold the traditions. These were not the religious traditions, the outward practices that men use in place of true relationship with Jesus. The scripture warns against these things.

The Pharisees chide Jesus about their traditions.

Matthew 15:2-3 “Why do your disciples break the traditions of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”

He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your traditions?”

The Pharisees had put their trust in their traditions above the truth of scripture so much so that they missed the Messiah Himself because of their rigid mindset and traditions.

Colossians 2:8 See that no one takes you captive by vain philosophy and empty deceit, according to the elemental spirits of this world, and not according to Christ.

The traditions Paul is referring to here are the traditions taught in the Word of God, the anchor of God’s words that can enable us to stand fast under the weight of our personal trials and persecution and prepare us for our coming glory.

“The word paradoseis, which we render tradition, signifies anything delivered in the way of teaching: and here most obviously means the doctrines delivered by the apostle to the Thessalonians; whether in his preaching, private conversation, or by these letters.” Clarke

So they were told to hold fast, believing until the end.

Jn 11:40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you wouldsee the glory of God?”

Jn. 5: 40But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

Two legs of salvation in balance - God’s drawing; man’s responsibility to respond.

Paul ends this chapter with a prayer.

Vs. 16-17 Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, which has loved us, and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work .

Think of what it means to be loved by God. Contemplate how on the earth the God of the universe could be concerned about us. Why He would send His Son to redeem us? It is unfathomable. This is always a good thing to remember when we come to Him in prayer. This prayer of Paul’s had many great suggestions of things to remember, that Jesus is ours, that God is our Father, that God loves us, God has given us so much, we have everlasting consolation and hope, it is all through His grace. Knowing these things will comfort you and establish you, give you the power to stand firm, to not be moved, to be established, to know who we are in Christ, to know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. We have nothing to fear because He has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness!

In every good word and work.

David Guzik writes, “There is some textual evidence that Paul originally put the order of those words as every good work and word. Though this is a small difference, Charles Spurgeon saw an important distinction in the order.

“Some Christian people think that ‘word’ should be everything and work nothing, but the Scriptures are not of their mind. These professors speak a great deal about what they will do, talk a great deal about what other people ought to do, and a great deal more about what others fail to do; and so they go on with word, word, word, and nothing else but word. They do not get as far as ‘work,’ but the apostle put work first in this case.” (Spurgeon)

So let us remember all the Lord has done for us in loving us, in choosing us, in strengthening us to be able to stand firm and be obedient to what He has called us to do, and to be ever thankful that we can escape the judgement to come and live in glory with Him.