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2 Thessalonians 2.1-17 (11-13) “Hold Fast in Christ” 20161106 RSUMC

holdfast2christ_walkinthespirit

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned. But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose, he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word. [NRSV]

Paul gives the instruction to stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, by example, spoken or written. (Scripture through tradition, reason, and experience)

  1. God sends the powerful delusion, (God allows evil, as the consequence of choice)
  2. Sin is when we trust ourselves over trusting God. (Pleasure in unrighteousness)
  3. Salvation: Way Home: God has given us the gift of salvation and a challenge to grow in Sanctification through the spirit.

From the Letter with the church in Thessaloniki:

God calls us to proclaim the good news and stand firm/host fast to the traditions.

Evil, unrighteousness, destruction, lawlessness, lying wonders, wicked deception

(Those who refuse to love the truth and so be saved.)

This is a practical instruction on what to do when faced with evil, crisis and brokenness: on holding fast to the Good News, what we have been taught and experienced in the Spirit.

When we are faced with a crisis:

  • Our first reaction is to be overwhelmed with the circumstances that are crumbling around us.
  • We often look to find someone, something, some entity to blame.
  • We then realize that even if we can blame someone for the crisis, we have two choices give up or trust God.

Money Crisis, Family Crisis, Political Crisis, Personal Crisis: is the place of powerlessness to face brokenness.

Paul reminds us: God has saved us for a reason and this Crisis might be something we can learn and grow from, but God has more for us than to give up. God has given to us grace and Spirit to save us, eternally and currently.

When we are faced with evil:

In the news, in our family, in our community, in our hearts:

  • Our first reaction might be to say we are strong, smart, tough enough, (Don’t let anyone know we are facing evil.) (Prove that we know better)
  • (Do as we please, without regard to God’s call or our relationship with God) We go it alone: Motivated by our weakest assets (shame, guilt, fear, blame, etc)
  • (Prove that we know better)  (Do as we please, without regard to God’s call or our relationship with God)
  • We go it alone: Motivated by our weakest assets (shame, guilt, fear, blame, etc)

We feel we have only two choices: 1) Give up and die or allow some part of us to died or 2) Give in and join the evil.

We have a third choice: Paul reminds us that “our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.”

When we are faced with layers of evil and layers of crisis:

  • So many forces working to kill our hope, dim our vision, transform our love to fear, and we give up on God and ourselves.
  • The reason we have so many people struggling with drugs is that we have lost the grasp of God with us.
  • The reasons our global church is in division is that we have lost our hold on the Holy Spirit

The reasons our neighbors look hope is that trust someone else to save and to provide for us., Government, technology, knowledge, self-determination instead of learning and teaching what it means to 1) proclaim Good News and 2) hold onto the Word and 3) be lead by the Holy Spirit.

  1. The starting place is to 1) Learn the Good News (God loves us and desires us to have a personal and collective relationship, (first fruits for the church)
  2. The next step is to 2) Make the Word the foundation of all that we do. God wants us committed to building and fortifying our foundation, our relationship and our living with the word (proclaimed, studied, and understood through the Holy Spirit.)
  3. Third, we live following God’s Spirit, to navigate through the evil. The evil will not be taken away, but God promises to go with us through all things. Sanctification is the process of moving past the written or studied word, to trusting God to lead by the Spirit.
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