Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons . Stop the world I want to get off

. Stop the world I want to get off

STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 (ESV) 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 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. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

 

 

 

 

Introduction:

This year has flown and we find ourselves today exactly a month before Christmas and I have been wondering what you all are going to buy for me. I have left a list at Trappers Trading, so all you need to do is to ask them what I want. Only joking!

I have a serious question though. How are you doing here close to the end of the year? Are you still encouraged, are you still filled with hope and comfort? I know that many of our flock have gone through major trials this year and one can so easily become discouraged and for this reason I chose this section today to encourage us. You might feel in your heart today that somebody must please: ‘stop the world, I want to get off”.

This morning I want to encourage you with a few promises you can hold on to. What I cannot promise you is health for those who need it, I can also not promise you riches for those who need it, but I can promise you comfort and good hope in your hearts if you embrace the text I will teach us today.

We have mentioned it time and again, but I need to remind you that we live in a country filled with anger, hatred, violence, murder, rape, corruption and I am not even going to add to the list as I want us to leave on a positive note and not a negative note. It is easy in times like these to forget our purpose on earth and to simply wish that the Lord will return and get it all over with. In fact it is in times like these that we can even succumb to false teaching regarding the second coming of Christ. If you look at the Israel-Palestinian struggle in the Gaza strip at the moment one can easily be inclined to say the end is in sight, let’s get it over with.

This is not new. Even the church in Thessalonica went through a phase like this. Paul writes in the first two verses of chapter 2: “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 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.” This church was shaken by false teaching and reports that even Paul them had said that Christ had returned. This caused them to lose their stability, there strength and calmness which is something all Christians should have in times of trouble. It is so easy to embrace particular teachings when it suits my circumstances and my time in history, or even my culture and here we see the Thessalonians holding onto a truth that actually just made them unstable. You see, it is easy in our trials to ask the question, why God does not act, my way, for my purposes in my time. Like Habakkuk we can so easily cry out: “Lord how long must I cry out and you do not listen?” I remember a few years ago a lady who was a champion for the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, she would simply die for it, and then suddenly one day I had to discover that she embraced the book “The Bible Code” hook line and sinker. When I challenged her on this and showed her the error of her ways, she held onto it like a bulldog, and her reason was, because her unsaved son was into this kind of stuff and maybe, just maybe he could be saved through the “The Bible Code”. I tried to help her understand that her hope and her comfort were in the Lord. Today the very same lady does not put her foot in church. “The Bible Code” was simply a money making scheme from gullible people.

So, Paul deals with a similar situation and he must now help this church to understand that the lawless one must first appear before Christ will come, and that there will be a falling away from the faith by professing Christians and then the horrible reality that God is going to give people who claim to be Christians exactly the kind of teachers they are looking for who will teach them what their tickling ears want to hear. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV) “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Paul spends 12 verses to dislodge this error that they have been taught about the second coming and the end of the age, and then from verse 13-14 he gives them something to hold on to, something to give them stability in the midst of their instability. So instead of saying, stop the world I want to get off, they can hold onto something that makes life worth living. After that Paul summarizes in verse 15 – 17.  Notice verse 15. “So then. . .” Or: “Therefore, brothers stand firm. . .” This "standing firm" is the opposite of “being shaken” in verse 2. So it is clear that Paul is concerned to stabilise the Christians, to give them something to hang on to.

We all get shaken from time to time, don’t we? So when circumstances arise that alarm you, and when the winds of error start to blow you off your stability, the key is to take hold of something and to hold it fast -- namely, the traditions or teachings that were taught by the apostles. Look at verse 15: 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.”

There is a beautiful story about the value of hanging on. You can Google it and read all the details for yourself. The story dating back to 1987 is of a pilot, Henry Dempsey who was flying his 15 passenger Beechcraft 99 turboprop from Lewiston Maine to Boston. At 4000 feet he heard a noise in the back of the plain where the rear stairs are. He turned the controls over to his co-pilot and walked back. The plain hit turbulence knocked him against the door and it fell open. Dempsey was sucked part way out, fell face down on the steps and grabbed for something -- anything that might save his life. He caught a railing and held on. The co-pilot thought he had fallen out and diverted the flight to a nearby airport. When he landed they found him with his face 12 inches off the runway and with his hands so tight around the rails that his fingers had to be pried open.

Would it not be wonderful if we can learn from this illustration? What I want you to see from this story is that the life and death grip with which Henry Dempsey held on to the stair railing at the back of that Beechcraft turboprop is the kind of grip we should have on the teachings of the apostle Paul handed down to us in the New Testament. Dempsey held on because his life depended on it. This morning I want to give you from the text before us five handles to hold on from verse 13 and 14 which should lead you to stability and calmness during the turbulences of life, and to ensure you a safe landing. God’s desire for you is clearly reflected in verse 16-17: 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

 

So what are these handles?

 

Handle 1. God loves us.

"13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord."

I don't think Paul has in mind here the general love of God that he extends to the whole world corporately holding the universe in being, causing the sun to rise, the rain to fall, and the gospel to be preached, and many evidences of his glory and grace to reach the nations. That is God’s common grace. I think he has in mind the particular saving grace and love that Paul describes in Ephesians 2:4-5 when he says 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—“

In other words the first truth in the message of hope is the active, powerful, and pursuing, saving love of God that tracks us down in our rebellion until we collapse and then awakens us as new people in Christ.

To know that you are distinguishingly, particularly, personally, effectually, irresistibly, unbreakably, and eternally loved by God is the central truth in the message of hope. So Paul says, hold on to it, hang on for dear life and stand firm.

 

Handle 2. God chose us.

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you."

This is why I said the love of God was not the general love that he shows the world. It was a distinguishing and particular love -- God chose them. They are the elect of God. How does Paul know that they are? How do they know that they are? You see the same language in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4 (ESV)2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,”

In other words Paul was persuaded of their election because of their response to the gospel! They received it in such a way that not even persecution could dampen their joy in Christ and their imitation of godliness. Church family, the chosen ones or the elect can stand firm, even based on the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:24 (ESV) For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” The truly elected ones are the ones whose love does not grow cold, who endure to the end and are saved. Is that not the same message we see in Revelation to the seven churches, namely that they must stand firm. We also see it in Matthew 24:12-13 (ESV) “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

So God chose us and this is a handle to hold on to but may I challenge you with Peter in 2 Peter 1:10 (ESV “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”

It is a message of hope. Hold it firm, hang on for dear life and stand fast.

 

Handle 3. God saved us.

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved,

Notice here that salvation is something future here, not past. The way you know this is by noticing the next phrase -- they were chosen to be saved "through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. . ."

Sanctification is the lifelong process of becoming holy. We are holy but if we are saved through sanctification then salvation in this verse is something that we are looking forward to, not something that has already happened. And what is it? Verse 14 makes that plain: To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So this is a process. I know I am saved in faith, but I will only really know that I am saved if I endure and grow in my sanctification.

The message of hope here is that we are destined for glory. Look at how Paul says it in Romans 8:30 "Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." Whatever afflictions and sorrows you must endure in this life, don't ever let go of the truth in the message of hope that God's elect will be saved – the glorified will be glorified, and the sufferings of this time are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed to us in the coming of the Son of Man. Hold it fast, hang on for dear life and stand firm.

 

Handle 4. God sanctifies us by the Spirit.

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. "

There is holiness, a measure of sanctification, without which we will not be saved. We are not sanctified AND saved; we are saved "through sanctification". So the issue while important is not now, but the end and the process by which we arrive at the end.

This is not an exaltation of works in which we could ever boast. It is an exaltation of the Holy Spirit. It is sanctification by the Spirit." God's Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

This is why it is one of the truths in the message of hope we hold onto. It is a work of God -- just like every thing else: God loves, God chooses, God saves, and God, the Holy Spirit, sanctifies and brings us to glory.

 

Handle 5. God keeps us in the truth.

 

And what is our part? The next phrase tells us: 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth." And what is this belief in the truth? It is none other than clinging to the message of hope for dear life. It is a desperate clinging to the truth as Dempsey clung to the railings as his only hope.

This is why sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth are not distinct acts. It is not as though our faith in the truth and the Spirit's sanctifying work run in separate parallel tracks and have nothing to do with each other. No. Saving faith, with all its impulse to love the truth is the power that the Spirit uses to make us holy. When, by faith you take hold of God's truth, and you love it because it's your only hope in the world, that faith is the power of God's Spirit for everything you live for. The Word of God becomes my final rule for faith and conduct.

 

Implications.

Can you identify with the church of Thessalonica today? In verse 14 there is the message of hope that is linked to the receiving of the gospel: "To this he called you through our gospel. . ."

What is so beautiful is that from all eternity God loved the church at Thessalonica. He chose them from the beginning from all the sinners in Macedonia. He sent Paul to them with the gospel -- the good news that Jesus Christ came into the world to die for hopeless sinners. And in the preaching of that gospel God called his elect with overcoming power to himself. And the result was that they believed the truth and began to be sanctified by the Spirit. And will one day obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And if you are a born again believer here today you are among them. If you are not a born again believer, you can be among them. I hold out to you this morning the message of God's gracious truth. And I pray that God himself will call you. Is He not now moving in many hearts to stir you up to reach out and take the handle of hope, and to hold on to it to the extent that nobody could pry your fingers open like they did with Henry Dempsey?

So instead of saying: “stop the world I want to get off”, hold on to these 5 handles and enjoy the ride.

 

I plead with you. Take it. Hang in there, hold it fast. It cannot break!

 

Amen!

Logos Community Church: - 25 November 2012