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

 

http://img.picturequotes.com/2/3/2464/stop-the-world-i-want-to-get-off-quote-1.jpg2 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:

“Cameroon troops killed around 100 Boko Haram Islamist fighters from Nigeria, freed almost 900 hostages and seized Islamic State (IS) flags last week, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.” “Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, burst into a holiday party for the environmental health department in San Bernardino. After spraying Farook's co-workers with bullets, they took police on a manhunt that paralyzed the city. The couple died in a shootout with authorities the same day. "We pray to God to accept them as martyrs," al-Bayan Radio reported. This was in response to the 14 people killed and 21 injured in California this last week. These simply follow short on the heels of the Paris attacks that left 129 dead and many wounded. Then we have the ongoing saga in Syria and the Middle East with ISIS.

I can spend a long time this morning giving you newspaper quotes from around the world, and to this we can add article after article of problems that we experience at home in South Africa. The world has gone mad and we have a problem. I am not going to add to the list as I do not want to depress you, but want you to leave on a positive note.

You might justifiably feel in your heart today that somebody must please: “stop the world, I want to get off”. 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. 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, their 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?”

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) 11 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 by telling them to: “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. This is what I want to do this morning as we all get shaken from time to time, don’t we? 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.”

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 we have now seen over many weeks that tracks us down in our rebellion until we collapse and then awakens us as new people in Christ. That is the Father drawing us.

 

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. And this love knows no end.

 

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) 24 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) 12And 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 10 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 you know that your life depends on it.

 

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. . ."

Something that is so beautiful is that from all eternity God loved the church at Thessalonica. He chose them before the foundation of the earth from all the sinners in Macedonia. He sent Paul to them with the gospel of 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.

 

Here is the good news. 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. And through this Word this morning by His Spirit, He is stirring up each and every one of us to take the handles of hope, which are seen in God’s love, God’s election, our sanctification by His Spirit, and the keeping of us in His truth as revealed in the Word of God. We simply need to look beyond the troubles in the world, and hold on to it to the extent that nobody could pull us away from the firm grip with which we hold onto these truths.

 

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 this morning. Take it. Hang in there, hold it fast. It cannot break! We can because we are part of the body of Christ, and these truths apply to us.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 6 December 2015