Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Logos since 31 July 2017 . Survival Kit for life in South Africa

. Survival Kit for life in South Africa

SURVIVAL KIT FOR LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA

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:

My wife and I returned from a one week holiday in Mauritius on Wednesday after celebrating our joint 60th birthdays, hoping to find a country where things have changed. Sadly, there is a continuation of strikes, and then the absolute havoc in Coligny with the burning of homes and businesses and the death of a 12-year-old boy, all increasing racial tensions. There is so much in the news that can cause one to want to give up just on the South African stage. Then there is the world stage. Just think of the plight of Christians in Syria where just over 320 000 people have been killed since 2011.

Last Saturday there was a day of prayer with maybe 100’s of thousands of Christians coming together to humble themselves and pray which in itself is good. May it not remain an event of the day, or even an annual event, but may there be a daily humbling of ourselves and a continuous calling on the Lord and a major adjustment in lifestyles. Despite all of that, the country might not change. Let me refer you back to my Sermon a few weeks ago entitled: “The state of the nation according to God”. God demands more from His people. Let me remind you quickly of some of the demands we saw in the sermon, then we will get to the lesson for today. You can check up the statements on our website.

Angus Buchan very passionately led the people in prayer with statements: “We say no to this, and we say no to that ………….” Now, it is good to say ‘no’ to certain things, as long as it is Biblical. But, I want to add something affirmative to it this morning based on the sermon of two weeks ago.

  1. We say ‘yes’ to repentance – which means turning from our ways.
  2. We say ‘yes’ to humility.
  3. We say ‘yes’ to mercy.
  4. We say ‘yes’ to a lifestyle of prayer 24/7.
  5. We say ‘yes’ to right living which is nothing else but righteous living.
  6. We say ‘yes’ to justice, and to being just in our judgment of others.
  7. We say ‘yes’ to the caring of widows and orphans.
  8. We say ‘yes’ to the care of the downtrodden.
  9. We say ‘yes’ to the washing of our hands that are full of blood. If you hate your brother you are a murderer.
  10. We say ‘yes’ to the washing of ourselves, the purification of our hearts.
  11. We say ‘yes’ to loving God once again with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.
  12. We say ‘yes’ to loving our neighbour as we love ourselves which includes all races.
  13. We say ‘yes’ to lawful living or being law abiding.
  14. We say ‘yes’ to 100% commitment to God and the fear of God.
  15. We say ‘yes’ to holiness.
  16. We say 'yes' to praying for our leaders and those in authority, whether we like them or not.

 

All the above you can trace through my previous sermon. But all of this is just a start and the part that I can play in improving things.

But, one thing we must realise is that South Africa is not a Christian nation, it is not God’s special land to heal, and we cannot demand from God to fix things for us as we are tired of some stuff. The Glory of God must be our focus, the extension of the Kingdom of God must be our focus, the praise of God must be our focus. It is all about Him and not about us. I pray that things might get better. If you listen to the self-appointed prophets then things are going to get better. They all shout, that now is the time, the season. And they have done this for decades. Christians, do not swallow everything and anything that is proclaimed in the name of Jesus, and don’t be fooled when somebody claims to come with a direct Word of God. All that it does is to discourage you when you do not see it fulfilled. In 2004 one of our local gospels singers entered into the fray of the ACDP and received a prophetic word of the Lord that the party will grow and that by 2009 they will be the leading opposition in parliament. This was great news, but sadly in 2009 the party dropped from 7 seats out of 400 in government to 3 and still only has 3 after the 2014 elections. I am not sure that we will see a Christian government in our lives.

It is easy in times like these to forget our purpose on earth as Christians 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 in 2nd Thessalonians which is where our text is from for today: “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 in mind by false teaching and reports that even Paul them had said that Christ has 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 certain teachings when it suits my circumstances and my time in history, or even my culture. 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 as what we face today 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, but these people will be condemned. 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, a survival kit, 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 giving them the survival kit 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. 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. Paul’s starting point and ending point is the traditions or teachings that were taught by the apostles as we see in 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, what is our anchor, what will help us survive in this world we are living in? Paul wants you to know that you must get your mind straight if you want to survive in this world. Let me share them quickly.

 

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 believe Paul has in mind here the general love of God or His common grace that he extends to the whole world corporately while holding the universe in being, causing the sun to rise, the rain to fall, and the gospel to be preached. 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 for us as believers in South Africa is the active, powerful, and pursuing and saving love of God that tracks us down in our rebellion and darkness until we collapse and then awakens us as new people in Christ.

 

If anything is going to carry you through the good days and the bad days it is knowing that you are distinguishingly, particularly, personally, effectually, irresistibly, unbreakably, and eternally loved by God. This is the central truth in the message of hope. So, Paul says, hold on to it, hang on for dear life and stand firm on this truth, as nothing will separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, not even hardship, trials, persecution or death.  God’s love is a sure anchor that keeps your mind and soul intact.

 

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."

 

As Christians, our primary worry is not where the world goes, but where I go. Like Abraham, we worry about an eternal home. We know that in this world the lawless one must come, this world must end, there will be a falling away, but if you are chosen by God, you have reason to rejoice and to hope. How do we know that we are the elect? 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 in a world filled with chaos. Listen to the words of 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. This is what Jesus speaks about 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. Get your mind straight in it, hold it firm and hang on for dear life because you know you are chosen.

 

Handle 3. God saved us to be saved.

 

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 stated in the future tense. It is a final state to look forward to. 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. Christian, you cannot rest on your laurels and simply claim that you are saved. There is a present salvation that will only be realised in the end and you must work out that salvation with fear and trembling. Verse 14 says: 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 saved will be saved in the end, the glorified will be glorified. 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 and this country, don't ever let go of the truth in the message of hope that God's elect whom He loves will be saved. 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 know that it is well with your soul.

 

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."

 

This statement of Paul flows from the previous point. There is a 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 only now, but the end and the process by which we arrive at the end. But Christian, remember this. You will not be able to live in this world without the working of the Holy Spirit in your life. Verse 13 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.

 

God loves, God chose you, God saves you, and God – the Holy Spirit will sanctify you and bring you to glory. It requires our all to Him who is all in all believers.

 

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. We are not about new truths but the old truth that is always new. Oh, how I pray that we at Logos will become more and more discerning, that we will have a hunger for the Word of God, that we will desire the unadulterated truth of the Word of God, and that we will obey the truth.

 

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. Those ancient Words become my final rule for faith and conduct.

 

Implications.

Can you identify with the church of Thessalonica today? Because according to verse 14 "To this he called you through our gospel. . ."

 

Oh, how I wish I had hours to unpack all of this with examples and more detail. But Christian, if we are going to survive in this country and this world, we need to get our minds right. We must realise that things might get better, and things might not. In the end, there will be a falling away and things will get worse because it must. There is a new world coming. We need to change our minds and say ‘yes’ to all those things I mentioned earlier and so much more. If you want to endure you will need a mindset that understands that we are loved, we are chosen, we are the saved who will be saved, we are sanctified and set apart from this world by the Holy Spirit, because He indwells us, and then we have the truth revealed in God’s word. We do not stand on what man says. We stand on what the Word of God says. That is the easiest way in which we will not deceive one another or be deceived.

 

No matter what this world throws at us, we will endure, and one day we will obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So instead of saying: “stop the world I want to get off”, hold on to these 5 handles and enjoy the ride. If somebody asks you why you are not discouraged in South Africa. Here is your answer: “Because I am loved, I am a chosen child of God and this world is not by home. After all of this, I will be saved, as I am now sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and I am not fooled by false teachings and false prophecies, as I have the truth in the Word of God, and I believe in the truth, even when it does not suit me, or go my way, as it is not about me, but it is all about Him.”

 

I plead with you this morning. Take it. Hang in there, hold fast. We can because we are part of the body of Christ, and these truths apply to us.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 30 April 2017