Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons by Year 2020 Sermons . Eternal comfort & good hope

. Eternal comfort & good hope

ETERNAL COMFORT AND GOOD HOPE

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:

Throughout the ages it has been in times like these that Christians have anticipated the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ more and more. This was the reality during the black plague, the first and second world wars and the Spanish flue. Various countries have over the ages had various other trials and for them the coming of Christ was eminent. Those who over-focus on signs instead of focusing on Christ and His standards for the church start calculating the day of the return of Christ as if they can know the time of His return. All I can tell you is that we are 2000 years closer to the return of Christ than Paul and the church of Thessalonica. Jesus said in Matthew 24:36-39 (ESV) 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

Jesus says, we will continue what we have always done and then suddenly He will come. So during wars and pestilences one advantage to mankind is that it reminds us that our Lord will return, and there is a closer drawing to Christ, but Christs view of things is clearly seen in Matthew 24:42 (ESV) 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming, and Matthew 24:44 (ESV) 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. He does not say, figure out the times so that you can wake up at the right time, to get ready. No, stay awake and be ready.

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, which I promise you is abounding during this pandemic.

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.

So, Paul deals with a similar situation as we do 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 and are not 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 then spends 12 verses to dislodge this error and then from verse 13-14 he gives the church of Thessalonica and us something to hold on to, something to give us stability during times like these. He gives them something they can hold onto something that makes life worth living, which is what we look at in a moment. And then Paul says in verse 15-17: 15 So then, brothers, stand firm (which is the opposite of being shaken.) 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.”

This morning I want to give you from the text before us five handles for you to hold onto from verse 13 and 14 which should lead you to stability and calmness during the turbulences of life and I pray that God will:17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

So, what are these handles that we can hold onto? I am going to share them in short as time will not allow for a full exposition.

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 through His common grace, by holding the universe together, 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 by being born again from above. 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 the love of God, 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 earlier that the love of God was not the general love that he shows the world. It was a distinguishing and particular love -- God chose us. We are the elect of God. How does Paul know that we are? How do we know that we 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."

Peter reminds us 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 on to your election, 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 in Christ 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 through faith, but I will only really know that I am saved if I endure to the end 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."

Hold onto your salvation, 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. Therefore, it is one of the truths in the message of hope we hold onto. It is a work of God -- just like everything else: God loves, God chooses, God saves, and God, the Holy Spirit, sanctifies and brings us to glory. Hang onto your sanctification till the end. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling and stand firm.

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." "To this he called you through our gospel. . ."

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 we have been taught, remembering that Christ is the way the truth and the life, but there is content to our faith which is worthy to defend. 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 is 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.

So, what I present to you this morning is something so beautiful which is the truth that from all eternity God loved the church at Thessalonica and us. He chose them and us from the beginning from amongst all sinners who were dead in their trespasses and damned and by nature children of wrath. He sent Paul to them with the gospel -- the good news that Jesus Christ came into the world to die for hopeless sinners. This is the same message we heard. And in the preaching of that gospel God called his elect, them, and us with overcoming power to himself. And the result was that they and we believed the truth and began to be sanctified by the Spirit. And we all will one day obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I plead with you. Take hold of these truths during this time and forever, and enjoy God’s eternal comfort and good hope through grace.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 26 April 2020.