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2nd Thessalonians 1:1-13
2nd Thessalonians 2:6-12
2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17

 

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2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17

 

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:  whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.  Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”

 

Going From The Prophetic To The Practical

 

The Bible Teaches About Two Kinds Of Sanctification

 

2nd Thessalonians, Paul has spoken to them about not being troubled in regards to some false impression they had gotten that the Day of the Lord had already begun, that they had already entered into it.  He said either by spirit, someone’s prophesying, or by a false epistle that was sent in his name, perhaps some spurious teaching, something that was supposedly passed right from Paul to them.  And he gives them certain reasons why they could not at that time be in the Day of the Lord, because of certain things that would transpire on the Day of the Lord, but, just beginning, in the Day of the Lord, that would mark that time period.  And he says that as that transpires, this antichrist that comes will be afforded supernatural power, that he will deceive the nations.  And the Bible tells us in the Book of Revelation that multitudes and nations, kindreds and tongues will marvel after the Beast, whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life.  That upon this logical, western, intellectual world will fall a deception, as it will on the rest of the world, and all of the conspirators will be conspirated by a greater conspiracy, that he will come with signs and wonders, and things that are so contrary to a pragmatic, logical view of the world, that people will be startled.  And they will follow him, and they will be deceived, and it says specifically there are those who receive not the love of the truth, who had no desire to hear the Gospel of Christ, who would not be saved, though the offer was made continually, and because they had deliberately turned from God, don’t say ‘How could a God of love send people to hell?’  no, no, he opens these doors, he invites everyone, and we choose.  And people turn away from the truth deliberately, refusing the love of God.  And Paul it seems, I think, pretty emotional in some of the ways he refrains, he gives us, describing that whole situation.  And then in verse 13 he comes to us, to the believer, and he thanks God for those who are not deceived.  And he kind of goes from the prophetic now to the practical, these last set of exhortations are about practice and things going on in the church.  So in chapter 2, verse 13 Paul kind of segue’s from this Last Days great deception that will come upon the world, ah, in verse 13 he says, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:”  So, he’s looking at these believers, and the fact that they are secure in a world filled with deception, and he is saying ‘knowing that you were chosen from the beginning,’ here we hear Jesus say in John chapter 10 ‘there are other sheep of another fold that will come to me, that have not yet come, that all shall be mine,’ speaking of us.  And here Paul says, ‘You know, here we give thanks before God, brethren beloved of the Lord, that God from the beginning has chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit,’  that is not the process that is in heaven, as far as God is concerned we are justified, we are sanctified, we are glorified.  Sanctification of the Spirit, he’s taken our lives and set them aside.  Yes deception is coming on this world.  But our lives have been set aside, by the power of God, for the cause of Christ, and the love of God, and the belief in the truth, contrasting those who would not believe the truth. [Comment:  What Pastor Joe is trying to explain, and J. Vernon McGee explained it best, that there are two kinds of “sanctification” mentioned in the Bible, one is the sanctification of God, of Christ, which is “positional sanctification,” happens once and for all, independent of our actions.  The other kind of sanctification is often called “sanctification of the Spirit” and this is “practical sanctification,” it’s progressive, as the Holy Spirit cleans us up and helps us overcome sin.  For a more complete explanation of the two kinds of sanctification, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/1st%20Corinthians.htm]  “whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (verse 14)  And he’s called us from grace to glory, begins in grace and ends in glory.  That’s what he’s calling us to. 

 

Stand Fast, Hold The Tradition That You Have Been Taught

 

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the tradition which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (verse 15)  Now you see by the way that’s written, he’s not talking about Church tradition, he’s not talking about liturgy, none of that existed at this point in time.  The New Testament was not complete, they were hearing the Word of God in many contexts as it was passed from Jesus to the apostles, to the Church.  Paul himself said that the Gospel that he taught, he received it not of man, but when he was in Arabia, he was in the desert, Christ himself taught him the Gospel that he preached, even speaking to them about the Communion Table.  [Comment:  This “Communion table” at that time was a once-a-year observance of the Christian Passover service.  These Church traditions, that were very young at this point, were quite different from what we see in most of Christianity today.  For a peak at them and the early Church, see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm]  So when he says “the traditions” he’s talking about the truths that were to be passed on.  “Therefore brethren, stand fast,” and it’s an important exhortation in this age, because this age is to be characterized by those who depart from the faith.  “stand fast, and hold” means to take hold of, to grasp, not to let go of “the traditions which you have been taught,” now he tells these traditions are either “whether by word,” directly from us, “or by epistle” by Scripture, the Word of God.  “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,” (verse 16)  And this is a very interesting grammatical structure here, because he speaks of Jesus Christ, and God, but when he defines them with the verbs, the verbs are singular, it’s a strong inference of the Deity of Jesus Christ.  “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us,”---singular verb---“and hath given us”---singular verb---“everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.” (verses 16-17)  He started by speaking to these Thessalonians, he had written an earlier epistle, and had heard from Timothy, now had word that they had defected from some of the things he had communicated to them, that they were troubled, that they had believed an error theologically in regard to the 2nd coming of Christ.  And with great heart, no doubt, he’s writing to this young church.  In these two epistles, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, he uses the word “brethren” 26 or 27 times.  And there’s a lot of pathos here.  And of course as he seeks then to comfort them in regards to the fact that they’re troubled, they thought they’re missing out, ‘God doesn’t love us, here we are, we’re left here to go through this terrible time…’ 

 

May God Comfort Your Hearts

 

“Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”  And he’s going to go on and talk a little bit about that.  So, great exhortation for the days that we live in.  We watched the President’s address last night, we see the coarse that our nation and the world seems to be on [it’s a far worse course now in 2014 than it was back then, far more unstable in the Middle East, with 150,000 Syrians having already died in a civil war there, the Muslim Brotherhood having tried to sweep power in three North African nations, but loosing ground temporarily in Egypt, a military arms race going on between Russia, China, India and Vietnam, and threatening to include Japan and South Korea as well, and maybe the Philippines.  The world, not including the US, is becoming an armed camp, similar to the arms buildup prior to WWII.]  I’m praying for those making decisions, to have wisdom.  I wouldn’t want to have their job.  And we know from Scripture things are going to wax worse and worse, the love of many, the agape of many, an interesting word in Matthew, probably speaking of believers, the “agape” of many will grow cold (cf Matthew 24:12) as iniquity would abound.  And yet Paul, looking at the greatest deception the world will see, speaks to them about ‘God and Jesus Christ, the great love, the consolation that’s to come to them, everlasting consolation, great love, good hope, through grace, let all of that comfort your hearts, stablish you in every good word and work.’ 

 

2nd Thessalonians 3:1-18

 

“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free coarse, and be glorified even as it is with you:  and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men:  for all men have not faith.  But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.  And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.  And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.  Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.  For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us:  for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:  not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.  And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.  Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.  The Lord be with you all.  The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle:  so I write.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.”

 

Pray For Your Church Leaders So That The Gospel May Have Free Run

 

“Finally, brethren, pray for us,” I can relate to Paul.  Usually when anyone comes up to talk to me after the service, or say ‘We’re visiting,’ or ‘We listen on the radio,’ that is always my challenge, “Pray for me.”  Because I know more than anybody how much prayer I need, and I think I know how different our minds are...  You know, pray for me, that’s what you can do for me.  [And me as well.]  Pray for me.  And just, when you listen to me on the radio in the morning, now you know how ugly I am, you came here and saw me, so pray for me, now just pray for me, how old I am ‘You’re not like I thought you’d look.’  You know, that’s usually not good [laughter].  That’s why we do radio and not television.  “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:” (verse 1)  And how I can relate, and not ‘Pray for us that we can get a villa in Greece, with the expensive Egyptian tile that I love,’ not ‘Pray for us that we can get a yacht, that we can…’  “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:”  The word of the Lord may have free course, speaking about a running course.  Your translation may even say “that the word of the Lord may run.”  And he’s saying, you know, just pray that the Word of God, and in the first epistle he said ‘We know there’s bearing fruit among you, we hear about it, and it’s spread through you through all of Asia.’  And he’s saying now, “Pray for us, that where we go,” and you hear Paul ‘Pray that we have an open door to share the mystery of Christ,’ and again, if Paul needed an open door, you know we need one [and so does this website, it’s just a one-man operation].  But pray that the word of the Lord may have free course.  Now that’s in a community, plus in individual hearts.  I mean, how many times do we talk to a husband and a wife, that are ready to throw the towel in, and what you need to be praying for the pastoral staff at that time is that the Word of the Lord will have free course in our lives, free course, without obstacles.  Because we put up so many obstacles all the time.  Pray for us as we have opportunity to meet people.  You know, once in a while, we have a Senator or somebody who wants to come here and greet the congregation.  Now I know why they want to come here and greet the congregation, because they like to get in front of this many voters at one time.  But it’s a little bit of fun for me once in a while to get them up here and say ‘Okay, we’re going to pray for you while we got you here,’ and you see them all get little beads of sweat.  You know I’ll say, ‘The Bible says ‘I’m the minister of God for spiritual things, and you’re the minister of God for civil things, and you’ll give account to God some day, so we’re going to pray for you,’ you know to me that’s a lot of fun.  [laughter]  But important, to put them on notice, so that they know what the Scripture says.  So once in a while if that happens don’t think we’re getting political, because we’re not.  We are political, we’re the King’s kids, that’s as political as you can get.  But pray the Word of God will have free course there.  You know, with this many people, we have interesting opportunities to make connections.  But pray that, for certainly the leadership here, “that the Word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.”  And that, remember to pray this half too.  “And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men:”---and women, don’t leave them out---“for all men have not faith.” (verse 2)  And there are some people that are just unreasonable, just, there’s no sense talking to them.  You say things that a six-year-old could understand plainly, and you know you’re not getting anywhere, and sometimes that’s just because they’re unreasonable, they don’t want to reason.  God says, ‘Come let us reason,’ reason is important.  God honors our ability to reason, and some people are unreasonable.  And here it has the idea of “wicked, absurd” as I think actually what it says.  But that we be delivered from “unreasonable,” because unreasonable people waste a lot of time [and our time is precious].  “from unreasonable and wicked men:  for all men have not faith.”  You know, there are people, there are many of those who do not embrace what we believe.  And in regards to that they’re unreasonable, they waste time, they put up obstacles so that the Word of God would not have free course. 

 

How The Lord Keeps Us From The Evil One

 

But, even in light of these difficulties, the Lord is faithful, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” (verse 3)  “Keep”, that’s a military word, to guard, to garrison, “keep you from evil.”  Probably the evil one, more properly [translated].  But the Lord is faithful, and he’s going to set a garrison around you, he’s going to guard you from the evil one.  Yea, there’s deception coming on the world, the antichrist is coming, all these different things are coming, but the Lord is faithful. Aren’t you glad it’s not dependent on your faithfulness?  When we get to heaven, nobody’s gonna be saying ‘Joe was faithful,’ “his” name will be Faithful and True, my name will be graced out, graced up, graced in.  He’s faithful, it says he will garrison, he’ll guard, he’ll guard us from the evil one, I’m thankful, military.  You know he [Paul] steps into some military words here, and I want to make you aware of them, before we move into this set of exhortations here. 

 

Paul Gets Military With Them

 

You’ll see in verse 4, he says, “And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.”  He said the Lord is going to garrison your hearts, but we have some commandments, and that is a military command given from a superior officer to someone whose less in rank.  And the same word is used, interestingly, in verse 4, in verse 6, in verse 10, and verse 12 you’re going to see this word “command, command, command, command, command” over and over.  He’s going to use the word “disorderly” in regards to walking disorderly, behaving disorderly, three times in these verses.  And that is a military word that means “to break rank,” those who are “breaking rank.”  He uses it once in the first epistle and calls it “unruly” there, and it talks about those who will not cooperate, are not willing to “walk according to the order” that the apostles were establishing in the Church.  The Kingdom of God is not a democracy, it’s an order.  And Paul now will exhort this Thessalonian church, and it will be particularly in regard to those who refuse to work and provide for themselves.  In the first epistle he said ‘you should study to be quiet,’ most of us study to talk, but he says ‘study to be quiet, to do your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you.’  And then again, at the end, in verse 14 he says ‘we exhort you,  brethren, warn those that are unruly, that are breaking rank.’  Now in these last verses he has an exhortation, and it’s in regards to church order.  Verse 4 he says, “And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.”  Now I like that, that’s a pastor’s joy.  It isn’t that we will have confidence in the Lord that you will hear, we have confidence in the Lord that you will sing, we have confidence in the Lord that you will eat, we have confidence in the Lord that you will do all those things.  But this is “we have confidence in the Lord…that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.”  I was listening to Charles Swindol talk about the home, parenting, marriage.  And he said “We don’t lack for knowledge, we don’t lack for knowing, we lack for doing.  We all know the verses, ‘wives do this, husbands do this, children do this,’ we just don’t like the ‘do this.’  We know the verses, we’ll go out to lunch and talk about the verses, we’ll sing about the verses, we’ll hear the verses, it’s doing the verses.”  And you know how that is, you love the Bible, it’s just the verses that bother you.  Paul says here, “we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.”  This church is yielding to the things of God, “the things which we command you.” 

 

May The Lord Remove The Obstacles So Your Hearts May Move Into The Love Of God

 

“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” (verse 5)  “Direct”, there’s an interesting word made up of negative ideas, it means “to remove the obstacles.”  ‘And the Lord remove the obstacles so that your hearts may move into the love of God,’  Well, what does that mean?  You know, faith, hope and love, these three abide, but the greatest of these is love.  How do we, moving into that, we always think of doing, faith, hope and love.  Well you don’t faith somebody, and you don’t hope somebody, you have faith, you possess it.  You have hope.  The first part of the equation is ‘Do you have love?’  Or do you walk around in your whole Christian experience feeling unlovable?  And you are.  You know, my earthly standards, you know, we get ripped off by people, by moms, by dads sometimes, by brothers, sisters, Christians, people that should be distributing the most consistent and genuine love to us.  But because we’re in a fallen creation, so many of us come with our scars and our defense mechanisms in place, and we do go through this struggle to receive his love fully.  ‘That someone is actually loving me with no strings attached?’   And that’s why God’s love is a holy love, it’s completely separate, it can’t be compared to any human love.  God says to us, you know, it’s kind of like a parent loving his children.  It’s kind of like a groom loving his bride.  It’s kind of like a shepherd whose committed to his flock.  But they all fall short, they’re human examples of a Divine love that knows no depth.  And Paul now says to this church, you know, ‘we pray the Lord will remove any obstacles there are from you, for you, that your hearts may be directed into the love of God.’  Because it’s only as we experience the love of God that then we can give the love of God.  Not that we first loved him, but that he first loved us, and gave his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  You will be a terrible lover of those around you, if you haven’t received his love.  It says the love of Christ should be shed abroad from our hearts.  We can be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal, and prophesy, have the faith to move mountains, but if we have not love, we don’t possess it, it isn’t real in our hearts, what do we have to give?  So yea, we should, God should remove the obstacles of us moving into his love.  I believe that means in the context of both receiving it, and then being distributors, and not only distributors, but it should flow through us, we should just be like an aqueduct of his love, you know, it should find free flow through us to others.  If we have genuinely received his grace, we wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and think, ‘God loves me???  I can sit alone and lift my face to heaven and say Father, and he’s not ashamed to be called my God?  Or to call me his son?’  What could we possibly begrudge anybody else if we realize that?  It isn’t like the other guy needed the blood of Jesus more than we do?  So first there is, I think in our own lives, the realizing of his love, and the growing in grace, and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And when that is real to us, not religion, not phony, it finds its way to flow through us and to others, to a lost world.  And if you don’t have the measles, you can’t give it to anybody.  It has to be real.  So he says, ‘We pray that God will remove any obstacles there are in regards to you moving into his love,’ “and into the patient waiting for Christ.”  King James says “for Christ,” your translation might say “the patient waiting of Christ.”  It seems to be that hupomene verb means that we move into the endurance of Christ, that Christ endured.  But you can’t separate that from the hope of waiting for Christ.  It says that for the glory that was before him, he endured the cross.  Yes he endured, but that endurance itself was anchored in hope, for the glory that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame.  And the idea is, that if God removes every obstacle from us from moving into and enjoying his love, distributing his love, and the other thing is, the patient waiting of Christ, we’re here, we’re waiting for eternity.  Yes, the end of all things is coming, but we’re not waiting for antichrist, we’re waiting for Jesus Christ, we’re waiting for him to come, we’re his Bride, we’re his children, we’ve entered into his love.  He hasn’t forsaken us to leave us here and judge us with a Christ-rejecting world.  So Paul says he prays these things, that they would move into his love, his hope, waiting. 

 

Servant Leadership, What Is It?

 

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly and not after the tradition which he received of us.” (verse 6)  Here’s our military word again.  “Disorderly”, that means he’s “breaking rank,” tradition, the teaching that you received of us.  What is that?  He’s going to say, “for yourselves know how ye ought to follow us:  for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;” (verse 7)  ‘We didn’t break rank, we encouraged you to do something, and we lived according to the rules that we set,’  “neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you;” (verse 8)  So Paul is saying, ‘Look, we didn’t break our own rule, we were there, we worked, we’re not asking you to do anything we didn’t do.  But mark those, you know, you have those brethren that are among you, if they are walking disorderly, they’re not listening to the tradition that we gave to you that a man should work, and earn his way, and eek a living out of this world, and not come into the body of believers and take advantage of the fact that charity is supposed to be alive, and not to be a load, you know, not to be scrounging off of everybody else.  There’s no witness in that, it’s not what God has intended.’  And Paul said, ‘When we were among you, we ourselves, we made tents, we worked.’  You know, the rabbis, every rabbi had to have a trade.  The Jews had a proverb, ‘A Jewish father that didn’t teach his son a trade taught him to be a thief.’  Paul fell back on tent-making, and he worked when he was in Thessalonica, he didn’t want to be chargeable to them.  Because there were Jews that were persecuting there, accusations were being made.  It would have been proper for Paul to receive support [ie tithes, offerings].  He did from other churches.  1st Corinthians 9:9, 1st Timothy 5:18, he said there’s a rule, that you don’t muzzle the ox that treads out the grain, God in his own Law has told us the principle.  [see, http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews%207%201-28.htm]  But Paul said he came into that area.  You know they said, ‘This is what you should be doing,’ and part of their problem was attached to Greek philosophy.  The Jews believed that work was honorable, the Greeks believed largely, and the Romans, that mandatory labour was below them.  And there were millions of slaves in Rome.  And the house-owner and the citizen often didn’t do manual labour.  Now there’s something about work, besides what Maynard G. Krebs says, there’s three of you here that understand, I appreciate that.  Four, ok, I see that hand.  Work, now we don’t like the word, work is part of man’s purpose.  Before the fall, Genesis chapter 2, verse 15, Adam in his unfallen state, it says God placed him in the garden to trim and to keep the garden.  Work, created in the image and likeness of God.  Jesus said ‘My Father doth work.’  It is the very nature of God to be industrious, to accomplish. And sometimes we think that labour is less sacred than something we might think of, such as ministry, ‘It’s more spiritual to preach than it is to drive nails.’  Well the Bible doesn’t teach that anywhere.  The Bible does not teach that anywhere.  It teaches the opposite, that what we put our hand to we do it with all of our might, as unto the Lord, whether it’s driving a nail or teaching a Bible study, whether it’s working on a computer, that God has placed us in this world, and part of our purpose is to work.  Before the fall, in paradise, in perfection, man worked.  It’s part of the nature of God, part of being in his image and likeness.  The problem with work today is it’s after the fall, now it’s in the sweat of our brow that we bring forth from the ground.  It is still divine, marriage is still divine.  Creation is fallen, everything is fallen, so there is a labour to it.  But Paul is saying ‘we instructed you, you know, this Greek philosophy shouldn’t be infecting you, work is good.  We upheld our own rule when we were among you.  If you have someone there who refuses to earn their way in this world, withdraw from them,’ Paul says, ‘those who are not walking according to the commandment that we gave to you,’  “neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:  not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” (verses 8-9)  ‘It isn’t because we didn’t have the authority or the right to expect support, but to make ourselves an example to you to follow us.’  And I love Paul because of his sacrificial leadership, which is so much a picture of Christ, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  Paul said ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’  Selfish leadership is territorial.  Selfish leadership demands its rights.  Selfish leadership does not set the kind of example that Paul sets, when he says ‘Yeah, we had rights, but we didn’t exercise them.  We imitated our Saviour, who stooped down so low to become a servant, that we might be made rich.’  He was made poor that we might be made rich.  So a great example always in the life of Paul, I’m always amazed. 

 

 

The Spiritual Purpose Of Work, Employment

 

Verse 10, he says this, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”  Now that simplifies things, doesn’t it?  That gets it right down to the table.  If a man would not work, neither should he eat.  Now there’s an important emphasis in the grammar here.  It doesn’t say that ‘they could not’ there’s a difference between ‘they would not,’ and those who would, but couldn’t.  It’s not talking about the debilities, it’s talking about the willingness.  There were those who could have worked, who were refusing to work.  There’s always folks who want to work that are out of a job, or have a disability or can’t work for some particular reason, who want to work.  He’s talking about those who had the potential, those who had the opportunity, who would not, doesn’t say ‘could not,’ would not work.  And he says it’s so important, because if we work, if we earn, then we have the means to give.  [Ephesians 4:28, the spirit of the 8th Commandment is encompassed in working, so that we might have substance to give with.  “Let him that stole steal no more:  but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”  All of the ten commandments have been brought to their spirit level, their spiritual intent in the New Testament.  Here we see the apostle Paul bringing the 8th Commandment to its lofty spiritual intent.]  It tells us in Deuteronomy, in so many places, in 1st John chapter 3, ‘He who has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and doesn’t reach out to do anything to help him, how dwelleth the love of Christ in him?’  You know, it puts us in a position, to work, whatever our work is, to put our hand to it with all of our might, to do it ‘as unto the Lord,’ to be the Lord’s carpenter, or the Lord’s mechanic, or the Lord’s doctor, or whatever, and then to conduct ourselves with that level of integrity puts us then in a position where hopefully then we have the means to give.  And that’s why he, Jesus, stooped down and did the work he did, to give.  And Paul is not condemning someone whose disabled, Paul’s not condemning someone whose between jobs and is filling out applications.  If you don’t have a job, your job is looking for a job.  If you don’t have a job, your job is filling out applications and looking for a job.  Your job is not sitting at home, praying, saying ‘If the Lord wants me to have a job, the phone’s going to ring.’  Paul says, ‘No, if you don’t work, you don’t eat,’ so try the other thing, ‘If the Lord wants me to eat, the roast beef is going to float out of the refrigerator with the mayonnaise and cheese, and the bread’s going to float out of the drawer, and the sandwich is going to form in front of me, and I’m gonna eat.’  Apply the same amount of faith to eating.  No, you get up and make your sandwich and stuff your face.  Well it’s the same thing with making out job applications and making phone calls.  If you’re in need, waiting for a job, disabled, can’t get a job, you know then the Church gets to be what the Church should be.  You’re sick, you’re laid up, you’ve had an injury.  Then the great thing is, because so many of us are working, the Church then can be what the Church should be, and demonstrate charity, do those things.  Paul said ‘you do them and will do them.’  Not just talk about them, not just theorize, but to give, and to bless.  So there needs to be both ends, there will always be those among us who are injured, can’t work, who are between jobs, there will always be those single parents who are in a difficult situation that they don’t want to be in who may need help.  There will always be the missionary on the field.  There will always be opportunity for us to give, and to demonstrate what the Body of Christ is, and what the Body of Christ should be.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm  and http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Questions.htm]  But Paul’s talking about those ‘who would not work,’  “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”  You know, God, he says ‘the harvest is great, the labourers are few.’  God is looking for workers, he’s not looking for vacationers, he’s looking for workers.  He found Moses tending the flock, he found Joshua a servant of Moses, David, tending the flock, Gideon, threshing grain, the disciples were mending nets, Paul, making tents, workers, what a blessing to God’s Kingdom. 

 

‘Shut Up, Get A Job, And Eat Your Own Food’

 

“For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” (verse 11) “Disorderly” here it is “out of rank.”  “busybodies”?  Naa, in church?  Because if you’re not working you’ve got lots of time on your hands.  And now we’ve got telephones and email, and we can really gossip, high tech.  [And gossip is just another form of knife-throwing, throwing knives into innocent people’s backs.]  We can get into everybody else’s business.  ‘We hear there are some of you who walk among you disorderly, they’re breaking rank, not listening to the things that we’re saying, they are busybodies,’ interesting grammatical structure, it means ‘they work their way around.’  “Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” (verse 12)  Now he’s going to say ‘Shut up, get a job and eat your own food,’ in this verse.  That’s a paraphrase, but if you don’t believe me you’ll see that it’s there.  So, ‘Shut up, get a job, and eat your own food.’  And he doesn’t say it mean-spiritedly, obviously, it’s just lightening up an exhortation.  If you were tired when you got home from work today and came to church tonight, you’ll be more tired by the time you get home.  Quietness, they work instead of being busybodies, and they eat their own food.  “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.” (verse 13)  He’s challenging the Body there at Thessalonica.  ‘Yeah, there are those who take advantage, yeah there are those in difficult circumstances, but don’t be weary in well doing.’  You know, that can happen to us [tell me about it], he challenges them.  There are other places in the New Testament and he challenges us not to be weary in well doing, in Galatians chapter 6 and in 2nd Timothy 4:1 I believe or 2nd Corinthians 4:1.  He challenges them not to be weary in well doing, because in the harvest we will reap.  There’s a time to have the benefit from our labour.  Don’t be weary in well doing.  You know, we can get, if we’re in the Spirit, we’re led of the Lord, we can be weary “in the work,” but we should not be weary “of the work.”  If you’re serving Christ, you can get weary in the work, physically, mentally, emotionally warn out.  But at the same time say, “But I can’t imagine doing anything else in my life but serving Christ.”  Being weary in the work is much different than being weary of the work.  If you are tired of serving Christ, if you’re tired of doing the things he has set in front of you, you have gotten in the flesh somewhere along the line.  And the wonderful thing is to go back to him, he’s willing to renew, he’s a redeemer, a restorer, a reconciler, he doesn’t break a bruised reed, doesn’t quench a smoking flax, and he puts life back into us and stirs our hearts again.  So, the exhortation, don’t be weary in well doing.  Well doing, there’s a cost to it.  But don’t be weary in it.  It pays tremendous dividends, eternally. 

 

The Instruction To Withdraw From A Brother

 

“If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” (verse 14)  So this is a special ministry, you don’t all have it, don’t go out and try to exercise it tomorrow, making people ashamed.  That’s what I’m called to.  No, look, he’s not talking about, this is what he’s saying to us.  A brother, we’re talking about somebody in the Body of Christ, somebody saved, somebody chosen, somebody whose being lazy, a busybody, somebody whose refusing to work, to earn a living, ‘I can’t get a job, I’m over-qualified.  I filled out all these applications.’  Well work at McDonalds until you’re here, deliver pizzas until you get a call from where you’re qualified.  People come to this country who are immigrants, they come from the third world, and in ten years they’re millionaires, this is America man.  If you can’t get a job here, you can’t get a job anywhere.  But no, we think ‘that’s stooping below,’ I remember, what’s the difference, years ago this roofing company was looking for roofers and my brother-in-law worked there, and I went to work with him, and the guy said ‘Are you a roofer?’  I said ‘Yeah, I’m a roofer,’ I was a roofer starting that day, walked around and looked like I didn’t know what I was doing for a couple days, but in a couple days I was a roofer, knew what I was doing, it was work.  ‘If someone doesn’t obey this word, this commandment, by this epistle, by this second letter now,’ coming back to this Thessalonian church, he had exhorted them in the first epistle, ‘note that man, mark that person, have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.’  Now it doesn’t say put them out of the church, that’s an interesting grammatical structure, because look at verse 15 he says “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  So it’s not church discipline, it’s not saying ‘put this guy out of the fellowship,’ what he’s saying to the believers in the fellowship, he says in verse 6 if you look there “We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”  Breaking rank, he’s not willing to get a job, he’s not a contributor, he’s a busybody, just don’t hang around him, withdraw yourself from him.  Here it says ‘mark him,’ doesn’t mean with a magic marker, orange deco paint.  Have no company with him, if you don’t hang out with him, you withdraw yourself from him, then he’s got nothing to be a busybody about.  If you withdraw yourself from him then he’s not going to be coming over to your house free-loading because he’s lazy and won’t get a job.  What it’s saying is ‘Don’t endorse the sin in his life of rebellion.’  It’s like the sin of witchcraft, almost like idolatry the Bible tells us.  So, it doesn’t say put this guy out of the church, you’ve got a brother here.  He’s refusing to work, he doesn’t work, he gets involved in all kinds of stuff, just withdraw yourself from him.  Don’t hang around with him.  And what’s gonna happen is he’s gonna get embarrassed, he’s gonna realize ‘Man, I wore everybody out, and if nobody invites me over for dinner, I got nothing to eat.’  And he might be ashamed.  Yet don’t count him as an enemy, but admonish him.  If you have opportunity to talk to him say ‘Man, you know the reason people are treating you like this is because you’re wearing people out, you’re a user.  You’ve got gifts, you’ve got talents, you’ve got health, you know, get a job, stop being a busybody.  Get yourself in a position where you can give, you can be gracious to people.  You know, there’s people in the church that have disabilities that can’t do anything, and you could bless them.  You could encourage them.  You could sponsor a kid going on a missions trip, you could give.’  So, you withdraw from them.  And look, every one of us in the church, we hang around, we all have our little environments.  That’s ok, God does that.  Birds of a feather, flock together.  So there’s all kinds of little flocks in here.  And in your own little flock, if there’s somebody that won’t work, all they do is cause trouble, all they do is this, you know, look, don’t feed that, get on the phone with them and just say ‘Look, this is what the Scripture says about gossip, and I don’t think it’s right, we shouldn’t do this,’ and it says if they won’t listen and they won’t listen to Biblical instruction, they won’t listen to leadership in the church, there comes a point where you say ‘You know what, I just don’t get edified around you.  You know, instead of hanging around talking about this person, you need to be out looking for a job.  I love you, and I think that’s God’s best for you, so I’m not going to facilitate your irresponsibility, but I’m just going to pray for you.’  Treat them as a brother, admonish them.  Don’t treat them as an enemy, but withdraw from them.  And there’s a level of humiliation and embarrassment that will go along with that, that will be healthy.  It’s an interesting instruction.  And it doesn’t mean we start, ‘Man, I’m going to look for somebody I can make ashamed.’  It’s not a special ministry, in the gifts of the Spirit it’s not listed there.  [And if that’s what your doing, looking for somebody you can make ashamed, you’re being the busybody, and people should withdraw from you.  I know people like that.]  It’s just saying in this particular kind of a circumstance, ‘Don’t count him as an enemy, admonish him as a brother.’ 

 

Paul’s Closing Remarks

 

“Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.  The Lord be with you all.  The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle:  so I write.” (verses 16-17)  So evidently, you know, Paul’s saying ‘don’t listen to any false epistle that has come, yeah I have eye troubles, yeah I have somebody now who I dictate to whose writing, but you know at the end of my letters I sign them with my own hand, and I got this big ugly sloppy signature that doesn’t look like nobody else’s, so I’m putting my John Hancock on here so that you’ll know this is from me, this is the salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle, so I write.’  “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.” (verse 18)  [transcript of a connective expository sermon on 2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17 and 3:1-18 given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

related links:

 

The Bible teaches about two kinds of “sanctification.”  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/1st%20Corinthians.htm

 

The spiritual purpose of work, so that we might be able to help others and further the Gospel.  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/samaritan_purse.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Questions.htm

 

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