Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 43
2 Thessalonians 2:9-14 – Part 2
We are amazed at how many people just simply take whatever they hear from whatever source and never check it out. And that’s dangerous. There is nothing more dangerous than to just take somebody at face value. So, search the scriptures and see if I’m on the plumb line with the Word of God.
We are continuing our study of II Thessalonians 2:13 but pretty much ready to go into verse 14. But, I want us to read verse 13 again.
II Thessalonians 2:13a
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you,…”
Now never forget what the settings for these various letters are. Remember the Thessalonian letters were the first of Paul’s writings. They were not the last, as it sits in the New Testament, but they were actually the first. And, he had only been able to spend about three weeks with that little group of Thessalonian believers, who were fresh out of paganism.
I was reading the other night, the horrors of life under paganism. The rank and file were, today I guess we would say, living in the pits. And, if they were in the upper crust of society, then morally speaking they were profligate They had no morality. They were loose. And so, it was into those kind of communities that the Apostle Paul came. With the simply preaching of the Gospel, God miraculously brought these people out of abject paganism and idolatrous darkness. And they were believers of Paul’s Gospel.
Now, I was reading an account in this same article the other night that one of the early, early church writers, either Justin Marter or Chris Lastome. They gave an account of two ladies who were actually from the slave element of society. They had become believers and immediately came under gross persecution, and they never wavered. This is hard for us to believe. To have been steeped in Christianity for five, ten or fifteen years and then be able to withstand persecution. That’s one thing. But, to be a new believer just out of a loose immoral lifestyle and then be so transformed that they were willing to suffer horrible deaths without recanting their faith.
These are the situations that Paul had to address as he wrote these letters. Especially to the Thessalonians. He had only had a few weeks time with them. He left them, of course with gifted men that God had promised to give the early churches. And so, this is why he wrote these letters, relatively soon after leaving Thessalonica, so this is always what you want to keep in mind. What was the purpose for these letters? As yet they had not been established long enough to have false teaching coming in. So, Paul was not addressing the false teachers, per se as the danger but he was just simply encouraging them in their new found faith.
II Thessalonians 2:13
“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.” And we showed in the closing statements of the last lesson, their belief of Paul’s Gospel, and in verse 14, he calls it exactly that.
II Thessalonians 2:14a
“Whereunto he called you by our (or as many other places he would say, my) gospel,….”
You see that? How that Paul takes full credit for this Gospel of truth. Let’s go back and chase down a few other references that confirm that this is not just a misprint. This is not a misinterpretation by the translators, because, he does constantly refer to it as my gospel.
Go all the way back to Romans Chapter 2 verse 16. A verse that I dare say most people don’t know is in their Bible.
“In the day when God shall (now I am sure this is a reference to the Great White Throne of Revelation 20) judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ (who will be the judge at he Great White Throne, remember. And so, Jesus Christ will judge the secrets of men according to what benchmark?) according to my gospel”
Isn’t that something? This is written by inspiration. This is not an arrogant, egotistical Jew showing forth his own personality. This is a Jew called out of legalism and out of Judaism to become the Apostle of the Gentiles. To him was revealed this tremendous Gospel of truth. And so he says that “God will judge mankind according to my gospel.” Now turn to Romans 16 verse 25. Because all this points up what I am constantly trying to get across, that you will not find the Gospel of the Grace of God in the four gospels. It’s not back there. It couldn’t be because in the first place Christ hadn’t died yet. Except the closing chapter, but for the most part of Christ’s earthly ministry, he hasn’t died. He hasn’t been crucified, buried and resurrected. So that couldn’t be proclaimed as a Gospel. It had to be after the fact before it could become a veritable truth to be believed. Alright, so now here in Romans 16 verse 25 Paul makes almost the same kind of a statement.
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, (my Gospel, Do you see that? And what’s Paul’s Gospel? The preaching of Jesus Christ!) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, (or the secret) which was kept secret since the world (or the ages) began.”
Now that’s plain English! This isn’t some kind of gobbledy gook that you have to have an earned doctorate in order to understand it. It might help. But you sure don’t need it, because it is plain English. So Paul says “that his Gospel which is the preaching of Jesus Christ according to a revealing of something that had been kept secret since the ages began.” That’s why I said in the last lesson, when John wrote in his gospel that the law came by Moses but grace and truth by Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus finished what had to be done but it was not proclaimed as a salvation gospel until it became the Gospel of the grace of God committed unto the Apostle Paul. That reminds me of a verse, I probably should have used earlier. Acts Chapter 20 verse 24.
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify (or to proclaim) the gospel of ( of what?) the grace of God.”
This again has never been revealed until it came to the Apostle Paul. Now what is that? The Gospel of the Grace of God is that, because of God’s love for mankind, what did God do? Well, he came down and took on human flesh. He walked the dusty roads of the land of Israel as we now know it. And suffered at the hands of ungodly men. Went to the cross. Took upon himself the sins of the world. And rose from the dead. And then he didn’t say if you do this and if you do that then you can have all this appropriated to your account. No. It was handed out free for nothing to the whole human race. Now what is that? That’s grace! Nobody deserves it. And yet, the vilest sinner can appropriate it by faith and faith alone. That’s the Gospel of the Grace of God. It was committed unto the Apostle Paul. So, until Paul began to proclaim this Gospel, it was a secret, as he says in Romans 16, “hid in the mind of God until it was revealed to this apostle.”
Now let’s go to Galatians because again, I’m just going to hammer this home. That this Gospel, which is the truth, which is our salvation was committed first of all to this one man. And as we finish Thessalonians we will be going into the letters to Timothy and we are going to see that Paul is now ready to pass the baton as the racing element would use it. He’s going to pass the baton to those that were coming behind. Which would be Timothy and Titus. But as of his own ministry, it’s his Gospel.
Galatians Chapter 1. We’ve used these verses over the years many, many times. Starting in verse 11. Early on in the chapter he is admonishing us not to fall for an adulterated gospel.That anybody who falls for something that is not Paul’s Gospel is already condemned. They are accursed because God will not stand for his pure Gospel of Grace to be adulterated with legalism. Millions, billions are going to miss heaven because that’s what they are doing. They are religious. They are in church every Sunday. But, they have adulterated this Gospel of Grace by adding to it.
“But I certify you, brethren, (I guarantee it) that the gospel which was preached of me (his gospel) is not after man. (and why isn’t it?) 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (how did he get it?) but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
In other words, it was revealed to this man by the ascended, resurrected Lord of glory. And he didn’t go to the twelve in Jerusalem. He didn’t go check in with Peter, James and John. But when you get over to Chapter 2, the exact opposite is the truth. When he could show to Peter, James and John that he had revelations that they knew nothing of. Then they finally condescended and shook hands and agreed. As Peter says in his own epistle, “that because of the wisdom given unto him (Paul). This is where we have to go for the knowledge of salvation.”
Let’s stay a little farther in Chapter one of Galatians, where he comes down to verse 15:
“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,”
By his what? “by his grace.” Now you want to remember – the high priests of Israel, how did they attain their office? Well not by the Grace of God calling them in to it. But, they came into it by virtue of their being in the family line of the priest of Aaron.
But this man didn’t come into this role by inheritance. He didn’t come into it by having gone through and earned his degree, even though he sat at the feet of Gamaliel. But, the Lord just reached down and in unfathomable Grace, saved his arch enemy. I guess that’s the way I can put it. Saved his arch enemy, who hated the very name Jesus of Nazareth. And told him“from henceforth I will send you to the Gentiles.” Alright now, lets pick it up again. So he saved me by his Grace. For what purpose?
“To reveal his Son in me…”
In other words, so that Paul can get a full understanding. Not just of Jesus of Nazareth, but the Messiah. The Son of God, who had died. Taken upon himself the sins of the whole world and had been resurrected in power and glory.
“…that I might preach him (the resurrected Christ) among (what people?) the heathen,”
Who are the heathen in scripture? Gentiles! A complete departure from everything that’s gone before. And so to preach him among the Gentiles:
“…immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem…”
Well now Paul, of course, is ready to begin to proclaim his Gospel to the Gentile world. Come back with me to Ephesians to establish the fact that Paul’s Gospel is all sufficient, and nothing can be added to it. And we know there are a host of people trying to do that today.
In fact, we were just telling our guests that Monday morning is usually our busiest morning on the phone. You can imagine why. People are calling about what they heard on Sunday morning. And all we ask them is. Can you back it up with Scripture? No, that’s why I’m calling. I can’t find it in my Bible. Well, if what they are telling you, you can’t find it in your Bible, you’d better run. And you better run fast, because you are going to end up in deep trouble.
Now Ephesians Chapter 2. Verses I think that most kids have learned in Sunday School or in Catechism, or whatever. If they haven’t, they should have! I don’t use them as often as I should.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; (plus what? Nothing! There is nothing else there. You are saved by Grace through faith. Nothing added.) and that not of yourselves: (even if you tried to add something, you’d have to admit, the next part cancels that. You can’t be saved by faith plus something you do. Why?) it is the gift of God:”
For goodness sakes, you are all enough aware of the English language. Do you work for a gift? No! If you work five minutes for something somebody gave you, then it wouldn’t be a gift because you have already worked for part of it. And so, salvation has to be left purely a gift. For which we have labored none. But it doesn’t stop there. God doesn’t save us just to escape hell fire. I’ve said that as long as I have been teaching. Salvation is more than a fire escape. Salvation is that which prepares us for a life of service. That’s why God leaves us here. Otherwise, he would be better off to just get us out of here the minute we are saved. But, he leaves us here to serve him. Next verse, verse 10.
“Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10. For we are his workmanship…”
Now I think I have explained this when we were teaching the book of Ephesians. The Greek word is the same root word from which we get symphony or poem. The Greek word ispoema, if I’m not mistaken. And, it simply meant, something that was intricately put together so that it now becomes something beautiful. And that is what every believer is. God has not only saved us but he has put us together just like something beautiful. A beautiful poem or a beautiful piece of music. And again just to sit on the shelf? No, to be used.
What good would Beethoven’s music have been if he had just simply stuck it in a shelf some place and the world had never been able to enjoy it? It would have been good for nothing. But any good work of art or anything that we can enjoy would be worth nothing if it hadn’t been made available. Alright now, it’s the same way here. God has not only saved us, he has-
“…created (us) in Christ Jesus (now, our position as a believer. For what purpose?) unto good works,…”
Absolutely good works has a place. But not for salvation. It won’t count for anything as far as salvation. But, once we have been created in Christ Jesus unto good works:
“…which God hath before ordained…”
Now you know what that means? This is all part and parcel of God’s blue print. That the minute you and I heard the Gospel and believed it and He brought us into the Body of Christ. And He created within us a function in the Body. Now we are all different. We don’t all have the same function. You can’t all teach. I can’t be musical. I can’t do certain things that some of you can do. But, you all have something that God can use in his vineyard. The whole purpose of the Christian experience is that we reach out somehow to the world around us.
I’ve never met a believer yet that didn’t have an intrinsic ability that God can use. And don’t tell me that you haven’t got one, because I have met too many people to know better. Every believer has something that God has placed within us. Yes, I think supernaturally, so that we can be good works. That is the whole purpose.
“… that we should walk in them.”
Now that’s the whole substance then of Paul’s Gospel. That since Christ has done everything that needs to be done for our salvation. We appropriated that by faith. But, now we move on into a life of works. Come back to I Corinthians Chapter 3 starting at verse 9. It’s been a long time since we have talked about doing good works as believers. Look what Paul writes. Now, even though he’s writing to the Corinthians, he could just as well be writing to us, because he’s writing to a Gentile congregation.
I Corinthians 3:9a
“For we are labourers together with God:…”
See? That’s Who is your co-worker. God himself. We are co-laborers together with God. You can also be co-laborers with other believers. In fact, if someone writes me something encouraging. I will answer back that I am thrilled to have someone who is a co-laborer with me. And we all work together with God. That’s why we are here. Alright, he said…
I Corinthians 3:9b-10
“…ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 10. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I (See there is his egotism, people think. No. This is Holy Spirit inspired.) have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” In other words, with his works as a believer. Now verse 12.
I Corinthians 3:12
“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood hay stubble;” God has given us these materials to put into our, as I like to put it, section of the wall. It’s a building, with a foundation, remember? Which is Jesus Christ. Now these materials are gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble. All you have to do is look at that real sincerely and what do you see? The first three can never be damaged by fire. They are totally immune to fire and heat. But, the next three go up in a puff of smoke.
So, much of what a lot of believers are doing is just that; wood, hay and stubble. It won’t hold for reward but if we put into our works relationship with God those things that are of value and our attitude and our motive is right. Yes, we are going to earn rewards.
There is a reward system for the believer. We are not going to just all of a sudden go into glory and sit on a cloud and strum a harp. Some of us are going to have more reward than others. But, no one can ever say I can never earn a reward because I don’t have a gift that I can use. Everybody has one!