Sermon 2363. Comfort and Constancy
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY JUNE 3, 1894.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, MARCH 15, 1888.
"Now our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolationand good hope through Grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good Word and work." 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17.
THE Thessalonians had been a good deal confused by certain persons who had said that the coming of the Lord was immediatelyat hand. Paul, therefore, bade them to be steadfast and not be worried and perplexed by any such teaching. And then he presentedthis prayer to God for them, that they might have these two things, comfort and constancy-that God would comfort their heartsand establish them-"in every good Word and work." It is a very blessed and comprehensive prayer and, while we are thinkingof it, let us be praying it for ourselves and for one another, that the Lord may comfort our hearts and establish us "in everygood Word and work."
I. The first enquiry to be answered is this, WHY IS THERE THE CONJUNCTION OF THESE TWO THINGS IN THIS REMARKABLE PRAYER? Whyis it put thus, "Our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and God, even our Father... comfort your hearts and establish you in everygood Word and work"?
I answer, first, the two things, comfort and constancy, are put together because comfort by itself is not enough. We do notdesire, first and above all things, that Christians should have comfort. It is a very great privilege to be comforted, especiallyby the Comforter, for such comfort is sound, safe and holy, but, at the same time, they err who think that the first and chiefreason for knowing God is that you may feel comforted and happy! I fear that there are many who are under that notion. Theyexpect every sermon to comfort them-otherwise they think it is a wasted opportunity. Even when they are alone in prayer, theirchief thought is that they need to be comforted by their own devotion. But, sometimes, rebuke is better than comfort, andspiritual quickening and especially true sanctification, are more greatly to be valued than any measure of comfort whatever!If we were to confine ourselves to prayer for the Lord only to comfort His people, we would have a very imperfect form ofintercession. No, it needs that we should not only be comforted by our religion, but that we should be led by it into holyactivity so as to abound in every good Word and work, and be established therein.
I give another answer to the question, Why is there this conjunction between comfort and constancy? Because establishmentin every good Word and work is not enough if it is alone. We need to be comforted as well as to serve the Lord. Our God isnot like Pharaoh who would not give to the children of Israel even a day in which they might have rest and worship God. Pharaohsaid, "Why do you, Moses and Aaron, let (or hinder) the people from their works? Get you unto your burdens." But God doesnot speak so to us. The service which His children render to Him is quite compatible with rest. We are like certain birdsthat are said to rest on the wing-we never have a better rest than when every faculty is occupied in the service of our Lord!
But work by itself, establishment in every good Word and work, alone, might tend to weariness. We might be jaded if God didnot minister Divine consolation to us while we served Him. Moreover, I am sure that we would never do the work well if Goddid not comfort us, for unhappy workers, those who do not love their work and are not at home in it, those who feel no comfortof religion, themselves, are generally very poor and unsuccessful workers. The second blessing mentioned in our text is certainlya very necessary one, this establishing in every good Word and work, but you also need the first one, that God may, "comfortyour hearts." When you get the two together-when you are up to your necks in
holy service and up to your hearts in Divine comfort-then these two things cause you not to be barren or unfruitful and, atthe same time, they help you not to be weary in well-doing. You are made to be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding inthe work of the Lord," because you are comforted with the belief that, "your labor is not in vain in the Lord." I see thosetwo reasons for the conjunction of comfort and constancy in the text. First, because comfort, alone, is not sufficient and,secondly, because constancy without comfort will not suffice us.
And next, dear Friends, it is because the comfort of the heart aids in the establishment of the soul in service. They areput together because the one helps the other. May the Lord "comfort your hearts and establish you in every good Word and work!"He that is happy in the Lord will persevere in the service of the Lord. He that derives real support and comfort from hisreligion is the man who will not backslide from it. I notice that it is usually thus with those who decline- they first ofall lose the comfort and joy of religion-they have not the brightness and delight that they once had in the things of God.And then, of course, they drop, first, this particular service, and then the other-they begin to absent themselves from themeans of Grace, Prayer Meetings and so forth, because they miss what is so material a stay to the establishment of their minds,that is, the comfort, joy and peace that true religion used to bring them.
Whenever you are not happy in the Lord, I urge you not to rest until you become so. It is no small evil to get out of thesunlight of God's Countenance. A dear child will not say, "If my father is angry with me, it does not matter; he will notkill me; I shall always be his child." No, just in proportion as he enjoys his father's love, it will be painful to him tocome in the least degree under his father's displeasure and he will cry out to be fully restored and to have, again, fromthose dear lips the kiss of forgiveness that will put away all his offenses. So, dear Friends, believe that your lack of comfortis an evil thing which may lead to your loss of industry and perseverance in the cause of your Lord. If your heart is notcomforted by God, you are not likely to be "established in every good Word and work."
Now let me turn the text around the other way. I think that these two things are put together because establishment in Wordand work is so necessary for our comfort. I said we must be comforted that we might be constant in the service of God. NowI put it that we must be constant in the service of God that we may be comforted! God does not give His dainties to idlers.He has choice secrets into which He does not admit everybody, nor even all of His own family. When we are diligent in Hisservice and all our powers are fully consecrated to Him, then He gives us gracious rewards-not of debt, but according to thediscipline of His own house, wherein He honors the faithful and chastises those who are negligent.
Now, Beloved, you will miss your comfort when you begin to neglect your work. I know how it used to be with the boys at home.In cold weather they huddled round the fire-almost sat on the fire! It was so cold that they could not tell how they wouldlive through the bitter winter. But when Father came in, he said, "Now, you boys, set to work and clear away that snow. Don'tsit here idle, go and do something!" And they came in with ruddy cheeks and, somehow or other, the temperature seemed to havealtered considerably, for they were quite warm from their exercise. I think the best thing that could happen to some men wouldbe that they might have something to do. I do not find much about depression of spirit in the journals of Mr. Wesley or Mr.Whitefield and men of that sort who spent themselves in the Lord's service.
The fact is, the Lord seemed to carry them on from one work to another and from strength to strength in their ser-vice-andthey were comforted as to their hearts because they were established in every good Word and work. These things act and react,one upon another-the comfort makes us work-the work brings to us a fresh measure of comfort! See how even the Savior putsit. He says, "Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." That is the first rest, pardonof sin. What next? "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest untoyour souls." That is another rest over and above what Jesus gives. "Through bearing My yoke, you shall find in My servicerest unto your souls." God grant us Grace to seek that rest which we are to find, now that we have received the rest whichJesus gives to those who come to Him!
I have not yet fully answered this question-Why is there the conjunction of these two things, comfort and constancy? I thinkit is because the two blended together serve a very useful purpose. We are in this world to bear witness and by our bearingwitness we are to bring others to faith in Christ through the operation of the Holy Spirit. Now, there are some people whoare only to be won for Christ by the holy confidence and comfort of Believers. I am sure that if a Christian woman, in thetime of affliction at home, is calm, patient, resigned and happy, she is more likely to see her husband converted by the comfortthat religion brings to her own heart than by taking him to hear a sermon. By her Christian character she will preach to himand supply him with evidence of the power of Grace which he will not be able to deny.
I have known persons, in a storm at sea, exercise great influence over all in the vessel by the way in which they have beenable to live above the storm, resting patiently in God. And in times of personal sickness, what a wonderful influence thereis about holy patience! Some members of the family, who never have been moved by the external services of religion, have beendeeply impressed by the patience of great sufferers-and especially by the serenity of dying saints. They have said to themselves,"There is something in this religion, after all. There is no mistake about it-the Grace which could support and calm the heartat such a time as this must be the gift of God." Now, if this were accompanied by idleness, it would lose much or all of itsforce, but when this holy calm comes over one who, in days of health, was full of active service for the Master, then thetwo things, together, become powerful arguments which gainsayers are not able to resist! Seek to have this blessed blending,this comfort, like a light that burns within the lamp, and then this establishment in Word and work, like the rays of lightthat stream from the lantern at the head of the lighthouse, that all may see, both far and near.
And I should like to give one other answer to this query, which is this. Paul in his prayer puts the two things together,because there is great need for both. There is great need to pray that our Father would comfort the hearts of His people,for there is trouble enough in the land! There is trouble enough in every house-there is trouble enough for each one of us-weneed you to often pray for us, that God would comfort our hearts. It may be that we have to play the man in public and yet,when we get away by ourselves, our heart is very heavy and we have to cry mightily to God for supporting Grace. Some of thestrongest of God's servants, those who carry a smiling countenance, who, if they fast, anoint their head and wash their face,that they appear not unto men to fast, yet have need to pray very earnestly to the Comforter that He would come and sustaintheir spirit.
And there is equal need that we should have Grace given us to be constant and instant in every good Word and work, for thereis a tendency in us to think that we have done enough. The feeling creeps over men of a certain age that it is time for theyoung people to do the Lord's work. One says, "I am now at such an age that as much cannot be expected of me as used to be."Oh, yes, if you have much serving, Martha is not the only woman that gets cumbered with it, and being cumbered is not confinedto women! Oh, how many there are who are not women, who are cumbered as much as Martha was! We need to have the Mary-spiritto keep the heart bright and cheerful, or else we shall quarrel with our work, or with our sister, or possibly with our Master,as we say to Him, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?" We need both comfort and constancy and,therefore, I commend to you this piece of heavenly plaiting-let the two things be twisted together in your life! May the Lord"comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good Word and work"!
II. As I look at my text, a second question comes to my mind. WHY DOES THE APOSTLE SO SPECIALLY ADDRESS THIS PRAYER? Noticeto whom he addresses it-"Now our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and God, even our Father... comfort your hearts, and establishyou in every good Word and work." Why is this?
It seems to me that in the first place, in this prayer the whole Trinity is supplicated. When the Apostle is desiring comfortto be given, he does not mention the Comforter, for that is needless. It would occur to every Christian mind that the HolySpirit was necessary, since in comforting and quickening He is only exercising His special office. But the Apostle does mention,"Our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and God, even our Father," so that, to the mind of the thoughtful reader, the prayer forcomfort and establishment is directed to the ever-blessed Three-in-One. Oh, that we more often remembered the distinctionof the Divine Persons without dividing the Divine Substance! It becomes instructed Believers to remember that one blessingcomes from the Father, another blessing from the Son and a third blessing through the Holy Spirit. There are times when itwould seem as if the one blessing must come through the three Divine Persons, that there must be a manifestation of the wholeTrinity to produce the result. I cannot help noticing that Truth of God and reminding you how the Savior is especially placed,here, side by side with, "God, even our Father," that we may see that equal reverence is to be paid to Him with the Father,and equal prayer to be offered to Him with that presented to the great Father of spirits.
But then, I think next, that mention is here made of, "Our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself because, as the prayer is for consolation,He is "the Consolation of Israel." The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, but Christ, Himself, is the Comfort- the Holy Spiritgives the consolation, but Jesus Christ is the Consolation. Beloved, we are never so comforted as when we turn to our blessedLord, Himself! His Humanity, His sympathy with us, His griefs, His bearing our infirmities, His put-
ting away of our sins, His pleading for us at the right hand of God, His everlasting union with His people-all this makesus turn our eyes to Him! He is the Sun that makes our day. From Him flows that "river of the Water of Life" which quenchesour thirst. So you see why the "Lord Jesus Christ, Himself," is mentioned in this prayer for comfort, since He is the everyessence of the Believer's consolation!
But then we are reminded of "God, even our Father," and is not this expression brought to our mind that we may derive comfortfrom the relation which God bears to His people? O you children of God, does not the recollection that He is your Father comfortyou? Children of the heavenly King, is not the fact of your relationship to Him a well of unceasing consolation? What moredo you require to lift your spirits out of the dust than to know that this manner of love has been bestowed upon you, thatyou should be called the children of God! "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ"? I believethat if the Holy Spirit only lays home to the heart the fact of our new birth and our adoption into the family of God, wehave enough comfort to make us swim through seas of trouble without fear! And also enough motive for the most constant, diligentservice, when we know that it is for our Father who is in Heaven that we are spending the strength that He, Himself, givesus! Do you not see, therefore, why the Apostle thus addresses His prayer to "God, even our Father," and to "our Lord JesusChrist, Himself"?
And is not this another reason why Paul thus prayed, because he would remind us that it requires the direct action of theGodhead upon our hearts to produce comfort and constancy? This is especially evident at certain times. Very frequently, whenI have to comfort mourners-cases where, perhaps, a young husband has been taken away, leaving a large family of little childrenunprovided for-or, perhaps, where two persons who have been together for many years, till their lives have grown into oneand, all of a sudden, the wife or the husband has been taken away, I have said and I cannot help saying it often, "My dearFriend, I cannot comfort you as I should like to. I have never been exactly in your circumstances and, therefore, I cannotenter into your peculiar grief. But I would remind you that one Person of the Divine Trinity has undertaken the office ofComforter and He can do what nobody else can."
You must, sometimes, have felt the power of a single text of Scripture laid upon a wound in your heart-it will staunch thebleeding and heal by a sort of heavenly magic! Have you not, at times, felt in a flutter of distress so that you could notrest? Christian friends have spoken kindly to you, but they only seemed to mock you. Then, in a moment, a soft, calming influencehas stolen over your spirit and you have felt that you could bear 10 times the weight which had almost crushed you an hourbefore! God can comfort to purpose-therefore the Apostle did not say-"I hope you will enjoy the comfort I have given you,or that, perhaps, your minister, next Lord's-Day may give you." No, this was his prayer at this particular juncture-"Now ourLord Jesus Christ, Himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and goodhope through Grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good Word and work." It is grand in your prayers to fallback upon your God and upon a God whom you know as your Lord Jesus Christ, and your Father, and to feel, "The case is beyondme, but it is not beyond my God! The trial overwhelms me even in my sympathy with the tried one, how much more does it overwhelmthe actual bearer of it? But I put you and your sorrow into hands quite equal to the emergency and leave you there."
There is much more to be learned than I can tell you, because time fails me, as to how it was that the Apostle presented thisremarkable prayer in this remarkable manner.
III. The third point, with which I close, is this. WHAT DOES PAUL MENTION IN HIS PRAYER AS PLEAS? He
mentioned several facts for the strengthening of the faith of those for whom he prayed and gave arguments which they shoulduse while pleading with God for others. Let us speak of these arguments very briefly. There are six of them.
First, Paul says that Jesus is ours. He is asking for comfort and establishment and he begins his prayer, "Now, our Lord JesusChrist, Himself." Do, if you can, get the sweetness of this expression, "Our Lord Jesus Christ." Why did not Paul say, "TheLord Jesus Christ"? Why did he not say, "My Lord Jesus Christ"? No, here is a plural possessive pronoun-"Our Lord Jesus Christ."Is it so, then, that God has given us the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, to be ours? Can we not only call His blood ours, andHis Resurrection ours, and His Kingdom ours, but is He, Himself, ours? Oh, can we get a grip of Him as, "My Beloved"? Is Hemy Husband, my Covenant Head, my Jesus and my All? Come, then, Beloved-I was going to say that you hardly need pray for comfortbecause you have it, already-you have it in Jesus!
Here is a solid mass of the pure gold of comfort in the fact that Jesus Christ, Himself, is yours. You are Christ's, but Christis also yours! As the husband belongs to the wife, and the wife belongs to the husband, so there is a mutual posses-
sion between Christ and you who are believers in Him. Are you poor? What? And yet Christ is yours? Do you say that you arehelpless and friendless? How is that when you can say, "Our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself"? No, here is a well opened in thedesert for you-come and say to it-"Spring up, O well!" Sing unto it, drink of its Living Water and fill your earthen vesselsto the fullest! There is comfort enough for all saints in "Our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself."
The second plea in Paul's prayer is that God is our Father-"Now our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and God, even our Father."I have already shown you what a mine and mountain of delightful consolation lies in the fact that the God who made the heavensand the earth, the Omnipotent and Unchangeable Jehovah is "our Father." Do not think that this is a mere metaphor-that Godis only set forth to us under the image of a father. There is no doubt that He is our Father- it is a matter of fact if weare trusting His Son. "Doubtless You are our Father, though Abraham is ignorant of us and Israel acknowledge us not: You,O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer; Your name is from everlasting." We have been begotten again by God-our new birth isfrom His power and His Divine energy! We belong to His family and shall never be cast out of it. Dear Friends, what a pleathis is in prayer! "My Father, will You not comfort my heart? My Father, will You let Your child despond? My Father, willYou not relieve me in the hour of my distress? Jesus Christ, my Lord Jesus Christ, do this for me, and great God, my Father,fail not to cheer my heart!"
Then the Apostle goes on to remind us that God has loved us. Kindly look at the text and remember it-"God, even our Father,which has loved us." You do not expect me to preach from those words, do you? "Which has loved us." I cannot comprehend thisTruth! I can very well understand God pitying us, as we pity a beggar in the streets-but God's loving us always deprives meof the power to explain it! There was nothing in us to love! There was everything in us loathsome and nothing lovable, yetthe Lord loved us before the world began! He has loved us without bound, so as to give His only-begotten Son to die for us!Is not that a powerful plea in prayer? "Lord, comfort my heart, establish me in every good Word and work, for You have lovedme, therefore continue to love me. If You have given me Your love, surely You will not deny me the comforts of Your face andthe consolations of Your Word."
Then Paul adds, "Who has loved us, and has given us." God has given us much and all His past gifts are pleas for more gifts.Men do not plead so. The beggar in the street cannot say, "Give me a penny, today, because you gave me one yesterday," elsewe might reply, "That is the reason why I will not give you anymore!" But when dealing with God, this is a good plea. "O flowingFountain, You have long been flowing, Flow on still! O blessed Sun, You did shine yesterday, shine today!" God loves us tomake His past mercies arguments for obtaining future blessings, so the Apostle says, "God, even our Father, which has lovedus, and has given us."
But what has God given us? God has given us "everlasting consolation." Catch at that expression, for it reminds us of everlastinglove, the Everlasting Covenant, the everlasting promises, everlasting redemption and the everlasting Heaven. Men, nowadays,clip this word, "everlasting," round the edges. We do not-we take it as we find it. That which is everlasting lasts forever-youcan be assured of that! And God has given us consolation which will last us in life and last us in death-and last us throughouteternity! Well, if He has given us "everlasting consolation," we may well plead that He would graciously enable us to layhold upon it, that our hearts may be comforted and cheered and that we may be established in every good Word and work!
There is only one more expression upon which I will say a sentence or so. God has given us "good hope through Grace." It isof Grace and, therefore, it is a gift! And He has given it to us through the operation of His Grace upon our hearts. It isa hope, a good hope, a "good hope through Grace." We have a good hope that God's love will never fail us and that, when lifedies out on earth, we shall enter into His rest forever and behold His face with joy. We have a good hope that when days andyears are past, we shall meet in Heaven! We have a good hope of dwelling throughout eternity with our God-"forever with theLord." O Father, after You have done so much for us and given so much to us, it is but little we ask of You, now, when wepray You to comfort our hearts and to establish us in every good Word and work!
I cannot understand what those do who have no God. I cannot comprehend the condition of those who have no "good hope throughGrace." What can they do? They have to work very hard from Monday morning to Saturday night. On Sunday they have no day ofrest, no thought of a world to come, no rising to a purer atmosphere. They lie in bed, perhaps, in the morning, and then getup and lounge about in their shirtsleeves. There is nothing for them to get but what is found beneath the moon and very littleof that. It is better to be a dog than a man if there is no hope of a hereaf-
ter! It is better not to live at all than to live such a dead, good-for-nothing life as that man lives who lives without Godand without hope!
Surely, you who are without God and without Christ, have your sinking, your mourning, your dull times, have you not? Whatdo you do, then? Perhaps you try to drug yourself with strong drink. Alas, some do that and this is mischievous, indeed-totry to poison conscience and silence the best friend you have within you! Do not so, but think about God, and about "our LordJesus Christ." This way lies hope, where stands that Cross, and He pleads, who received, there, those five wounds for sinners!This way lies your only hope! Oh, that you would think of it and consider it! If God Himself comes down from Heaven to savemen, it must be worthwhile for man to look and understand what God did for him in that wondrous Sacrifice. Look, for-
"There is life for a look at the Crucified One"-
look now, for-
"There is life at this moment for you." Especially is there life for you who came in here troubled, downcast, almost wishingyou were not alive at all, but fearing that when life came to an end, it might be worse for you than ever, for you have "thedread of something after death." Oh, that you were reconciled to God through the death of Jesus Christ! That being done, Hewould comfort your hearts and you would be led into every good Word and work through gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ, ourSavior, and His Grace would save you and preserve you to the end! May this be the very moment when you shall seek and findthe Lord!" "If you seek Him, He will be found of you." God grant it, for His dear son's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 2 Thessalonians 2; 3:1-5.
2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that you benot soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the Day of Christis at hand. Paul believed in the Second Coming of Christ, for he beseeches the Brothers and Sisters, "by the coming of ourLord Jesus Christ." He felt the power of this great Truth. He often exhorts us to be watchful because of the uncertainty ofthe time of that coming as far as we are concerned. But there were some who sprang up in his day, as in ours, who professedthat they knew a great deal about the Second Advent-when it was to happen, and so on-and they began to foretell and to prophesybeyond what was really revealed of God. By this means, some persons were terrified and others driven to a very foolish courseof action. It would seem, from this Epistle, that some people forsook their daily calling and, on pretence of the near returnof Christ, endeavored to live upon the alms of Christian people instead of themselves working. Many, however, were shakenin mind, so Paul wrote to reassure and strengthen them-"That you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit,nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the Day of Christ is at hand."
3, 4. Let no man deceive you, by any means: for that Day shall not come, except there comes a falling away, first, and thatman of sin is revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped;so that he, as God, sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. It has been usually thought that this passagealludes to the great apostasy of the Church of Rome and, certainly, if there were a hue and cry raised for the culprit heredescribed, one might well arrest that apostasy upon suspicion! It may not, however, be the man of sin, or the son of perdition-itmay be that general spirit which springs up again and again, one of the many anti-Christs that were already in the world evenin John's day. There are many such spirits that are constantly rising up, not outside the Church-there, we could deal withthem-but inside the Church, using the Words of Truth, and the signs of Truth to signify something far other than the Truthof God! This is the great rook that threatens destruction! Oh, that God's Church might always be kept from striking upon it!But there is this rook which would, if it were possible, wreck the very elect ship of Christ, itself!
5-7. Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholds that he mightbe revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only He who now lets will let, until He is taken
out of the way. There was something that hindered the full development of anti-Christ in Paul's day. When that is taken outof the way, then will there be a fuller revelation of this sinful system.
8-12. And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroywith the brightness of His coming. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lyingwonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, in them that perish, because they received not the love of the Truth,that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that theyall might be damned who believed not the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. We will not attempt to explain all thisin detail. It would be too much of a task for a mere exposition, but the Church has always to be on her guard against thatwhich comes as an angel of light, but is really a spirit of darkness.
13. But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God has, from the beginning,chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth. How the saints praise one another! Howsweet is Christian fellowship! How we rejoice in the blessed love of God to His people when we are assailed by those who battleagainst His Truth! Then is the love of the Brethren stronger than ever and our faithfulness to God is largely increased. TheApostle falls back upon the doctrine of electing love-"God has, from the beginning, chosen you to salvation." And he admiresthe methods by which that love effects its purpose-"Salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth."Men are made holy by the Spirit of God-the holiness is that of life and of the understanding. They attain to a belief of theTruth of God, as well as to a practice of the Divine Commands. Oh, happy people who are ordained, from the beginning, untosalvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth!
14. To which He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. How the Apostle loved theGospel! It was Christ's Gospel, but Paul calls it, "Our Gospel." He and his Brethren had made it so completely their own andit had become so much their own in contradistinction to "another gospel, which is not another," that he speaks of it withunction and joy! "He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
15. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our Epistle. "Thethings which we have handed out to you, which you have been taught, whether by word, or our Epistle." They had heard Paulpreach. He had not only written to them, but he had also spoken to them. And he bade them treasure up what he had said andwhat he had written, and hold it fast as for dear life. The Apostle did not preach that which he, afterwards, left, as theostrich leaves its eggs, but he watched over it and he watched over the people who had heard it, anxious that the Truth ofGod to which they had listened should prove in them to be the message of everlasting life! Oh, my dear Hearers, are therenot still some of you who have heard our Gospel, to whom we have often and long spoken and yet, notwithstanding, it has notyet been the message of eternal life to you though it has been to many others? God have mercy upon you and yet bring you tothe feet of Jesus! As for others who come to listen to the Word for the first time- may it be the power of God unto salvationon the very first occasion of their hearing it, to the praise of God and the Glory of His Son!
16. 17. Now our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolationand good hope through Grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good Word and work. I believe in an establishedChurch-not established by acts of Parliament-but established by the purpose and by the Presence of God in the midst of it.Oh, to be a member of a Church established in every good Word and work! Do you know God's Word? Seek to know it better, still!Try to strike your roots down deeply into this fruitful soil! Suck out the Divine nutriment of it, that you may grow so strongthat none shall be able to tear you away from it!
Have you begun to work for Jesus? May you be established in that good work! Go on working more and more, with both your handsand all your heart, that somehow you may glorify His blessed name! Let me read these sweet verses again-"Now our Lord JesusChrist, Himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope throughGrace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good Word and work."
2 Thessalonians 3:1. Finally, brethren, pray for us. "Pray for us," says the Apostle. "Pray for myself and the Brothers who are with me. Prayfor all the Apostles and preachers of the Word." "Finally, Brethren." If this were the last word we had to say to you, wewould make just this request, "Finally, Brothers and Sisters, pray for us." You cannot tell how much God's servants are helpedby the prayers of His people! The strongest man in Israel will be the better for the
prayers of the weakest saint in Zion! If you can do nothing else, you can pray for us-therefore, day and night, be at theMercy Seat on our behalf. "Finally, Brethren, pray for us."
1. That the Word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you. "You Thessalonians enjoy thepower of the Word. Pray that it may be so everywhere else." Paul is said to have written this Epistle from Corinth or Athens,and he longed that, there, the Word of God might prevail as it had done at Thessalonica. Pray just now that in every partof the world, God's Word may have free course! There are many who stand in the way of it. Pray God that they may be sweptout of the way, that the Word of the Lord may have free course. We need the Gospel to run and spread till the whole earthshall know its blessed message!
2. And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. All men are not candid, or true."All men have not faith."
3. But the Lord is faithful. What a wonderful contrast this is and how suggestive of comfort! "All men have not faith. Butthe Lord is full of faith, faith-ful." True, He keeps all His promises. "The Lord is faithful."
3-5. Who shall establish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that you both do andwill do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts. You see, Paul does not command the Thessaloniansto do anything but what he can pray God to work in them. The command of a man, by itself, is nothing, but when he only asksthat to be done which he can pray God to do, then there is power about his message! "We have confidence in the Lord touchingyou, that you both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts."
5. Into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. May the Lord hear that prayer for all of us, for ChristJesus' sake! Amen.