by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4 January 31, 2015 Humble, Texas (Download Audio)
(051)Thesis: There is a critical need to "believe" and "function" by biblical "traditions".
Introduction: As a contrast to those who have no use for the truth and take delight in obtaining their goals without regard for who gets hurt in the process, Paul addresses the "elect" Thessalonians in regard to their own status as the "beloved of the Lord". They were chosen from the beginning unto "salvation"; they were called "through Paul's Gospel" unto the acquisition of the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ; and they are now in the cross hairs of Satan's opposition.
Because they have become targets, with both the "objectives" (loves) and the "methods" (faith) as the primary elements of being targeted, they have a need: to remain convinced of the Truth. Thus, our study this evening is a consideration of Paul's exhortation.
I. The Elephant in the Room: Real Loss in Failure.
A. Many of Paul's letters have exhortations to "stand fast".
B. These exhortations are not made for no reason.
C. The exhortations all have a particular reality behind them: a lack of persistence results in very real consequences.
D. The contexts of each of the exhortations have their own impact upon how we are to understand the nature of the losses. The present text has three particulars of "context" in view.
1. After a period of testing regarding the Gospel and its truth, the Thessalonians were declared to be "the elect of God" (1 Thessalonians 1:4).
a) The straightforward implication of "failure" in this setting would be that the thing promised, but disbelieved by reason of "love" issues, would not be imparted.
b) Since it is the Gospel itself that is the issue, there can be no expectation of justification extended.
2. In the context of difficulties encountered after "election" is declared, there is a very clear declaration that God Himself takes on the issues of "sanctification" in view of His objectives and long-range plans (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
a) This is a "promise" to be believed.
b) Since promises that are not accepted by faith are not fulfilled for those who do not believe them, the issue of divine sanctification is on the table.
3. In our current context, the prelude to the exhortation to stand fast is both a prior choice from the beginning and a subsequent calling unto glory (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).
a) These two prior issues are part and parcel of "election".
b) Nonetheless, the exhortations are issued.
c) The straightforward implication is that there can be such a thing as "failure" and that such a "failure" would be costly to a significant degree.
II. The Exhortations.
A. The first summons is to "stand fast".
1. The verb used is not widely used in the New Testament, but its meaning is not unclear.
2. The meaning is "to take a stance that withstands efforts to force movement".
3. The question is this: upon what is one taking his/her stand and what are the forces of dissuasion?
B. To answer that question, we have the second summons.
1. The second summons is to "hold".
2. The verb means "to take a very firm grip with the intention of not letting the thing gripped get away".
3. The focus of the verb is translated "the traditions".
a. The word means "the particulars that extend outward from the core".
b. What Paul is addressing is the necessary issue of further explanation to general statements that have too many areas of application for easy understanding.
1) The Ten Commandments are "traditions" in respect to Paul's declaration in Galatians 5:14 regarding "Love".
2) In the same way, the 600-plus commandments following the giving of the Ten Commandments are "traditions" in respect to the Ten.
3) And, in a very real sense, the entire Bible is a "tradition" in respect to the most fundamental aspect of the Creator/creature relational reality. "Love" is the bottom line and all else is explanation ("tradition").
c. What this means is significant.
1) Since the bottom line has a significant level of complexity, each area of complexity becomes an area wherein one can "stand fast" and "hold firm to", or not.
2) Each detail of the complexity brings its own reward for success and its own penalty for failure.
3) No one is this life gets "all" of it "right" without losing one's grip; everyone has certain areas of success and certain areas of failurewith the attendant gains and losses.
d. In our context, at least one of the issues involved is the question of the relationship of the Rapture to the Dark Period of the Day of the Lord.
1) There are several "givens" to those who embrace the truth of this issue.
2) There are also several "givens" to those who do not hold fast to this truth.