Keeping the Church Faithful

Keeping the Church Faithful

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Date: 09/29/2012  Lesson: 13
"Even with all the grand and glorious promises for the future, we have to deal with daily challenges and struggles in the church. The Thessalonian church was no exception."
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church in Sacramento, California in the United States of America. We are so glad that you have joined us to study God's Word together faithfully as you do every week - whether you're live on the internet streaming today, whether you are listening on the radio, on television, on video - however you're joining us - welcome. And I know that you will be truly blessed by singing with us and sharing prayer and study together as we get to know Jesus better and look for him and his soon coming. Our first song that we are going to sing is hymn #306 - 'draw me nearer'. This comes as a request from a whole bunch of you so here we go: anna marie in Arizona, stuart and rodney in australia, birdie, ralph, veronica, angel, and jasmine in the bahamas, abelino, ismenia, and the tamay family in belize, ismenia in brazil, dorothy in California, betty in Colorado, steen in denmark, juna in dominica, Paul in england, gonzales in florida, hezron in india, dave in Indiana, marion in the netherlands, tyrese in new jersey, the noel family, bhaskar and joyann in New York, jenny, jared, jamie, sandie and vern in North Carolina, vicky in papau, new guinea, robencio, earl, joatham and jeif in the Philippines, dante in qatar, shawnelle in saint vincent and the grenadines, willington in the Solomon islands, edgar in south africa, John in Texas, susan, joeper, and eugene in thailand, lynnie in vanuatu - I always have problems with that one, sorry - jovy in Washington, william in Wisconsin and maila and jacqueline in zambia.

So from all over the world we are singing together this morning in our hymnals hymn #306 - 'draw me nearer' - and we will sing all three verses. I am so grateful that we have a Savior that draws us nearer because on our own we really don't have a propensity to draw close to him. We don't even want to in our sinful nature, but he came down, he gave himself for us, and he is continually drawing us nearer and nearer to him so that we are recreated in him to be like him and to live with him in glory forever. Praise the Lord. If you have a hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming presentation, it's very simple.

You go to our website at saccentral.org, you click on the 'contact us' link and there you can request any hymn in our hymnal and we will sing that with you on a coming presentation - even the new ones. Our new song this week - as you know, we are going through the hymnal and learning all the new songs - hymn #24 - it's another one that got lost out of the Christmas section and is somewhere else in the hymnal and - but we think it's really beautiful and we're going to sing it at Christmas time also. Hymn #24 comes as a request from rolly in California, gerry in New York, susan in new zealand, and olivia in Washington. So we will sing all three verses of hymn #24 - 'every star shall sing a carol' Another beautiful song. Let's pray.

Our Father in Heaven, you have so many names. We call you Savior, creator, Lord, and most of all we call you our redeemer and our friend because you said you are not ashamed to call us your friends. And so we take that promise today as we open up Your Word that we are your friends just coming to learn more about you and your great love for us and your redeeming and transforming power in each of our lives. Please be with Pastor Doug as he brings us your message and Lord, as we are finished with our study today, may each of us go from this place better equipped to serve you and to bring about your soon coming and in a closer walk with you. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen.

Our lesson study today will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor. Pastor Doug is the senior pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you very much jo and our singers, musicians. I appreciate that. I'm enjoying learning some of the new songs from week to week.

Theoretically, every song you sing now was at one time a new song. First time - so you've got to - the Bible says, 'sing a new song unto the Lord,' right? I want to welcome our class that is not only here at Sacramento central, and welcome any visitors that may be here today, but I also want to welcome those who are part of the extended class that are watching with us. It's always encouraging when we hear The Song requests coming in from all over the planet and it's fun as we travel and we meet the different people that are part of that extended class. And even some of you who are part of the Sacramento central family here who are part of our online membership and we welcome you as well. Today we're going to be finishing up our lesson dealing with 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

We're in our last study - lesson #13 and that probably helps you realize that next week we're beginning a new lesson. I'm glad I'll be here to help teach that - 'growing in Christ' - and, matter of fact, our first study next week is dealing with the Great Controversy - the foundation. I'm looking forward to that. And so, you can actually study these online. They have the lessons online.

There's a couple of different websites - Sabbathschool.net and the church has an official site. Or you can ask your local neighborhood seventh day adventist church and I bet they'll share one with you. We have a free offer that goes along with our study today and it's a book by Joe Crews called, 'satan's confusing counterfeits' - 'satan's confusing counterfeits' - talks in the lesson about those who have - are not following the truths and who are corrupting the Gospel and so this we thought would be relevant. It's free - all you have to do is call and ask for this and the number is 866-study-more, -788-3966 - Ask for offer #191. We'll send it to you just for asking.

With that, are you ready to get into our last study? Now, if you have your Bibles, turn with me please to the book of 2 Thessalonians - Thessalonians chapter 2 and we're going to start with verse 13. This book is shorter than Thessalonians and it covers a pretty broad spectrum of points and principles. Thessalonians chapter 2, verse - tell you what I'm going to do, I'll read through to the end of chapter 2, we'll comment, and then we'll go to chapter 3 and we'll read through that and then we'll back up and we'll comment, all right? Oh, wait a second, I forgot the memory verse. We're going to do that together. The memory verse is Thessalonians 2, verse 15, Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 15 and in my notes I've got it coming from the new king James version.

Are you ready? Say this one with me. "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle." Telling us 'stand fast'. We'll get into that in just a minute. All right, let me read verses 13 through 15 and, again, for any who are wondering, typically when I do evangelistic meetings I use the King James version. When I'm preaching I use the new king James version.

It sometimes causes a little trouble for me because I have memorized mostly from the King James version. For years and years I listened to alexander scourby read the king James version on audio and so sometimes when I change from anything that's either the King James or new king James, it just doesn't sound right to me even though it may be accurate - just because you've memorized it a certain way. All right, here we go, verse 13 - 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 13, "but we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which he called you by our Gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and our God and father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

" All right, now backing up let's take some of those thoughts and explore them a little bit. First section in your lesson is talking about 'faithful by God's choice'. And I think it's especially dealing with the verse we just read that said, "God, who from the beginning" - and this is verse 13 - "chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth." 'God chose you.' Now, how many of you have heard discussions about predestination? Predestination - I'll tell you, there are very few theological issues that have caused more debate than the idea of predestination. And even within denominations like our baptist friends, you've got the calvinistic breed that - of baptists - and then you've got free will baptists - they believe like baptists in every respect but they believe more like arminians, or methodists in the idea that we have a choice and this has caused a lot of confusion. Some who read the passages in the Bible about 'you were chosen' - 'you were elected' - 'you were predestined' - they take that to mean that God is - and I'm simplifying things so forgive me - that God is looking down on this planet and he did it a long time ago and he says, 'you know, for the purpose of showing who I am, I am going to pre-select some who will be saved.

They don't really have a choice, I'm choosing them and I'm up here doing the 'eenie, meenie, miney, moe' and I'm going to say, 'I'll save you and I'm not going to save you and you're chosen to be a vessel of salvation and you are chosen to be a vessel of wrath and I have loved Jacob and I hated esau and I just arbitrarily decided that I'm going to save some and the others, well, I'm going to make an example of them.' And there's a lot of theological problems with that. Now, on one side we understand that God is all-powerful - he can do whatever he wants. Do we all agree with that? But because he's also a God of love and justice, for him to eternally punish - and you realize the lost are eternally punished in that they are eternally lost, right? It doesn't mean they burn forever but the punishment's eternal. For him to eternally punish creatures that really had no choice - you have to ask about the justice in that. But if he gives everybody evidence of his love and he gives everybody a choice, then his judgment is based upon, 'what did you do?' Every man is rewarded according to his works.

If we have no choice in what our works are, then how can he judge us fairly? Do you understand the problems? It almost makes God sound like he is an accomplice in our sin if he pre-chooses you are going to be a sinner and you are going to be saved. So it's a very dangerous - I think - idea. Then on the other side is the idea that we have free choice - that I alone am responsible for my destiny. Now, the problem with that is it makes it sound like you are saving yourself. So you've got these two extremes and I think you can take either one too far.

I do believe that we have a choice. It's pretty clear to me where it says, 'God is not willing that any should perish.' Right? If the Lord is not willing that any should perish and if many do perish, it's not because it's his will, it's because it's their will. They're making a choice. Does that make sense? That's why Joshua says, 'choose ye this day who you will serve.' God who would have all men to be saved. He would have all men to be saved, right? The Bible ends by saying, 'whosoever will, let him take the water of life.

' And even in John 3:16 - so God wants everyone to be saved. You do have a choice but don't take too much credit for that choice because God, through his providence and his spirit, he's doing everything he can to get your attention. So sometimes a person will say, 'I found the Lord.' Well, you found him because he's out looking for you. You know what I'm saying? And so you don't get all the credit for finding the Lord like 'eureka! I've made this discovery all by myself.' God is doing everything he can to help you find him. So, anyway, between these two extremes I think you find the truth.

Yes, we do have a free choice. So what does it mean here when it says, 'God, who from the beginning chose you'? He's not talking to the individuals in thessalonia, he's basically saying, 'I'm speaking to a group.' From the beginning God chose you, yes, gentiles. It wasn't just that God wanted jews to be saved through Abraham, he wanted, through Abraham, everyone to be saved. And so he's really giving them a bigger picture. He isn't saying, 'I chose you and you and you and not you and you and you.

' He's really saying, 'I chose everybody - jew and gentile - to be saved.' You understand what he's saying? And so, this idea some twist just to make it sound like God is up there, again, selectively saving - he's discriminating - and God wants all men to be saved. He's just saying, 'gentiles, I've got a surprise for you, from the beginning God also intended for you to be saved.' He's speaking to the group, not just to a few individuals. "Through sanctification, by the spirit and belief in the truth." Now, while we're talking about sanctification, Paul uses that theme a lot in Thessalonians. Someone look up for me Thessalonians 4 and we're going to have you read verses 3 to 5. We gave that to - slip - you have that? Right here.

Let's hold your hand up so the camera can know where to focus. And what does the word sanctification mean? What does 'santa' mean? Holy. If you say 'santa biblia' it's the holy Bible, right? Spanish - or sanctification is the process of becoming holy. All right, so with that in mind I think we're ready. Go ahead.

We're going to have you read - what did I say? Thessalonians 4, verses 3 through 5. It says, "for this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust like the gentiles who do not know God." Once again he's specifying that even though they're gentiles, they're to live holy lives and if you have any doubt about what sanctification means, he means to possess your vessel in a way of holiness. God has called us to lives of purity. Sanctification is a purifying process. It comes through following the Lord.

So he's encouraging the Thessalonians, again, that they can't be living like some of the - the loose-living that was going on among the gentiles around them. And reading on in that verse there it says in verse 14, "to which he called you by our Gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren" - now, why do we do anything? 'Whatever you do, whether you eat, whether you drink do all' - for what? - "For the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.' Now isn't that interesting? You're going to find out in this lesson we're going to talk a little bit about The Father, son, and spirit - the trinity. 'Whether you eat or whether you drink do all to the...glory of...God.' And here it says do it for the glory of Jesus Christ. Question: is Jesus Christ God? See, that's going to come up later.

I just thought I'd throw that in here. Now he uses a word here 'traditions'. 'Stand fast and hold to the Lord Jesus Christ therefore, brethren, stand fast in the traditions.' I thought tradition was a bad thing. We want to go by the Word of God and not by tradition. And, you know, that can confuse people.

Which is it? Scripture or tradition? Now, I don't want to mess you up, but this comes up in two different sections of our lesson today. If you jump briefly to 2 Thessalonians chapter 3, verse 6 - 2 Thessalonians 3, verse 6 and you read, "but we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us." Now, before I explain that I want someone to look up Mark 7, verse 9. Who has that verse? Did we give that out? Jo? Right there. All right, quickly as possible I want to give her this verse to read so let's get ready for that. How many of you have always thought that we don't go by traditions, we go by Scripture? Isn't that right? I mean wasn't the great reformation on - what comes first tradition or Scripture? Scripture.

But why is Paul talking about tradition here? All right, go ahead. Read that for us. "And he said to them, 'all too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.'" All right. Now, when Jesus talks about tradition here is he using it in a positive or a negative context? Negative. But, you know, that's the exact same word - translated word - that's being used here is 'paradosis' and it means 'transmission; a precept; an ordinance; a tradition.

' It could be a Scripture. It could be man-made. It just means a teaching; a precept. So you've got to look at the context because it's the same word. When Paul, in Thessalonians, is talking about 'stay with the tradition.

' He's saying the teachings that we've given you. They are biblical, scriptural, traditional teachings. Have you ever heard of that? Have you ever heard someone say, 'are you a new contemporary Christian or are you a traditional fundamental Christian?' That word 'tradition' there means are you going by the word? You know, the old interpretation of the word. So tradition is not always bad. So when Paul is talking about clinging to the traditions, he says the traditions that we gave you - meaning the scriptural teachings that we gave you.

When Jesus is talking about, 'you have a fine way to set aside the commandment of God that you might observe your tradition' - he's saying that you've got man-made laws - teachings - that you've put in the place of scriptural teachings' okay? Now, every church has its traditions. Traditions are not bad if they do not conflict with Scripture. Traditionally, in our church and in the methodist church we celebrate communion how many times a year? How many? Four - usually quarterly, right? Every three months. So it's quarterly - four times a year, right? How many of you know that? Where's the chapter and verse for that? There isn't one. Matter of fact, biblically, all institutions biblically, they either come weekly or annually or every 49 years.

There's not too many that were quarterly. But does that mean that this is somehow an evil thing? To do it quarterly? No, Jesus said, 'as often as you do it, do it in remembrance of me.' And some churches, you know, if you go to church of Christ they'll celebrate communion weekly. In the primitive church of Christ I went to in Texas, every week they had communion. And, of course, if you're a catholic, whenever they have mass. It could be weekly.

So, problem with that, in my opinion, through repetition the sanctity of a service like that can be lost sight of. You only do it once a year and it can be so remote that if someone's not at the right place at the right time, they might go two years without communion. And so, as The Fathers and mothers in the church debated this they said, 'quarterly'. And so a number of denominations have done that because they thought 'it's a right amount of time where it's sacred when it happens, it doesn't become so redundant, and yet it's not so far apart that you might go a couple years if you miss one without it.' But there's no Scripture. So is it a bad thing to do communion quarterly even though it's a tradition? See what I'm saying? So not all traditions that we follow - Jesus was against traditions that they were putting ahead of Scripture.

And so, that's the important thing. Oh, wait a second, I want to finish reading verse 14, "to which he has called you by our Gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast." Does that sound familiar? Do you remember reading in Ephesians where he talks about standing? I'm not done yet here. He says, "stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or by our epistle." - Of course, the epistles of Paul are Scripture - "now may the Lord Jesus Christ himself and our God and father who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace. Comfort your hearts.

" So, he's talking here about Jesus Christ and then he talks about God The Father. Is Jesus Christ also God The Father? That's a trick question. Let me tell - think about this for a second. Now, when we pray, 'our father which art in heaven' do you picture that you're praying to Jesus or do you picture that you're praying to God The Father? God The Father. But who made everything? Jesus.

All things that were made were made by him. And one of the prophecies about Jesus said his name will be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting - and that's a prophecy about who? Jesus. So can you see? He's also called our brother. It says, 'unto us a son is given. He's called The Son of God.

' I mean, you know, he has a lot of titles so don't get thrown by that. But it's not a conflict to say that Jesus Christ is our Lord and God The Father. They're both God. It's just identifying God the father and then you've got God The Son which is the one we think of as Lord Jesus. Then you have God the Spirit.

They all fit the category of God. Who made all things? Jesus. Is that - do we all agree? That's very clear in the Bible - God The Father made all things through Jesus - 'in the beginning was the word and the word was God - the word was with God and the word was God. All things were made by him. Without him was not anything made that was made.

' But the Bible says in Genesis, 'in the beginning' - who created the heavens and the earth? God. So who do you typically think of when you read that? Don't you think of God The Father? But it's specifically talking about God The Son. So God is sort of a collective term used to identify father, son, and spirit as well as them being individual so don't be thrown by that when it says that - this is really important because I'm running into more and more people that are questioning the divinity of Jesus. Some believe Jesus - because the Bible says he's the only begotten of The Father that means there was a time when he was begotten or born. And if he was born they say, 'yes he's God but he was promoted by The Father to be a God' - there are actually - I meet people in our church that are teaching this.

Have you run into them yet? I came to both an asi meeting - a general conference meeting - people out front - members of the church handing out information saying, basically, they don't believe the trinity, they believe Jesus was created. Well, the reason he's called the only begotten is because there's only one time God was begotten when he was incarnate. God be - it's a mystery to us how God became a man and he was born as a man, but it doesn't mean that he didn't live through eternity. Jesus said, 'before Abraham was' - he didn't say, 'I just predated him' he said 'I am.' That phrase 'I am' means the self-existent one. Jesus is from everlasting to everlasting, right? And then the other point is God is love, right? If there was a time before God created anything was God still love back then? Can God be love without someone to love? Now there's a question that gets pretty deep.

Can God be love - can you have love without a way to express it? What is love if you can't express it upon someone else? And so in order for God to have always been love, God has always been father, son, and spirit because there is love between them - perfect love - right? And if all things that were made were made by Jesus, well, if Christ was created then how did he make himself? That verse is not true - did you get me? If Jesus was made by The Father then it's not true that all things that were made were made by Christ. It would say, 'all things that were made, except Jesus, were made by Christ because Jesus was made by The Father - it would say something like that. But it doesn't say that. You see what I'm saying? So you look at any definition in the Bible - you're to worship God only - isn't that right? Doesn't the commandment say to worship only the Lord? But are we commanded to worship Jesus in the Bible? Yeah, it says even the angels worship him. But whenever man tried to worship an angel the angel said, 'don't do it.

' There's no Savior but God the Bible tells us. Matter of fact it says there's no Savior but jehovah - but Jesus is jehovah - God. That throws a lot of people. You look at all the definitions for jehovah - it says, 'jehovah only can forgive sin.' Can Jesus forgive sin? So I know sometimes we read these verses and it talks about Christ in his humanity he laid aside elements of his divinity and so we think that he's less God, but now he's glorified again - he is the everlasting God The Son right now. He is the Lord of Lords and king of Kings.

If he's the King of Kings does that mean there's a king over him? How can you be the King of Kings and have a king over you? Do you see what I'm saying? These are deep subjects. Sometimes people read that verse there in 2 Thessalonians and they think that means that Jesus is not God The Father or that he is not also equal with God the father in any event. Now, if you had to choose by living a good life before people or a good life before God, which would you choose? Before God. Jesus, when he began, he talked about the religious hypocrites and they were preoccupied with fasting to be seen of men and giving to be seen of men and praying to be seen of men and it was all before the people - they were holy before the people. They loved to be called rabbi, rabbi and had the long tassels on their robes and it was all display, but God looks on the heart.

And our priority should be to live a life that is consistent before God. So it's in word and in deed and that's what Paul is asking from the Thessalonians. All right, and then let's go here to verse 1 - now we're in chapter 3, verse 1 and what I'd like to do with your permission is I'm going to read the rest of Thessalonians because this is the last chapter. Let me read it and we'll back up. "Finally, brethren," - you can tell he's reaching the end - "pray for us, that the word of the Lord might have free course and be glorified just as it is with you, and that we might be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do these things commanded you. Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God into the patience of Christ. But we command you brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear how there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he might be ashamed.

Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace always in every way. the Lord be with you all. The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Amen." Okay, we just finished reading and 2 Thessalonians. Now back - let's break that verse down. "Finally brethren, pray for us." You know what that made me think of? If you look in Ephesians chapter , verse 10 - where he talks about the armor of God he says, "finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." And then jump down - he goes through the different implements of armor - go down to verse 18, "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;" - it doesn't mean praying to dead saints, it's talking about all the believers - "and for me." - Paul says, 'finally, pray for me.' - "That utterance may be given to me, that I might open my mouth boldly and make known the mystery of the Gospel." Have you ever asked someone to pray for you? Is it biblical to ask someone 'and pray for me'? Do you notice that Paul puts them first but before he finishes he says, 'and pray for me'? Now, was Paul getting resistance in preaching the Gospel? Well that should be an easy answer, come on. Did Paul meet with resistance in preaching the Gospel? I mean, boy, talk about battle scars - in jail, beaten, shipwrecked, stoned - I mean, he had everything. And so when he said, 'pray for me.

' He knew what it meant. He needed prayer. Now, I don't know about you but I'll make a confession, there are times people have said, 'Pastor Doug, pray for me.' And I've said, 'sure I'll pray for you.' I've even said, 'I'll pray for you' and then I've thought back and I realized I forgot to pray. And then when I remember then I pray, but then I think about how many did I say I'd pray for that I never remember? Am I the only one? Come on, public confession right now, it's good for your soul. I think we ought to try to remember to pray for someone so I'll tell you how I try to deal with that is - one way is I'll meet someone and sometimes it's at the door or I'll meet someone in passing - if I have time and they say, 'can you pray for me?' I say, 'let's do it now.

' Then I don't have to worry about forgetting. Or I've got to make a mental note to try and pray for them. And sometimes I'll say, 'Lord, I met a lot of people at the meeting tonight that asked for prayer - I don't remember them all but you remember them. I want to pray for them right now. I think that can kind of - that can cover a multitude of sin, right there - just say, 'Lord' - sometimes I do prayer requests in the church or in amazing facts worship and I don't remember them all so when I pray I just say, 'Lord, anything I'm forgetting.

' - God knows we're human, right? And so - and then, you know, I'll be on Facebook and someone will, you know, when I'm online and I've got a lot of friends on my page and they'll say, 'Pastor Doug, pray for me.' Right then, when that pops up I pray for them right then. It might be a short prayer but I pray for them right then so I won't forget and then I e-mail them back and say, 'I just did.' So you want to cover it but we need - prayer makes a difference, right? And boy, I know a lot of people I've met that say they pray for me - I shudder to think what my life would be like if all those people hadn't prayed. And I sense the prayers of God's people and we should pray for each other. I believe that God does listen to corporate prayer in each other's - Paul was stoned one time and you know what it says? 'They all gathered around and while they were gathered around he got up.' What do you think they did when they gathered around Paul after he'd been stoned. They were praying for him and then they saw him start to move again.

I think God - then he got up and sure enough he was able to keep walking and talking and preaching right after being stoned to death. I think that was through collective prayer, don't you? When eutychus fell out the window because Paul was preaching too long and he was taken up dead and Paul prayed for him. I think they all came downstairs and they all were praying for him - through their collective prayers God raised him back up again. And so, I think God does answer prayer and he answers it different ways but he always hears those prayers. So that's important.

'Praying always with all prayer and for me. And you know what the principle thing Paul was saying? 'Pray for me that I don't get stoned anymore, that I don't get shipwrecked anymore, that I don't get whipped anymore.' - Is that what he said? No. What's his principle prayer? 'Pray for me that utterance might be given to me that I might open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel.' And even here in 1 Thessalonians - I'm sorry - 2 Thessalonians chapter 3, first verse, "and brethren pray for us" - what's his prayer? "That the word of the Lord might run swiftly." So, when you have prayer requests, what is the most important thing you can pray for? Your needs or the spreading of the word? You know I just - you heard me sigh because I was ashamed. I thought, you know, so many times when I think about 'pray for me. Pray for me.

Pray for me.' I'm usually thinking about you praying for my comfort and convenience. For my protection - and when you pray for your children - 'fess up - 'Lord, keep them safe. Lord, bless them. Help them find a job. Don't let them have a car accident.

Keep them healthy.' Come on, don't - isn't that what you pray for? What should be the first prayer? That they - embrace the word that you save their souls. And when we pray for each other, what did Paul say for when he said, 'pray for me'? That the Word of God might come out of me. That was his principle desire. And so, my principle desire for you should be, 'Lord, help them be witnesses for you. I pray not only that you bless the members here at central church, help them be a shining light.

Let the word come through them. Let them be bold and not be afraid to share their faith.' And your prayer for me, Pastor Doug, 'stand firm. Be bold. Be faithful. Let the word be proclaimed.

' And 'take care of him. Keep him healthy and wealthy and wise' right? But those things should be secondary. First thing should be - Paul says 'pray for me' - he's consistent - 'that the word of God comes out of me.' That just makes me ashamed. Paul said, 'I've learned that whatever state I'm in to be content.' He wrote that from prison. So he learned to be content - 'yeah, I got whipped yesterday but at least the Gospel was preached.

' 'Yeah, here I am floating out here in the ocean on a piece of broken ship but I'm preaching to the person floating next to me.' I mean, that's how Paul was. He just - it was all about the Gospel, the message of Jesus getting out. All right, moving along here, 'Scripture and tradition' - well, I guess I talked about that already - the difference between Scripture and tradition. Let me go down here and talk a little bit about something that is delicate 'working and eating'. First of all, if you're going to eat a lot you need to work a lot.

One of the problems that we've got here and I'll talk a little bit about this in the sermon in a minute, is in civilized nations people are doing less physical labor than they've ever done in history because of mechanized farming and industry - we've got robots that do things now - and we're more sedentary. And a lot of people now, their jobs have to do with pressing buttons called a keyboard or a phone, right? So we're doing less physical labor and we're eating more. We have more food and more variety of food and more high fat food than at any other time in history. So, in the beginning God designed that we ought to work as we ate. He said, 'in the sweat of your brow you will eat your bread.

' And so, that was for man's good. So when he said, 'if they're not going to work they shouldn't eat' that's not because God is being difficult. It's not because God is austere and a task master, he's saying, 'you need it.' Because if you are not staying busy and active and you're eating, for one thing you're becoming a burden on somebody else because somebody's working for your bread, even if they're operating the computer that farms the field. Everybody ought to be productive. Now, I'm not talking - and Paul was not talking about those who were in the church that were infirm, either by sickness or by age, that needed others to take care of them.

He's not talking about people who may have been sick and others had to care for them or because of age - they'd spent their lives working and now they were depending on the love of their family to provide for them in their last years. And I should probably add something here, we're at a very different point in the culture of the world today. It used to be because people ate better and lived better and they had more fresh air and sunshine, that you would get old and the last, you know, two percent of your life you would maybe need others to care for you and, you know, you'd be sick - you'd be in your final illness and people might have to spoon feed you and you couldn't do any work, you couldn't be productive but that was the last fragment of your life and then you'd fall over and die. And it says, 'Moses climbed a mountain and he died.' Right? But because of the way that Americans and others are living right now, we get sick and then we spend 30 years dying and other people have to take care of us and a lot of the reason is because of the lifestyle. Now, there are exceptions but it didn't used to be that way so they don't say that much about it in the Bible because it was understood by everybody that grandma and grandpa, you know, the last year or two of their life they may not be very mobile and they might need help or it might even be the last months of their life - but it wasn't the last 30 years of their life.

And so this idea of people just kind of loafing - and what was going on here in thessalonia, because Paul was preaching about the second coming, some said, 'hey, you know, the Lord's coming - it's more important that I preach the Gospel. I don't need to - I'm going to give Bible studies in my town - I don't need to work - and I'll expect the rest of the church members to feed me.' And they had a bunch of people in the church that were just saying, 'hey, I'm working for the Lord, you're obligated to feed me.' Or 'I'm praying about what work God wants me to do and while I'm praying you've got to be a Christian - if you're a Christian you've got to feed me.' I'll tell you, it doesn't rub me the right way when I run into somebody - they show up at the church - sometimes I - you don't mind if I'm honest with you right now? I hope I'm always honest with you, but I'm going to be blunt with you right now. And I am coming - just so you know - I have my degree in panhandling. I have done it all, friends. I know the tricks, I have panhandled because I was hungry and I've panhandled because I needed cigarettes and beer and I told people I was hungry.

And what works really good is if you can borrow a puppy and you say, 'my puppy's hungry.' And we used to pass the puppy around among the street people when I used to panhandle. There are a lot of tricks. I won't share them with you because some of you might use them. But that wouldn't be anyone here but there might be someone watching. And so, I just want you to know it's not because I'm not loving - I know that there are also very serious cases where people are begging because they really are in a predicament and they need help and you want to be loving and sensitive to that.

Paul addresses that - he says, 'you know, don't feed those who won't work and also don't stop being loving and generous.' He says both here in Thessalonians chapter 2. But what gets me is when someone shows up at the door and they didn't even come in for the church service or for Sabbath school. They know when church is out and they show up at the door and they start panhandling. And I'll say, 'you know brother' or 'sister, we're going to have a fellowship meal we'd like to invite you' - 'no, no I need money for gas.' And we say, 'well, we usually don't give away money.' 'Oh, you're a Christian, what kind of Christian are you? If you were a Christian - Jesus said you're supposed to give when someone asks' and they start quoting Scripture to me. Have you ever run into this before? Come on, some of them are pretty articulate with the Bible.

And they start making you feel like you're less of a Christian because you are not empowering them in their prodigal living. You are not loving that brother or sister if you are giving them more money to live a prodigal life or use drugs. I was driving down the road with pastor bill may - one of the founders of Amazing Facts and we - right here in Sacramento - and we pulled up to a sign - somebody there at an intersection here in town and there was somebody standing with a cardboard sign and it said, 'can't lie. Need beer.' And, you know, I wanted to help the guy. Just because he was being honest.

I just said - I didn't because I didn't want to help him get drunk, but he said - you know a lot of people said, 'you know, will work' or 'I've been stuck' or - I've met people who - I drive the same route coming back and there's this certain intersection I go by and sometimes I'll actually help somebody at the intersection because I'll look at them and I'll feel impressed by the spirit they have a genuine need. And then other times you have the impression that they're just, you know, they're going to walk right over to the liquor store. And Paul is talking about people who are using the Spiritual argument that you should support them. I've picked up a lot of hitchhikers and I've helped some who I felt - you need spiritual discernment when you deal with this - I've run into some who I thought had genuine need and I might give them some money to help them out or give them some food - I've even gone back to the house and got clothes and brought them back to a hitchhiker before and bought them food because you just are impressed that they really are having a struggle and they need Christian love. But then I picked up one fellow who was dressed up in a white robe with sandals and he said he was part of a religion that believed in marijuana.

Really - they had this religion - that was their religion and he thought I should just support him because he was a priest for the marijuana religion. I didn't feel the same way. And he was quoting the Bible to me and then he thought, 'you know, if you say you're Christian, and you're not going to help me and here I'm one of Jesus' emissaries.' And he was just mixing up the Bible with those Scriptures that talk about, you know, God made every herb of the field and he said, 'God made marijuana.' And I said, 'well it doesn't say he made it to smoke it.' And so, you'll meet all kinds of people out there that have creative ways of getting out of work. A lot of people out there will find creative ways to get out of work and they do it in the context of religion. Now I'm not talking about people who've worked all their lives and they've planned for their retirement - bless their hearts, they've earned it - you know what I'm saying? There are people who have made provision and they may not be working right now - I think all of us ought to try and stay with a purpose even if you've retired, amen? You ought to have some goal, some purpose, volunteer, get involved somehow.

I'm going to talk about that in a minute so I don't want to say too much. All right, running out of time. Let me just - let me read this to you again, he said, "for even" - verse 10 - this is in now 2 Thessalonians 3, verse 10 - "for even when we were with you, we commanded you this: that if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." Now, what would you do if someone comes to your door and they say, 'I've been out giving Bible studies and they've got a puppy dog face and they're begging and saying, 'can't you just, you know, can't you just give me something to eat?' You can quote a verse and say, 'you know, I'd like to help you but the Lord forbids me. You are young and you are healthy and there are opportunities out there and if I keep feeding you, you are not going to get a job. You're going to have to get hungry enough to go get a job.

' Part of the section in this lesson is called 'tough love' and sometimes - how many of you have had your kids say they're starving before when lunch is half an hour late? Are they really starving? And I think it might not hurt some people who are just exploiting everybody else's generosity and everyone else's work to let them get a little bit hungry. It might be the loving thing to do. Now is Pastor Doug being too harsh or is that biblical? Anyone think I'm being too harsh? Just checking. I don't want to be harsh. I think it should - like I said, I'm coming to you from the perspective of someone who lived that way.

I spent my time living in the hills panhandling - did very little work and I was - yep, I've done food stamps, I've done the medi-cal, I've done the whole thing and I became convicted. Now a lot of this is before I was a Christian, you understand, and so, I'm looking at it from both sides and I know a lot of people work the system because they don't want to work. And I could tell you stories all day long. I don't have time - I have one more story but I don't have time for it. We've got to keep going.

All right, let's move along here to the section under 'tough love' - well, we were sort of just talking about that. It's not just talking about work, it's talking about people who are teaching false doctrines. First of all, in verse 13, "but as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good." Someone look up 2 John 10 and 11 - it's only one chapter - John verses 10 and 11. Does someone have that? Right here. Let's get you a microphone.

You've got the microphone. All right, we'll get you the camera, hang on. And I'm going to read this: verse 14 - well first of all he says, "do not grow weary in doing good" - that reminds me of where Jesus said, 'but if that servant says in his heart 'my Lord delays his coming'' and he becomes weary in doing good and he starts to beat his fellow servants and eat and drink with the drunken - you get tired of waiting for Jesus. It says, 'don't grow weary. Hang on.

Jesus may not come right away.' Isn't that the message to the Thessalonians? It says, 'you need to hang in there.' All right, there's another verse where John talks about that. Go ahead and read that for us in John, verse 11 - 10 and 11. "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." Does that mean if someone knocks on your door and they're not a member of your church you're supposed to slam the door and say, 'you don't receive my doctrine. Goodbye.' No, he's talking about people who were professedly among the church there that were teaching things against what Paul was saying, that were teaching heresy. You know, those people have had a chance - they've heard the truth and if they're coming in and their not going to listen to reason, but they're twisting the truth.

Basically, Jesus talks about that too. It says, 'they ought to be put out. They should not be embraced. They should not be endorsed. They should not be supported because these are folks that are now going to now bring in false teachings.

They claim to be believers and they rejected the truth.' So that's a different category than people who are just in the lost world out there. We ought to love those people, reach those people, study with those people even though they may not agree. Does that make sense? So he draws a hard line if people are bringing in false teaching. And then, finally, believe it or not we're getting to the end. 'The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle, so I write the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Amen.' Why did Paul not write the whole letter? Why did he just do the salutation at the end? Paul, evidently, had some vision problems and it may trace all the way back to when he saw that vision of Christ. After Jacob wrestled with the Lord he limped the rest of his life, didn't he? And after Paul saw that blinding vision of Jesus God took the scales away where he could see again, but he may not have ever seen quite the same again. And so Paul talked about that thorn in his side and it may be that this is why he always needed scribes to help write the letters. He says in Galatians, 'behold with what large characters I write.' He had to write with very big - when he signed it, it was like John hancock because for him to see he was probably down very close and he wrote it. But that was the endorsement that this was a letter from him.

The scribe would then read it back to him before he endorsed it and he always closed with a blessing about the grace of our Lord be with you all, amen. Well, we made it through and 2 Thessalonians. Next week we're going to go into our new lesson, 'growing in Christ'. I want to remind our friends who are watching, we do have a free offer for today, 'satan's confusing counterfeits'. All you do is call and ask for it, we'll send it to you.

If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at 'amazingfacts.org'. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs including Amazing Facts presents. One location. So many possibilities. Amazingfacts.org.

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