The following sermon was prepared by Ps Lucas Stoltz this week for your edification and uplifting. We encourage you to please contact us if you would like to know more about us.
Click here: 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18, to download or stream the audio sermon, or click here: 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18, for the video version. Alternatively, you can read the notes below, or follow along as you watch or listen.
2 Thessalonians 3:16-18, Enabled to Live for God’s Glory:
- Last week we spent our time in Philippians 4:1-9, looking at five keys to effectively live for God’s glory! And we looked at Paul’s example of breakthrough for God’s glory, as he stood firm in the Lord, he loved the unloving, he rejoiced in the Lord & not circumstances, he was secure in God’s assurance, and was comforted in knowledge of who the Lord is!
- This morning we look to Paul’s benediction to the Thessalonians, who were tormented by persecution, who were tossed around by false teaching, and who were troubled by fear and sin.
- Paul noticed that the Thessalonians couldn’t handle the situation. They couldn’t deal with the persecution, the false teaching, the fear, the doubt, and the sin. So Paul wrote to give them instruction, but only information by itself doesn’t give one the ability to obey to it.
- We need to have the ability to execute that information! God’s Word instructs, but we must call on God to enable us. In other words, after Paul gave them instruction, he knew that they wouldn’t have the power to live according to it.
- So in chapter 2, Paul encourages them that, “our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, may comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” Why? Because no matter what we may understand, we need God’s enablement.
- In fact, this is his prayer, as he prays in chapter 3:5, “may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” He calls on to God to enable them to be what they need to be. Therefore, we get to these verses!
- And here Paul prays for four experiences that the Thessalonians needed. Four experiences that enable us to live for God’s glory, especially with today’s trials! And they are; the Lord’s peace, strength, truth and the Lord’s grace. So firstly, we need to experience…
1. The Lord’s Peace:
- Text – 3:16
- Explanation – Paul’s prayer for what God has already promised, as God has promised His own peace and strength and truth and grace. And so he pleads for God to fulfil His promise, the promise to experience peace.
- Generally, peace is seen as the sense of calm and quietness and bliss and contentment and well-being that you feel when you believe that everything is okay! Peace is that attitude. But that’s such a shallow definition!
- Illustration – Because calm feelings and so forth can be produced by medication. They can be produced by a lie too. They can be produced by alcohol or other forms of intoxication! This kind of peace which the world experiences is easily destroyed and it doesn’t last long.
- It can be destroyed by failure, doubt, fear, difficulty, guilt, shame, distress, regret, and sorrow. It is a very fragile peace. But we are not here for that kind of peace. We need to talk about a spiritual peace. This is a true peace, it is the attitude of the heart and mind that calmly and confidently believes and knows that we are well in God.
- Application – That’s the peace we need to talk about. It’s the confidence that everything is right between you and God, and He is in control of your life. It is the calm assurance of knowing that your sins are forgiven. And verse 16 defines peace in several ways. Firstly, it is divine. Peace comes from the Lord. In other words, God is the one who give it. It comes personally from Him, because it is the very essence of His nature.
- And here’s the comfort, He has no lack of perfect peace in His being. God’s peace is perfect all the time. God is never stressed. God never worries, never doubts, and God never fears. He is never troubled. He is never unsure and He is never threatened.
- This is because He’s in charge of everything and He can operate everything perfectly according to His own will exactly the way He wants it all the time. He enjoys perfect and eternal harmony within Himself. Therefore, He is peace, “the Lord of peace!”
- Secondly, peace is not only divine but it is also a gift. God gives peace to those who belong to Him. It’s as if the Father authored peace, the Son purchased peace, and then gives it to us now in this age through His Holy Spirit. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God.”
- Conclusion – And thirdly, peace is always available. Why should you know this? Well, even though God’s peace is always available, it can be interrupted, and it’s we who interrupt it. How? By surrendering to our flesh. It is not your circumstances that take His peace away. We, though saved, can still become victimized by the doubt and the fear of an unknown future
- What disturbs our peace, is when we stop looking at the permanent assurance we have in God. It is when we start to base our happiness on the issues of our lives. Hear me, you can go through your worst, and still have peace, when you’re trusting God.
- Additionally, your peace can be restored when you accept the humbling purposes of God. If you begin to understand that through all the trials and all the changes of life, God is at work perfecting you. Then you’ll be at peace.
- Therefore, we could sum it up by going to Colossians 3:15. Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” If you want to make peace in your life, learn to trust God in everything! Turn from sin, walk in obedience, and let your commitment to the Lord be true.
- Bridge – then you’ll know divine peace. The gift of peace which is always available. It can be unaffected by anything that happens in our lives, but it must be secure in the God who will secure you in Himself. Secondly, Paul’s prayer is for them to know and experience…
2. The Lord’s Strength:
- Text – 3:16b
- Explanation – This teaches us that the Lord is everywhere at the same time. In fact, when Jesus came into the world, in Matthew 1:22-23 they said of Him: “His name will be called Immanuel, which means God with us.” In Matthew 28:20, Jesus said “Lo, I am with you always.”
- In John 14, Jesus told His disciples, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another helper that He may be with you forever, that is the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it doesn’t behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.“
- Illustration – Then in Acts 1:8 we read that when the Holy Spirit comes them, they will receive power, strength. Not supernatural human strength, but the Lord’s strength. As we need His strength to hold us up when temptation overwhelms us.
- We need the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13, that no temptation is taken you but such is as common to man, and God is faithful who will never allow you to be tempted above that you are able, but will always make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it. See, we need the Lord’s strength for temptation.
- Application – We need strength even for worship. See when we come together, we can trust that the strength of Christ will lead us in our worship of Him and in the dealing with our sin. We need the Lord’s strength for perseverance.
- In Jude 24 we read, “He is able to keep me from falling and to make me stand in the presence of His glory blameless and with great joy.” We need His strength for perseverance, security, endurance. You need His strength for our trials. Paul said the Lord’s strength is made perfect in his weakness, (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
- Conclusion – Therefore, Ephesians 3:16 reminds us, “That you would be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that ultimately you can be filled up with all the fullness of God.” We need the Lord’s strength if we want to grow spiritually. Because this too can be interrupted.
- We quickly learn to trust in our own abilities and skills, and before you know it, you find yourself outside of God’s comfort! But it can be restored. Come back to the Lord, trust in His strength and abilities, not yours!
- Bridge – Walk in His Spirit, not in your supposed capabilities. Let Christ rule your life. Not you. Which brings us to the third point,
3. The Lord’s Truth:
- Text – 3:17
- Explanation – Now the text doesn’t specifically refer to element, but it can be assumed. Paul refers to a legitimacy issue. Now a side note, the Thessalonians were discouraged by false teacher, some who tried to confuse them by writing to the church as if they were apostolic or even Paul.
- Chapter 2:2 refers to “a letter as if from us.” But Paul was concerned for the church to know the truth. And what he does is, he firstly comforts them. He comforts them that this is his own hand. And really, that’s what the truth does. It comforts us!
- Illustration – Paul does this, saying; “I am writing this greeting with my own hand.” He makes it authentic. For what reason? For the sake of the truth, God’s truth. Paul was the inspired instrument of truth and God wanted His people to have truth. He knew they needed it.
- Application – And not only did Paul live in God’s truth, he was concerned for the truth. Why? In 2 Corinthians 11:10 he says, “the truth of Christ is in me.” But how should we understand this truth?
- The Psalms teaches that truth is a basic characteristic of God. Psalm 25:5 asks God to “guide me in your truth.” The Psalmist in 86:11 desires to walk in God’s truth! Jesus describes Himself as the way, the truth, and the life (14:6).
- And so, for Paul, truth is the message of God, the Gospel of our salvation. Truth is how follow the Lord. As believers, we are to speak the truth to one another in a loving manner (Eph 4:15). Therefore Paul is concerned about people knowing he spoke the truth.
- Because God is a God of truth, He is the only true God, He is the God who cannot lie. John 17:17 teaches that God’s Word is truth! And we have this truth in Christ.
- Conclusion – so what’s the truth about us in Christ? We have been brn in Him, and 1 John 5:4-5, says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.” We are able to practice righteousness, not self-righteousness by good works, but Christ’s righteousness that results in growing to be more like Him.
- For we are new creations, and should therefore, pursue holiness and bear good fruit that will glorify God. And being new in the God of love, will love those who love God.
- Bridge – And finally, the truth is, “everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18). This does not mean that Christians do not sin. But it does mean that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- It means that God’s truth won’t allow us to live in fear, and doubt, and in a pattern of sin without conviction. For we will never be at peace when we remain sin. And here’s the final experience that’ll comfort us to living effectively for God’s glory…
4. The Lord’s Grace:
- Text – 3:18
- Explanation – Paul wanted every Thessalonian believer to have grace, and yet, everyone who put their faith in Christ have God’s grace. What is grace?
- There are various sides of grace. But in Paul’s benediction, we’re looking at God’s goodness, His compassion given to those who don’t deserve it. It is grace commanded by God given to us through Christ.
- Illustration – Now once we become a Christian, grace enables us. And that’s Paul’s prayer, for grace for every trial. Grace for endurance, grace that is sufficient. Grace for love and grace for humility.
- And here’s the beauty about God’s grace! It’s available, limitless, but there are conditions to receive it. How do I get God’s grace? Well, if its God’s then we trust in God. We surrender to Him for help, hope, and salvation alone. When we’re saved, it is by grace and God fills us with His peace and His strength and His truth and His grace.
- Application – And that’s where we live for God’s glory, in His peace, in His strength, in His truth ad in His grace! Friends, remain committed! Remember, you can’t earn it! His power works through us, and is available to us. And when it is interrupted by sin. It can be restored when we once again surrender ourselves to Him. When we repent from our sinfulness!
- Conclusion – Its’ in this position, where we can say, when a parent dies, or if your kid dies, when you get cancer at 26, when a truck drive over the sidewalk and takes out your loved ones… I’m able to continue living for God’s glory!
- My affliction is light in comparison to eternal glory that awaits us! Friends, it is in this position, that every millisecond of your pain, of your misery – is not meaningless, it is working for you an eternal weight of glory.
- Bridge – And therefore, we do not lose heart. But take these four truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Proclaim them to your mind again and again – until you are confident of God’s care for you, and where you agree that His peace, strength, truth, and grace; is enough!