2 Thessalonians 3:3


Thessalonians. He dismisses all thoughts about himself, and returns to the thought of comforting his converts.

I. THE DOUBLE BLESSING IN STORE FOR THEM. "Who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil."

1. An essential factor in their Christian comfort was establishment

(1) in the doctrines of the gospel, which were threatened by godless or fickle speculators;

(2) in the grace of faith, which may be weakened by persecution or by misconceptions of truth;

(3) in the profession of faith, which true believers will be able to hold fast to the end.

2. An equally essential factor was their preservation from evil, either

(1) in the form of sin, that it should not have dominion over them or reign unto death;

(2) or in the form of Satanic temptation;

(3) or in the form of opposition from unreasonable and wicked men.

II. THE ARGUMENT TO ASSURE THEM OF THIS DOUBLE BLESSING. "The Lord is faithful." He will be true to his promises, and not suffer one of them to fail. The Lord Jesus is at once the Author and the Finisher of our faith. "We are complete in him;" we are "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself" (2 Timothy 2:13). "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).

III. THE CONFIDENCE OF THE APOSTLE BASED ON THIS ASSURANCE. "But we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that you are both doing and will do the things which we command you."

1. The ultimate ground of his confidence touching them was in the grace and strength of the Lord, not in themselves, or their wisdom, or strength.

2. The matter of his confidence - their present and future obedience to his commands. There must be a patient continuance in well doing; a ready, universal, perpetual obedience to the commands he had already given them by the authority of Christ, and to those which he was now about to give to them. - T.C.







The Lord is faithful
No apostle insisted more strongly on the liberty of God than St. Paul. This is understood when we remember that he wrote to churches largely composed of Jews whose inveterate inclination was to believe that God had bound Himself to them by an inviolable and exclusive covenant. To uproot this he teaches that the covenant with Israel did not prevent God being the God of the Gentiles. But that teaching may raise a formidable objection. The freedom of God; is not that arbitrariness? No; Paul the great defender of Divine liberty is also the one who insists with most force on the Divine faithfulness, that attribute which affirms that God is without shadow of turning. The two truths thus balance each other.

I. The Lord is faithful — HAS NOT GOD WRITTEN THAT THOUGHT IN ALL HIS WORKS? Do we not each spring read it in the renewed nature?

1. Alas I we can count on that faithfulness and not recognize its source. The peasant who, perhaps, has never bent his knee to God, turns up the ground, confides the grain to its furrows, and awaits the future with confidence. The atheist who denies the sovereign ordainer believes in universal order in nature. The scientist counts so on the exactitude of the laws of nature that a thousand years beforehand he announces the minute when two stars will meet in space. Everything in our plans for the future rests on the confidence that what God has done until now, He will do again. Yet the carnal man stays himself in this very fidelity in order to dispense with God, and because everything happens as it did in the time of his fathers, he infers the uselessness of prayer. The very faithfulness which ought to fill him with gratitude serves as an excuse for his unthankfulness.

2. What then is necessary that God's action may be manifested? That He interrupts the course of His benefits? This He does sometimes, and with what results? Man says "Chance alone governs us." Thus whatever God does, man succeeds in eluding Him. If order reigns, the sinner says "I can dispense with God"; if disorder occurs, "There is no God."

II. GOD'S FAITHFULNESS APPEARS IN THE MORAL ORDER.

1. What are moral laws? Not variable commands which God is able to change when He likes, but expressions of His very nature, "Be ye holy for I am holy."

2. This being so, I can understand why God cannot contradict Himself, and that at all costs His law must be accomplished. You would regard him as a fool who would trifle with steam, but look without terror on the sinner who violates the Divine will. Yet which is the most certain. I can conceive of a world where the law of gravity does not exist, but not one where, by the will of God, evil would be good. I cannot believe, without tearing my conscience in two, that if the seed buried in the soil must appear, yet what a man sows he will not reap.

3. On what does the confidence of the greater part of men rest? On the idea that God's justice is never vigorous. Who told us so? Sinners interested in believing it. But is a criminal to witness in his own cause and pronounce his own verdict? Let us not abase God by such an idea under the pretext that He is good. God is faithful to Himself, cannot give the lie to His holiness, and according to His immutable laws sin must entail suffering.

4. Though all sinners should agree in denying God's judgment that will not hinder them from being carried each minute towards the judgment which awaits them. I can believe everything except that God ceases to be holy; and convicted of that, the only suitable prayer is "God be merciful to me a sinner."

5. There is the admission the gospel wishes to draw from us. And when repentant men by faith throw themselves on the Divine mercy, they find in God a reconciled Father, and the thought of His faithfulness becomes the source of the firmest assurance, and the sweetest consolation.

6. God's faithfulness, like the wilderness pillar, is at once dark and light: to the sinner it is justice, to the penitent mercy.

7. Not that God in pardoning sacrifices His righteousness; righteousness has received this sanction on the Cross.

8. But will not such a doctrine countenance presumption. Yes, just as if you take one of the elements out of air you can make it poison. But the perversity of man must not prevent us from preaching God's mercy. For wherever that was believed it has produced obedience. Do you encounter the most lax lives among those who believe most in the love of a faithful God? The danger is in believing in it too little. At the time of the errors of your youth, did the pure and holy kiss of your mother make you indifferent and trifling? Inspire an army, weak and demoralized, with a steadfast confidence in its general, and they are already half-way to triumph; and the Christian's cry of victory is "The Lord is faithful."

III. WHAT PART DOES THIS FAITHFULNESS PLAY IN OUR LIVES?

1. Have you understood it? Is there anything below more beautiful than a faithful attachment? Ah, perhaps you enjoyed it yesterday. That happiness was only lent you for a few days. Sooner or later the strongest and tenderest ties must be broken; but if you have known them only for a single day, you have caught a glimpse of the faithfulness of God.

2. The Lord is faithful. Lay hold of that word and oppose it —(1) to all the events of your life. It will help you to traverse the gloom. We must walk by faith, not by sight. When the sculptor attacks a block of marble, who could discern the noble image which one day will be disengaged? So let the Divine artist act, let all that ought to disappear fall under His faithful hand.(2) To all the failings and variations of your heart. If we are unbelieving, He abideth faithful.(3) To all the temptations which beset you. His faithfulness will provide a way out of it.(4) To all the discouragements which would paralyze your activity.

(E. Bersier, D. D.)

I. ENCOURAGEMENT TO DEPEND UPON GOD.

1. The Divine Promiser. "The Lord is faithful" to His promises, and is the Lord who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19), who will not alter the thing that is gone out of His mouth. He is faithful to His relation to us, to His own truth, to His own character. Men may be faithless and false, but God never. They may refuse to embrace the gospel, and set themselves against it, but God will not abandon His great purpose on which He has set His heart, and on which He has pledged His word. Even many who are members of the Church may forget their sacred and solemn vows, and may show no fidelity to the cause of their Redeemer, but God Himself will never abandon that cause. To a pious mind it affords unspeakably more consolation to reflect that a faithful God is the friend of the cause which we love, than it would were all men, in and out of the Church, its friends.

2. The Divine Performer. When once the promise has been made, performance is sure and certain. There may be indifference in man on the one hand, and opposition on the other, "but the Lord will work, and who shall let it?" and the result will correspond both with the work and the Worker.

II. A FURTHER GROUND OF ENCOURAGEMENT.

1. Their obedience in the past. The Apostle had, in the Lord's stead, commanded them to do certain things, and for the Lord's sake they had done all they were commanded to do. They were not like Saul, the first king of Israel, who, tempted by Satan, preferred rather to do as he wished than as he was divinely directed, not knowing then that obedience was better than all the sacrifices ever offered to the Lord, and hearkening to Him than the fat of countless rams (1 Samuel 15:16-23).

2. Their obedience in the future. The experience the Apostle had of their obedience in the time past was firm ground for his confidence that they would do the things commanded them for the time to come, and it was also firm ground to hope that whatever they asked of God they should receive from Him, because they kept His commandments, and did those things that were pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:22; 1 John 5:14, 15).

3. But chiefly the Apostle's confidence in them was founded upon his confidence in God. Though they had done well in the past, they might, some time or other, weary in well-doing; but the Lord would remain faithful; and though heaven and earth might pass away, not one jot or tittle of His word would fail. "The foundation of the Lord is sure."

(D. Mayo.)

I. THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD.

1. God is faithful to His covenant engagements (Hebrews 10:23).

2. Faithful to His Son Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:21, 22; Hebrews 8:6).

3. Faithful to His redeemed people (Isaiah 49:15).

4. Christ is faithful as a Mediator (Hebrews 2:17).

5. The Spirit is faithful in His administration (1 Corinthians 1:9).

II. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHURCH.

1. To fix and settle our faith in Christ (Colossians 2:7).

2. To confirm the understandings of His people in His truth (Colossians 2:2).

3. Establishing them in the fulfilment of His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20).

4. To bring to a good issue all that concerns us (Psalm 73:24).

5. To give fixation to our love in Him (2 Corinthians 1:21).This establishment is —

1. By the written Word.

2. By the preached Word.

3. By the sacraments.

4. By Divine ordinances.

5. But always by His Holy Spirit.

III. THE DIVINE PRESERVATION OF HIS PEOPLE.

1. From the torments of the damned (Job 33:24).

2. From the condemnation of the law (Romans 8:1).

3. From the anger of God (Isaiah 12:1),

4. From the injury done by persecutions (Micah 4:10),

5. From sin and overcoming temptations (2 Peter 2:9).He will keep them —

1. In sickness (Psalm 41:3),

2. In health (1 Corinthians 3:21, 22),

3. In fear (1 Corinthians 2:8),

4. In peace (Isaiah 26:12),

5. In war (Romans 8:37).

6. In their bodies (Romans 8:13),

7. In their souls (1 Corinthians 3:16).

8. In ordinances (Exodus 20:24).

9. In providences (Romans 8:28).

10. In life and death (1 Corinthians 15:57),

11. And forever (John 6:51).

(T. B. Baker.)

Who shall stablish you
I. THE CHRISTIAN IS TO BE ESTABLISHED. Consider what this means —

1. Progress. The foundation is laid; now the superstructure must be built upon it.

2. Fixity. The progress is not that of a flowing river, but that of a building in the course of erection. We are to hold fast what we have attained. A periodic unsettlement, pulling down to day what we built up yesterday, will have a poor result.

3. Strength. The building is to be no mere bower of branches, no tent of the wilderness, for temporary occupation, but a permanent, solid house in the eternal city of God. It will have to stand the stress of wind and weather.

4. Order. That which is established is not heaped together in a rude formation, like the cyclopean walls seen in granite mountains. The true building follows the designer's plan. The Christian life must be built on the pattern of its great Architect.

5. Elevation. The house is built up. We raise the structure tier after tier. So in Christian life we should rise nearer heaven. Like the soaring pinnacles of a Gothic cathedral, the latest aspirations of the Christian experience should rise far above the earth and point to the sky.

6. Room for contents. The house has its inhabitants and furniture. The established Christian should have room for Divine stores of truth and holy thought, and for thief and fire proof safes which can keep his treasures in security. The complete building is not to be a solid pyramid for the sole purpose of hiding the mummy of its owner, but a glorious temple in which God may dwell.

II. THE CHRISTIAN IS TO BE ESTABLISHED BY GOD. Men tried to raise the tower of Babel up to heaven, but failed in their pride and self-will. We cannot build up our own characters. God is the great Builder, and He is raising the structure of the Christian life by all the discipline of daily experience.

1. Truth. Solid character must be built of solid materials — realities, facts, truths. By His revelations in nature, the Bible, Christ, God brings the stones of truth with which to establish our characters.

2. Work. The human building, unlike the material, is not inactive. Character is built up by means of service. God sets us this, and raises us from childish pettishness to manly largeness of soul by the discipline of duty.

3. Trial. Trouble and temptation help to wedge the character into place, as the arch is strengthened by the very weight laid upon it, driving its stones more closely together.

4. Spiritual grace. We are built up from precious stones hewn in the quarries of the everlasting hills of God, not from the clay bricks of earth. The great Builder brings His own heavenly materials.

III. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN IS ASSURED BY THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD.

1. It is not yet accomplished. It took forty years to build Herod's temple. It takes well nigh twice forty years to establish the characters of some of God's children. Nay, who shall say that the process is completed when brief life is done? Christian people die in all stages of imperfection and partial progress. Are they to be fixed forever in these initial conditions, half a column here, a wall commenced there, arches not yet locked with their key stones? There must be a continued establishing in the future life, till the last golden spire gleams aloft in the cloudless blue of heaven.

2. How do we know that this will ever be realized? We are often tempted to despair at our own slow progress. Now it is much to be assured that it is all assured by the faithfulness of God. Of course, this implies our continued faithfulness. The whole tenor of God's Word implies that He will not abandon the good work He has commenced.

(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)

I. THE PROMISE.

1. Establishment.(1) The Bible lays great stress on this (Romans 1:11; 2 Corinthians 1:21; Colossians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Hebrews 13:9; 1 Peter 5:9; Jude 1:24).(2) Unsettledness is the attribute of the unregenerate man. He is compared to —

(a)A wave of the sea.

(b)A house built on the sand.

(c)A plant that has no root.(3) Establishment is needful to the true Christian. He has root, he is in Christ, but He needs to be daily established in grace. This applies to some especially, but to all more or less, and especially at some times, and in some particular graces, i.e. in faith, hope, and love.

2. Preservation.(1) This is needed moment by moment, because of the multiplicity of our snares, and the power and vigilance of our great adversary.(2) But a man who is established in the life of faith and a holy walk — where is there room in him for Satan's access?(3) The establisher and defender is God. "Except the Lord build the house," etc.

II. THE FOUNDATION OF THE PROMISE.

1. There are several ways of denying God — grossly by atheism, practically by ungodliness, mentally by want of trust in His faithfulness.

2. Faithfulness is the glory of Deity.(1) It is the effect of God's veracity. He has pledged His word and will faithfully execute it, because He is a true God.(2) It stands connected with His omniscience; for if God knows all things, what inducement can there be to deny His word.(3) It stands intimately bound up with His holiness; to break His word would be a breach of His holiness.(4) It stands involved in His immutability: it would show that He was of various minds.(5) It would be a breach upon His perfect love; for how could that be perfect love which promises good and fails to perform (Psalm 89:1, 5, 8, 14, 35).

3. This perfection makes all His threatenings certain as to their accomplishment. Look at the flood, Sodom, Babylon, Jerusalem! Was He not faithful to His threatenings in these, instances?

4. But it is the foundation of all His promises. "He cannot deny Himself."Conclusion:

1. What a sweetness there is in this truth! We may be weak and in danger, but here is the promise. And remember who gives it; Jehovah Himself. In God's dealings there is always something that exhibits His own grandeur. He establishes and defends just like Himself.

2. Seek these blessings, and remember the means of securing them. God gives them, but we must pray and watch.

3. These blessings come in God's way, not yours. The unlikeliest ways may be the best.

(J. H. Evans.)

And keep you from evil
The expression imports an effectual guard. We know what the garrison of a city is; to keep watch by night and by day, summer and winter, in the brightest sunshine and the thickest midnight, foul weather and fair, from the beginning of the year to the end. The protection of the city is its guard. We know the comfort, peace and well-being of the inhabitants of that city stand most intimately connected with their indoor arrangements; but if you ask what is the security of the city, it is not their domestic arrangements — it is the guard of the city. Thus is it with the people of God. How much there stands connected with the watchfulness of God's saints, as to their peace and well-being and holy walking, no language of mine can ever describe. "Keep thy heart with all diligence," says the wise man. "What I say unto you I say unto all," says our blessed Lord; "watch." And by His apostle — "Watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication." But if you ask who is the Guardian of the city, he gives but a blind answer who will say anything short of a covenant God. Let me just refer you to the hundred and twenty-seventh Psalm. "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." I would pray that yours might be that state of watchfulness, that the outgoings of thought might be watched over, the first elements of evil and the first mark of spiritual declension: but I would have you live upon this as a cardinal truth never to be lost sight of — that the Guard of the city is Jehovah Himself — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — the covenant God of Israel. The expression is most blessedly extensive: "The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you and keep you from evil." Is it evil men? He "will keep you." Is it Satan, the evil one? Is it sin, the evil thing? He "will keep you;" for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. From its reigning power He "will keep you" and that, by the power of His love "shed abroad in your heart through the Holy Ghost." And He "will keep you" from its in being, in that happy world, where you shall have to sing the praises of this triune God throughout an endless eternity.

(J. H. Evans.)

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