Sermon on October 24, 2021
KaB FKB (Volker Aßmann)
“Living with Hope – Hold on to the truth”
“1 Thessalonians 5: 4-11 and 2: 13-3, 13 ”
This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here
We have headed our series of sermons as follows: “Live with hope!” We humans need hope, a good perspective in our life and in the face of many questions and needs, whether personally or as a society. A hope that is independent of our current life situation. Hope is like a “vanishing point” that we have to live on. Hope gives us perspective and courage for today and tomorrow. Hope always has to do with something bigger than our own life, our plans and needs.
Live with hope – because Jesus is coming again!
Christians have this hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. As Gustav Heinemann, the former Federal President, put it: “The gentlemen of this world are leaving – our LORD is coming. But we also repeatedly experience suffering and crises and disappointments and fears.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. ”(John 16:33) Living with hope also means: Live with hope in Christ because the winds of time and the end of time blow in our faces.
The second letter of Thessalonians is a call for continued courage and exemplary behavior. It’s about holding on and persevering. It’s about having and keeping the right focus in life, not losing sight of what’s important. Preparing for Jesus’ coming means sharing the gospel, helping those in need, and building the church. That is Paul’s message to the Christians in Thessalonica and also for us today. We live the responsibility to live for Jesus and for His kingdom until the day Jesus comes! In the second letter to the Thessalonians in particular, Paul writes of false doctrines and teachers, of seduction and deception. And that doesn’t happen so much head-on with a satanic face, but rather religiously, theologically and in the community’s environment. In his last letters that have come down to us, the letters to Timothy, Paul calls for clarity, steadfastness and struggle:
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (1 Tim. 6:12) And at the end of his life, Paul can gratefully write about it:
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” (2.Tim.4,7) This clinging to Jesus and to his word, the truth, is the one great concern of God for our life and also for life in love for Jesus and his people. It is also about the unity of Christians who Jesus created and gave, who we are now keeping and for whom we are to stand up. These two poles seem to contradict each other and to stand against each other: cling to the truth and respect and love each other despite many differences. I’ll come back to that. And the Bible teaches us that we should both cling to the truth and love one another, and not fight one another.
1. Hold fast to the truth – Stand firm in the LORD!
Yes, Paul, has also confronted people and clearly labeled their statements as false and misleading statements. (2 Timothy 4,9 – 15).
But the Bible makes it very clear that our fight is not directed against people, even if in some places it has taken a clear position against people and we have to do that sometimes. This must happen when people spread false doctrines, lies and half-truths that want to divert us from believing in Jesus and from His Word:
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”(Ephesians 6: 11 + 12) Paul urges us to be faithful to Jesus and His Word, the Bible: Stand firm, stand firm
1.Thess. 3.8: “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”
2.Thess.2.15: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”
Phil.4,1: “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved”
2.Thess.2.15: “Therefore, brethren (and sisters), stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (So stand now … and hold fast to the traditions that you have been taught …!)
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore…” (Eph. 6:13 + 14)
God’s commission to His church, to you and me, is to hold fast to God’s word and not to sacrifice the Bible to the opinions of the zeitgeist, not even for the sake of love.
“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2.Tim.2,1 + 2)
“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 1:13)
“Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie ”(2.Thess.2,9 + 11)
It is a sign of recent times, as we read it in the Bible, that God’s word is being questioned more and more, not only from the secular side, but also from the theological side. And much of what sounds smart and modern is a meaningless view of God, His Church and His Word.
People are abandoned by God to the power of error because they refused to believe in the truth. (Werner de Boor)
So it is about a conscious decision against God’s word.
Romans 1:21: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
And often, for the sake of love and the so highly praised tolerance, we no longer dare to let God’s word stand. For fear of offending people and of reaping offense and contradiction, more and more Christians no longer dare to represent beliefs from God’s Word and thus to hold on to the Bible and Jesus.
It is about false teaching and about being faithful to God’s word.
What is it not about ?!
It’s not about second or third tier questions!
You may be shocked by this now, but these are not the central statements that one could not think differently about without losing the ground of the gospel:
- It is not about our view / understanding of baptism, how and when it has to happen. It’s about the personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Nor is it about ethical questions, important as they are and will remain.
- Not about our view of Corona and the measures.
- It’s also not about the question of whether God created the world in 6 times 24 of our hours, which I think is very possible. But it is about the question of whether God is the creator or not.
- It is not about the theology of the rapture, how and when it happens. But it is about the question of whether Jesus is coming again or not.
- It is not a question of whether we stand up while we praise or pray or read the word of God.
- It is not about the form of our piety, but about our faith in Jesus.
Wrong teachings in the situation of the early Christians were as follows:
- “The day of the Lord is already over, Jesus has already come” (2.Thess.2,1 + 2)
- Because Jesus is coming again, we fall into lethargy and indifference and laziness (2nd Thess 3: 6-12). Because Jesus is coming again soon, we no longer work and no longer take our responsibility seriously. That is irresponsible and contrary to the gospel.
- Jesus is not coming back at all. But then there is no hope for us, but we just have to make the best of our life, because there is nothing more anyway.
- There is no need for an atonement death from Jesus for our guilt. This is a very modern theological claim that pulls the rug from under the feet of our personal faith and salvation.
- Jesus was not actually resurrected at all. If so, then our faith is empty and meaningless, because after death everything is over. All hope for an afterlife and a future in God’s world is then an illusion. The virgin birth of Jesus is not true. Then Jesus is not really God’s Son either.
A friend asked me to say this in a sermon: On the last stretch of his life, terminally ill, he found Jesus as his personal savior and despite all the pain, after his death he goes to Jesus in heaven. His question to me was what and how heaven was? Heaven is where Jesus is and where it’s just good. Without tears, pain, illness, quarrels and death. None of this would exist without Christ crucified and risen for my fault.
Clinging to the truth is about the inalienable contents of the gospel of Christ:
HE died for us so that we can live forever and have a secure future with God in heaven.
Yes, it is also about, more than ever in our time in the 21st century, about the biblical image of people, families and sexuality. Here the image of marriage and family and ultimately our society is destroyed. This year a book was published by an evangelical publisher in which some of the biblical statements are presented as not true. And modern theology, which appears to be smarter and progressive, rejects clear biblical statements as being false. And many hear and read it and are enthusiastic about it. Somebody puts sand in our eyes, and we lose the solid ground of Christian hope in the coming Lord and Savior / Redeemer Jesus Christ.
2. Think and live from the goal
Consequence of sticking to the truth:
- Don’t sleep, just be awake and prudent! (Eph.5.6 + 7)
- Armed with armor (Eph. 6): Faith and love and hope for salvation! (5.8)
- Encourage one another and help one another (in faith)! (5.11)
- Show respect and love to your leaders! Keep peace with one another! (5.12 + 13)
- Encourage and help the weak! (5.14)
- Live in reconciliation and do good to one another!
- Live blamelessly and not ashamed!
- Live an orderly life that fits the message of the coming Lord!
It is a clear call to fidelity to Jesus and his word and a call to personal faith (following Jesus) and love for one another !!! The Bible is never about the mere fight for beliefs without love, because that would be dead orthodoxy, dogmatism, which only divides.
It’s about truth and love, just as Jesus had shown us. This has nothing to do with arrogance and arrogance, but with the desire to win the other in love. But also to have the courage to say: Here I am now, and I can’t help it! (after Martin Luther) But so many have misused Luther’s sentence for their own view of things on secondary issues. Luther meant this sentence with regard to Jesus and the salvation that we can only have through faith in
3. How should / can we live?
- We need consolation and strength in every good word and work (2.Thess.2,17)
- “That the word of the Lord may run and be glorified!” (2.Thess.3,1)
- Protection from evil / evil (3.3)
- Love of God and patience of Christ (3.5)
- Correcting others with love and clarity, as a brother (3.14 + 15)
This is how Paules’ first letter to Thessalonians ends: “May the God of peace sanctify you through and through. He will protect your spirit, your soul and your body so that they will be unharmed (blameless) when Jesus Christ, our Lord, comes again. God who called you is faithful; He will keep what He has promised. “(1.Thess.5,23 + 24) (God Himself, the God of Peace, help you lead a holy life through and through. He preserve your whole being – spirit, soul and body – so that when Jesus Christ, our LORD, returns, there is nothing in you that deserves to be blamed. He who calls you is faithful; He will bring you to your destination.)
Preparing for Jesus’ coming means sharing the gospel, helping those in need, and building the church. We live with the responsibility to live for Jesus and for His kingdom until the day Jesus comes!
Life beyond this maxim is wasted life, personally and as the church of Jesus. This is the most important lesson from the crisis of the last year and a half and from the whole history of the Church of Jesus:
Invite people to personal faith in Jesus and to lead as many people as humanly possible to Jesus. It’s really not about anything else. We have to understand that. Let’s hold on to it and subordinate everything else to it!
Would you like to get to know Jesus Christ too?