Text: 2 Thessalonians 2:9-17
Proposition: The Gospel is more than truth, more than good news, it is what calls you for the obtaining of the glory of Jesus Christ.
Introduction: Good news, our world is thirsty for it, we long to hear some good news. There’s a website called The Good News Network where people send in their good news stories. The top two for this week are a new app for cell phones called the Verona App that is a dating app for bringing Palestinian and Israeli men and women together. The other lead story was simply headed, ‘It’s Official, Liberia is Ebola Free’. Good news, for many it’s what the Bible is, the good news of the gospel, it’s what the word ‘gospel ‘ actually means. But what does the Gospel really say, what is it really all about?
When it comes right down to it the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not advice about how to live, it’s the good news of what has already happened, the very good news that Jesus Christ has entered into the condition of humanity in order to conquer sin, Satan and death bringing people to redemption and salvation. When Paul writes to the Thessalonians it’s this Gospel that he earnestly wants to reveal to them and as he does what becomes clear is that the gospel warns people even as it wins people. Let’s look at that in 2 Thess. 2:9-17.
I. The Gospel Warning, Beware of Being Deceived To the Point of No Return.
Paul’s main point in verse 9 and on is that deception is like a mine field in front of us, you can’t see it and the way forward looks clear and easy. There might even be things laying out in the field that I really want… food, wealth, the keys to power and fame and significance. They lay there like lures, like bait. Deception is like that, it offers gain with no apparent consequence. What if the bait is something that actually makes a difference, what if the bait is the power to heal, the power to do really good things, life changing generosity, altruism that overcomes wickedness and suffering? That’s the bait, what is the deception? The deception is with all power, signs and lying wonders so that they would, “not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” Why on earth would people ever fall for such deception… Jesus once spoke to a man named Nicodemus about this very thing. In John 3:19 He said, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” The reason deception works so well on us is that it fits hand in glove with our sin nature, men have loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil and they didn’t want those deeds exposed. Deception says that you can actually cover over your sin and never have it found out. That’s a lie and it will cause you to deceive yourself as you try to hide it from others, yourself and even God. The good news of the Gospel is that it announces the presence of deception. Wouldn’t you say that it was good news to know that a field you were about to walk on had landmines all over the place? That’s the warning of the Gospel, Satan knows how to use deception on us and if we succumb to it the cost will take you to the point of no return as it severs your relationship with God. The Good News tells about this wickedness and warns all to beware of it.
II.The Gospel Has 7 Steps That Win People To Eternity In Christ.
The Gospel, the Good news of what God has done and now invites you to respond to, is described by Paul in verses 13 and 14. Look at what he says, “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.”
Paul begins by saying that the wonder of the Gospel always constrains us to give thanks to God because it is such a picture of His grace, moving towards us, unseen and undeserved and yet unrelenting. So what are the 7 steps that Paul refers to as the Gospel? Here’s the first step, somewhat subtle but all powerful…
1. The Love of God – he calls the Thessalonians ‘beloved of God’. It means that the whole reason of the Gospel is that it springs from God’s love, more than His Law or Justice or Judgment, the Gospel is sourced in God’s Love… ‘brethren beloved (past tense) by the Lord’. 1 John 4:10 says it well, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Before we loved, He loved and He loved us at great cost.
2. The Eternality of What God Has Done – in other words the Gospel didn’t just happen when Jesus was crucified and resurrected. It didn’t begin at His birth, it didn’t even begin at the creation of Adam. The Gospel began, was conceived, was put into place in God’s will and mind “from the beginning”. How do we understand that phrase, ‘from the beginning’? From the beginning of what, of when… of Who? In Revelation 13:8 John makes this astounding statement, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” He’s talking about the anti Christ and contrasting those who followed that deception with those that followed Christ. But the point I want to make is that the plan of the Cross, the very center of the Gospel, occurred before the foundation of the world. The Gospel is God’s plan from eternity past, from the beginning of a self existent God’s heart.
3. The Focus of God’s Plan From Eternity Past - Paul says in verse 13 , “God from the beginning chose you for salvation”. Why me? What about the others? How can that be fair or just? Does this mean we are without choice? Why me? My purpose is not to answer your questions to the point of completely convincing you to your deep satisfaction, my purpose is simply to proclaim to you what the Gospel is, that action that is Good News, already done and to which you are called to respond. That’s the Gospel and this facet of it says that it hinges on God’s choice of you way more than on your choice of Him. That’s really, really good news because left to our own devices and wisdom we would rather love darkness rather than light. Something, Someone has to overrule that, intervene in that or we are eternally lost.
4.The Agency of the Spirit of God - in verse 13 Paul puts it like this, “through sanctification by the Spirit”. The good news of the Gospel is that it not only presents God’s Son to be the One to take our place, to pay the price of our sin, He also brings the understanding of that to us by speaking past our empirical senses, past our prejudices and past experiences to the inner being of who we are, our spirit. He has His Spirit speak to our spirit the reality of Who Jesus is and what He has done for us. 1 Cor 2: 9-11 describes this. The good news of the Gospel is that God goes to matt for you and I, providing salvation and then He makes it clear to our spirit and heart and mind sanctifying us, sparking life into our dead spirits. He sets us apart from the world, to Himself….New life for death.
5. Belief in the Truth – Jesus once said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn 8:30,31) When Paul says that belief in the truth is one of the steps in salvations plan I think he is referring to our choice, our responsibility to believe which is fuelled by the way the Spirit opens up and amplifies the Word of God to help us believe. Faith then is both an action of your will and at the same time a gift of God’s grace. But the point is made clear in Romans 1, we are without excuse, know and respond to the Good News of the Truth of Christ.
6. He Called You - God calls us to salvation. He does it by the Holy Spirit with truth and with the purifying cleansing from sin in the act of being sanctified, forgiven of our sin. The Gospel’s good news is that God calls you, He calls you again and again and again. At first to repent and believe, to love light more than darkness, to surrender to Him, to receive what He earnestly and at unbelievable cost has put into place for you and I by the cross of Christ. God calls us, that’s the Gospel truth, He’s calling you right now. Stop resisting God.
7. The Obtaining of the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ - the Good News of the Gospel is that it’s end purpose is that you would obtain the glory of Jesus Christ your Lord. The Gospel has more in view that just getting you into heaven. It’s not about seeing aunt Bessie again as wonderful as that would be. It’s not even so much about the end of death, sorrow, suffering and the end of Satan as triumphant as that is. The Gospel is about something even greater, it’s about the glory of Jesus Christ and you and I obtaining that. What does that mean? What will it be like? In essence it means that we will be experientially in Christ’s righteousness, that just as the Father sees and loves the Son and as the Son is in the Father and we in the Son we would experience that, obtaining it eternally.
Seven steps to bring you to obtain the glory of Christ, six of those steps God has already done, the Good News has already happened. The Gospel, it’s these six and then your one step to believe in the truth, even that step is with His Spirit. Now that’s Good News!