THE ANTIDOTE TO APOSTASY
2 Thessalonians 2:13 ¶ But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
2 Thessalonians 2:16 ¶ Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
Our context begins with a word of contradiction. It is the word, “But.” And it is a welcomed relief from the subject of the preceding twelve verses. For they have been addressing such grave matters as counterfeit letters from false prophets; “a man of sin;” “the mystery of iniquity” already at work; a “Wicked” one who shall be destroyed with the “brightness of Christ’s coming;” and God’s sending “a strong delusion” to cause the belief of a lie and eternal damnation! If ever there was a need for a word of comforting contradiction, it is certainly here after such scary implications.
And this is also the case in Hebrews chapter six. For there it is stated that after one has once received the light of the gospel it is impossible to ever renew them again unto repentance if they “shall fall away.” For they are like the thorns and briars which are rejected; “whose end is to be burned.” And again after that there comes a comforting passage with the same word of contradiction. For the very next verse reads, “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”
And in both passages there follows the things which the apostle sees in these believers which assure him of not being included in this apostasy. They are said to be things that accompany salvation. And these things are “The Antidote to Apostasy.”
In his letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle even states that he recognizes that God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation. But how can he know this? For sovereign election was accomplished by the Father in Christ before the world began! Not even an angel, nor the entire universe were in existence, much less the Apostle Paul. Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
That is absolutely true! But this pre-foundation election is not without its evidences. For again, there are definite things that accompany salvation. Consider that Ephesians 1:4, just quoted above. For it clearly states that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Therefore the evidence of election is the purpose of election! We are elected unto holiness! Just as you can tell what kind of tree that was that you set out as just a small ‘stick’ by the fruit it later bears as it grows to maturity. So that believer, elected before time, can be correctly identified by the fruit he produces, as election includes sanctification, as it is “unto holiness!”
Does not the Apostle Peter clearly set this forth in his second letter? Sure he does! 2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: He instructs us to give diligence to make sure, both our calling by the Holy Spirit through the gospel, and our election by the Father.
And how does he say this is to be done? He states that we are to do these things. For these are the things which accompany salvation. No one who has been given life in the Holy Spirit; no one who has ever been born from above, is without the fruit of the Spirit! Listen to the clear instruction by our Lord:
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Every tree is said to bear fruit! The corrupt tree bears evil fruit. It is not possible for it to bear good fruit. The good tree bears good fruit. It is not possible for it to bear evil fruit. Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Matthew 15:13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
But lets go back to Peter’s statement in 2 Peter 1:10, just quoted in the previous column. The assurance of eternal election and our effectual, spiritual call into grace, and that which assures us that we shall never fall, are by seeing this fruit of the Holy Spirit coming forth from us in our progressive and practical sanctification! These good fruits CANNOT be brought forth except by a good tree! Therefore all who have these christian graces expressing themselves in their character and personality are good trees!
But just what are these good fruits? They are the character of the Holy Spirit, within every true believer expressing himself as He progressively develops the believer in spiritual maturity. He is said to cause the believer to “add these things to your faith.”
2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
The sure evidence of life is growth! Whether in the physical of spiritual realm, life is evidenced by growth. Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. And the Apostle Peter clearly states that growth is the strong evidence of not being led away with the apostasy of the wicked. 2 Peter 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
And this is what the Apostle Paul meant in 2 Thessalonians 2:16 as he states that our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, We have this “good hope through grace!” For it is these things evidenced from our new character by regenerating grace which “comfort our hearts!”
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman believers he sets forth several absolute things which cannot be altered, or fail. Jonah had to go to ‘fish school’ to learn that Salvation is of the Lord. (Jonah 2:9) Therefore as the Lord is sovereign over all things, his salvation is absolute, and cannot fail. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Consider these matters which the Apostle Paul sets forth: Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 ¶ What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
The believer comes to learn that “all things” – not just all good things, but all things, painful or pleasant – will eventually work together for their good. For all believers were foreknown, or fore loved by the Eternal Father. This is certain for their personal faith works by his eternal love. Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. If one has redeeming faith it is due to the Father’s eternal love!
Then the exact same ones he foreknew, without the addition or subtraction of one, he did predestinate. That words just means, “to mark off ahead of time.” The football coach makes sure that the grounds keepers clearly mark off the side lines, the goal lines, and the yard lines before the game begins. So Almighty God marked it off before time ever began that those same ones, without the addition or loss of one, would be conformed to the image of his Son.
And not leaving this to any other possibility, to these same ones he also gave an effectual call into their souls by the Holy Spirit. He called them outwardly by the preaching of the gospel, and at the same time issued forth his sovereign call inwardly, calling them, like Lazarus, from the death of trespasses and sins, into life in the spiritual realm. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then, having fore loved them, and predestinated them, and called them, he renders the same number to be justified before him. That is a legal term which tells us that in God’s hall of justice they are legally declared ‘not guilty.’ And finally, all those declared just before God shall, without fail, or without the loss of one, be eternally glorified! And all this was done in Christ! Romans 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Our glorification shall finally and completely conform us into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ! Philippians 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Yet it is still true that being encased in this natural flesh, we sometimes lack assurance of these great matters. But the Lord has even kindly instructed us in this situation. Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The Apostle Paul confessed his fearfulness in beginning to preach to the Corinthian church. 1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
And why should he not be fearful? For he realized the seriousness of these matters. 2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
Always remember that God will honor the quality of true faith, no matter what the quantity! Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Pastor Gene Breed
April 23, 2021