Life is full of obstacles, and our faith often leads us toward ones that stir up fears, worries, anxieties, or tears. But if you’re secure in Christ, you can be confident to face any obstacle life throws you. In 2 Thessalonians, the Thessalonian church encountered overwhelming obstacles in the form of intense persecution. Paul gives them hope by reminding them that they are chosen and they can stand fast because God is with them. As you work to overcome obstacles in your life, recognize they are spiritual exercises God uses to refine and strengthen your faith.
A Deep Dive Into 2 Thessalonians
In 2 Thessalonians 1, Paul encouraged the Thessalonian church that Jesus would bring justice to the world in His second coming. The Thessalonian church clung to the hope of this promise as they faced growing persecution. However, false teachers started spreading lies about the end times in Paul’s name, telling the people that the day of the Lord was already upon them. The Thessalonians began to panic and worry that Jesus had left them behind. When Paul heard this, he penned 2 Thessalonians to quiet their fears and remind them of their position as chosen children of God.
“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. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”—2 Thessalonians 2:13-16
Paul comforts them by reminding them of the events leading up to Jesus’ return and tells them they don’t need to be scared. He ends the chapter by encouraging the Thessalonians to stand fast and hold to the traditions (verse 15) he taught them as they waited for Jesus’ return.
Overcoming Obstacles Like the Thessalonians
The traditions Paul references in verse 15 are found throughout 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Paul specifically gave them 5 things to hold fast to when encountering life’s obstacles:
- Exemplary faith – 1 Thessalonians 1
Paul encourages the Thessalonians to model the faith for those around them irresistibly. He tells them they should stand for truth, be known for love, and be the voice of hope. Our faith should be so attractive to those around us that they can’t help but be drawn toward the irresistible love of Jesus.
- Authentic conversion – 1 Thessalonians 2:12
Paul remembers the life change he saw in the Thessalonians after he shared the Gospel with them. They weren’t just checking boxes; their lives were authentically changed. He gives thanks for how their faith came alive and shares his joy in hearing that they are walking worthy of God’s calling on their lives. Our salvation in Jesus should radically change the way we live.
- Holy life – 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, 5:12-22, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
God’s will for your life is sanctification. Paul tells the Thessalonians to pursue sanctification by avoiding sexual immorality, praying without ceasing, giving thanks in all things, and rejoicing always. We can pursue holiness by being set apart and sanctified daily.
- Eschatological understanding – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:1-11, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12, 2:1-12
Eschatology describes the study of the end times. First and Second Thessalonians teach us about the end of all things, including the rapture, the day of the Lord, the Antichrist, and the great delusion. As Christians, we shouldn’t fear the end times, but we should be aware of the signs telling us that the day of the Lord is near.
- Unwavering hope (1 and 2 Thessalonians)
The Thessalonians had an unwavering hope in the truth of their salvation in Christ. They eagerly anticipated the return of Christ, and they recognized that earth was only their temporary home. Even during intense persecution, they clung to the hope of the promise that God was with them. This promise is still true today. You are not alone when you face obstacles and challenges because God is with you!
How You Can Face Life’s Obstacles with Confidence
Paul reminds the Thessalonians of a promise and a command that will give them the confidence to overcome obstacles. These 2 principles are still applicable to you in whatever situation you find yourself in today:
Believe You Are Chosen – 2 Thessalonians 2:13
If you are in Christ, you are chosen by God and called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). You know you are chosen when you have heard the Gospel and believed in the truth. This truth should anchor you and give you confidence that Jesus will never reject or abandon you. Admit that you need Jesus, believe He’s your Savior, confess Him as Lord, and then choose to live in His power!
Stand Fast in the Spirit’s Strength – 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Second Thessalonians 2:15 petitions us to stand fast in the traditions we were taught, but that is easier said than done. Your level of security determines your level of courage. Instead of standing, we often allow fear to keep us silent and cowering in adversity. Christians must live with boldness, passion, and confidence because of our security in Christ. There’s no obstacle you face that a good resurrection can’t fix.
You are chosen, so stand fast because God is with you! God is with us lovingly, with everlasting consolation, in good hope. He is gracious, comforting, and establishing us in every good word and work (2 Thessalonians 2:16). God’s will is for you to become more like Christ by overcoming life’s obstacles and viewing them as spiritual exercises to strengthen your faith. His presence goes with you in every season of life you encounter and fuels you with hope and courage to stand fast in the mundane.
Watch the other sermons from our Thessalonians series here!