Able to stand firm
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 NIV
Paul concludes Chapter 2 of 2 Thessalonians with a thanksgiving. He is especially thankful for them at this point because they are chosen by God; “God chose you as firstfruits to be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). They are the firstfruits, not in the sense that they were the first converts in Europe, but rather that they are the first ones chosen for the special purpose of demonstrating God’s grace in their community. This calling from God enabled them to live a life of transformation and a life of service. Through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit necessary to effect salvation, resulted in the “Belief in the truth.” Paul reiterated this very idea in the next verse; “He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Jesus is the model of service for Christians living out their life of service. In this sense, Christians “share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then Paul reminded them once again to “Stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). The relationship between thought and actions is once again emphasized. How one thinks reflects in how he or she acts. God’s transforming power in the lives of believers is greatly manifested as they are changed within increasingly becoming holy. It is the Holy Spirit affecting this process in conjunction with the individual who must make a deliberate choice to continually believe in the truth of God’s word. The Holy Spirit works through the word of truth, and the truth becomes energized by our faith reflected in our willful decision to believe and obey. When faith and the Spirit work in harmony, the believer continues to grow more like Christ, becoming increasingly useful in the work of God and His kingdom. When we live our lives this way, we will discover that we have God with us to provide strength and encouragement so we can stand firm even in times of difficulties.