Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"A BULWARK NEVER FAILING" (2 Thessalonians Chapter 3)

1 Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful.  He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”

There has been much discussion lately in the news regarding the terrorist group ISIS and its evil and barbaric activities.  Just last night a bombing campaign against ISIS was initiated in Syria.  In ISIS the whole world civilized world faces a real and substantial threat.

Though not visible--and frequently disregarded or ignored--there is a greater and more imminent evil threat which none of us can avoid.  There is an evil one who has evil plans for the souls of men.  The “evil one” is Satan.  He is the “ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” and “the accuser of our brothers” (Revelation 12:9, 10).  The “whole world lies” in his power (Cf. 1 John 5:20). 

The evil one has an evil plan.  He is “the god of this world (and) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  He “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  He deceives (Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3), tempts (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:5), and accuses (Cf. Revelation 12:10).  He has schemes (Cf. Ephesians 6:11) and designs (Cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11) through which he exercises his evil plans.  He has many such devices at his disposal.  In his book, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices,” Thomas Brooks wrote, “From the power, malice and skill of Satan, doth proceed all the soul-killing plots, devices, stratagems, and machinations, that be in the world….A man may as well tell the stars, and number the sands of the sea, as reckon up all the devices of Satan.”

Paul was well aware of the reality of the evil one and his evil plans, but was confident of the Lord’s protection over His people.  His confidence was founded in the truth regarding the Lord’s faithfulness.  “Faithful” translates a Greek term meaning “to be trusted, reliable” (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:24).  The Lord can be counted upon to “establish” and “guard” those who belong to Him.  He can be trusted with respect to what He has purposed and promised to do in salvation. 

The terms “establish” and “guard” are of warfare terminology.  To “establish” is to means “to fix, make fast, to set” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).  The term translated “guard” means “to guard, watch, keep” (Vine’s).  Jesus used the same term with respect to protection over His true disciples, saying, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me.  I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction” (John 17:12).  He is faithful to exercise that same degree of protection over all those who belong to Him. The evil one, “our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe” and is “armed with cruel hate.”  He tempts, but “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  The evil one accuses, but God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  “He who calls you is faithful” and “will surely do” what He has purposed to do all He has promised to do with respect to salvation (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Philippians 1:6).  Through “him who loved us” we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).  He is “a bulwark never failing…our helper...amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing” (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God).

The battle against the evil one is not won through human means, as the hymn puts it, “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.  Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus, it is He—Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.”  From “age to age” He is the same.  He is faithful and has promised “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).  He must “win the battle.” 

“Did ever saint find this friend forsake Him?”  What’s the answer to the question put forth in that hymn?  “No, not one!”  Do you have Him now for your friend?  If not, you need Him, for there is no other like Him (Cf. Acts 16:31).  He alone will faithfully work to keep you “safe and secure from all alarms.”

No comments: