2 Thessalonians 3 beginning in verse one, the bible reads, "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, for all men have not faith, but the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil."
Now, as we get into this third chapter of 2 Thessalonians, let me just mention this. This is pretty much the only chapter in first or second Thessalonians that doesn't go much into end times bible prophecy, whatsoever. All the other seven chapters covered it at least in part of the chapter, but in this chapter not so much, but it's interesting that in verse five it does just make one quick reference to it, just to complete the eight chapters in a row of dealing with it.
It says, "And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ." There is just that little reference to the second coming. Most of this chapter has to do with people working hard and having a good work ethic, and talking about the traditions that they've been given by the apostles, and so forth.
Now, in the first few verses here, Paul is asking for them to pray for him. He says, "Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you." He's saying, "Look, you've been a success story." The church at Thessalonica was a church that was a pattern church. If you remember in some of the previous chapters that talked about how their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world. The apostle Paul is basically praying and saying, "Look, pray for us that we will have the same success in other places where we go and preach that we had with you, that God's word would have free course, and that God's word would be glorified."
The bible says that God has magnified his word above all his name. God's word ought to be glorified. It needs to be exalted, it needs to be lifted up. A lot of people will accuse us as fundamental Baptists of worshiping the bible or making an idol out of the bible. You know what? Guilty as charged because you know what? We ought to glorify the word of God. We ought to exalt the word of God. If God has magnified it above his name, and of course, we're supposed to worship the name of the Lord, then of course, we should worship the word of God.
Now, we're not talking about worshiping a physical book. Obviously, a book is a book. We're talking about the word though, the words that are in the book. They were in the beginning with God, and they are God, and they ought to be glorified and exalted and magnified even above the name of God.
There are whole denominations out there that are just based on understanding the name of God. You got the Jehovah's Witnesses saying, "Hey, we're the ones who have the real name of God." Then you have the Hebrew roots people over here that are telling you, "Hey, it's actually Yahweh," or Yeshua, and all these different things. You know what? God is exalted above even any of his names. He's exalted his word. He's magnified his word above all his name, according to Psalm 138:2.
So we should always make sure that what we believe and preach is in accordance with God's word. That's the most important thing. The Jehovah's Witnesses, hey, they're preaching the right name, but they got all the doctrine wrong, and they didn't get the word right. What's more important, the word, isn't it? Of course, that's a whole another sermon in and of itself why it's biblical to use the term the Lord, and why that's the term that Jesus used, et cetera, et cetera, but that's another sermon that shall be preached in another time.
Here, the bible says, "We want God's word to be glorified," verse two, "that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, for all men have not faith," and there are people out there that are unbelievers, and they're unreasonable people, and they're wicked people. They don't have faith.
Let me tell you something. Many people who don't have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are unreasonable people. Yet, often those who are atheistic will lift themselves up as being those who follow reason. That's actually a word that they use a lot, reason. "Forget religion, we need reason." Then when you try to reason with one of these atheist, you'll realize they don't believe in reason. The bible is right when it said that those who have no faith are unreasonable and wicked men.
It's true because I've rarely met an honest atheist that you could actually have a reasonable conversation with. They're out there. I've talked to some atheist that you could actually reason with, but 99% of atheists will just give you the most ridiculous, unreasonable answers. When you try to talk to them, you just can't get through to them because they just have a preconceived idea. There is no God, and they don't want to hear about any other philosophy or any other evidence. It's just there's ... That's their starting point. They hate God, they don't want him to exist.
Obviously, they're going to then take all the evidence that they see and look at it through that lens of atheism. Everything that they teach in their schools, and in their colleges is through that atheistic lens, and that atheistic world. That's how they interpret everything that they find in the natural world.
We that believe in the God of the bible, we look at all the same evidence. We look around us and we see the handy work of God. Especially, you'd think that today when we have all the microscopes and the technology to look at organisms on the micro level and be able to see the intricacy that previous generations didn't even know about where we know the intricacy of a single-celled organism, and we should be marveling at God's handy work when we look at DNA, and how complex it is, and realize this is not anything that could just randomly come to pass. This could not be by chance. It's clearly created by the Lord God, but they don't see it. You know why? Because they're not reasonable.
Only an unreasonable person would look around at the world and the magnificent creation and then behold the heavens and say, "This is all the product of a random explosion of who knows what." What kind of an unreasonable person thinks that something comes from nothing? It's not reasonable to say, "Hey, there was nothing and then all this just came about." That defies every law of science that says that something can't come from nothing. That teaches laws like cause and effect or the laws of conservation of matter, laws of conservation of energy. All that is just turned on its head in the name of atheism. Unreasonable and wicked men teach that there is no God. The fool had set in his heart that there is no God.
The bible says in verse three, "But the Lord is faithful," faithful meaning trustworthy, we can rely on him, "who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil, and we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you, and the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ."
Verse six, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." Now, this is a pretty important verse because we all know that there are verses in the bible that talk about separation, that there are people that we should separate from.
If you would flip over to 1 Corinthians 6, I'm sorry, 2 Corinthians 6, if you would turn over to 2 Corinthians 6, the bible says in verse number 14, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?"
Now, that's a whole bunch of ways to say the same thing here. It's all summed up in the beginning there, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," and then he uses different words. He's talking about Christ versus Belial, him that believeth, an infidel. Infidel is just a fancy way of saying someone who doesn't believe. Fidelus means faithful or believing. Infidel means nonbeliever.
Then he says in verse number 16, "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
That's a pretty famous passage that most Christians are familiar with, and they understand that we, as Christians, are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. That would go especially for marriage, that's pretty much the tightest bond that we have on this earth. So we should not marry an unbeliever. We don't want to join forces with unbelievers. When you see this type of ecumenical prayer breakfast, for example, that will join the Christians, and the Muslims, and the Hindus, and the Buddhists, they all pray together or they all join together for some ecumenical presidential prayer breakfast. We know that's wrong.
We know that ... I as a pastor of a bible-believing Baptist church should not join the local ministerial association where I can have breakfast with the Catholic priest or Jewish rabbi or all these different denominations of people who do not believe the bible because I'm not supposed to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. "What fellowship hath light with darkness?" It's pretty clear, right?
This teaching in 2 Thessalonians 3, if you go back there, is not so well-known, and is not so popular because the bible does not only tell us to separate from unbelievers. It also tells us to withdraw ourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly. Do you see that? This is talking about somebody who's saved. Not only are we not supposed to be yoked up with the unsaved, we are also not supposed to be yoked up with brothers and sisters in Christ here who walk disorderly and not after the tradition received of the apostles.
If you go down a little bit in the chapter, it says in verse 14, "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him," but then look at the next verse, "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a ..." what? "... a brother." What's the bible is saying here? Twice in the same chapter letting us know that there are certain brothers and sisters in Christ that we should separate from, that we should not have anything to do with.
Now, we also know this from 1 Corinthians 5, if you would flip over there quickly, but we need to understand that just because someone is saved does not mean that we should be united with that person or that we should have fellowship with that person. The bible says in Amos 3:3, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Honestly, today, there's this message that's constantly being pounded into us that says, "We as Christians need to stay united. We need to be unified. United we stand, divided we fall," but that is not what the bible teaches.
The bible teaches that there are people that we'd be better off to withdraw from, that we'd be better off to separate from, not, "Let's all join together. Hey, as long as we're saved, let's put aside the doctrinal differences, let's put aside the lifestyle differences, and if we're saved, we should all be able to just rally around the gospel of Jesus Christ."
I had a guy tell me one time, "You're going to be in heaven with these people for all eternity. You should get used to fellowshipping with them now, and you need to be united with them." Today, there's a huge movement that says, "Unite all Christians. Put aside the doctrine." This is where the nondenominational crowd comes from because they say, "We want all types of people at the church even if they have wildly different doctrine. Hey, that doesn't matter. We all believe in Jesus, right?"
Wrong, because when people are believing in major false doctrine like believing that you can lose your salvation, like believing that salvation is by works, like believing that Jesus Christ is not God in the flesh, but that he's just a created being. These doctrines matter. When people all have a different bible, and different doctrine, and a totally different belief system, the bible talks about people having another Jesus, but even if there's ...
You say, "Yeah, but these people are saved. They believe it's by faith. They don't believe it's by works. They don't believe you're going to lose your salvation. They believe Jesus Christ is God." Okay, but what about when they're just disregarding the clear teachings of scripture and teaching other false doctrine, that would be a brother who's not walking in the traditions and the teachings of the word of God.
Look at another group. Look at another group in 1 Corinthians 5 that we should separate from. It says in verse nine, "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world." He's saying that he had previously written to them telling them that they should not hang around with fornicators, but he's clarifying now. He's saying, "I'm not saying not to hang around with the fornicators of this world," because he said in order to do that, you'd have to leave the world because he's saying, unsaved people, they're fornicators, they're covetous, they're idolaters. That's just unsaved people acting like unsaved people.
He's saying, "You don't have to separate from those people in the sense of having no fellowship with them, no company with them," but watch what he says in verse 11, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."
The bible is teaching a higher standard of separation for those who are called a brother. He's saying, if you're around worldly people, unsaved people that you work with or that you have maybe in your extended family, he's saying, "If they're fornicators, if they're covetous, if they're idolaters, and they're not a Christian," he's saying, "you don't have to completely withdraw from that person. You could still eat a meal with that person." He's not asking us to leave the world.
Jesus prayed and said, "I pray that you would not take them out of the world, but that you would keep them from the evil." That's what he prayed to the Father. So we should not withdraw ourselves from society and go live on some compound somewhere, live out in the wilderness somewhere secluded and isolated like a hermit. No, we should stay amongst the people of this world because it's our job to preach the gospel to every creature. So we're going to interact with people.
The bible says that if someone's called a brother and they're a fornicator, someone's called a brother and they're an idolater, covetous, railer, drunkard, extortioner, with such an one no not so much as to eat. I mean, that's pretty strong words. They're saying don't have anything to do with people like that.
Now, when it comes to the unsaved fornicator, are we supposed to be yoked together with them? No, we're not supposed to be yoked up with the unsaved, but we could still talk to them, be friendly, have a meal with them, et cetera. Don't get yoked up with them, but we're still going to be nice to them. We're still going to spend time with them in our jobs, and in our neighborhoods, and so forth, but with a brother who is involved in these major sins, he says, "With such an one no not to eat."
Now, there's a false teaching out there today that all sin is equal. We see it different, but in God's sight, it's all equal. That would be a ridiculous unjust God who saw all sin is equal because all sin is not equal. The proof of that is that all throughout the bible, God distinguishes the severity of one sin over another. For example, Jesus told Pontius Pilate, "He that delivered you unto me," talking about the Jews that delivered him unto Pilate, "He that delivered you unto me hath the greater sin." How can someone have a greater sin if all sin is equal?
Then also, Jesus talked about the Pharisees and the Scribes receiving a greater damnation. If all sin is equal, how could you have a greater damnation? If all sin is equal, then why did God in the criminal code of the Old Testament punished some things minorly and some things severely. Some things are punished with death. Some things are punished with a beating. Some things are punished with paying of fine, but that shows right there that there's a difference in severity. There's not a single scripture in the bible that says all sin is equal.
The reason that this is such a dangerous doctrine to say that all sin is equal is because it causes people to commit bigger sins because they think, "Well, it's all equal anyway, right?" We're all going to ... Then they just say, "Well, we're all going to sin. We're all sinners. If I commit fornication, I mean, that doesn't make me any different than anybody else because hey, we're all sinners, right?" That is a very dangerous doctrine.
Think about how dangerous it is to say, "Well, stealing a pencil and murdering someone is the same." I mean, you don't have to be a crazy person to believe that, but think about what that would do to people's morals. I've confronted people who were in major sin and had them say, "Well, we're all sinners." It's like, "Well, wait a minute though. We're not all fornicators." What they'll do, they'll take certain scriptures and they'll twist the meaning.
For example in James 2:10, it says, "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law." He's saying, either way you're a transgressor of the law. If you commit one sin or if you commit both sins, you are still guilty before God.
There are chapters like Romans 3 that go into the fact that, "There's none righteous, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," but none of that is saying that all sin is equal. It's just saying that we're all guilty before God. It's saying, no matter how good we are, and even we don't commit a major sin, we're still guilty and condemned to hell unless we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is our savior.
That's why it says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." The point is that we're all guilty, we all need to be saved by Jesus, but that's not saying that everyone is of the same guilt or that all sin is equal. So that's a big stretch there to make that leap from the one to the other, and it's dangerous or they'll take for example, Matthew 5 where it says that if you look on a woman to lust after, you've committed adultery already in your heart.
What's the context of the passage? The passage is teaching people that we're all sinners. We're all guilty. He says, "Look, if you say to someone, 'Thou fool,' and if you're angry with your brother without a cause," he says, "you're in danger of hell fire." What's he saying. The same thing Revelation 21:8 is saying where it says, "All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
He's trying to show us that you don't have to be a murdered to go to hell. You don't have to actually go out and commit the physical act of adultery to go to hell. You could just hate your brother in your heart. You could just think a lustful thought toward a woman, and look upon woman to lust after, and you're guilty, but that does not mean that looking at a woman to lust after is just as bad as actually going and committing adultery, and doing the physical act.
See, the one is punished by death even on this earth. The thing about that is that if you taught people that, here's what you'd be teaching them, "Oh, they look at someone with lust, well, I might as well go through with it now. I mean, I'm already guilty of it anyway." It's nonsense. It's ridiculous. Plus, the bible also differentiates between sins of ignorance and sins that are committed presumptuously, sins that are just deliberately committed. Those are differentiated in scripture.
David said, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults," things that he didn't even know that he'd done wrong, but he also didn't want to sin presumptuously. He said, if he sinned presumptuously against the Lord, he said, that would be the great transgression.
That's why the men of Sodom in Genesis 18 and 19, it's a story of Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, the bible says that the men of Sodom were sinners before the Lord exceedingly. See, there are sinners and then there are sinners exceedingly. There's damnation, then there's the greater damnation. There's sin, and then there's greater sin. Today, we have this doctrine of just, "Hey, all sin is equal." So then when you try to show them scripture that says, "Hey, the bible commands us to separate from a brother who's a fornicator," they say, "Well, your church will just be empty then if you don't allow sinners."
Look, I've heard it a million times. They say that, "If you were to throw out the fornicator, then your church is going to be empty, buddy." That's a lie because not everybody is a fornicator. There are plenty churchgoers who don't commit fornication. "Well, if you get rid of the drunks, you have to get rid of everybody." No, wrong. Look around. This is not a room full of drunks tonight. This is an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that you stumbled into. This is not ...
Now, are there people in here that are susceptible to those sins or maybe even guilty of those sins and haven't been found out? Of course, that's always possible. We're not going to openly, knowingly have a church filled with people who call themselves a Christian and are out fornicating, getting drunk, extorting money. Look, the bible says, "No. This isn't me coming up with this tonight." Look at the bible.
It says in verse 11, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?" Without meaning outside the church. He said, "What have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person."
Look, is there a person we need to get rid of according to the bible? Yeah. It says, "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person." Yes, we are all sinners, and I'm going to admit right now that I am a sinner, that I am not perfect. I'm not going to get up here and say, "Hey, I've repented of all my sins. I'm walking in sinless perfection." No. I am a human being, I sin. I do wrong things. I make mistakes. I am constantly coming short of the glory of God. I am battling just like you between the flesh and the spirit, and there are times when I'm walking in the flesh and would fulfill the lust of flesh, but listen to me now, I'm not a fornicator. I'm not a drunk. I'm not a railer or an extortioner or an idolater or a covetous boaster. I am none of these things.
If I were, then I should be thrown out and if you are, then you should be thrown out. I mean, that's what the bible says. The bible is differentiating between these major sins and just ... People say, "Oh, you're a Catholic if you believe in big sins and little sins." You could throw names at people, but this is what the bible teaches.
Look what chapter five verse one says because a lot of people will say, "Well, how can you guarantee that you don't have such a person in your midst?" Of course, we don't know what everybody's sin. There could be people amongst us that are guilty of these things and we don't even know it. Look what it says in verse one, "It is reported commonly that there's fornication among you." I mean, it's just a common report. Everybody knows it.
Obviously, we can't control things that are hidden and that we don't know, but we can't control things that we do know about. When it comes to light that a church member is involved in these particular sins that are known as leaven, that would leaven the whole lump, then it has to be dealt with. The person can be given a chance to repent, and if they're not willing to repent, then they need to be cast out.
I've confronted maybe, in fact, there are many times when I will do this on an almost monthly basis where just because we have so many people coming through the doors of our church, I mean, think about it. Every single week, we have visitors at our church, lots of visitors. Why? Because we're outreaching people. We're preaching the gospel. We're making things happen. So there are a lot of visitors passing through the doors.
Virtually, every service there are first time visitors. On a Sunday morning service, there's as many as 10, 12 first time visitors. A lot of people would come, and maybe they come for a few weeks and then quit coming, but in the cycle of all that, and that just because of the culture of 2015 America, constantly, there are people who will come to the church and they're living together and they're not married, but they're living together in fornication.
Now, when that person shows up, obviously, if they just got saved yesterday, they need time to learn and be taught or maybe they've never heard this kind of preaching. Usually, what I would do first of all is I'd preach it from the pulpit, first of all. A lot of times when I preach it from the pulpit like I'm doing right now, someone will come up to me after the service and say to me, "Pastor Anderson, that's my situation and I want to make it right," or if I preach from the pulpit, that person may just never come back because they're offended by that sermon, or if I preach it from the pulpit and they come back, but they don't fix the problem, then the next step is I go to that person, and talk to them.
I tell that person that they have three options. I say, "Here are your options." I say, "Number one, you can stop coming to church here. Number two, you can stop living in fornication. You can split up or at least stop living together. I mean, you could still be boyfriend and girlfriend but you need to live separately or number three, you can get married to each other, and rectify the situation that you're living in."
I always tell them this. I say, "You have seven days to get married, and if you get married in the next seven days, I'll perform the ceremony and I'll help you take care of it, and get this fixed." Why? I want to help people live for God. I'm not out to burn people or mess up their lives or be mean to them. No. I want to help them do what's right. I tell them, "Look, you can leave the church. That's an option or you can stop living together if you're not sure you want to marry this person because guess what? If you're not sure that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person, you have no business hopping in the sack with that person."
I say to them, "... or you can get married. If you do it in the next seven days, I'll perform the ceremony," because that shows a heart that wants to get it fixed right away. Seven days, it gives you time to go to the courthouse, get the marriage license, et cetera. I say to them, "You know what? If it's going to be beyond seven days, then just don't come back until you're married."
There are a lot of people who take ... They never split up. Nobody ever takes that option even though it's on the table. I'd say it's about 50/50 where they say, "Okay. We're going to get married then," and we perform the marriage within ... we perform the ceremony within seven days. That's a hard rule, no exceptions, seven days. I told somebody that on Wednesday night, and we had the wedding on Tuesday night next week because it's just seven days.
The other half will just quit coming to church because otherwise, people will just say, "Oh, yeah. We're going to get married but we want to wait to be there. It's going to be six months from now." Wrong answer. "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." It needs to be rectified immediately.
We follow this passage, but the church of today, the mega church fun center community church now, their answer is, "Hey, let's just welcome in all the fornicating couples, and just have them go to church amongst us because church is not a museum; it's a hospital. It's not a museum of perfect Christians for us to stand it up; it's a hospital to help people and yada, yada, yada. So let's bring in all the fornicators."
Wrong. "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person," thus saith the Lord. You're not helping that person by condoning, "Well, we don't condone it." You know what? De facto, you are condoning it when you allow them to come. I mean, I've been in churches where people were holding bible studies in their home and they were a fornicating couple, and the bible study meets at their house. Church activities are meeting at their house. "Oh, this is our home." They're living in sin. It's not acceptable.
What is it teaching the children when they look around and see all these people that aren't married and they're living together, it normalizes size and desensitizes them to sin. Therefore, it cannot be tolerated. This is what the bible teaches.
The bible does not only teach that we should separate from those who are unsaved. It also teaches a greater degree of separation from believers who are involved in these major, major sins. We need to separate from them.
Go back if you would to 2 Thessalonians 3. It says in verse number six, "Now we command you, brethren," and notice, he doesn't say, "We suggest this. We're making a recommendation." He says, We command, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
Now, don't forget, he just finished saying back in verse four, this is significant, "We have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you." Then a couple of verses there, he says, "Now, we command you." That's not a coincidence. He's preparing them in verse four for what he's going to say in verse six. He said, "Look, I have confidence that you're going to obey the word of God here and what I'm about to command you. Here is the command, withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly and not after the tradition which he received of us."
See, Paul knew he's going to get resistance when he starts preaching on separation, when he starts preaching on separating people, separating from people that teach false doctrine, separating from people that are not following the word of God, and separating from people that are involved in major sin.
The bible says in verse number seven, "For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought," nought means nothing, "but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."
This church had a problem with people, men who wouldn't work, men who would not work at all. Paul is saying, "If any will not work, neither should he eat," but these are just lazy people who don't do any work, they have no job, and he's rebuking it here. He's saying, "Withdraw yourself from it. Don't hang around with people like that. These people need to get to work." He says, "They need to be commanded and exhorted that with quietness, they would work." Shut up and work is what that means. With quietness, work. Shut up and go to work. Why? Because people who don't work, they often run their mouths.
The bible says, "In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury," poverty. He's saying, these people with quietness, they need to work and eat their own bread. I believe that this applies today just as much as it's applied back then. The word of God is timeless. So we need to be aware of this thing of lazy people who don't want to work.
Again, we're told today though, we're told today that, "Oh, let's just fill our church with fornicators, and Sodomites, and people who refuse to work and everything." Yeah, that's great because it's all about reaching people. What bible are you reading? I mean, it's as plain as the nose on your face in this passage here that yes, we want sinners to come to our church, but we don't have just this anything goes policy of just, "Come on in, everybody and come as you are, stay as you came, and we'll all just sing Kumbaya and have a gay old time." Wrong. It's false. It's not what the bible teaches.
Now, there's something else interesting about this portion of scripture here. He says in verse seven, "For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man's bread for nought." What's he saying? We weren't a loafer. We didn't just take people's food and eat it, and not do any work.
He says, "We wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you." Then in the next verse he says, "Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us." Now, what's he saying here? He wanted to set the example of working hard so that other people would see his work ethic and be inspired by it to be a hard worker themselves.
There were a lot of lazy people apparently amongst the Thessalonians. He said, "Look, we hear that there are some that walk among you disorderly working not at all." This church had a reputation for having people in it who didn't work at all. He says, "Look, I've heard about this, and I'm telling you, you need to get rid of these people. You need to tell these people that if they don't work, they can't eat."
These are people that are coming to church for a handout and they won't get their rear ends to work. That's what's going to ... Look, people come to our church and will ask for handouts and freebies. I always ask them questions because instead of just, "Oh, sure. Here. Here's everything you need," I usually ask them this question, "Where did you go to church last Sunday?" That's the first thing I ask when somebody stumbles in here asking me for money, and they have a big story, and want to tell me some big life story about what got them to this point.
I just stop them and say, "Wait a minute. Where did you go to church last Sunday?" "Oh, oh, oh, well ..." I say, "Once you figure it out, go ask that church for money." If they say, "Oh, I went to so and so church." "Okay. Go ask them for money," because they actually know you, and they're actually going to give you money if you need it, but they might know that you're just somebody who doesn't want to work, so they won't give you any money, so that's why you have to come and ask strangers for money.
You see, if people ask their own church for money, their own church knows whether that person is trying and working hard because there are some people who need help, who need charity, who are down on their luck, and of course, we want to help people that need it. We want to deal our bread to the hungry. If somebody doesn't have a coat and we have two coats, we want to give their coat.
Does the bible just say, "Hey, indiscriminately give money to everyone who refuses to work," is that what the bible says? No. The bible is teaching us here that there are some people who are just refusing to work, and they should not eat.
I've known some pastors where when people come and ask them for money or food or anything, they tell them, "Well, I have work for you to do around the church right now." They'll take them out because they have a church with property and stuff, and they'll show them, "Hey, I need you to pull all these weeds," or "I need you to go dig this hole," or "I need you to help build this fence," or whatever.
Then all of a sudden it's like, "Oh, well ..." My pastor told a story one time of this guy who came through asking for money. The pastor had a bunch of work to do, and he said, "Well, you know, here's some work that you can do, and if you do that, then I'll pay you for that work." He said, "Sir, my wife is pregnant and I am in no condition to work." I guess he's taking that "We're pregnant" thing a little too far. You know what I mean? "My wife's pregnant and I'm in no condition to work."
Look what Paul is saying here. He's saying, "Look, we wrought, we labored night and day to be an example unto you, to show you how to work hard." Look what he says here. He says, "Not because we have not power." Now, what does he mean by that, "Not because we have not power"?
We'll flip over to 1 Corinthians 9, keep your finger in 2 Thessalonians 3. Go over to 1 Corinthians 9 because he uses that term about having power in regard to not working in the sense of working a secular job. Look what the bible says in verse number three of 1 Corinthians 9. Same author, the apostle Paul. He's not speaking to the church of Thessalonica, he's speaking to the church of Corinth. He says, "Mine answer to them that do examine me is this."
Now, when he talks about being examined, people are criticizing him. They're attacking him, they're insulting him, and he's defending himself here in this passage. He says in verse three, "Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, 'Have we not ...'" what? Power. Same term here. "Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" Who's Cephas? Peter. Peter, his other name is Cephas.
It says, "Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?" Forbear working means that they're going to forego working, that they're not going to work. They're saying, "Look, don't we have the right to eat and drink as human beings? I mean, don't we need food and water?" He says, "Don't we have the right to be married?" He said, "Look, Peter is married. All the other apostles are married. The brethren of the Lord are married," talking about Jesus' half brothers, Simon, Judas and James.
He's saying, "The brethren of the Lord are married. They eat and drink. Peter is doing it. Everybody ..." He's saying, "Are Barnabas and I the only ones who don't have the right to forebear working, to get married, to live that kind of life?" He says in verse seven, "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man or saith not the law the same also?
For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this ..." what? "... power over you, are not we rather?" Watch this. "Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
He's basically saying the same thing to the Corinthians that he said to the Thessalonians. He said to them, "We wrought with travail night and day. We didn't take anyone's bread. We worked our tails off not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us."
Then over here he's saying, "Look, we have the power to forego working because God has ordained that those that preach the gospel should live of the gospel. God's plan is that the ox that treadeth out the corn not be muzzled," but he says, "I've not used that power because I don't want to hinder the gospel of Christ." He felt that he could do more for Christ by working a secular job, setting the example, working hard, et cetera, in order to be an example of hard work.
Here's the thing. Paul was not married. It's clear. He's saying here, look, that he's not married. He's saying, "Barnabas and I, we don't have a sister, a wife, and a sister in Christ." West Virginia people, don't marry your sister. He's saying here ... Sorry, West Virginia. Kentucky people. Now, I just burned two whole groups. Anyway, the point is though that it's very righteous for a pastor, for a preacher to be paid for being a pastor.
Now, there's a false doctrine out there today that says it's wrong for pastors to be paid in their hireling. That's what the Mormons have always taught. Of course, the profit of Mormonism lives on a five million dollar house. Don't let that bother you. They teach, "Hey, we have to have an unpaid clergy." When you're out knocking doors and trying to reach Mormons with the gospel, they'll often say, "You're preaching lies because you're getting paid. We're all unpaid clergy."
Yeah, you're unpaid clergy because the top organization in Salt Lake City is writing the sermons for you, and you just get up like a robot and preach them. You're not a real man of God, anyway. You're a false teacher that's being controlled by Salt Lake City and that big skyscraper there, that's the brains of that satanic organization, the Mormon church. Of course, the people at the top of Mormonism, they're getting paid. They're multimillionaires, but it's just down at the bottom where they don't pay the clergy.
Here's the thing. That's not biblical, my friend. The Mormons on their website will quote all these scriptures where Paul's talking about the fact that he worked a secular job. Does anybody know what Paul's secular job was? He made tents. He was a tent maker, so he was a blue-collar guy on the side. Hey, that's great. He chose not to use his power to be paid and to work hard. You say, "Well, that's great. That's what everybody should do."
Here's the thing. The bible doesn't teach us all about clergy. Just because the apostle Paul was unmarried and Barnabas were unmarried, that is not God's plan for 99% of men. It's not good for the man to be alone, the bible says. God made Eve to be there with Adam because man needs that companion, that help. It's better to marry than to burn, the bible says in 1 Corinthians 7.
The bible clearly teaches that we should be married. As a pastor of the church, we must be married. The bishop, the bible says must be blameless, the husband of one wife having faithful children, not accused of riot or unruly. According to the bible, a pastor, a bishop or an elder, those three terms are used interchangeably in the bible, must be married with children. That's what the bible teaches. That's part of the qualification.
Why? Because if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? If you're not married, and you don't have children, then you don't understand how to run a household like someone who's married and has children. The bible says, that's a prerequisite.
Here's the thing about that. The apostle Paul was not a pastor, and this is what people are losing sight of. Never one time does the bible talk about the apostle Paul being the pastor of a church or call him a bishop or an elder. No. He went around and started churches by evangelizing, but then elders were ordained in those churches. He was an apostle, but he was not a pastor.
Now, John, on the other hand, is called an elder. Peter is called an elder, a bishop. The bible talks about them, the other apostles being pastors, being elders, and guess what? They're all married. Because what does it say in 1 Corinthians 9? It says, Cephas is married, and even before Jesus chose him as one of the disciples, he was married because right after Peter becomes one of the 12 disciples, Peter's wife's mother lay sick of a fever. Jesus goes and heals Peter's wife's mother.
Tell that to the Catholics who think that Peter was the first pope. Then the first pope was married then because you don't have a mother-in-law unless you're married. Nobody just signs up for a mother-in-law without the wife to go with it. That doesn't make any sense. You get the mother-in-law, it's a package deal with the wife. You don't just, "I'm never used to getting married, but I'm going to get a wife's mother though. I'm only going to get a mother-in-law." Nobody's that masochistic.
Anyway, the bottom line is ... I'm just kidding. The bottom line is that these men, Peter, James, John, these are the people, they were married, they had kids. Let me tell you something. They did not have secular jobs. The bible teaches that a pastor does not have a secular job that he is in the ministry full time and gets paid. That's what the bible do. People are like, "Oh, they're greedy pastors." Look, is there a greedy pastor out there that abuses us?"
Of course, there are all kinds of pastors with their super fancy, air-conditioned doghouses, and three swimming pools, and tennis courts and their own jet, and everything. The Joel Osteen's of this world, the Kenneth Copeland's of this world that are multimillionaires and whatever fleecing the flock. It's out there. I get that.
The bible says that they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel. Who goeth a warfare of his own charge? He's saying here that the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn should not muzzled. That exact same quote that's here in 1 Corinthians 9 is found also in 1 Timothy 5 when it says, " Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward."
"The labourer is worthy of his hire," Jesus said in the book of Mark. So we need to understand that a pastor getting paid is biblical. Now, can a pastor choose not to get paid if he wanted to? Sure. If he wanted to work a secular job, and for the first four and a half years that I pastored this church, I didn't get paid. I worked a secular job. I made tents as it were, except I was a fire alarm technician, but I was working a secular job and not getting paid from the church.
I remember during that time, people would come to me and say to me, "Oh, that's what I love about you, Pastor Anderson, you have a secular job unlike my lazy pastor." I'm like, "Whoa! Wait a minute. Stop. Don't criticize your pastor. That's perfectly biblical for him to get paid for the work of a pastor." Look, is pastoring work or not? Then it deserves to be a livelihood for someone to get paid to do it.
Here's the proof. Peter is the example that's brought up in this passage. What did Peter do for a living before Jesus called him? Fishing. You know what Jesus specifically told him? To stop fishing. If God just intends for every pastor to be by vocational, and to pastor the church, and work a secular job, then why did he specifically tell Peter, "From henceforth, thou shalt catch men." Peter forsakes the net, forsakes the ship, forsakes fishing, and goes fishing for men.
Then later when he gets back sledding and goes back to fishing, Jesus comes and rebukes him in John 21. This foolishness that says, "Hey, every pastor has to work a secular job and not get paid," it's part of a bigger agenda to attack the local church in general. That's what it is.
Why? Because the local church cannot be as effective without a pastor that is a qualified pastor who is full time working at the success of that church and trying to do the work that God has called him to do. Of course, the world wants him out gathering straw by night so that he can make bricks by day because then, he's going to be less effective.
Plus, how's he going to have the kids and pay for everything if he's out trying to do both? Here's the thing. When the church is small, it's not that hard to do both. It's doable. For starting a church, it's a great way to go because in the beginning, you don't have as many people to deal with, you don't have as much work on your plate. As the church grows, I think it's great for the pastor to be full time, and that's why now, I like the fact that I pastor full time. I make no apologies about that.
I'm not going to get up here and, "Oh, well, you know, I mean, I guess, I'll get paid a little bit." "No. Pay me," why? Because it's right. What does the bible say? Look, do you want to go be a plumber and electrician and work your tail off and not be able to feed your family? I don't want to be rich. I don't want to drive a fancy car or live in a fancy house. You know what? I want to be able to take care of my family. That's all I want is to be able to just put healthy food on the table for my family of 10 people, my eight children that I support. I want to be able to support my family just at a reasonable level. I don't want to have riches or poverty. I just want to have a basic living for my family.
You know what? It's an example in the beginning when you're working hard, working the full-time job and starting the church, but you know what? It's also an example to be paid because today, there's a wicked movement out there that wants to get rid of all pastors, real pastors anyway. What they want to do is they want us all meeting together in living rooms and calling it church with no pastor, no leader, no structure, but basically, they want us to just sit around the living room, and have a little bible study and call it church. No, you're playing church.
When you're sitting around the living room having a bible study with a couple of your buddies, that's not church, that's not the church of the New Testament, my friend because in the New Testament church, they start with 120 people, and then they grew to thousands and they had full-time guys that were living off the gospel. Their food was put on the table by the work that they did for the ministry of the Lord. That's what Peter was doing. That's what James was doing. That's what John ...
"Oh, money hungry ..." Yeah, it's not money hungry to go to work and get paid. Are you money hungry when you go to your plumbing job and get paid, when you work as an electrician and you get paid? I mean, does your boss say, "You money hungry. You're doing this for all the wrong reasons."
Look, even when you're working your secular job, I hope you believe in what you're doing. I hope you take pride in your work and do the best you can. You know what? You still get paid. It doesn't mean that your heart is not in it. I hope your heart is in it. I hope you do your work is unto the Lord.
This house church movement as they call it is a wicked movement, and I make no bones about calling it wicked because that's what it is. This is something that gets me very upset. Why? Because I spend my life trying to reach people with the gospel and trying to baptize them and to teach them to observe all things that Christ commanded.
I know that that work gets done through the local church. The local church is the tool that God uses to reach the world with the gospel. Jesus said upon this rock, "I'll build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." That's the church that God is going to use to stave off the gates of hell and to reach and pull people out of the fire and win people to Christ.
Let's put it this way. Our church on a weekly basis and really, on an almost daily basis, someone is saved through the efforts of our church. We get people saved at this church virtually every day of the week. We win over a thousand people to the Lord every year through the door-to-door soul-winning efforts of our church, and also just one-on-one soul-winning with people that we come into contact with.
Let me tell you something. If we were all individuals off in our own houses doing our own thing and just getting together for a coffee klatch with other brothers and sisters in Christ, 10 people in a living room sitting around with a bible study without a leader, you know what? It wouldn't be happening, my friend. Period. It wouldn't. Those thousands of people would not be getting saved. It's a fact.
You show me somebody who doesn't go to church. I said, "Go to church." I said, "Go to church." People will say, "You don't go to church. We are the church." Wrong because the bible says that the church is the congregation. You go to the congregation because you got to get there where the people are assembled. See, people get mixed up because the church is not a building. They say, "Well, the church is the people, therefore, I, all by myself in the church," or two or three gathered together as a church.
"Look, I got 10 people gathered together everyday. It's called my family," but that's not called a church. That's called a family. "But the 10 of us often gather together in Christ's name, and Jesus Christ is there in the midst of us," but that doesn't make a church. That's called a family. That's called friends when you have a couple of people come over for a meal at your house and you talk about the bible.
The church is the congregation, the general assembly where all come together with one accord in one place. Yeah, the church isn't the building. We could have church outside. We could have church ... Listen, church could meet in a house. Our church, Faithful Word Baptist Church met for the first year and a half in a house, but we were not a house church because when these people talk about a house church, they're talking about a bunch of unqualified people, nobody's meeting the biblical qualifications of the leadership, just getting together and just having a free-for-all in somebody's living room with 10 people.
They're never going to run 200 in the living room. They're never going to run a thousand in that living room. No, because they're playing games, that's why. It's a joke. It's not biblical. They say, "Oh, we're getting back to the way it was in the book of Acts with our eight people in the living room." Really? Because I remember them having 120 people in the living room. Then I remember them adding 3,000 more. Then I remember them adding 5,000 more. That doesn't sound like your living room unless you live in the Taj Mahal.
This thing of "Oh, the house church," no, it's great to start a church in a house, outgrow the house unless you got a real big house. I mean, some people might have a huge house, great, because it doesn't matter. Look, we could meet in a circus tent. We could meet outside. We could meet under an underpass. Let me tell you something. We have to congregate in order to be a church because church means assembly, congregation.
It's an attack on the church today because attacking the institution of the pastor, of the bishop, of an elder. Once you get rid of that institution and say, "Hey, we don't need a pastor." It's called the Gainsaying of Korah, by the way. "We don't need a pastor. We don't need a leader. Every man is going to do what's right in his own eyes." You know what ends up happening? You end up having people who don't have a church.
Then they say, "Well, the bible teaches multiple elders." Because they reject the teaching that the elder should be paid, look, when you're not paying the elder, you can have as many as you want. I mean, think about it. Why does our church only have one pastor? Because our church doesn't run thousands of people to be able to support multiple pastors and deacons.
I mean, think about it. How many can you afford to pay for all the ... If our church got bigger which it will get bigger, then we would hire more staff eventually, more leaders. You'll hire the deacons. You could hire the assistant pastor or whatever, but they want to just have a bunch of people where too many chiefs and too few Indians basically is what they want. No offense to the Native Americans amongst us.
They want to have too many chiefs and two little Indians. They have a church with 15 people in it, a "church", house church, 15 people, six of them are pastors. It's like, "What a joke! That's ridiculous." They pick seven deacons in the early church because they had thousands and thousands of people in the early church. That's why they needed seven deacons to be on.
They're like, "God forbid, we still have one leader." Isn't horrible in the bible when there's one man of God leading a group like Moses, Joshua, Othniel, Ehud? I don't want to say Barak because he was a lame judge. No one names a kid Barak, except, well ... Nevermind. Gideon, Samson, I mean, think about all the leaders throughout the bible. Think about how many times God called a leader. David, Hezekiah, Josiah. All throughout the bible, there's a leader.
I mean, look at the first church, who's the pastor? Jesus. Then he wanted to send his 11 out into all different directions to go be leaders here, there and everywhere. This idea of not having a leader is foolishness today. It's an attack on the institution of the local church because the devil hates the local church because the local church is what's going to prevail against him. The local church is what's going to evangelize.
Look at the map back there on the wall that represents the doors of about a million people that this church has knocked the doors of approximately one million people in the last 10 years. Look, none of us would have done that on our own. If I would have been in my living room with a few of you, we would not have done that. If you would have been in the living room with a few other people, you wouldn't have done that.
Look, collectively, we assemble together, we're a team, we have a leader that's biblically qualified according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Hey, we're not playing games. We're not playing church. We're doing a huge, great work for God. We have a big vision that says, "Hey, there's four million people in Maricopa County. There's four million people in this Greater Phoenix Area. Let's get the gospel to every single one of them, and let's do it again."
I want to do something big, but these small thinking people that want to throw out God's institution, throw out the requirements for the bishop, throw out God's plan of coming to church tithing, paying the pastor, and just want to have this little free-for-all with too many chiefs and too few Indians. You know what? It fails to get the job done for God. That's why the devil loves it, and that's why I have no patience for that movement.
I spend my life trying to get people in church, and then this movement comes along and tells people, "You don't need to go to church. Sit at home and eat chips off your chest while watching the internet, and you can evangelize by typing online." They want to ... "Oh, man. I've been soul-winning all day." "Oh, really?" "Yeah, it was through Facebook." I've heard people say that like, "Oh, man. I was giving the gospel to these people." They're all cyber people. You know what I mean? They think that you just stay home, you eat chips off your chest, every once in a while you get together with few buddies just to fulfill that not forsaking the assembling requirement, just to check that off. Then we go back to our computer work.
Look, it's just people don't want to assemble together anymore, and God predicted it would be that way in the last times. He predicted social media would kill people's social skills because he said, "As you see the day approaching, don't forsake the assembly." He said, "More than ever, so much the more as you see the day approaching, you need to assemble." What do we see as we reach the end time? You say, "Well, you've been preaching so much about bible prophecy in first and second Thessalonians, I mean, is there no prophecy tie in tonight? Here's the prophecy tie in, the prophecy that people wouldn't go to church in the last days.
He said, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching," because people are to the point where they don't want to interact in the real world with people. They think watching it on TV or listening on the radio or on the internet substitutes for church, and it doesn't.
We need to join together where we're all with one accord in one place, where there's a leader that is qualified and preaching the word of God to people, and they are equipped and they're a team, and we go out, and we get things done for the Lord.
Let's finish up quickly in this passage, 1 Corinthians 9. It says ... I'm sorry. We are done in chapter number nine. Flip back over to 2 Thessalonians 3. We'll finish up there. Back to 2 Thessalonians 3 and the bible reads, "Not because we have not power," verse nine, "but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us." When we compared that with 1 Corinthians 9, you can see what it meant. The power to not have a secular job and to just spend all his time preaching and ministering the word of God, that is his right as a minister of the gospel. That's what all the other apostles are doing, the ones that are married with children, they're supporting their families based on their work in the gospel.
Notice what else he says in this passage that ties in with this. Look at verse number six, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly." Now, how did he define disorderly? The people who are working not at all, busy bodies. He says, "... and not after the tradition which he received of us."
These same type of people, these lazy, nonworkers are the same type of people who are busy bodies, the bible says, meaning that they get involved in everybody else's business instead of worrying about their own business. Then he also talks about the fact they want to throw out tradition. Now, are there bad traditions? Of course. Jesus talked about other Pharisees had made the word of God of none effect by their tradition.
A lot of people have mistakenly just demonized all tradition just because there's bad tradition that makes void the word of God. It doesn't mean that all tradition is bad. All tradition is not bad.
Look at 2 Thessalonians 2:15, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." He's saying the stuff we preach to you in person or the stuff that was in the written document. Then in chapter three he says, they walked disorderly, the end of verse six, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
See, tradition is just something that's passed down. That's what tradition means. Something that is passed down unto you. Now, there are traditions in every family. Certain ways that our parents did things, we do things the same way. It's been passed down. It's a custom. All tradition is not bad. Tradition is bad when it goes contrary to the word of God.
There are some people who just want to throw out all tradition, just anything that our parents did or our grandparents did or anything that our previous church did, just throw it all out. It's all these traditions. Get rid of traditions. That's a foolish attitude that throws out the baby with the bath water because there are good traditions that are passed down also.
Traditions that are in accordance with God's word or traditions that are neutral to God's word don't need to be thrown out. The traditions that made God's word of none effect should be thrown out.
For example, there's a guy in the Old Testament named Jonadab, the son of Rechab. He had a tradition for his family that they dwelt in tents. Now, that wasn't a biblical command. That wasn't a right and wrong thing, but it was something that they did as a family. That's how they lived. That was their way of life, and God commended that tradition.
There's nothing wrong with people having family traditions. A lot of people just want to get rid of every holiday, every traditions, and it's all wicked traditions and ... but honestly, a lot of it is fine. For example, American missionaries will go to other countries and in those other countries, they'll have a different culture, and they'll have different traditions, and they'll just want to change them over. Like instead of just making them Christians, they want to make them American too.
I've literally been at a church in Germany where the pastor was an American missionary, and he celebrated the fourth of July as a church with the people. People are scratching their heads like, "Why are we celebrating the fourth of July? We're in Germany. This isn't United States of America." It's stupid, right? I mean, it doesn't make any sense to try to foist American culture on the foreigners.
Paul said the opposite. He said, "I become all things to all." He said, "When in Rome, do what the Romans do." He said, "If I was among the Barbarians, I became as a Barbarian. If I was among the Jews, I became as a Jew. If I was among the Greeks, I became as a Greek." He said, "As those that were not under the law, I became as one not under the law," he said, "but I was not without law before Christ."
He didn't violate scripture but he fit in with the people that he was preaching to as much as he could without violating scripture. Meaning that, I'm not going to go to the bar and drink with you to fit in with you to try to reach you with the gospel. Here's the thing. If I went to India, I would dress like a person from India. If I went to China, I would dress like a person from China. If I went to the Philippines, I would dress like people dressed in the Philippines. I wouldn't try to impose an American style of dress on foreigners. It just doesn't make any sense.
Now, here's the thing. If I went to India, I'd have to rebuke the idolatry. Hey, that tradition's got to go, the statues, the false gods, the Hinduism. Here's the thing. Just the food, the basic clothing and everything, you'd keep all that stuff because of the fact that there's nothing wrong with it.
We need to get off this thing of just demonizing all traditions. Some people just have traditions that are neutral. They don't have anything to do with scripture, and those traditions are fine. Other people have good traditions. A lot of people today are throwing out ... You know what's a good tradition? How about the King James Bible, the traditional text?
"You just love the King James because of tradition." Yeah, it's a good tradition when somebody hands you down the word of God. That's been the power of God into salvation. The gospel preach from this book for the last 400 years unlike these new versions that are producing all these corrupt fruit. This is a pretty good tradition right here.
"Oh, you Baptists are so into your tradition, singing the old hymns." Look, a lot of the old hymns are great tradition. Just because something is traditional doesn't mean that it's bad. A lot of traditional things are good, but we need to check every tradition and make sure it doesn't contradict the word of God.
Now, there's a tradition a lot of Baptist churches where they have steps at the front, and the pastor preaches on a platform. Nothing wrong with that because of the fact that sometimes the church is big and people just want to be able to see the pastor, so he's up on a platform.
Here's what's a bad tradition. When they point at those steps and say, "This is the altar." The reason that's a bad tradition is because that is contrary to the teachings of God's word because God's word has no such New Testament altar of steps. The bible specifically says that if you build an altar, it should never have steps. I mean, if you go back to Exodus, it says, "Do not have steps leading up to the altar." Yet, people will point to steps and say, "This is the altar." That's a bad tradition. That's not scriptural.
I don't think it's a good tradition for a pastor to be up on a platform, and people come up and bow down in front of them. Bow at his feet or close their eyes and have a Baptist confessional booth. Who's struggling with the sin of pornography tonight? Every head bowed, every eyes closed. Raise your hand if you're struggling with pornography. God bless you. I see that hand. I see that hand. God bless you.
Hey, I've been in church ... How many of you have been in a church where they're asked about a specific sin? Who's struggling with this sin? Heads bowed, eyes closed, no one looking around except the pastor. It's almost like a confessional booth where the pastor gets in on your secret sins.
No, those are some weird traditions. Those are bad traditions. They're not scriptural, but other traditions are good. So we just need to test tradition with scripture. Then keep the good. The bible says, "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good." Get rid of the junk. That's a bad tradition.
Let me just hurry up and finish here. It says in verse number 14 of chapter three, "If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."
See, Paul would dictate his epistles to someone else who would write it down for him. Tertius was the one who actually physically wrote down the book of Romans, even though Paul was dictating it. The bible says that in every epistle, he would sign it with his own name. Something along the lines of what we see in verse 18, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
All of Paul's epistles end with something like that, "Grace be with you all," or "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen," something like that. He would always do that with his own handwriting so that people would know that the letter was authentic because if you remember in chapter two of the same book, he talked about that there were people who would write a letter as from us, seeming to be from them.
So he's reminding them, "Don't believe any letter came from me unless it has in my own hand this writing at the end, 'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.' You need to recognize that in my handwriting to know that this letter came from me."
That's a warning to us too that there are people out there who want to counterfeit the word of God. Just as then, also now today. We need to look for that signature of God and what's that salutation of God. You know what? You can tell God's word from the phony. Why? Because man can never duplicate what God has done. Man writes a word and claims that it's from God, and it just falls apart as a cheap imitation. The book of Mormon, the Koran, the quality just isn't there of the word of God.
He's just warning them about counterfeit scriptures, and that brings us to the end of 2 Thessalonians. A great pair of books written unto the church, by the way, and to warn them about persecution, a lot of talk about tribulations, trials and troubles that we go through, a lot of talk about end times bible prophecy, and the second coming of Jesus Christ. Isn't it interesting that this chapter had a lot to do with working hard? Other places in Thessalonians emphasize that labor, labor, travail, work hard. Why is that? Because I believe that God wants us in these last days as we wait for the coming of Christ to work hard.
He said, "Occupy 'til I come." When he said occupy, he didn't mean like occupy space and do nothing. Occupy is like occupation. He's saying, "You need to work until I come." We need to be hard work in these last days, patiently waiting for the second coming of Christ, understanding that we're going to go through trials and tribulation. If it happens on our lifetime, we're going to go through the great tribulation. We need to work harder than ever. We need to get in a local church and we need to get under a leader, a man of God who's going to rally the troops, and we need to work harder than we've ever worked as we wait for the second coming of Christ.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much, Lord, for the gift that you've given us of the local church, Lord, where we can assemble together, and where we can receive our marching orders, Lord. Help us to work hard, and to patiently wait for your glorious appearing, Lord, and our gathering together unto you. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.