Saturday, September 29, 2012

Keeping the Church Faithful

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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Below is the Audio Script:

Keeping the Church faithful

In the beginning the word faithful meant full of faith.  But at some point it switched to loyal.  Someone loyal is steadfast in affection or allegiance.  This implies a firm resistance to any temptation to desert or betray.   So, now, FAITHFUL implies unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted.  But other definitions give a different nuance.  For example, firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty or CONSCIENTIOUS.  Also, given with strong assurance, an example of this would be *a faithful promise*.  Another definition is true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original, for example  *a faithful copy.*  While all these words and definitions do describe someone that is full of faith, these are just attributes of someone that is full of faith. 

The Word used in the Greek for faithful – in 2 Thessalonians 3:3 - is pistos.  The closest definition in English is trustworthy or reliable.  It makes better sense in the context.  Let us read it,

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep [you] from evil.

In other words, He who will establish you and keep you from evil is trustworthy.  Paul had been warning the Thessalonians about the dangers of living a life of faith.  Then he tells them that God has made promises He will keep. You can trust God.  He will establish you and keep you from evil.  And Paul seems to continue saying in what other things can God be trusted in verses 4 and 5.

2Th 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
2Th 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

It is God who would do all these things in the Thessalonians; should they allow it.  If they do all else written in the chapter will be taken care of: no disorderly behavior, no busybodies, no free loading, and no problems dealing with those who need to be chastised or even removed from the group.  By the way, at the end in chapter two Paul had given the Thessalonians a list of things God would do for and to them.  So, what is in chapter three is a reminder.  Let us read it some higlights from the passage on chapter two,

13 … brethren beloved by the Lord, … God from the beginning chose you for salvation vthrough sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. …
16 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, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

As we can see, chapter 3 follows Paul’s way of writing letters.  At the end of the letter, Paul gives the Thessalonians tips and reminders that were important but not urgent enough to be the bulk of the letter.  The word “Finally” – in the beginning of the chapter is a clue.  It is as if Paul is saying, “These are the last things I am saying.”  Interestingly enough the chapter begins with Paul asking for prayer.  Let us read,

2Th 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
2Th 3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

Paul is saying to them, “we can identify with you; we also go through trials.  We are also persecuted.  The opposition is great.  We need of God’s grace to endure and prevail.  So, pray for us.  And, pray for those who we are working with.  That they may respond as you did and have.”  How many Pastor’s or church leaders will admit to their struggles?  And, how many of our laity sees pastor’s and church leaders as not struggling as we do or they should know better.  But, Paul says to pray for the leaders.  They are not above us.  They are mere mortals in need of grace, like us.  We should pray for them too. 
Ps.  The word tradition is paradosis; which is a compound word: para and dosis.  The prefix para means from, of at, by, besides, near.  The suffix dosis – from which we derive the word dose; as in prescription or medicine - means the act of giving, a gift.  Putting both together it means “giving over.”  Paul was telling them to hold on to the teachings he had given over to them.