Thursday, January 27, 2022

Stand Fast in the Tradition

Paul explained in 2 Thessalonians that two events must occur before the “Day of the Lord sets in” - the “Apostasy” and the “revelation of the Man of Lawlessness.” At the time he wrote this, certain voices were setting false expectations about the imminence of that Day and even attributed their information to the Apostle (“Do not be troubled by spirit, word or letter as by us”).

The “Mystery of Lawlessness” is at work in the world even now as it prepares the way for the arrival of the “Lawless One.” At the appointed time, he will be unveiled when he “seats himself in the Sanctuary of God,” the ‘naos theou.’

Bible Study - Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
[Photo by Ben White on Unsplash]

Paul consistently applied the term “
Sanctuary of God” and related words to the “Body of Christ,” and he shows little interest in any end-time Temple building in old Jerusalem. Instead of waiting for this malevolent figure to appear in Jerusalem, perhaps we should pay more attention to developments in our congregations.

Be that as it may, Paul links this figure inextricably to the coming “Apostasy.” The “Man of Lawlessness” will be characterized by his ability to deceive “those who refuse the love of the truth,” including “lying signs and wonders.” The target of his deceptions will be the saints.

Paul wrote this to arm the Thessalonians with the necessary knowledge so they could avoid the coming deception, and in this regard, he exhorted them to “stand fast and hold the traditions you were taught, whether by word or epistle from us.”

Rather than heed every new word by spirit or letter allegedly from Paul or “even an angel from Heaven,” we must adhere to what we have received from Jesus and his Apostles. In the context of 1 Thessalonians, Paul’s reference to the “love of the truth” refers to the teachings handed down by the Apostles, the same ones that are preserved in the Greek New Testament.

The Apostolic Tradition is the anchor that will hold us in the coming storm and equip us to avoid apostasy. Likewise, Paul urged the Assembly in Corinth to become “imitators of me” by holding fast to the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.

The way for believers to persevere through satanic onslaughts is to learn and follow this body of Apostolic teachings. All other claims about the faith must be measured against that rock-solid source. Any teaching, message, or “revelation” that deviates from the Tradition, whether received from prophecy, visions, or dreams, must be rejected.

So, where does this leave us? If we wish to avoid apostasy, we must learn this “tradition” and make it our own, and that requires spending time learning and applying the teachings of the New Testament.

There is no shortcut, no way of getting around this. If you depend on or seek revelation from extrabiblical sources and subjective personal experiences, you will be deceived and perhaps find yourself departing from the faith. As the Letter to the Hebrews states, “Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest we drift away.”

  • Famine for the Word - (The contemporary church is plagued by famine for hearing the words of God, but one that is a self-inflicted wound)
  • Mysteries Revealed - (God’s mysteries are unveiled in Jesus, especially in his Death and Resurrection. Are we looking for revelation in the right places?)
  • Ignoring Scripture - (Was the Apostle Paul serious when he exhorted Timothy to only appoint elders and ministers who were above reproach?)