“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter” (2 Thess. 2:15). After spending time speaking of the seriousness of the coming of the Lord, Paul now offers a concluding exhortation as to what they, the Thessalonian church, should do in response. This verse may as well have been written to thousands of churches today because many have fallen away from sound doctrine. We only need to turn on our Television sets or look at church apps on our cell phones and tablets to discover how rampant false teaching is.
In a desperate bid to grow numerically and, as a result, financially, leaders of those churches resort to all sorts of activities to draw in large numbers of people. Flashy, expensive stage productions and overly loud, in-your-face preaching are designed to appeal to the emotions and not the intellect. Motivational speeches devoid of almost any scripture assure the listener that God loves them despite anything they do and that their sins are not their fault. These pastors and even some self-proclaimed “apostles” spend over an hour convincing “their” congregation that abandoning any restraint when it comes to tithing will enrich them financially.
They are told that wealth is only a prayer away and that their heart’s desires only need to be spoken to come true. No disease will stand against their faith-healing abilities, and life will be one big “party” if they only rebuke the devil and drive him away. Their expensive jewelry, clothes, cars, private planes, and mansions belie their teaching as they enrich themselves at the expense of the congregations. Thousand are invited to the stage or stand where they are and invoke the eternal blessings of God by merely confessing that Jesus is their Lord and then praying the sinner’s prayer.
In other churches, the flock is led astray by teachings that convince them that a man can forgive your sins by giving you a set of recitations. They are further taught that the leader of the church is not Christ, but a man with a lofty title, elaborately ornate garments, is assumed to be “infallible,” and is called “father” despite the clear teaching of the Bible. Matt. 23:9. “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” False teachings like those are among the “traditions” that have been set aside in favor of teachings that are born not of the Bible but are manmade.
But Paul exhorts the church to remain firm and to resist the temptations of following that which is contrary to the gospel. In Gal. 1:8, he specifically warns those who are teaching falsities. Gal. 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” To the Ephesian elders, the Apostle had this to say, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” The church today should take note of his words and ensure their election by standing firm against false teachers.
The church can do that by holding fast to the “traditions” taught by Paul. Now, those traditions he is speaking of are not some rituals he put into place for the sake of self-importance and enrichment, but rather the doctrines that were given to him. Preaching that is bereft of scripture and the lessons of the Bible will not secure the election or destination of the church. Bible study and sermons are to be lifted from the Word and not from “self-help” books designed and written by men who often have no tolerance for Christianity.
When we start treating the church as a place we go to have emotional highs instead of edification, a place of personal pleasure instead of spiritual enrichment, or a place where we are the only benefactors of the service, we are not standing firm on the traditions. The church was never about how we feel but about worshipping God. When we focus on Him and not ourselves, we will find church to be an encouraging, edifying, and spiritually enriching place. When we make it about personal satisfaction, we sow the wrong seeds and mock our Creator, which is not good. Gal.6:7, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”