Standing firm means sticking with Jesus, come what may. It means continually returning to the message of hope and salvation that comes through the cross. But of course, it doesn't mean standing still—God's great plan is to make us holy and blameless, ready for the Lord's return. These simple studies help us unpack this vital aspect of the Christian life through Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians. Like the Thessalonians, we're challenged to stand firm in the gospel while being thoroughly changed by it.
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Wherever the apostle Paul went, he seemed to get into trouble. He was beaten and thrown into jail in Philippi, mocked in Athens, brought before the authorities in Corinth, and forced to leave Thessalonica only a few weeks after his arrival. Of course, none of this was the result of bad behaviour. It was because he continued to preach the message about Jesus Christ.
The gospel is that kind of message. It provokes strong reactions. Some will reject it and work to silence those who speak it. Others will accept it and change because of it.
Some of the Thessalonians had done just this. They had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven” (1:9-10). They had made a great start to the Christian life! But having been driven from the city, Paul was unable to care for these new converts as he would have wanted. So he sent Timothy to visit them and, upon Timothy’s return, Paul, Timothy and Silvanus wrote the letter we know as 1 Thessalonians. They wanted to encourage the Thessalonian Christians, and to urge them to stand firm in the faith (3:8), even in the face of the opposition they continued to encounter.
Standing Firm is a vital aspect of the Christian life. It means sticking with Jesus, come what may. It means continually returning to the message of the cross and the hope of salvation we have through our Lord Jesus Christ. But as you read 1 Thessalonians, you’ll see that it doesn’t mean standing still, because Paul’s great desire is that “as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more” (4:1). He wants them, and us, to be continually increasing and abounding in love, faith, hope, joy and thanksgiving. And to make sure it’s clear what this means in practice, Paul keeps reminding the Thessalonians of the example he set among them.
You may have been a Christian for a long time; or, like the Thessalonians, for only a few weeks. In either case, my prayer is that, having turned to Christ, you will stand firm in him.
— Simon Roberts, January 2006