THE LAST DAYS
Anita Clark, Pastor
“Rejoice evermore, Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesying. Prove all things: hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil” I Thess. 5:16-22.
The Apostle Paul gave these admonitions following the glorious passage of Chapter 4:13-18, concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, followed by chapter 5:1-28 admonishing the believers to be ready and yielded to the Lord and obedient to the Word of God in order to be ready for that coming.
In verse twenty-one he admonished them to “... hold fast that which is good.” The amplified version of this verse reads, “But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast.” The words “hold fast” in the Greek mean “keep in memory, retain, stay.”
We don’t hold fast by gritting our teeth, or making resolutions by our own strength to continue in the ways of the Lord. We cannot in our flesh gain victory over anything. Failure will be the result every time. We only can “hold fast” to the things of the Lord by helpless reliance on Him. Praise God - He is faithful!
In II Timothy 1:5-6, Paul wrote to Timothy encouraging him to “remember” his upbringing -“unfeigned faith” or genuine, sincere faith which was his legacy from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. He admonished Timothy to “stir up the gift of God which is in thee.” In verse 13, he encourages him, “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” The word “form” is a word in the Greek which speaks of “a pattern.” The writings of Apostle Paul gives us a “pattern” of the truths we are to believe and stand for during this Church Age, also called The Age of Grace. These are the words that we must stand for, that we must keep in memory, retain and stay with.
In verse fifteen, Paul says, “... all they which are in Asia be turned away from me...” As we read through Paul’s writings we find many times where he admonished the saints of God to “stand,” which is a very close thought to our “holding fast.” For example - I Corinthians 16:13, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit [act] like men, be strong.” Gal. 5:1, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage [the Law].” Ephesians 6:11 “...stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Paul says in Hebrews 4:14, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus Christ the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” Our “profession” is what we profess to be. You say you are a Christian – walk in it! HOLDFAST – seize it, possess it! Those to whom this letter was written were suffering terrible tribulation. They had to stand up for their faith in Jesus Christ. It was important to admonish them to “hold fast.” Often times as we suffer trials, that almost seem too hard to bare, we may just feel like giving up, but Paul goes ahead to say in verse 15-16, “For we have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities: but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
In Revelation 3:3, the Lord Jesus, speaking to the Church in Sardis, warns them, “Remember therefore how thou received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee, as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” “Hold Fast” here in this place means in the Greek, “to guard from loss or injury by keeping the eye upon.” Evidently, they were not heeding the Word they had heard, not watching and waiting for the Lord to return, and so the admonition, to “repent.” This means, “to change the mind, think differently, or reconsider.”
Many believers today are asleep, not realizing that Christ could come at anytime. Christ will come upon them as a thief because they are not “holding fast.” He tells them that if they do not watch for His coming they will not be ready. A thief comes usually at night when people are asleep. He comes and steals the precious things, while some are unaware. Jesus spoke in Matthew 24:43 – That if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and would not have allowed his house to be broken into (paraphrased). In I Thessalonians 5:2 Paul says, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” And Peter said in I Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.”
The Philadelphia Church in Revelation 3:7-13 had caught the vision. They represent the overcomers of the Church Age, who will be the bride of Christ. Note in verse 12. “And I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God...” Compare Revelation 21:2 with this, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” and Revelation 19:7&9, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come and His wife hath made herself ready. And he said unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb...”
In Revelation 3:10, Jesus speaks to these Philadelphia believers, “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation [tribulation], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” No warning to this group of believers to “repent” and wake up and watch. They are keeping the Word of God with patience, waiting and watching for Christ to come. No chance that Christ will come as a thief to them, they are ready to be translated as we read in I Thess. 4:13-18. In verse 11 of Revelation 3 the Lord tells them, “Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
In conclusion, remember what Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” He is faithful! Keep on holding fast!