Back in 1992, I was on my way to the hospital to visit Bernie Mack, one of the founders of the church that I pastor. As I drove, I prayed and spoke with the Lord about what to say to encourage this veteran soldier of the cross. On hospital visits I usually shared Romans 8:18 and II Corinthians 4:16-18, verses that are tailor-made to minister to the heart of any believer lying on a bed of affliction. The problem that particular day was, I knew that Bernie knew those verses. As a seasoned saint, he knew those verses before I was born. So how was I going to comfort him? What could I possibly share with him from God’s Word that he didn’t already know?
If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, the Apostle Paul gives us some direction in this area in his ministry to the Thessalonians. Paul introduced those dear saints to the doctrine of the pre-tribulation Rapture during his initial visit to Thessalonica (II Thes. 2:5). After that, he reviewed this precious truth in detail in his first epistle to them (I Thes. 4:13-5:11). So by the time Paul wrote his second letter to these saints, you’d think they would have been resting confidently in the “comfort” of this cherished truth (4:18; 5:11).
But when Paul’s second epistle exhorted them to “be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled” (2:2), we know that these brethren were shaken and troubled or else Paul would not have had to exhort them not to be. This means that even though these seasoned saints knew full well that they had been delivered from the coming wrath of the Tribulation (I Thes. 1:10), the persecutions they were enduring (I Thes. 1:6; 2:2,14; 3:3,4; II Thes. 1:4,7) were naturally causing their faith in the pre-tribulation Rapture to flag.
So how could Paul comfort them? What could he possibly share with them about God’s Word that they didn’t already know? How instructive it is for us that he didn’t even try! Instead, he simply reviewed the doctrine (II Thes. 2:1-4) and called upon them to remember all that he had taught them (v. 5).
And that’s what I did for Bernie that day. I read him the verses he knew and loved before I was born. You see, beloved, when it comes to comforting seasoned saints, God doesn’t expect us to come up with anything new. He expects us to do what Paul did, and simply review what a veteran believer already knows to be true from the timeless Word of the Eternal God. May we always be found faithful in this regard.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.