Paul’s point here is to urge the Thessalonian Christians to respond to their tough times with renewed faith in God. In these verses, Paul says that, no matter how bad things become in the world, Christians are to be different. He lists several reasons why:
• God loves us. The process of standing firm in the midst of a troubled world begins with His love for mankind. Many resist believing this truth. We are so conscious of our own failure—that we have not measured up to God’s standard—that we have a hard time believing that God could love us. But Paul begins with this. How amazing to know that God loves us, even though He knows everything about us.
• God chose us. He called to us individually, drawing us to Him. This is a point of high privilege, to know that, regardless of what others may think of us, we have been chosen by God to partner with Him in the fulfillment of His work in the world. We should always keep this in mind.
• The purpose of God’s call is that we might be saved. Salvation includes conversion and regeneration, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and other changes that happen to us. But fundamentally, salvation means that our relationship to God has been altered. He no longer looks upon us as aliens and strangers, drifting along with a wicked and fallen world, but rather as dear ones who have become His children through faith in His Son.
• God’s process is through sanctification by the Spirit. This is the act of regeneration, being born again. We are set apart for a divine purpose that God will reveal to us and equip us to meet.
• Man’s response is “belief in the truth.” A choice of the will must be made. We do not come to Christ by merely attending Church. We must believe that what God has said applies to us; that what He says He will do He is prepared to do. This refers to the teaching and proclamation of the Good News. Somewhere along the way, we must hear what God offers to do in our lives and in our world. When we believe the truth, we are invaded by the Holy Spirit.
• God’s goal is that we obtain the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ. No matter how obscure and unknown we may be on earth, one day God will unveil before the whole universe what He has been doing through the centuries in bringing together a people who will share His glory (Colossians 3:4; Hebrews 2:10b).
As a result of all this, Paul says that two activities are possible for the Thessalonians, despite the hard times they were going through. They could Stand fast—do not give in under pressure—and Hold fast—do not give up the Truth (verse 15). We must resolve that, in our difficult times, we do no less.