THE BOOK OF 1 THESSALONIANS
Get ready for your future judgment
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 SCC 5/11/14
Verse 9: The disciplers heart attitude is gratitude for your flock.
1. "For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account?" He continues to express his joy and delight for the spiritual progress of his people but this time he focuses it on God because he knows God is the one who made it happen. He doesn't say, "I thank you for it," he says, "I thank God for it." Spiritual Transformation is Gods work!
2. They desired to return so they could minister to the continuing needs of their spiritual children. These Christians were doing well, but they needed to grow more. They were only baby Christians at this time.
PT: Paul is talking about an ongoing process of his ministry of discipleship with them, carried out through an ongoing network of relationships with people like he and Timothy, which continually mend, restore, create, and strengthen their faith v 10.
Verse 10: The disciplers heart attitude intercedes for your flock.
In other words, realizing that there's still work to be done, and so there's intercession. Notice the
1. The Frequency of this intercession...night and day, all the time.
2. The fervency of this intercession is earnestly, most earnestly.
3. The focus of this intercession...we keep praying.
PT: The point is that he wants to complete what is lacking in your faith.
What are you praying for?
(1). "That we may see your face.Ē That is fellowship. I want to see your spiritual condition. I want to know you. I want to know what's going on in your life.
(2). "I may complete what is lacking in your faith." That is spiritual growth. I want to see your spiritual condition and I want to be used by God to make you grow spiritually. The word complete means to fit together, to set a broken bone, or to mend a torn net. I want to put you together complete. That's what we pray for. For the spiritual growth of our people.
What does that mean? That there is growth in faith, and growth in love. How do you know if your love is growing? Here's some ways you know.
NB: You have less concern with self-comfort and personal fulfillment. You have less preoccupation with your problems. You have more time spent on other people and their needs. You have an increase in your sacrificial giving. You have a greater sensitivity to the lostness of people. Instead of having a bitter heart of condemnation toward unsaved people, you have a heart of compassion.
Verse 11-13: The disciplers heart attitude is the spiritual growth of his flock.
A. The Direction of the Prayer v 11: He says, "I want our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord to answer this prayer."
Notice he jointly addresses God and Jesus. He calls God Father. He calls Jesus Lord. And by this usage he puts God the Father and Jesus our Lord on an equal level. It is obvious that the Father and the Son are joined together and Paul very comfortably assumes without explanation the deity of Jesus Christ and petitions Jesus equally to the Father to what is his heart's desire. The fact that the Apostle Paul offers his prayer to Jesus as well as to God shows us they are not distinguishable in terms of deity, sovereignty.
B. The Content of the Prayer: v 12-13
So what is it we seek from God and from Jesus the Lord?
1. A perfecting faith: The first thing that any shepherd wants is to see the faith of his people grow. Why? In verse 10 "That we might see your face," and "complete what is lacking in your faith." The word "complete" means perfect. I want to come and help you have a perfecting, growing faith. That's what's on his heart. He is praying for their growth in faith.
2. A prospering love, verse 12: Here is a prayer request that they abound in love for one another literally and (or even or that is) unto all. As justification is a work of God, so sanctification is the work of God. So his prayer is that the Lord may cause you to increase and abound in love. Now both of these verbs "increase and abound" mean essentially the same thing. Stretching them out you could say, "May you have an increasing, overflowing kind of love."
The word "love" is agape, and means the strongest, highest, purest, noblest love, and the love that sacrifices to meet the needs of others. And as my love for God grows, my love for everybody else grows too. I become rooted and grounded in love.
And notice again in verse 12. "I want that love to increase and abound for one another.Ē
A. First of all, that's in the fellowship. The one another would be the Christian, the believer.
B. Second he says, "For all men." That's an evangelistic love where we love the lost, we love those who persecute us.
Paul says, "just as we also do for you." He says you ought to know our experience. We've even given you an example of this.
a. We loved you when you were in the "all men" category. We loved you when you were lost. And we came and put our lives on the line sacrificially under persecution to get you the gospel.
b. And then when you believed and became believers, we loved you like the "one anotherís". So you've experienced both from us. We loved you evangelistically and we loved you in the fellowship.
3. A purifying hope Verse 13: "So that," is an important transition statement, it is the purpose of the whole prayer. This is the culmination. You start with truth, it moves to faith, it moves to love, and then it moves to hope. If your foundation of truth is broad and your faith is great and your love is increasing and abounding, the result is that, "He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all the saints" This not only gives the real goal of all ministry (that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness), but that it might be done with an end-times perspective. For the third time Paul ends with future prophetic events in mind. Here Paul is probably referring to the second coming of Christ, after the tribulation, after the believers of this age have been judged and rewarded. Itís the time when Jesus comes with all His saints to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem when He will judge those living on the earth and begin his Millennial Kingdom.
First, he wants to establish your hearts because it's the heart that is the seat of motive, purpose, desire, thought. Everything comes out of the heart. It's not what goes in a man that defiles him; it's what comes out of him, out of his heart. What does that produce?
Second, to be unblameable in holiness. He wants to establish your hearts so that you're unblameable in holiness. Your heart, desire, motive, purpose, thought pattern are so strong, so firm, you're unblameable.
Third, he's calling us to blameless living, holy living, purity of life. So he says that I want you to live a holy life, blameless in holiness.
Fourth, and when? "At the coming of our Lord Jesus." If I really know some day I'm going to face God and if there's coming a time when Jesus returns for us to take us to himself, and at that time we will be called to the judgment seat of Christ, according to 2 Corinthians 5, and there at the judgment seat of Christ our works will be scrutinized by the judge, then if I know that's coming that ought to motivate me now. In this sense it becomes a purifying hope. The word for saint is literally holy ones, and Paulís prayer for the Thessalonians is that God will make each of them into one of the holy ones who will be with Christ at His Second Coming.
Warning: 1 John 2:28 And now little children, abide in Him so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame.
NB: The goal of all ministry is that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God. What does that mean? It means God wants our motives to be perfectly in line with His desires. The heart is often a figure for our motives. Blamelessness and holiness are measurements against some standard, and here the standard is before our God. So the goal of all ministry is for people to have motives which please God.
1. Live your life with a grateful spirit and attitude toward your Father every single day!
2. Practice the discipline of intercessory prayeródevelop this habitódevote yourself to prayer!
3. Determine to be unblameable for anything before Godónever settle for excuse I am only human!