THE BOOK OF 2 THESSALONIANS

Learning to persevere through your hardships

2 Thessalonians 1:1-5 SCC 7/13/14

 

††††††††††† How about a group of believers that God can boast about? There are specific characteristics that would make a group of believers pleasing to God. What would those look like? Well. They would apparently look like the Thessalonians. Now what was it that made the Thessalonians church one to be proud of and thankful for? Was it their buildings? No, they didn't have any. Was it their programs? No, they didn't have any. Was it their printed, published material? No, they hadn't published any. Was it their music? No, as far as we know there weren't any performers there. Was it their wealth? No, they were poor. Was it their size? No, they were small. Was it their famous pastor? No, we don't even know who he was.

††††††††††† So without significant buildings, or programs, or music, or wealth, or size, or famous pastors, or published material, how could they be very significant? What was there to be so pleased with so that the Apostle Paul and his cohorts Silas and Timothy were boasting about this group to every other group of believers according to v 4?

SETTING

1. They are with Paul and so he includes them in the opening greeting though Paul himself is the author. They are in the city of Corinth. They have been there for some time now. In fact, they were together when he wrote 1 Thessalonians some months before the writing of this second letter. They were together also for the founding of the church in Thessalonica. If you go back to Acts 16 and 17 you will see that Paul, Silas and Timothy were there when the church began. They were there later on when the first letter was written and they were together again in Corinth for the writing of the second letter. So here the three were together.

2. Now Paul was there for three Sabbaths and God used him to plant a wonderful group of believers. He left and continued on his journey. He was very concerned to know how they were doing especially with persecution. He had only been there a brief time. He was concerned about their leadership, and about their staying power. So he sent Timothy back. He refers to this in 1 Thessalonians. Timothy returned with a wonderful report prompting Paul to write the first letter. Some time around the spring he wrote that first letter of 1 Thessalonians. He then stayed in Corinth and after having written it early in his stay at Corinth, he writes the second letter.

THEMES

The first thing to note is that he talks about persecution and endurance. So we can assume the persecution had continued. The persecution may have escalated. The heat perhaps had been turned up.

The second thing to note is that there still remained confusion over the Second Coming of Christ. We know the first time he got a report from Timothy there was that confusion, so in 1 Thessalonians he had written about the Rapture and about the Day of the Lord. Here is writes about the antichrist.

The third thing to note is that was some believed that Jesus was coming at any moment and so they had ceased to work. Apparently they were becoming leeches on the Christian community and so the issue of indolence and laziness and a failure to work is addressed and corrected.

Now before he launches into the issues that face them he wants to commend them because of four aspects that amount to criteria that God determines makes believers worth boasting about.

 

BELIEVERS WHO AFFILIATE WITH THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST 1-2

He begins "Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Makes the very clear point that this church is in God and Christ. And then goes on to say "Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Wishing upon them continued experiences of grace, continued experiences of peace, which are theirs because they have a life union with God and a life union with Jesus Christ.

So we can deduce the following:

o   This then is a regenerate group of believers. They have received Christ and have been given brand new life in Him.

o   This is a redeemed group of believers who are genuinely converted. And that is the obvious point that comes out in the introduction.

o   This combination of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ placing the Son alongside the Father, is a way of emphasizing the deity of Jesus Christ.

So, critical to Godís boasting of us before others, is our relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ.

 

BELIEVERS WHOSE FAITH IS GREATLY ENLARGING 3

The second thing is an increasing faith. In verse 3 he says, "We ought," which means a deep obligation. Giving thanks for this increasing faith is something he must do. Notice he doesn't say, "Because your congregation is greatly enlarged" or "Because your buildings are greatly enlarged." "Because your choir is greatly enlarged." He doesn't say, "We're so thankful because your pipe organ is greatly enlarged, your rock band is so effective, your stained glass windows are so nice." He says, "We are thankful to God all the time for you and under obligation to express it because your faith is greatly enlarged."

So we can deduce the following:

o   Their faith is growing exceedingly not just normally. There is evidence that faith is active, alive, and exerting itself.

o   Faith is a component of our lives very valuable to God. Faith trusts the evidence and when we rely upon that evidence, God is pleased with our lives and we need more of this faith.

So, critical to Godís boasting of us before others, is the growth of our faith, trusting him and His Word.

 

BELIEVERS WHOSE LOVE FLOURISHES TOWARD EACH OTHER 3

The third thing he says at the end of the verse, " And the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater." Both faith and love are in the present tense...your faith is currently greatly enlarged and your love is currently growing greater. That was happening at this very moment.

So we can deduce the following:

o   God never evaluates believers by external features. He never evaluates his people for their innovation, their cleverness, their artistry, and their social or political influence.

o   A church to be proud of is one where the people are real Christians who have an increase in faith that has been tested and out of a growing love that flows unhindered among all of them.

So, critical to Godís boasting of us before others, is the increasing nature of demonstrating love.

 

BELIEVERS WHO DISPLAY FAITHFULNESS TO GOD DURING HOSTILITIES 4

The fourth characteristic appears in verse 4 "Therefore we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God, for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure." You just endure all of this. Your hope is unwavering. Perseverance is not passive acquiescence but is enduring courage. It is to remain under difficulty patiently; enduring courageously the trouble you are experiencing.

So we can deduce the following:

o   God would rather us endure affliction since that is better for us eternally than to deliver us from it since that has no merit in heaven.

o   We really hang in there, in the midst of all persecutions; even with possibility of personal harm displaying a determination to stay faithful that could not be evidenced otherwise.

So, critical to Godís boasting of us before others, is the enduring nature of our courage and faith.

 

So What?

1. We believe in Jesus Christ not just God.

2. Faith requires a commitment decision to trust the evidence God has given. We live by the revelation from God.

3. Loving one another is action based in service not feeling based on emotion. It is seen in works.

4. While we are here we have opportunity to show faithfulness. God is watching. We do not belong here.