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8:30am Service Next Week
Read through the Bible in a Year
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Those that heard the Gospel over Christmas and New Years, including YEC
Text – 1 Thessalonians 3:6-4:1
First Thessalonians 3 has two major lessons, the first we learned about last class, the danger of false conversion and how happy Paul was to hear that Thessalonica was standing firm in their faith, and the second thing that we can learn in this lesson is the bond within the church, the church which Paul said of Acts 20:28 …the church of God, which Christ has bought with his own blood.
It’s one of the coolest things in Christianity, I think, that there is an instantaneous bond between believers that transcends ethnicity, culture, and socioeconomic barriers. At YEC I preached a short sermon in the open-air and the Pizza guy ended up being a believer and gave us two free pizzas.
When my friend Alex flew in from New Zealand, which was the first time I ever met him face to face, we instantly had a bond and had a great weekend preaching, and fellowshipping.
On the converse, and I don’t want to name names, there are those that call themselves Christians that you will feel an animosity towards and wonder why, but there was one of those at Summit and I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like him, because I usually like everybody, and Christians should always have a spirit of love towards one another. It didn’t take very long when he fell into a very sinful situation and his doctrinal statements showed him to have no idea of justification, nor grace, nor the subsitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. He ended up not being a Christian, but a false convert, and it set my mind at ease as to why there was discord between our souls. I continue to pray for him often in hopes that God grants him repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.
Lets read this passage, and I want to try something a little different, this is my first expositional teaching and I don’t think I’ve been doing it right, and I want to apologize for that, that while I think these classes have been very enlightening, I think we could be learning more about the book of Thessalonians than we are, so after reading the passage straight through, I want to read individual verses and exposit on them. As we’re reading this, listen for the loving words that Paul is writing.
1 Thessalonians 3:6-4:1 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
Just a little background, where was this letter written from? Corinth.
Why was Paul worried that they might not think kindly of him? They left pretty suddenly in the middle of the night.
What do we know about Thessalonica so far?
1. They were famous for their conversion from paganism to Christianity.
2. They were great preachers known throughout Macedonia and Achaia.
3. They were greatly persecuted by their countrymen for their new faith, even to the point that all Jewish believers were killed or run out of town.
What made their location so special? They were on the Egnatian Way, as well as being a major port to the Aegean Sea.
So, first verse, 6, Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you-
The good news that Timothy brought was first of all their faith, that it was strong and that they hadn’t been turned away from the truth. Paul had previously had a problem with the churches in Galatia abandoning the truth to follow after works-righteous Judaizers, so to have Thessalonica stand firm in the truth was extra good news for Paul.
Next in the line of good news is their love, since love is an excellent fruit of the Spirit pointing towards their genuine conversion. Does anyone have the fruit of the Spirit memorized?
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Love is a running theme for the church; it is how we will be known, according to Jesus Christ.
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
This love isn’t just ushy-gushiness where you look at somebody with a sweet look and say…”I love you” and smile a goofy smile, this is the agape love, which we will talk about more next week, which is a sacrificial love in action love.
1 John 3:17-18 If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Then Paul talks about the church at Thessalonica remembering him and Silas kindly, and them longing to see them again, which Paul also longs to see them.
The brotherly love amongst Christians, which is Phileo love, which again, we’ll talk about next week more in-depth, transcends distance and time.
Verse 7, for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.
The previous verse listed some very good signs that their faith was genuine, and so Paul, Silas, and Timothy were comforted, since it was some of the best news they’d had in a while, having been put in jail in Philippi, run out of Thessalonica, run out of Berea, and then harassed by the Jews in Corinth. They had had a rough run of it, but Paul said his greatest hardship was always his worry for his churches. We’ve already read this passage once in this class, and we’ll probably read it at least one more time, because Paul really got thumped during his ministry:
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
Listen to that last verse, Apart from everything else, there is the daily anxiety for the churches…Paul loved God most of all, but his next love was people.
Galatians 4:19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!
Remember to pray for your Youth Pastor and his wife, he is constantly attending to students who have not yet believed, who are just believing, and who have claimed to have believed but have no fruit to show their regeneration. Just as Paul was constantly in anxiety and anguish, so is Dave. Even still, there is nothing he would rather do than take care of the Lambs of his Master.
Verse 8, For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.
It is a tremendous encouragement and relief when someone who you’ve been praying about for a long time gets saved. Paul was probably pretty run down from his ministry, and if another church went apostate like the one in Galatia, I think Paul would have died of depression. But since Thessalonica was standing fast in the Lord, he was rejuvenated.
I almost never cry, but recently someone ran into the guys from the Kirk Cameron Gang-witnessing encounter and found out that at least two of them have gotten saved, including the main guy, Mario. I had prayed for Mario probably 25 times, and when I learned he got saved, I cried like a baby.
Verse 9, 10, and 11, For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you…
Paul gets a little giddy at this point, wanting to see them again, wanting to do things for them, it all comes back to this Christian love we have is not in word, but in action. The neatest thing, I think, is where it says that Paul felt joy for their sake. This is selfless love, when you see a brother or sister doing well, and feel joy for it without feeling envy or jealousy for their success.
After these three verses, Paul turns to something more immediate. His future hope is to see them soon, but immediately this is what he does, he asks God
Verse 12, may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,
Increase in love means to have more of it, to abound in love almost means the same thing, it is sort of a word to describe an increase in liquid, especially when it overflows. To abound in love is to put your love to action because you have so much that you can’t keep it to yourself. Paul wants this to happen so they love those within the church, but also so they love those outside of the church.
Verse 13 gives the ultimate goal, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
We’re going to talk most about the coming of the Lord Jesus in a few weeks, so we’ll skip this part for now, but when he does come, we will be established blameless in holiness based on Christ’s righteousness given to us.
Christ is infinitely holy, and so will we be like him when he comes, but what is the point of trying to be more and more holy during this life if we’ll never be perfectly holy until Christ comes, or even worse, that no-matter how holy or unholy we will be, we will be perfected when we die or when Christ returns. There are two reasons, one, the Bible likens the world we live in to a mire, a sort of nasty muddy swamp, and also to dog-vomit. Ewww…pretty gross, right? At work we have this sort of elevator thing you stand on to get into the bottom fuel tanks of the F-22, you push the button and it goes all slow so that it doesn’t crush you. It takes forever. That is sort of how our holiness goes, but eventually we’ll get out of the mire, going slowly, then we start to get a better elevation, and a better view, then people start to look to us to show them the way to salvation. It is slow and painful and we’ll never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be going that way.
The second, and more important reason we should become more holy, is because the Bible says so.
1 John 3:3 everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
And verse 4:1, Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
This is an introduction to the rest of the letter, that Paul is going to instruct the church at Thessalonica how to be more and more godly, how to walk and please God, and how to do it more often and better.
So that’s the exposition, I also saw something else worth teaching in this, since we’re on this fellowship that I hope you can see between Paul, Silas, and Timothy with Thessalonica, even though they are almost 200 miles apart.
In this county we’ve tried to perpetuate the rumor that we are capitalists…we’re not, capitalism doesn’t work. Neither does communism, we’re about in the middle, probably a little closer to capitalism than to communism. Communism, in a perfect society, would be the preferred government, but since people are sinful and strive against each other and God, it doesn’t work. I want to show you an event in the church that shows that.
Acts 4:32-5:11 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much." But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
Ultimately they lied to be thought better of in the church, there was no command to give all, so when they said they gave all but kept some, they weren’t breaking any rules, but they were lying, not to men, but to God. I don’t know why exactly they did it, but my guess is to be thought better of in the church, maybe think they were getting a higher portion in Heaven.
I really like Psalm 84 and how it puts how we should approach the church and Heaven.
Psalm 84:10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
And finally, this love should keep us together, but just in case we need a command to say so,
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Concerning a question I had on the Trinity this week, I wanted to share this. The Trinity is dificult to understand, but not impossible. The Athanasian Creed gives an excellent defintion. Before reading this, where it says "Catholic", that should be read in the original Greek and Latin, which katholik and catholicam means "Universal" and is talking about the Bride of Christ; it is NOT talking about the apostate Roman Catholic Church.
The Athanasian Creed