"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Thursday, August 5, 2021


~ by James Fire

1st THESSALONIANS Chapter Three

For another great teaching in 1st Thessalonians (and 2nd later on), check out pastor Pat Lazovich from Calvary Chapel Sierra Vista!

INTRODUCTION: Few things grab our attention as quickly as tragedy and heartache and when these things strike, we call out the prayer warriors and ask them to intercede on our behalf as well as our loved ones burdened with such tribulations.

Though Paul had spent so little time (only a few weeks at best) with the saints of Thessalonica, one can’t help but witness the deep-rooted affection and care he and his entourage had for these saints, many of them newly born again (this idea is conveyed when he mentions how he cared for them with motherly care, among her babes).

Have you ever experienced such a thing? I’m sure you have. . . I have, myself: that upon meeting a fellow believer you find an instantly formed bond that grows intensely and fervently over days, and weeks. Looking back over time, you marvel at the genuine love and care that seemed to virtually blossom overnight, and you can’t begin to imagine what your life would have been like without them!

Then they are struck with a life-threatening illness or a severe accident that leaves them clinging to life by a thread. Upon learning this, you feel as though all the air has been sucked out of your lungs, and with tears as freely flowing as your prayers, you seek for their good.
This was the situation in Thessalonica.

Paul was ministering to a kind of ‘spiritual nursery ward’ with these new born babes in Christ in the midst of this church of relatively young believers. Situations arose that didn’t permit Paul to stay in that city; his host Jason was being harassed and quite possibly in danger of being killed (ACTS 17:5-9) and the apostle wouldn’t jeopardize his welfare – he had to go, but with the intention of returning as soon as possible.

There were all kinds of predators lurking about, and this apostle must have felt torn between staying to oversee and protect this flock and leaving to ensure he would survive long enough to see these precious saints again.

We pick up in our study in part three of chapter three:

PART THREE: The Messenger Section
Chapter 3.
(1) The sending of Timothy to strengthen the church: vs. 1-5.
(2) The favorable report of his messenger and it’s comforting and joyful result: vs. 6-9.
(3) Paul’s earnest prayer that he might visit the church and aid them in their spiritual development: vs. 10-13.

17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you--even I, Paul, time and again--but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy

From Barne's Notes:
“There is more implied in the Greek word here rendered, "being taken from you"--than appears from our translation. It properly has relation to the condition of an orphan, or one who is bereaved of parents. Then it is used in a more general sense, denoting to be “bereaved of”; and in this place it does not mean merely that he was "taken from them," but there is included the idea that it was like a painful bereavement.”

With all diligence Paul ‘super-abundantly’ desired to see the faces of these dear saints (“time and again” – note the relentless attitude, the drive to arrive in Thessalonica). He speaks in terms of his expectations regarding his arrival and subsequent delight, a cheerful gladness, in being reunited with the church there.

Satan’s manner of hindrances weren’t specified here, but his methodologies (“wiles” EPH 6:11) in warring against the saints are wide and varied: he can appear as an appealing angel of light just as easily as a softly seductive serpent or as a raging and roaring lion. In any case, Satan must seek GOD’s permission to touch one of His own, as was the case with Job (see Ch. 1 and 2 of JOB) as well as with Peter (LUKE 22:31-32)
And from Barnhouse’s Commentary:
The reference to the crown of rejoicing is interesting here. The Bible teaches that believers will receive rewards for faithful service. These rewards are likened to crowns and there are five such crowns mentioned in the Word of GOD: The crown of righteousness (2 TIM 4:8), the crown of glory (1 PET 5:2-4), the crown of life (REV 2:10), the incorruptible crown (1 COR 9:25-27) and the crown of rejoicing mentioned here (1 THESS 2:19-20). The Greek word translated “crown” is stephanos, a festive garland generally awarded to the winner of an athletic contest, at the judgement seat of the sports arena. So we Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 COR 5:10) to receive the things done in the body according to what we have done, whether good or evil. This of course has nothing to do with our salvation. Rewards for faithfulness are over and beyond the free gift of salvation. Salvation cannot be earned. Rewards are earned.

The time of the reward giving will be at the rapture of the church as 2 TIMOTHY 4:8 indicates:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the LORD, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day…” No one has yet received any reward. The statement sometimes made at funerals, that the deceased “has gone to his reward:” is totally without foundation. Even Paul has not yet received his reward. It will not be until the second coming of Christ and our appearance at the judgment seat of Christ. It will be then, as the hymn so beautifully puts it:
Holy, holy, holy, all the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns,
Around the glassy sea.
1 Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain

It simply became unbearable to the apostles and his ministry team to stay away any longer. They had to touch base with them and find out what was happening. Were they remaining faithful? Were they experiencing more persecution than they had before (1 THESS 2:14)? How bad was it? Were they wavering in the faith? Had any walked away!?

Something had to be done! So Paul decided to send his young protégé back to see how things were going. I’m certain that Timothy had the same heart and was just as eager to see the saints there! Paul did the same thing, sending Timothy to Corinth to apprise the spiritual condition of that church (1 COR 4:17), but there, the issues weren’t life threatening as here in Thessalonica! Timothy, being groomed by no one less than Paul the apostle himself was esteemed by his mentor as a genuine brother in the faith, a true minister of GOD, and a diligent co-laborer in the Gospel. High marks from an apostle of Jesus Christ!

It’s little wonder that Timothy became a pastor over the church of Ephesus, though he had to deal with personal issues like timidity and a somewhat passive nature.

When we find a true brother in Christ, born of the Spirit of GOD, in whom we can place every confidence of their spiritual nature as a child of GOD, not one of the “false brethren” (2 COR 11:26; GAL 2:4) that plagued the apostle; and us even more so, in these days of apostasy. How many seemingly stalwart defenders of the faith have we seen wane in their testimony and fall from their own steadfastness, even to the point of denying the faith. It’s truly heart-breaking. Paul knew this heart break with the likes of Demas (2 TIM 4:10) – but not Timothy!

To be a minister, that is, a servant of GOD is the highest honor we could possibly ask for! Yet the LORD Jesus brought us even higher and called us His “friends” (JOHN 15:15) and after His resurrection, even higher still and called us His “brethren” (JOHN 20:17)!
Even though we are His brothers, and His friends, still we are grateful to be His (bond) servants (doulos) to serve the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords!

Being a laborer in the Gospel is a calling we must all answer, and yet even our LORD stated that “the laborers are few” (MATT 9:37). Why are there so few? It takes discipline, dedication, and a lot of denial of self to be an effective soul winner; it’s by far some of the most discouraging work because you have to sift through so many skeptics, scoffers, naysayers, and mockers before you come across a truly broken person who is searching for truth.

With committed prayer however, and the leading of the Holy Spirit, even some of these mockers and skeptics can be reached for Christ! Let us ask the LORD for wisdom in knowing the right bait to catch the right fish (MATT 4:19)! Paul could easily commend Timothy as a true brother in the faith, a godly servant of the LORD and an able laborer in the Gospel!

2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this

This godly young saint was sent to “establish” and “encourage (or comfort in some translations)” the church – that is to say, to set fast, to turn resolutely in a certain direction, to confirm. If there was found there any who were vacillating between remaining faithful to Christ, or abandoning their faith, Timothy would minister to them, confirm and set them resolutely on the narrow way that is Christ Himself. The methodology of this service would be the Word of GOD itself:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering
[patience under agony] and doctrine.
Such exhortations would include admonitions as is found in 1 PETER 1:6-9.
2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God [the ordinary Christian] may be perfect
[complete, mature], thoroughly furnished [equipped] unto all good works.
And with prayer:

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ
(See also EPH 1:16-23).
To bring comfort had a somewhat different meaning in Scripture than what we typically refer to. When we ask our guest if they are comfortable, we usually are asking if the chair is suitable, if the beverage is refreshing and to their liking. If the room temperature is acceptable, etc.
Yet what this word implies in the Latin is: com – “with” and fortis – “strength”. Thus to bring comfort in this way is in encouraging, exhorting, with all of the imploration and prayers necessary to excite such strength in the saints!

This has the desired effect of creating the mind-set of unshakeable, immoveable conviction and determination to follow Christ and submit to the truth, regardless of the consequences! It’s as we acknowledge GOD’s all-encompassing salvation of our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies in the always faithful ways that our LORD employs, that we recognize: He only is our rock and our salvation.

As we begin our walk with the LORD, just as these Thessalonian saints, GOD instills in us such Holy Spirit tenacity that we can’t be budged much at all (PSALM 62:2) and we as continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of GOD (2 PET 3:18) we find that because of GOD’s cords of love, we can’t be budged at all (PSALM 62:6).

Let us understand that our afflictions are appointed afflictions “these afflictions … that we are appointed to…” (see PHIL 1:29; 2 TIM 3:12). No matter the affliction – be it sickness, or persecution, or some sort of struggle, GOD is in it, even if He didn’t orchestrate it (many times He does!), He will use such things to purify and strengthen us as GOD’s holy people [See the FROM The MIND of FIRE article, Holy Life or Hypocritical Legalism], as an untested sword being plunged into the forge. Without the intense heat, the pounding, the repetition of these things, that sword will shatter upon the first encounter in battle!

Also, let’s remember that the greater and deeper the fiery trials, the greater the purity and strength we enjoy, and GOD’s ability to use us in greater ways for His glory and His Kingdom (1 PET 4:12; JAMES 1:2-4)! [FMF How Do We Encourage Ourselves In The LORD?]

6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you-- 7 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. 8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God

How very like our LORD, that while we seek to encourage and comfort others by all the gifts and powers He enables us with, that we ourselves are encouraged and comforted by those who we seek to minister these things to!

When Paul (anxiously) awaited for Timothy to return, I can picture this beloved saint pacing and praying, pacing and praying, perhaps even with tears. Then Timothy returns and by the look on his joyous face, I can see Paul’s hopes soar and they were confirmed when his young protégé told the apostle of the Thessalonian saints’ love and faith, and how they greatly desired to see Paul as much as he did, them! So everyone, the church in Thessalonica as well as Paul and his entourage were mutually blessed in comforts in the midst of the various afflictions and distresses they were experiencing!
The same experience occurred no doubt with Paul and the church at Rome:
ROMANS 1:11-12
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me
How exuberant is good news when one has labored in prayer for so long, and finally the good news of answered prayer arrives! How it breaths fresh life into us and enlivens us even in the midst of our suffering. It’s a balm of comfort that eases the afflictions that would otherwise remain burdensome!
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country
The faith of not one single saint is insular, that does not have a wonderful effect on their fellow saints. Paul said that it was the faith of the Thessalonian saints that brought Paul comfort. As a true spiritual father, his concern was for his children. And so it was, upon learning that they not only were surviving their ordeals but thriving in spite of them! Even across the great distance between Thessalonica and the apostle’s then present location in Athens (nearly 200 miles away), still the body of Christ is one, united in spirit, in faith and love!

Paul thanks GOD for their steadfastness, and rightly so, for it we are able to “stand in the evil day” (EPH 6:13) it is solely by the grace of GOD and His indomitable, holy armor by which the saint is protected by the onslaught of the oppressors and persecutors who themselves are moved by the hand of Satan! “To GOD be the Glory, great things HE hath done!

The challenges the saints faced then in the 1st and 2nd century church are the same ones that the church faced throughout her 2,000 year history; the same challenges that saints are facing in China, North Korea, Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran, in Socialist/Communist nations in Africa and S. America.

The same challenges that we soon may be facing ourselves here in America.
“…good news of your faith and love…” Let us, like the saints of Thessalonica, walk by faith and not by sight (2 COR 5:7), being compelled by the love of Christ (2 COR 5:14) to endure whatever we must for the sake of the Savior, counting it an honor to suffer for His name (ACTS 5:41)!

It was Paul’s Holy Spirit inspired instructions that he instilled in the church while there that brought such invincible fortitude in the saints. So, their adversaries ‘took it up a notch’, applying more pressure and persecution, and if the saints hadn’t obeyed Paul’s teachings, they wouldn’t have experienced the greater intensity of those terrible trials. Others might have become bitter and cold towards the apostle because it was ‘his fault we’re in this mess’ – but not these saints! They loved Paul and couldn’t wait to see him again! This is genuine love through Jesus Christ!

It’s by the love among the saints that this world will know that we are disciples of Christ (JOHN 13:34-35) and even more so, when we by the grace of GOD will love our enemies (MATT 5:44)!!

The tremendous tribulations that the saints suffered was not at all confused with what the LORD Jesus Christ spoke of in MATT 24:21; that would be a time like no other – yet the suffering the saints were enduring in this city was akin to that which the church in Jerusalem was also suffering. The time of Jacob’s Trouble, Daniel’s 70th week, would be a period of seven years, with the rise of anti-Christ, the mark of his name or the number of his name (666).

The indwelling Spirit of GOD births the love of Christ in our hearts whereby we will absolutely overcome the evil of this world with good, not at all being overcome by that evil (ROM 12:21)! Just look at this ‘arsenal of agape’!
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails
11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints

I am always astounded when I see the LORD’s hand orchestrating His will in the lives of His saints, in as much as I stand in awe of His orchestrating all of creation. Everything from atoms to astronomical bodies, each in their course, throughout the countless galaxies in the incomprehensible breath of His universe.

If we trust the LORD, abandoning any sense of our own wisdom or intellect, and follow His lead (even if, and often especially when it seems irrational) we will witness His impeccable timing and incredible coordination, to “work all things for the good” for His children (ROM 8:28).

Imagine an orchestral symphonic company that ignored their conductor and just wanted to ‘wing it’. The resulting cacophony would be most distressful on the ears! But each musician has their eye on the conductor, and while many may have to patiently wait for their que, the timing is essential in order for the piece to sound as written.

The LORD Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, conducts each member of His body according to what is written – in the Holy Word! Regardless of how long we have to wait for our que, let’s exercise patience, and the piece will sound wondrous!

Just as any musician or artist grows in their creative skills, so too, the LORD intends to increase us and cause us to abound in our love for one another, and they have Paul and Company as their example. Growth isn’t in a mechanical sense, but an organic sense. We bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit from the seed of the Word, not engines off of the factory floor of religion.

Our growth is proportionate to how we are cultivating our lives. Paul elsewhere stated that those who sow sparingly shall reap sparingly, referring to our financial offerings to the LORD (2 COR 9:5-7). This principle is obvious in its application where the Word is concerned as well. The farmer wouldn’t have to explain why, if he planted a scant amount of seed, he would expect a scant harvest.

So let’s be sure that we are generous with our time in the Word – not just in the reading, or even the studying (though these are crucial) but in the application of it. This will bear much fruit to the glory of GOD the Father (JOHN 15:8):
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
By such fruit we shall indeed glorify GOD and be approved by Him, our hearts established blameless and walking in holiness!
Here once again, as in every chapter of this epistle, the mention of “the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ” is made. Chapters and verses in the Bible were not in the original: they came about in the 13th and 14th centuries respectively. I find it interesting however, that the chapter breaks landed where they did in this epistle; as though those who parsed the sections of Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians took deliberate care to place each of these references to the LORD’s coming in each one of these chapters (1 THESS 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:15-17; 5:23).

Here ends Chapter Three of this TTUF Study, Crossing the T’s – 1 THESSALONIANS! Next time, the first part of Chapter Four where Paul brings various exhortations concerning their personal walks as well as their conduct in brotherly love, as well as industry for the LORD!

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