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[Book of I Thessalonians] Rejoicing for God's Eternal Work in the Church

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Survey of the book of I Thessalonians

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Introductory thoughts:

Epistle:
Author: Paul

Historical context:

316 BC, 26 villages were merged together to form this city.
This port city gave the best access via Mediterranean to the ports in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt.
It was the largest city of the Roman province of Macedonia
City was named after the sister of Alexander the Great

Geographical/Topographical:

Located on the eastern coast of Macedonia

Religious context:

city worshipped pagan deities, sons of Zues who were protectors of the Alexandrian ship -
Acts 28:11 KJV 1900
And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.
also included worship of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and joy
Cabirus, a Thracian god believed to protect sailors and aid fertility
these cultic religions meant that there was sexually explicit activity and imagery in the city -

Economic context:

much of their success lay in the place were they were located, joining land and sea - good for commerce

Apostolic Consideration:

Paul visited the city during his second missionary journey:
Writing: probably while Paul was in Corinth
Paul’s concern for the church: (sends Timothy)
1 Thessalonians 3:1–2 KJV 1900
Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
Saved co-laborers with Paul from Thessalonica: Aristarchus, Secundus - ,
Acts 20:4 KJV 1900
And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
Colossians 4:10 KJV 1900
Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)
The church was predominantly Gentile -

The book was written for a few reasons: (Timothy’s report)

(1) to express thankfulness to the Lord for the work there
(2) to encourage perseverance in spite of affliction
(3) to exhort them to holiness
(4) to comfort them by a better understanding of the return of Jesus Christ

You can simplify the break down to three groupings:

Past - What God did in you through the gospel (1:1 - 2:12)
Key:
Present - What God does in you through the gospel (2:13 - 4:12)
Key:
Future - What God will do through the gospel (4:13 - 5:28)
Key:

Proposition:

Because of the gospel, believers can rejoice in the past, live in the present, and hope for the future.
Illustration: about how we didn’t see it that way at the time....

1. The people of the church who were changed by the gospel have cause for remembrance & rejoicing -

(a) Rejoicing because of
Their work of faith (1:3; 9)
(b) Their labor of love (1:3; 9)
Their labor of love (1:3; 9)
Their patience of hope (1:3; 10)
(c) Their patience of hope (1:3; 10)
(b) Rejoicing because of the:
Work in spite of persecution (2:2)
Work with purity of purpose (2:4)
Work with sacrificial passion (2:8)
Work with the gospel as paramount (2:9)

Application:

Why is there rarely remembrance and rejoicing for the gospel’s work in our lives in the past?
(1) because the work we profess that happened may have not been genuine
You are not a Christian just because you say you are.
For some the idolatry you need to turn from is the idolatry of a good upbringing - you cannot have faith in this to save you. Quote by McKinley
Am I Really a Christian? An Unpleasant Surprise

It is true that we need to make a onetime decision to follow Jesus. But a true onetime decision is followed by the everyday decision to follow Jesus. Jesus did not think that it was enough just to superficially identify yourself with him. There is more to being his follower than just a profession of faith. My fear is that too many churches have encouraged people to expect that Jesus will one day say to them, “Well done, faithful servant.” But in fact, they will hear him say, “Depart from me.” Such people will discover the truth only after it is too late.

(2) because the work of the gospel was viewed as a matter of eternal destiny with little or no immediate implications
Recap: The people of the church who were changed by the gospel have cause for remembrance & rejoicing -

2. The people of the church who are being changed by the gospel persevere and progress -

(a) Their perseverance is rooted in faith that is in the inspired Scriptures (2:13)
(b) They persevere with a right perspective of suffering (2:14)
List #1 - Jesus Christ suffered (2:15)
List #2 - The prophets suffered -
Luke 11:47 KJV 1900
Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
List #3 - Paul, Silas, Timothy suffered (2:15)
(c) They persevere by expecting affliction for their faith (3:1 - 3) -
1 Peter 4:12 KJV 1900
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
(d) They persevere by seeing other believers persevere in suffering (3:6 - 8)
(e) They progress by growing in sanctification that is Christ-like and countercultural (4:3)
(f) They progress by Holy Spirit enabled holiness (4:7 - 8)
(g) They progress by increasing in love one toward another (4:9 - 10)

Application:

Why is enduring for the gospel’s sake rarely practiced today?
(1) because there is little obedience to evangelism
(2) because affliction is predominantly viewed as a bad thing
Why is true biblical, progressive sanctification (holiness) rarely practiced today?
(1) because we have a wrong understanding of holiness -
Ephesians 1:3–4 KJV 1900
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
For starters, it was too common in the past to equate holiness with abstaining from a few taboo practices such as drinking, smoking, and dancing.
DeYoung, Kevin (2014-01-31). The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Kindle Locations 207-208). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
JI Packer - “In reality, holiness is the goal of our redemption. As Christ died in order that we may be justified, so we are justified in order that we may be sanctified and made holy.”2
DeYoung, Kevin (2014-01-31). The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Kindle Locations 313-315). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
** At most basic, holiness means “separation”
Holiness is NOT mere rule keeping
Holiness is NOT generational imitation
Holiness is NOT generic spirituality
Holiness is NOT finding your true self
Holiness is NOT the way of the world (worldliness is whatever makes sin look normal and righteousness look strange)
Holiness looks like the renewal of God’s image in us
Holiness looks like a life marked by virtue instead of vice
Holiness looks like a clean conscience
Holiness looks like obedience to God’s commands
Holiness looks like Christlikeness
*from Kevin DeYoung’s book of “Hole in our Holiness”
(2) because we generally don’t think or actively self examine (possibly due to pride) -
1 Corinthians 11:28 KJV 1900
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
(3) because we mistake general growth for Christ-likeness (confused about holiness) -
1 Corinthians 3:18 KJV 1900
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
(4) because we are too busy to even think about this
Illustration:
In 1967, for example, testimony before a Senate subcommittee claimed that by 1985 the average workweek would be just twenty-two hours. 2 [DeYoung, Kevin (2013-09-23). Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem (Kindle Locations 204-205). Crossway. Kindle Edition.]
DeYoung, Kevin (2013-09-23). Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem (Kindle Locations 204-205). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
Deyoung calls these the killer “P’s” - The Manifestation of Pride in our Busyness:
People-Pleasing
Pats on the Back
Performance Evaluation
Possessions
Proving Myself
Pity
Poor Planning
Power
Perfectionism
Precision
Prestige
Posting
Recap: The people of the church who were changed by the gospel have cause for remembrance & rejoicing -
Recap: The people of the church who are being changed by the gospel persevere and progress -

3. The people of the church who will be changed by the gospel are comforted and charged -

(a) Comforted by the sure promise of the Lord’s return (4:13 - 18) (see also 1:10)
(b) Comforted by the sure justice of the Lord (5:1 - 3, 8 - 11)
(c) Charged in our relationships to one another (5:12 - 15)
(d) Charged to particular living for the will of God (5:16 - 22)

Application:

What evidences show that we are not taking comfort in the future return of Christ?
(1) We have means/ability to dispense judgment or take matters into our own hands now
We speak unkindly of each other
We speak unkindly of each other
(2) We indulge uncontrollably in submission to things that bring temporary pleasure (false hope)
(3) We lack love for spiritual leadership and others
Concluding thoughts:
Because of the gospel, believers can rejoice in the past, live in the present, and hope for the future.
Recap: The people of the church who were changed by the gospel have cause for remembrance & rejoicing -
Recap: The people of the church who are being changed by the gospel persevere and progress -
Recap: The people of the church who will be changed by the gospel are comforted and charged -
Questions:
(1) Are you truly able to remember your salvation and do you truly rejoice in it?
(2) Give one way in which you have grown in Christlikeness today or yesterday?
(3) How does your life now show that you are comforted by the return of Christ? (vengeance)
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