Faithlife Sermons

A Flourishing Church

Bible Surveys  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 3 views
Notes
Transcript
Handout
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

A Flourishing Church

2 Thessalonians 1:3-
2 Thessalonians 1:3–4 HCSB
We must always thank God for you, brothers. This is right, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches—about your endurance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you endure.
A few months had passed since Paul had written the first letter to the church in Thessalonica. And Paul had kept up with this beloved church of the apostle through correspondence, possibly of a courier who delivered the first letter. It’s likely that when the courier returned he apprised Paul of their condition. The word returned that though they were really a church to be proud of, there were still some issues to be resolved. It’s these issues that prompted Paul to write 2 Thessalonians.
The Church at Thessalonica was a church that was flourishing in their faith and increasing in their love for one another. Wonderful marks of a Flourishing Church. And yet they had some difficulties, some error affecting them, and they had some issues. Paul wrote this letter to encourage them in the Lord. And he warned them of bad actions.
And so, the book breaks down into 3 pretty clear sections: The first Paul desired to Encourage them in persecution; second, he sought to Affirm the Lord’s Return; and finally, to Avoid those who behaved irresponsibly.
Let’s look at each of these first — their difficulties.

I. Difficulties — Encouragement in Persecution

2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 HCSB
And in view of this, we always pray for you that our God will consider you worthy of His calling, and will, by His power, fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Having received the report that church Paul loved was under severe persecution, he desired to encourage them despite the persecution.
Paul had a habitual prayer for the church in Thessalonica. And we can see that he prayed for the right things with the right motives. He prayed not out or ritual or routine, but as a way of life. Besides the external demanding activities of teaching, preaching, planing, writing, working, discipling, traveling, and suffering was the deeper level of Paul’s spiritual life — He had an unbroken communion with God. His heart was fervent for God and that passionate desire for God permeated everything in his life and saturated his communion with God. And this came for rightly praying for the church.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
What does prayer for a church look like?
Ultimately it is “that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you.”
And notice how “the name of our Lord Jesus is glorified by you.” — It is that they would be mature.
What does it mean to be mature?
It’s important to understand that maturity is deeply engrained in their sanctification. Sanctification is to grow in Christlikeness. Now, to really understand how that happens is to understand that sanctification, like justification, comes only through God’s sovereign grace, though not apart from human obedience.
So throughout Paul’s epistles are filled specific commands, prohibitions, and exhortations. God’s sovereign purposes, prayer, and obedience are all the necessary elements of sanctification. So, here we see what may appear to be a paradox, but it really introduces the deeper issue of relationship between prayer and the sovereignty of God.
And so Paul prayed that God would “consider you worthy of His calling, and will, by His power, fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith.”
Paul’s prayer is consistent with God’s will. Since God alone is good, the desire for goodness would be consistent with God’s will because it is His very nature. This is why David wrote:
Psalm 37:4 HCSB
4 Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.
God will grant the request of those who delight in God. What better to prayer for this church than that every desire for goodness be fulfilled, or completed.
And not just every desire for goodness, but also the “the work of faith.” The word fulfill governs not only “every desire for goodness” but also “the work of faith.”
The work of faith is that which genuine saving faith produces. Genuine faith produces what Paul calls the work of faith. There is no such thing as faith that does not produce the fruit of good works.
Ephesians 2:10 HCSB
10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
So, Paul prays that every desire for goodness and the work of faith would be fulfilled — completed — so that the name of Jesus would be glorified, that is honored and exalted.
For this to come in us — What’s it going to take?
Grace! God’s unmerited favor.
Galatians 3:3 HCSB
3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?
Paul prays for God’s grace for them to be complete in every desire for goodness and the work of faith.
Did you notice how he began?
“In view of this...”
What is this?
It’s the persecution they were under.
2 Thessalonians 1:3–4 HCSB
3 We must always thank God for you, brothers. This is right, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches—about your endurance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you endure.
2 Thessalonians 1:4 HCSB
4 Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches—about your endurance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you endure.
2 Thessalonians 1:
Paul is thankful not for the size of the congregation, or the buildings, the budget, or their popularity — but that their faith was flourishing and their love for each other was increasing.
Literally, Paul is Proud of this church.
Literally, Paul is Proud of this church.
Literally, Paul is Proud of this church.
Why is he proud of them?
What made Paul most proud was their faith had flourished and their love increased despite the persecution! Persecution strengthens believers’ faith by driving them to God. And this was to Paul’s immense joy and satisfaction.
It is encouraging to know, and the apostle wants to make sure they truly know this, is that it is righteous that God will judge them to be worthy of His kingdom and their persecutors of “vengeance with flaming fire.”
God will then pay them with eternal destruction from His presence when He returns.
It’s in view of this that Paul prays “for every desire for goodness and the work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you.”
So, Paul encourages them in their persecution. Secondly, Paul affirms the Lords return.

II. Error — Affirmation of the Lord’s Return

2 Thessalonians 2:1–4 HCSB
1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him: We ask you, brothers, 2 not to be easily upset in mind or troubled, either by a spirit or by a message or by a letter as if from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord has come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
They were troubled by the persecution and they were troubled by the idea that the Lord had already returned and Paul sought to encourage them with the Affirmation of the Lord’s return.
False teaching that the Lord had already returned had cause great anxiety, as you can imagine. Paul terms it upset in mind and troubled.” This we see as he gently pleads with them. We see this in what he says in verse 1 —
“We ask you, brothers, not to be easily upset in mine or troubled.”
He doesn’t want them to be shaken from their spiritual composure or disturbed in their spirit. And he tells them don’t be shaken either by:
A spirit
A message
A letter
A spirit refers to someone claiming to have a prophetic word, a word of prophecy — “God told me.” “I saw a vision.”
A message refers to someone standing up among the congregation and giving their interpretation of what Paul said.
A letter speaks of someone who claiming they had received a letter from Paul, which is why Paul made it clear in 3:17, that all his letters contained the greeting by his own hand as a mark of genuineness. So, his distinctive signature became the sign of genuineness or the distinguishing mark.
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way.”
Don’t be led astray. That day — What day? The Day of the Lord, the day Jesus returns — will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed.
The apostasy
The man of lawlessness
The apostasy — This doesn’t mean that there will be those who are God’s genuine children who will “fall from grace.” There is no such falling away.
John 10:28 HCSB
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish —ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.
This means on a large scale, the visible Church will forsake the true faith. You understand there is a difference between “the visible Church” and “the Church.” There is a great deal out there that calls themselves the Church, but are not Christ’s.
The man of lawlessness — This movement of apostasy will have a leader, who is called “the man of lawlessness.” He is called that not because he never heard of God’s law, but because he openly defies it!
He is not Satan himself, and
He is not identified with “the beast out of the sea” in and 17.
He is in close connection with Satan and he opposes God and exalts himself to be god, an object of worship by a sinful world.
He is not an abstract idea, but a real person who will be revealed immediately before the coming of Christ.
Paul adds in verse 6, “And you know what currently restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time.”
There is, however, the “mystery of lawlessness” already at work. He is restrained until the moment before Christ’s return.
2 Thessalonians 2:7–8 HCSB
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, 8 and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming.
2 Thessalonians 2:7-
Christ will destroy him with His breath and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming. So his time is eschatological, meaning immediately before the return of Christ.
So, he is not one of the Roman emperors, or Nero brought back to life. He is not the pope. He is the man of lawlessness.
And Paul says, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way.” about this.
Don’t you remember me telling you about this?
I taught you about this. There will be the apostasy and the lawless man will come and deceive many with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders. This is based on Satan’s working. And people will believe it because they are perishing and refuse to repent and do not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved.
2 Thessalonians 2:11–12 HCSB
11 For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, 12 so that all will be condemned —those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.
2 Thessalonians 2:11
BUT YOU STAND FIRM
First, stand firm and hold to:
the traditions you were taught either by our message or by our letter.
Second, because God has chosen you.
2 Thessalonians 2:13–14 HCSB
13 But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:13
It’s Paul’s prayer in verse 16-17
2 Thessalonians 2:16–17 HCSB
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.
It was Paul’s desire to encourage them in their persecution and encourage them by affirming the Lord’s return.
Finally, Paul commanded them to avoid those who behaved irresponsibly.

III. Issues — Avoidance of those Who Behaved Irresponsibly

Chapter 3, Verse 1 — “Pray for us that the Lord’s message spreads and that we might be delivered from evil men.”
The Lord is faithful and will strengthen and guard you from the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:4–5 HCSB
4 We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.
2 Thessalonians 3:
Then Paul proceeds to give them an important command.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 HCSB
6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly and not according to the tradition received from us.
I want to draw your attention to the phrase — “Walk irresponsibly.”
2 Thessalonians 3:
How did these walk irresponsibly?”
Interestingly enough, they were lazy.
He reminds them of this command that they gave them while there with them.
2 Thessalonians 3:10–12 HCSB
10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 11 For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work of others. 12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ that quietly working, they may eat their own food.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-11
Their laziness was they weren’t working. They were do-nothing-ers. But they sure ate!
Why were they not working?
Because they believed the Lord was returning any day. And so their thinking was, why work! That was their attitude. And then they would mooch off of whoever. Irresponsible.
Only when work is viewed from God’s perspective is its value seen.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 HCSB
There is nothing better for man than to eat, drink, and enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand,
2
Ecclesiastes 3:13 HCSB
It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts.
Ecclesiastes 3:
Listen to me. No matter what the work is for the Christian — whether a man is working and providing for his family, a mother working and running the household, or children working — all work is a spiritual duty to be done as an opportunity to give glory to God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 HCSB
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.
The Christian view of work are these:
God exalted work by commanding it. “You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work...” God commanded work in the Ten commandments.
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work...”
You are to labor six days and do all your work,
God Himself worked — and works. In Creation, in preservation, in providence, in judgment, and in redemption.
Work is a feature of the creation mandate and is therefore a part of man’s existence. — “He causes grass to grow for the livestock and provides crops for man to cultivate, producing food from the earth.”
He causes grass to grow for the livestock
Work is a gift from God providing man with a development of skills and productivity, significant contribution, value, meaning, creativity, and fulfillment in life. AND — It prevents idleness.
and provides crops for man to cultivate,
The Biblical work ethic elevates all work above the mundane by doing that work unto the Lord.
producing food from the earth,
Some in Thessalonica were not living consistently with this biblical view and it was causing strife in the church refusing to work and leeching off the rest of the congregation.
How were they to be dealt with?
They were to be disfellowshipped, “Keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly.” They were encouraged to labor and struggle working day and night like the apostle. They were commanded to work — or not eat. All were encouraged to “not grow weary of doing good.” And if they did not obey this instruction — verse 14 — “take note of that person; don’t associate with him, so that he may be ashamed.”
But notice this in verse 15.
2 Thessalonians 3:15 HCSB
Yet don’t treat him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
The Church at Thessalonica was a church that was flourishing, and yet they had some difficulties, some error, some issues. Paul, like the wonderful man of God he was, pastored them by instructing them in the Christian life. And then he blessed them.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 HCSB
May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Flourishing Church — Is that what you want to be here?
Conclusio
Related Media
Related Sermons