Faithlife Sermons

The Character and Catalyst of Christian Growth

Book of II Thessalonians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Paul begins his second letter to the church at Thessalonica with greeting and then a commendation for the growth they had experienced.

Paul begins with a greeting once again from himself and from Silas and Timothy. He reminds them of their position in God and in Christ as believers.
He then also reminds them of the grace and peace that flows from God through Jesus Christ.
Once he concludes this greeting he begins the letter by thanking God for the spiritual growth that he has witnessed in them. He then mentions several specific areas in which they had grown.
Paul had praised the church in Thessalonica and had even lifted them up as a shining example of Christian growth to the other churches that he ministered to. (II Corinthians 8:1-5)
Let us note first the:

Character of their Christian Growth

Paul names three specific aspects of their spiritual growth which he had witnessed or had been reported to him.
Paul was pleased with the spiritual growth he saw in the Thessalonian believers as evidenced by their:
Since the time that Paul had left these believers at Thessalonica their faith had continually grown to the point that Paul states that it “groweth exceedingly”
At the first they had placed their faith in Christ for salvation but now it seems they had learned to trust God and to believe Him to an even greater extent.
How is it that Paul would notice this growth in their faith? It is by the way that they lived their lives trusting God and His Word, living according to the truth that they had now come to understand.
The believers in Thessalonica were living in such a way that it was evident to Paul and anyone who observed their lives that they truly believed God.
We grow in faith when we learn to trust God and His Word. We grow in faith when we yield ourselves more fully to God and we implement more readily the truths of His Word.
The evidence of this growth will be seen in a life that more closely mirrors the principles of the Word of God. It will be shown in our willingness to step out into the unknown trusting in God’s guidance.
The believers in Thessalonica had learned that God was worthy of their trust and they continued to trust Him more and more as He proved himself faithful.
As we grow in faith, we learn that we can trust God and that we can trust His Word.
The growth in their love could be clearly seen in the way that they treated one another. Paul notes how that every one of them abounded in love toward one another.
There were no cliques in the church at Thessalonica, only an abounding love among the entire congregation.
Our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is one evidence of our true conversion. I John 3:14-love a mark of the true believer
Even those outside Christianity should be able to recognize us by our love for one another. John 13:34-35- Jesus words love one another
Love is one of the defining characteristics of the Christian faith and as we grow spiritually we must grow in our love for one another.
The hallmark of a mature Christian is their ability to love even those who have an abrasive personality or who are difficult to relate to.
Paul was confident that the church at Thessalonica was growing spiritually because of the abounding love that was present there.
This has to do with their steadfastness and their endurance. Paul was please that they had not fallen away from the faith but instead they held fast to the faith.
With all that they had experienced it would have been no surprise to find many of the new converts in Thessalonica turning away from the faith or at least backsliding from Christ.
Yet it seems that the report that Paul recieved concerning them was that they continued to stand strong in the faith. This again provided strong evidence for the maturity of their faith.
The mature Christian will not allow circumstances to sway his faith but will remain “stedfast and unmoveable”.
The immature believer will often fold or fall away at the first sign of hardship or difficulty but the mature believer refuses to be moved from the firm foundation which has been established upon the Word of God.

Catalyst for their Christian Growth

The Christian growth that can be seen in the church at Thessalonica is a wonderful testimony for Christ but there is a catalyst to this growth that must be looked into.
It seems that the spiritual growth that has taken place in the church at Thessalonica has much to do with the hardship and suffering that they have endured.
We must recognize that if we are to grow spiritually we must inevitably face trials and tribulations and even persecutions. The reality is that the most mature believers are most often those who have experienced the greatest difficulties.
The growth in the believers at Thessalonica has been so magnificent because of the tribulations and persecutions that they have experienced.
Their faith has grown because time and time again they have trusted God for protection and provision amidst persecution and time and time again God has proven Himself faithful. Time and time again that have trusted God’s guidance, each time learning that God’s way is best and that He is worthy of trust.
It is certain that the abundance of love in the Thessalonian church is due to the hardships and trials that they had faced together as a congregation.
They had learned the necessity of love for one another through the tribulations and persecutions they had faced alongside one another.
Their patience was also the result of the extreme circumstances they had been asked to endure.
Romans 5:3- it is only by tribulation that we can learn patience. When we are tried, we learn to stand fast and to endure.
If we never experienced trials we would never learn patience and endurance.
It is the desire of every pastor, preacher, evangelist, missionary, Sunday school teacher, etc… to see those they minister to grow spiritually.
It is wonderful to see someone come to faith in Christ but the real joy comes in watching them grow in faith, in love, in patience, etc...
There is never a point at which any one of us have arrived, we should always be striving to continue to grow in faith, in love, in patience but we must also recognize that in order to grow we must face hardship and difficulty.
The next time that you are in a time of tribulation remember that it is God’s desire to grow you and that tribulation is most often the most effective method.
I Peter 1:6-7- trial of your faith precious/ Job 23:10- come forth as gold
For so many of us the greatest times of spiritual growth in our lives will be when we are experiencing the greatest trials.
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