A ROCK SOLID FAITH
1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
In the day we live every Christian needs to be encouraged to live a life of purity and faith in the sight of God, and others, and to always be prepared for the glorious appearing of Jesus our Lord.
When we are not with our children we wonder, ‘How are they doing without us present?’ We may be away a little longer than expected. Some unexpected traffic jam, or we make a detour to WalMart, or the bookstore, and we are there longer than expected. Parents seem to never end in their wondering about their children.
Paul was in a similar situation, only he was being hindered from his “parental” duties by satan. He just could not take it any longer, and sent Timothy to be with them in his place; to find out how they were.
Timothy brought back that encouraging report, but still, Paul longed to see his children in the faith, to visit with them and encourage them.
“Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 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…” vv. 1-2.
The word, “Therefore” means this carries on from chapter two – especially vv. 19 & 20. Paul sharing with the church how he could not wait to be with them and find our their physical and spiritual condition.
“That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.” vv. 3-5.
Many times when afflictions hit us we tend to think that God has forgotten us. When we feel that way we can get to a place where we can not-care, and really get into a state of depression. You could say, “We faint” in the faith.
Suffering for Christ’s sake should not come as a surprise to us. When we live holy in Christ Jesus it will come, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’ sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”(1 Peter 4:12-14; 2 Timothy 3:12).
“But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:” vv. 6-7.
There is a mutual love between the “Parent and the child”. There is great comfort, even in persecution for the one who founded the church, to hear of the people’s desire to see him again. It would have been a great encouragement to Paul as well, in his afflictions to hear of their faith. What a joy it is to the spiritual leader in Christ when they hear of others desire to be with them.
“For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” v. 8.
Caring can steal the strength away. Being unable to build up the church in faith Paul was fearful for them, that they might fall away. The heart was heavy. Sleep was slow in coming, if it came. When Paul was not working, preaching, or sleeping he was praying for this church, and others. They were “Babes in Christ” and they needed nourishment and care.
At receiving the news, Paul rejoiced. He could now live free from the worry and care of this infant church.
“For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?” vv. 9-10.
A desire to see them and help them grow in the faith. A new born child does not have all it takes to grow. It needs fed. It needs to be nourished, and sheltered from harm. The same is true of a spiritual child or church
Prayer is for the church, what breathing is for our bodies. The study of God’s Word is for the church what food is for our bodies.
Note Paul’s joy when he has received the good news of their growing and active faith.
“Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.” v. 11.
If we are to care and to be cared for we must trust our directions to be led by Jesus in us. Paul realized, that if he was going to see the people of the church of Thessalonica it would be by the direction and provision of the Lord Himself. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus in this fashion the problems we face in life do not seem so large, and burdensome.
“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. vv. 12-13.
This is Paul’s prayer for the church. 1) Increase and abound in love – “Godlike love”; 2) In order to ‘establish’ [be grounded] in heart. Set them up as stable, unshakeable sanctuaries of peace; 3) Blameless in God’s holiness – To be holy is to be clean and fit for God’s Spirit to use.
We are called upon throughout the Word to be fit, to be holy for His use and service. Here we are told to be, “Blameless in holiness” meaning God’s holiness. We must be clothed in that if we are to be caught up with the rest of the saints. The true child of God will, by the power of the Spirit of Christ in us, keep ourselves holy and fit for that glorious day.
The saints mentioned are the souls and spirits of the departed dead in Christ referred to in chapter 4:14, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
Notice that in each of these three chapters there is reference to the coming of Jesus. “…wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” 1:10. “Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” 2:19. Then in chapter 3, “…at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. v. 13.
WORD STUDY –
1. Establish (vv. 2 & 13) – To set fast – to turn resolutely in a certain direction;
2. Holiness (v. 13) – Quality; sacredness;
3. Increase (v. 12) – To do , make or be more;
4. Abound (v. 12) – To be in excess; to excel;
5. Direct (v. 11) – To straighten fully;
6. Moved or shaken (v. 3) – to wag; to disturb.