Thanksgiving & Prayer for a Model Church – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
September 20, 2020

Thanksgiving & Prayer for a Model Church
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Introduction

Last week I introduced the book of 1 Thessalonians by pointing out that the church in Thessalonica began as Paul and his companions spoke to them about the gospel “amid much opposition” (1 Thess. 2:2). That opposition increased into open persecution by the unbelieving Jews and the mob they had gathered. Their focus was on Paul and his companions which is why the brethren in that young church sent them away to Berea, but that only shifted the persecution to the people of that church (Acts 17:5f).

Christians in America have enjoyed a favored status in this nation until recent times. That is no longer true as the tenants of Christianity have been under assault by secularism for a long time which has finally shifted the political structures to the point that some politicians have found it to their advantage to openly and strongly oppose Christianity and its values. That has escalated this year in which many state governments have shut down churches unconstitutionally and unequally over fears of the spread of COVID-19. A fear that has proven to be baseless as the initial catastrophic modeling by certain epidemiologists were shown to be fraudulent in their formulation and completely wrong in their prediction.

We have also learned much more about the virus, its pathology and actual danger to various demographics since it became identified. Webster defines pandemic as “occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.” The CDC definition is complicated because it is related to a certain percentage above what is considered normal for that period, and there is not a normal baseline for COVID-19. Influenza baseline morbidities range in the 5-8% range, and the initial COVID-19 infected death rate was in the 6-10% range as it ravaged the elderly with co-morbidities. Calculating current rates is difficult due to false positives and negatives in testing, variation in including people who had SARS-CoV-2 and recovered but do not have COVID-19 as positive cases, and including deaths due to co-morbidities in the COVID-19 death count. However, even in using all the statistics to make SARS-CoV-2 as bad as possible, the danger is not there. Using New York State as an example. First, the rates of infection are low and dropping. The total cumulative positive testing rate is 4.6%, but the averages this past week and for quite awhile have been less than 1% of those tested. Second, the danger is low and dropping. NYS does not report hospitalizations, but Dutchess County – a relative hotspot in the state – does and out of 107 current active cases there are 6 hospitalizations (5.6%). There has been a total count of 156 deaths out of 5,014 confirmed cases (3.1%), and 142 of those (91%) occurred before June 1. There has been 5 deaths in the county since July 1 for a morbidity rate of 0.63%. Then consider that 90.1% of deaths in NYS with COVID-19 had at least one co-morbidity. In other words, a common cold could have been nearly as dangerous as COVID-19 or they may have died even if they had not contracted COVID-19. But our Governor continues to say that it is not normal enough for some businesses to even open up much less remove his unconstitutional and arbitrary restrictions.

As much as we are frustrated by the continued restrictions in this state, and I personally believe based on my science background are completely unnecessary and nearly opposite of what should be done for the sake of the health of the population, what is happening in this state is nothing compared to places such as California in which the governor there has banned not only indoor church worship services at a church facility, but also singing and worship in your own home. The governor there is fine with protestors and rioters being crowded together, chanting and shouting with masks being optional, but is against the worship God in public or private and with singing.

Even with that in mind, persecution against Christians in this country is minor compared to what our brothers and sisters in Christ go through in other nations. Becoming a Christian in places such as North Korea or Iran may cost you your life on this earth, yet there is currently a surge of people coming to Christ in Iran because righteousness, truth and eternal life are more important than physical life on this planet.

The Thessalonian church was a model church then and it still is now. They faced opposition from the beginning and persecution soon arose and escalated, yet they continued to grow in Christ to be a powerhouse of evangelism and missions even while persecuted for their faith. Their example provides both encouragement and a lesson to us in our own time as we seriously consider what is actually important in this life and how we can please our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Review

To quickly review last week’s sermon and the founding of the church at Thessalonica, Paul was traveling on his second missionary journey with at least three companions (Acts 16). First was Silas (a.k.a. Silvanus), who had been sent by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem to accompany Paul back to Antioch with the letter they had composed. Second was Timothy who was a young man from Lystra that Paul had asked to join him (Act 16:1-3). Finally, there was Luke, who appears to have joined the team in Troas (change from “they” in vs. 8 to “we” in vs. 10) in Asia Minor (modern northwest Turkey). Paul had a vision there that resulted in them traveling to Philippi in Macedonia where they planted a church among the God fearing in that city. After Paul had cast out a demon from a slave girl, the girl’s master complained and Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail. They took it in stride and were singing hymns and praises to the Lord about midnight when an earthquake opened the doors to the jail and their shackles fell off, however, they did not leave and instead witnessed to the frightened jailer who became a believer that night along with his whole household. After the magistrates found out they had unlawfully beaten two Roman citizens, they begged Paul and Silas to leave the city, which they did after meeting with the church there and encouraging them. (See: Expanding Ministry)

They then traveled along the Egnatian way eventually making it to the strategic port city of Thessalonica which was the capital of the region (Acts 17). They reasoned in the synagogue for three weeks before establishing a church among some believing Jews and some God fearing Gentiles. We do not know how long they were there building up this new church before the unbelieving Jews reacted strongly forming a mob to go after Paul and his team. They did not find him, so they dragged Jason, who had been hosting Paul, before the city authorities shouting all sorts of accusations against him trying to stir the city up further. The city rulers received a pledge of some sort from Jason and the others, then let them go. They recognized it had become dangerous and so that very night they sent Paul and Silas away to Berea which is about 40 miles west-southwest of Thessalonica. (See: Men Who Upset the World)

Paul and Silas then planted a church in Berea and were there until agitators from Thessalonica eventually came and stirred up trouble again so that Paul was sent to Athens while Silas and Timothy stayed behind. Paul wanted to know about the welfare of the Thessalonians, so when Timothy joined him in Athens, Paul sent him to Thessalonica. Timothy eventually caught up with Paul in Corinth and his report prompted the writing of this letter which begins as follows. Follow along as I read chapter 1.

1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; 5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

Their Greeting – 1 Thessalonians 1:1

I covered the salutation last week, (See: Introduction to Thessalonians), so I will only briefly remind you that it was Paul’s normal practice to include those who were with him that had been part of a ministry in a particular place. Paul’s humility is seen in this and the fact that he uses “we” 51 times in the letter, though there is little question that it was written by him (1 Thessalonians 2:18). That is a good model for church leaders today to follow. Church leaders are to work together in harmony as a team serving the Lord and His people and not as a hierarchy competing for power among each other to be exercised over the people. The same point is made in 1 Peter 5:1-3 in which the apostle refers to himself as a “fellow elder” and specifically tells them not to be “lording it over those allotted to your charge, but prove to be examples to the flock.”

Paul is specifically writing to the assembly in Thessalonica made up of those who were “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The letter is written to the Christians in that city to whom he issues a greeting of grace and peace to them. Paul wishes for them God’s blessings which they did not deserve to be extended to them. God’s grace is essential to Christian life for salvation from sin is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), we are to stand firm in God’s grace (1 Peter 5:12), and we are to extend that grace to others even in our speech (Ephesians 4:29).

Paul also wished for them peace which is the tranquility that is present when two hearts and minds are agreed. Such peace can only come from God our Father because He is the one that has extended His grace to us in Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of our sins so that we can be reconciled with Him and have peace. Because true Christians are justified by faith, they have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). We can have peace in the midst of any circumstance because we can bring our prayers and petitions to God and cast out anxieties upon Him because He cares for us (Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7).

Their Thanks to God and Prayer for Them1 Thess. 1:3-4.

After the salutation, Paul writes, 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father. As we already read in the rest of the chapter, Paul goes on to mark the evidence of God’s choice of them, but today I will concentrate on just the three hallmarks of virtues that Paul points out here for which he and his co-laborers were thankful and for which they prayed in remembering them. These are their work of faith, their labor of love, and their steadfastness of hope in the Lord Jesus.

I begin by noting that the thanksgiving is to God, not the Thessalonians themselves. They were the cause of the thankfulness, but not the recipients of it. That may seem minor to some, but it is actually an important point for us as Christians as we strive to become more like godly in how we think and in all that we do.

There is nothing wrong with thanking people for the things they do. That is a common courtesy, or at least it used to be one, in expressing appreciation to people who serve you and it requires some humility to do it. You are not the center of the world, and the world does not owe you. Even if you pay someone for a service, that does not make you superior. So express your appreciation for what others do for you and a “thank you” is a simple way to do that. Do it at home. Do it in your work place. Do it when you are shopping. Make it a habit in life. Society would be a lot nicer if giving of thanks was done instead of the filthiness, silly talk and course jesting that has now become so common place (Eph. 5:4).

But for those of us whose lives are centered on the glory of God, we want out our thanks giving to be directed to the Lord for what He does through other people. The common statement of thanksgiving in the Scriptures related to what someone else has done is some form of “I thank God for you.” That is a God centered instead of human centered statement that actually expresses a more meaningful appreciation. Let me give you a couple of quick examples

If you thank me for a sermon, that means you liked something about it, but if you thank God for me because of the sermon, it means that God used it in your life, which signifies that it fulfilled its purpose. I am to preach for the glory of God and edification of His people and not my own acclaim. In a similar way, if you thank someone for some act of service or a gift, it means you appreciate that action or gift. If you thank God for the person who has done something for you, it means their action or gift was used by God in your life which is more significant. We are to be a thankful people (Colossians 3:15), but that gratitude is greater when we see it is God at work through you in the lives of other people and at work through them in your own life. (Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17). Giving thanks to God for what others do for you is also a constant reminder that God is good and He works through people to do good things in your life. (See Paul’s Thankfulness – Col 1:3-8, July 25, 2010).

Another superior element in giving thanks to God for the person instead of just to the person is that it prompts prayer. Paul ties their making mention of them in their prayers directly to their giving of thanks to God for them. That is a much better way to start praying for someone than bringing them before the Lord because they are causing trouble.

It is interesting to note that while Paul has much he gives thanks to God for concerning the Thessalonians because of such a good report he received about what God was doing in and through them, Paul also ties thanking God and prayer in letters which were corrective. An example of this is Colossians in which Paul spends much of the letter correcting them. Paul did not let their weakness or failures take away from his thanksgiving for the good things that had been accomplished already and would occur in the future. That is an important point for us to keep in mind as you deal with people. Do not let someone’s struggles and failure in one area destroy your giving thanks to God for them in the areas they are doing well. Too often and in too many churches the wounded are shot instead of helped to overcome the weakness and failures and become strong.

It is common in our society to express concern or fondness for someone by saying something like, “I’ll be thinking of you” or “I will remember you.” Well, that is nice, and I am glad if they will think and remember me in good terms. But what if they think ill of me or remember me with a frown instead of a smile? And ultimately, what good is it that they think or remember me unless it moves them to some action concerning me? You want the doctor to think about you and your medical condition so that he can give you the right treatment and also that he will remember to do so, but what good is it to you if what he thinks about and remembers is how nice your shirt looked. I think you get the point.

What is helpful is if someone will make mention of you in their prayers in thanksgiving and petition while remembering specifics about why they thank God for you and the needs that you have. That is helpful to you whether you even know about it because 1) God deserves the praise and thanksgiving, and 2) God can do something about any need that you have.

There is an interesting word play that occurs in the transition from verse 2 to verse 3 concerning what they made mention in their prayers concerning the Thessalonians and their remembering their work and character. The word for “mention” in verse 2, mneiva / mneia, and the word for “bearing in mind” (NASB) or “remembering” (NKJV, ESV), mnhmoneuvw / mnāmoneuō, come from the same root word. They are mentioning what is remembered in their prayers and it is what the Thessaloninians did and were like that they are remembering to mention.

The transition from verse 2 to verse 3 also makes another important point about this. I think we all understand the adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.” The normal human tendency is to focus thinking on what is happening at the present time and all the more so if the particular activity requires more concentration to accomplish. Some activities, such as running for physical exercise, are fairly mindless so we can think about other things while we are doing them. Other activities, such as figuring out your income tax or a new computer program, take a lot of concentration so that of necessity you must put other things out of your mind. However, all of us also know that at times something is so important to you that you continue to keep thinking about it even when you are trying do other things. That is the sense here in verses 2 of their giving thanks to God for them always and making mention of them in their prayers constantly remembering their virtuous actions and character. They were doing this “always” and “constantly” because the Thessalonians were much on their minds.

The specifics being remembered and mentioned are their work of faith, their labor of love, and their steadfastness of hope in the Lord Jesus. This is a logical threefold step in intensity and perspective. The grammatical emphasis in this progression is on work, labor and steadfastness, with labor being more intense than work and steadfastness more intense than labor. Each is further described with the modifiers faith, love and hope which is a logical order in sequence and time. Faith lays the foundation and looks to what has already happened, the past. Love is the expression of faith in the present. The result is hope which is a confident assurance of the future in the Lord Jesus Christ. To slightly modify G.R. Harding Wood’s description of this, “Faith looks back to a Crucified Savior. Love looks up to a Crowned Savior. Hope looks [forward] to a Coming Savior.”

What are each of these? Warren Wiersbe points out that the simple answer is in the text itself in comparing verse 3 to verses 9-10. Their work of faith is that they turned to God from idols. Their labor of love is in serving the living and true God. Their steadfastness of hope is in their waiting for the return of God’s son, the Lord Jesus, from heaven. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

Their Work of Faith – 1 Thessalonians 1:3

Paul only uses this particular phrasing, work of faith, here and in 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Paul makes very strong statements in Romans and Galatians that separate righteousness based on works of the law and justification based on faith. For example, Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law,” and Galatians 2:16, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” However, as seen here, Paul does make a connection between work and faith in that there is a “work of faith” and faith will result in works.

What is the work of faith? The concept actually begins with Jesus’ interaction with a crowd in John 6:27-29, Jesus said, 27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” If you want to do the work of God, then the first work is to have faith in Jesus Christ whom God sent. You have to believe that Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God, the Messiah from God, are true along with all the ramifications of such a belief.

In Romans 16:25-27 Paul links the preaching of the gospel to belief in Jesus Christ resulting in the “obedience of faith.” (See also Romans 1:5). In Galatians 5:4-6 Paul again points out that you cannot be justified by the law, but that righteousness comes by grace through the spirit by faith and that what matters in Christ Jesus is faith working through love. In Ephesians 2:8-10 he also makes it clear that it is expected that faith will result in good works. He states unequivocally, 8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

It is the consequences of belief that result in the “work of faith” as explained by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14, 13 “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews.” First notice the tie here to 1:3 in thanking God for what had occurred among them. They heard what Paul preached and accepted it as the word of God to believe, and that belief in the teachings of the word of God worked in them to produce the result of being like the other true churches in also holding fast to their faith though persecuted by their own countrymen.

In 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, Paul’s prayer was “that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” To state it succinctly, the work of faith will result in living a life what will glorify Jesus Christ.

Their “work of faith” for which Paul gave thanks to God was their reception and belief in the gospel which then quickly changed how they were living their lives. They got rid of their idols (1:9) and lived in a manner to please God (4:1) which included loving the brethren (4:9-10). They continued in these holy pursuits and were evangelistic spreading the gospel far and wide (1:8) even though they suffered persecution (2:14).

I pray that your own “work of faith” has been or will be the same in that you will believe what the Scriptures proclaim about God and the salvation from sin He offers through faith in the person and work of His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that your faith will then be demonstrated in a life lived accordingly in holiness to God’s glory.

Their Labor of Love – 1 Thessalonians 1:3

Paul speaks of this as “labor of love.” Labor (kovpoV / kopos) speaks of exertion and hard work implying difficulties and troubles. There are no indications in Acts or the Thessalonians epistles that these were difficult people that would take great effort to love as compared to people such as the Cretans who Paul said were known to be liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons. This is not related to it being a struggle for them to love each other, in fact 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 indicates the opposite, 9 “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more.”

As pointed out earlier, their labor of love was in serving the Lord Jesus Christ, for the love spoken of here, ajgavph / agapā , is the love we are to have for God from which love for others arises. It is this supreme love for God that encompasses all of your heart, mind, soul and strength that enables you to properly love other people in a selfless and self-sacrificial manner.

Exertion is normally required in serving the Lord since whether your service is physical or sedentary, you have to overcome internal and external obstacles to serve the Lord. Internal impediments include such things as laziness and selfish desires. I like to be outside, so it takes some concentrated effort for me to be inside to study, craft sermons, and do administrative tasks and not let myself be distracted. Perhaps you are more of an introvert than extrovert, so it will take you greater effort go out of your comfort zone to talk with people about Christ. Perhaps you like to sleep later in the morning, so it will take a loud alarm clock and discipline to get up and to even get to church to worship much less arrive early to help with setup. There is also usually opposition that must be overcome by those that do not love the Lord. There was opposition to the Thessalonian church from its very beginning and that opposition only intensified requiring greater labor on their part to serve the Lord.

Their labor of love in serving Christ is seen in how quickly they became imitators of the missionaries and the Lord (1:6) which included suffering persecution (2:14). They were examples to the believers in Macedonia and Achia (1:7) which included evangelistic missions efforts to those areas (1:8). And though Paul writes to encourage them to “excel still more” they were already actively walking well with the Lord and loving one another (4:1, 9).

I pray your labor of love would prove to be similar in serving the Lord Jesus Christ to the very best of your abilities according to the gifts He gives you in whatever ministries He entrusts to you according to His empowerment regardless of whatever circumstances may come upon you.

Their Steadfastness of Hope in the Lord Jesus – 1 Thess. 1:3

The third cause of thankfulness and prayer was their “steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.” Steadfastness, uJpomonhv / hupomonā , refers to the “capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances —‘endurance’” (Louw-Nida). GELNT describes this word usage “in the N. T. the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.” The Thessalonians were having to endure and remain steadfast in their hope in the Lord in the midst of persecution as I have already pointed out from Acts in their founding and 1 Thessalonians 2:14 in which Paul notes the suffering they had received at the hands of their own countrymen. Included in Paul’s reasons for sending Timothy to them was so that he could “strengthen and encourage [them] as to [their] faith, so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions” which Paul had warned them about beforehand (1 Thessalonians 3:2-4). We know from 2 Thessalonians 1:4-6 that the persecution got worse for Paul commends them for their “perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure” and that they were suffering and afflicted for the kingdom of God.

Hope, ejlpivV / elpis, is a confident expectation of the future, and their hope was in the Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.” This is a two-fold hope. The first was a confident assurance in Christ for the immediate future which would include being able to imitate the kind of ministry that Paul and his companions had demonstrated before them in both properly walking with the Lord and taking the gospel to other places even in the midst of opposition and suffering.

There was also a confidence in the culmination of salvation when Jesus’ returns and takes them to be with God in heaven. Paul refers to the hope of Jesus’ return in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 2:19; 3:11-13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11. It was the hope of Jesus return that would comfort them concerning those that had already died. It was hope in the return of Christ that gave them confidence that they were saved through Christ from the wrath to come and that justice would be carried out on the wicked.

We share those same hopes for both the immediate and distant future. It is your confident assurance that Jesus will fulfill all of His precious promises to you in the present that enables you to boldly obey His commands to live a life pleasing to Him and having eternal value. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts you of sin and righteousness so that you can live a holy life. It is His empowerment that enables you to serve both Him and others on His behalf. He enables you to turn from selfishness to love your spouse, your children and your neighbor. It is hope in Him that pushes you to live according to God’s priorities and become more like Christ instead of being conformed by the world into its sinful characteristics and endeavors. It is the confident assurance that Jesus will return for His church that brings us comfort when troubled or grieved, and His promise to bring about justice on this earth and set up His kingdom that enables us to endure current persecution and injustice.

Conclusion

What is your work of faith, your labor of love, and steadfastness of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ? Let us pray that each of us will become more like these Thessalonian believers so that others may thank God for us individually and as a whole for the example we set and leave behind for others.

Sermon Notes – 9/20/2020
Thanksgiving & Prayer for a Model Church – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Introduction

The Thessalonian church began in the midst of much opposition – we are now facing opposition in America

Example: Shutting down churches due to fear & politics

Restrictions in other states and nations.

The Thessalonian Example

Review

The Third Missionary Journey (Acts 16)

The Founding of the Thessalonian Church (Acts 17)

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Their Greeting – 1 Thessalonians 1:1

The authors

Recipients

Grace

Peace

Their Thanks to God and Prayer for Them  –1 Thess. 1:3-4

Thanking People

Superiority of Thanking God

Thanking God & Prayer

Thinking of Others

Remembering & Praying for Others

Thessalonians on their Minds

Increasing intensity: Work Labor Steadfastness

Theological Progression: Faith Love Hope

Virtue (1:3) – Time focus –  Reference (1:9-1)

Work of faith – past  -Turned from idols to God

Labor of love – present  – Serving the true and living God

Steadfastness of hope – future – Waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ

Their Work of Faith – 1 Thessalonians 1:3

Salvation by God’s grace through faith, not works: Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16

John 6:27-29

Romans 16:25-27; Galatians 5:4-6; Ephesians 2:8-10

1 Thessalonians 2:13-14

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

They turned from idols, lived for God, loved the brethren, pursued holiness & evangelism, suffered for faith

Their Labor of Love – 1 Thessalonians 1:3

They were loving (1 Thess. 4:9-10)

Labor (kovpoV / kopos) was serving the Lord which arose out of the love for Him

Exertion in serving the Lord

They imitated Paul, suffered persecution, examples to others, evangelism & missions, walked well

Their Steadfastness of Hope in the Lord Jesus – 1 Thess. 1:3

Steadfastness, uJpomonhv / hupomon

Endured opposition: Acts 17; 1 Thess. 2:14; 3:2-4; 2 Thess. 1:4-6

Hope, ejlpivV / elpis

Present hope

Future hope in Jesus’ return 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 2:19; 3:11-13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11

Conclusion

What is your work of faith, your labor of love, and steadfastness of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ?

KIDS KORNER – Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following:1) Count how many times the Thessalonians are mentioned. 2) Talk with your parents about why thanked God for them and prayed for them.

THINK ABOUT IT – Questions to consider in understanding the sermon and its application. How is fear of COVID-19 being used to oppose God’s Church? Are these fears justified? Explain. Describe the founding of the church at Thessalonica. Why was their such strong opposition to it? Why should you thank people for what they do? Why is it more significant to thank God for people who are used by God? Why is it more significant to remember and pray for people than just think about / remember them? What did Paul mean by using the terms “always” and “constantly” in 1:2-3? What is the relationship between the three virtues mentioned: work of faith, labor of love, steadfastness of hope in Christ? What is the “work of faith” and how did they demonstrate it? What is the “labor of love” and how did they demonstrate it? What is the “steadfastness of hope” in Christ and how did they demonstrate that? In what ways did the persecution they suffered magnify each of these? How are these virtues demonstrated in your own life? What needs to change? What is your plan to make those changes?


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