Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 3p (sermon at 3:45); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Thursday, February 24, 2022

2022.02.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 1:1–7

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: Who sent this letter (1 Thessalonians 1:1a)? To whom (verse 1b)? In Whom were they a church? With what two things do they greet them (verse 1c)? From Whom do this grace and peace come? What do they give to Whom for whom (1 Thessalonians 1:2)? What do they do in their prayers? What three things do they remember (1 Thessalonians 1:3)? In Whom did the Thessalonians have these three things? In Whose sight do Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy remember them? What do they call them in 1 Thessalonians 1:4? What do they know about them? In what way did their gospel not come to them (1 Thessalonians 1:5)? In what way did it in fact come? By Whose help? With what effect? And what do the Thessalonians know about them? Knowing them, of whom did the Thessalonians become followers (1 Thessalonians 1:6)? In what conditions had they received the Word? With what affection? And who else followed whom (1 Thessalonians 1:7)? 

When the Thessalonians received the Word, they were being attacked by unbelieving Jews and other evil men (cf. Acts 17:5). The hostility was so bad that when Paul and Silas moved on to Berea, Jews from Thessalonica went there and stirred up crowds to attack them and drive them away (cf. Acts 17:13–15). But after Paul, Silas, and Timothy had moved on, the new Thessalonian church had to endure the ongoing opposition and affliction in their hometown.

Were these what we might call ideal circumstances for a new church plant? Well, yes they were. Because they were the precise circumstances under which the Lord brought this church into being. By coming into being under such circumstances, it was clear that “the church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thessalonians 1:1b) had come about not so much by the wisdom or efforts of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy (verse 1a), but by “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 1b). By coming into being under such circumstances, it was clear that the graces of the Thessalonian believers were the fruit of “your election by God” (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

This is a powerful encouragement when praying for someone: if there is evidence that God has elected them! And this is powerful encouragement when writing a letter like this one to edify someone: if there is evidence that God has elected them!

When we see evidence of God’s grace in others, we should be encouraged as we pray for them and encouraged as we try to build them up in the Lord. And we will be more and more encouraged if “we give thanks to God always” (1 Thessalonians 1:2) for such people. Our thanksgiving will not only rise up to God as a right response to Him, but it will also remind our thoughts (1 Thessalonians 1:3) that these are people in whom God is at work, because it pleased Him to choose to do so (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

So, what does evidence of election look like? There are three things that it looks like in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. You can’t actually see faith, hope, and love; but, you can see work, exertion (labor), and endurance (patience). They’re doing things that you can’t make sense of, except that they’re believers—“work of faith.” They’re doing so with an effort that doesn’t really come from anything but love—“labor of love.” And they keep on doing it in the face of difficulty, so much so that it’s clear that they are certain to come out victorious in the end—“patience of hope.”

The gospel is words, but in faithful preaching and hearing, it doesn’t come by itself (1 Thessalonians 1:5a). The Holy Spirit comes with it (verse 5c), exercising His power (verse 5b) and giving us that assurance (verse 5d)—that faith and hope and love—that changes the hearer. This is how it was for the Thessalonians, and in the end of verse 5, the apostle reminds them that this was how it had been for Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy as well.

Not only did it produce the same fruit in the Thessalonians that it had produced in Paul and his companions (1 Thessalonians 1:6), but it went on to produce the same fruit in “all who believed” (1 Thessalonians 1:7) Philippi (Macedonia) and Corinth (Achaia). The inevitable conclusion is that it ought to produce that fruit in all of us who believe as well. 

When you and I see in ourselves, or in others, grace that has no other logical explanation, it gives us cause for thanksgiving, and encouragement in prayer and ministry. For, it is God Who determined to do this in His electing purposes, and it is God Who has proceeded to do this in His almighty power!

What evidences of faith, hope, and love are there in your life? From where could these have come? How should this affect the mindset with which you pray? The mindset with which you pursue growth in Christ? Thinking about someone else for whom you pray, and/or to whom you minister, what evidences do you see in them? How does this affect your mindset toward them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how marvelous is Your free, electing love and Your almighty, saving power! Forgive us for our discouragement about ourselves and other genuine believers. Grant unto us to see the evidence of Your work, and to take our encouragement from the fact that it is You Who are doing it—which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH427 “I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew”

 

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