Thursday, March 03, 2022

2022.03.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 1:8–10

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:8–10

Questions from the Scripture text: What has come from the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:8)? In which two places? And where else? What has gone out? What don’t the apostle and friends need to say? What does everyone declare about them (1 Thessalonians 1:9)? What had the Thessalonians turned from? To do what? And to wait for Whom (1 Thessalonians 1:10)? What had God done to Him? What is His Name? What does He do? 

How had the Thessalonians become “examples” to all in Macedonia and Achaia? Inquiring Christians want to know, because we’d like for them to become examples to us as well.

First, the Word of the Lord sounded forth from them1 Thessalonians 1:8. Not only did they receive and respond to the Word well (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6, 1 Thessalonians 2:13), they did so in such a way that literally reverberated or trumpeted forth—not just in a couple of places where there were new churches (Macedonia and Achaia) but every single place that they went.

The second half of the verse restates “the word of the Lord has sounded forth” with the clause “your faith toward God has gone out.” This is important, because we sometimes hear the mistaken idea that faith is just raw belief despite any reason or evidence for it. But here the Thessalonians’ faith was that the Word that they had believed, and which they now spoke, so controlled how they lived that wherever they went, the difference the gospel makes sounded off of them like bells in a permanent state of having been struck. O that this indeed would be an example of what our lives come to be by the work of the Holy Spirit!

Second, they became willing slaves1 Thessalonians 1:9. When someone met one of these Thessalonian Christians they would find that the once-idol-worshipers had become slaves (literally) of the living and true God. A little bit of inquiry, and they would learn that this happened because a Jew named Paul had come and told them about a resurrected Savior named Jesus. There would be no question as to whether this message or this Jesus was real—the about face (he uses the ‘repentance’ word for physical turning, rather than the one for mind changing) of the Thessalonians was literally living proof of it. 

Third, their desire is forward-focused to the return of Christ1 Thessalonians 1:10. They weren’t inactive. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 just said they were slaving! But this vigorous activity aimed at something in the future, something that the activity could not itself bring about: His son from heaven and deliverance from the wrath to come. Jesus had risen from the dead, and they were eager for Him to raise them from the dead.

The intensity of their desire led to some errors that the apostle would have to correct (1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12). But the intensity itself was exemplary. The 1 Thessalonians 1:9 way of describing their new life was “slaving unto the living and true God.” The 1 Thessalonians 1:10 way of describing their life was “waiting for [Jesus] from heaven.” If we are going to follow their examples as those who have received the true gospel in God’s own power, then we must be those who have an eagerness for and focus upon the return of Christ. 

It's actually quite liberating to labor hard out of gratitude and love when the thing you most desire is a thing that you absolutely cannot make happen. It reminds you that duty is yours, but the outcome is God’s—and that’s the safest place for it to be.

What evidence is there that the gospel that you heard is true? In what way are you an example?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we bless Your Name for the transformation of life that You produced in the Thessalonian believers. Forgive us for either shrinking from being Your slaves or even altogether failing to serve You as our Master. And forgive us for being short-sighted so that we are little mindful of Christ’s return and the Last Day. Continue Your Spirit’s work upon us and in us we ask, through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”

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