Work as a Witness

Almost everyone works. You may not work due to age or for issues related to physical or intellectual abilities. If you’re a student, you’re not earning an income, you’re earning grades. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, your not raising money, you’re shaping the character of your children. And if you’re retired, you’re busy at something(s) most of your days.

So in this text, Paul gives us a vision for our work as Christians in the world by answering three crucial questions: What’s the Point of Work? What’s at Stake in our Work? And How’s it all Supposed to Work?

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18; Ephesians 4:28; Genesis 2:15-16

Priorities for Prayer

The Apostle Paul prays for this young church, but for the second time he asks them to pray for him. As he asks for prayer and prays for these believers, we learn three priorities for prayer. We learn that we should pray because God faithfully guarantees that His word will bear fruit. Because of that we should pray for the progress of the gospel, for the protection of gospel messengers, and for perseverance in the gospel.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5; Acts 21:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13

Stand Firm for Glory

Since we are appointed to possess the glory of Christ, we are commanded to stand firm and hold to His word.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

The Rise of Evil and the Return of Christ

These 12 verses are likely the most difficult part of 1-2 Thessalonians. The meaning of the details here is not easily understood, and in the midst of things that are certain and clear, there are some things that are ambiguous and have produced more than a few different points of view.

The text is about the rise of evil in the world and the return of Christ. Paul writes to reassure and admonish the church in Thessalonica. And God has preserved this for us to establish us in our faith in the midst of a world that seems to move further away from God’s ways, and where we may find ourselves facing persecution for our faith in Christ.

Throughout human history evil has been present, but just before Christ comes, there will be an escalation of it in the world. There will be a rebellion against God and His ways in societies and in the church. Ultimately, a person will appear who embodies that evil rebellion against God. He will demand total allegiance as God and deceive many in the world by doing miraculous things. And then Christ will return and destroy evil and put it away forever.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Daniel 7, 9; Matthew 24:23-27; Mark 13; 1 John 2:18-19; Revelations 12-14; 1 Timothy 4; 2 Timothy 3

God Gets the Last Word

Since the beginning, the Church has faced afflictions and persecutions. The Thessalonian church was enduring persecutions and Paul wrote to encourage them in their faith, instruct them for their faith, and pray for their faith. He taught them that persecution in the present points to the future judgement of the world, the reliability of God’s word (He can be trusted), and the genuineness of their faith in Christ. All of that would work together to help them and help us – when we face rejection and criticism for our faith – to respond by rejoicing that we were counted worthy to suffer for His name, and to rest that no matter what happens, our God gets the last word.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12; 1 Peter 4:17; Philippians 1:27-28; Acts 5:41; John 15:18-20; Matthew 5:10-12; Luke 19

A Prayer and a Promise for Unfinished People

Paul brings his first and deeply affirming, encouraging letter to the Thessalonians to a close. He prays that their sanctification, God’s will for them, will be finished and through at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he promises them that their faithful, heavenly Father, the God of peace, will surely do it!

In the midst of all the rigor of this call to walk in a way that pleases God more and more, in the face of opposition that seems unrelenting, he urges them on through his prayer and his promise.

As followers of Jesus in a world broken by sin and pressing hard against our faith in Christ, and in this life with its temptations pulling on our flesh, we often feel the discouragement and a kind of futility in living this life to which we’ve been called. We feel very unfinished, with the finish line nowhere in sight. But through his prayer and promise, Paul urges them and us, not to lose heart today because on that day He (our faithful Father) will make what’s unfinished glorious!

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11

How to be the Family of God

What does it look like to be a family of believers headed to forever together? That’s the question Paul is answering in this text. He’s calling the believers in Thessalonica to walk in a way that pleases God more and more. He’s told them that it’s God’s will for them to be sanctified. And as he finishes his letter, he gives them 17 commands that we’ve grouped under three headings – think of them as three core values for the family of God:

Humbly submit to those who lead us (12-13)

Do good to those around us (14-15)

Trust and Obey the God who saves us (16-22)

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22; Ephesians 2:20, 3:4, 4:11; Matthew 7:15-16; 1 John 4:1

The Day of the Lord

The Day of the Lord seems to be a fundamental teaching for believers. Jesus Himself spoke of it as “the coming of the Son of Man.” The Apostles of Christ taught the early church about it, Peter wrote of it in 2 Peter 3, John wrote about it in Revelation, and Paul writes about it here.

Notice that in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul has to inform the believers about what would happen to the dead in Christ at His return. But in 5:1-11 he says they are already “fully aware” about the Day of the Lord.

So, why was it so important? Because the Day of the Lord was then, and is now, the goal all of history is rushing toward! Paul knows that what the Thessalonians believe about the Day of the Lord should inform how they live. So he describes what it is, and how they should live in light of it’s coming.

The big idea for the message is this: The coming Day of the Lord is a call to spiritual sobriety today.

The Day of the Lord is certain, sudden, and brings inescapable destruction. Therefore we should remember our identity, walk in sobriety, anticipate our destiny, and participate in community.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:7b-9; Luke 17:26-27; Revelation 6:15-17; Luke 21:34

No One Left Behind: Hope and Comfort in the Face of Death

Christians ought to be indistinguishable from others in society in many ways. And yet, our lives should be extraordinarily different in particular ways. Death is a universal human experience, but for the Christian, it should be very different.

Death had forced the believers in Thessalonica to say goodbye to some of their loved ones. They were grieving and they had questions: “When Jesus returns, will my loved one be left behind, left out?” “When Christ returns, will they miss it?”

Paul writes to fill in the gaps about what they know and to tell them that when death forces you to say goodbye to a loved one in Christ, grieve with a sure hope and comfort one another with this truth: because Jesus is risen, He will leave no one behind at His return.

For Christians, there’s a difference: a different death, a complex grief, and a sure hope. There are four reasons why no one is left behind: Return, Resurrection, Rapture, and Reunion. So how will you respond?

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5; James 2; Philippians 1; Genesis 50:11; John 11:35; Mark 13:26-27; 1 Corinthians 15:50-57; Ephesians 2:1-2; John 14:1-3

An Honorable Reputation

God desires for His people to love excessively and aspire to live uniquely for the sake of having an honorable reputation.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12