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The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, October 16, 2020

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (L 08)

 

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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

WWW. 2Tim215.Net 

Established November 2008                                     Published: October 16, 2020 

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

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1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (L 08)

Welcome to HBS. 

Thank you for your faithfulness to God’s Written Word and your forbearance.  I was away on vacation longer than I originally had planned, but I put the time to good use.  Now I’m home and fully rested and revitalized and stand ready to help y’all grow in knowledge of our Savior and the faith. 

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Please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13.

But now when Timotheus (Timothy) came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity (agape love), and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.  For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?  Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish (to fix; to settle in a state for permanence) your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

Read that Bible passage carefully remembering Paul wrote it from Corinth, Greece.  He suffered persecution while “laboring” there too and I think it was still occurring when he wrote this letter, according to his statement in verse 3:7: “Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 

Corinth, Greece in Paul’s Day

Corinth was a large city with two seaports, one on either side of the narrow isthmus on which it was situated.  Thus, merchants, sailors, and travelers of all sorts that crossed the isthmus would visit Corinth for business and for pleasure for the city was the sports capital of the then known world with its great Isthmus Games that attracted visitors from all over the Mediterranean.  But pleasure comes in many forms and the one thing that definitely overshadowed the Isthmus Games was sexual immorality on a grand scale for this activity occurred around the clock day after day.  Paul addressed this illicit trade in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 saying, “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?  shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them members of an harlot?” (v 15).

The source I used to confirm the existence of prostitution in religious Greek culture in the N.T. era is a statement from the Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian Strabo who lived in Asia Minor during the transitional period of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire (64 BC-AD 21).  In regard to ancient Corinth he wrote: "And the temple of Aphrodite (in Corinth) was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple-slaves, courtesans (prostitutes), whom both women and men had dedicated to the goddess.  Therefore it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew rich. 

It was because of the constant flow of commuter traffic from east to west, and vice versa, that Paul considered Corinth as a strategic location for the spread of the gospel, so he planned on staying there for an extended time period doing that very thing.  In Acts 18:1-3 Paul tells us he secured work “as a tentmaker” to support himself and resided with Aquila and Priscilla in their home.  He spent sabbath days (where else but) at the Jewish synagogue, proving to the Jews there that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 18:4-5).  You see, Paul had to begin with this truth and get them to believe it in order for them to accept the more vital message of God’s grace totally apart from keeping the Law.  This would not be possible if they still thought Jesus to be nothing more than an blasphemer and an imposter.  That being said, the biblical record states: “And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:6-7). 

Thus began a mighty work of God among the gentiles and bitter opposition from the unbelieving Jews (v 12).  Looking back, our apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Believers, “I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3).  So intense was the persecution that the Lord appeared to him in a vision to encourage him and strengthen his resolve: “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.”  Bolstered by this divine reassurance, “he continued there a year and six months.” (v11)

So then, despite all the ministerial work for the Lord and the anxiety and opposition wrought by it, Paul did not forget the Thessalonian saints who were suffering intense persecution themselves for their faith.  His anxiety over their present state was greatly relieved, however, by Timothy’s “good tidings,” and although Paul was surrounded by opposition and persecution, he directly followed up Timothy’s good news with a letter of encouragement to them – the very one we are currently studying.

Timothy’s Favorable Report

 Remember from our previous lessons we looked at the Thessalonian Church as being the model Church because of their steadfast faith in what God had said and exhibited this by exercising the three grace virtues faith, hope, and love.  We also learned our apostle Paul was and is the Believer’s model or pattern to follow because of his proper incentive in preaching the mystery of God’s grace and because his conduct was exemplary and above reproach even as he dealt with dogged opposition from the unbelieving Jews and the pagan gentiles.  Yet, despite the difficulty Paul was experiencing in Corinth for the cause of Christ we find him deeply concerned about the new converts who faced persistent resistance and persecution in Thessalonica (3:1-4). 

 In verse 3:6 we learn of Timothy’s favorable report. “But now when Timotheus (Timothy) came from you unto us (that is to Corinth, Greece after he had been sent to Thessalonica - Acts 18:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:2), and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity (agape love), and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:

 “…and brought us good tidings” – i.e., a cheerful or favorable report (see Romans 10:15). Anyone who has sat in a hospital waiting room anxiously waiting to hear the surgeons report on a love one understands where Paul’s coming from here.  He had been run out of town by unbelieving Jews and unwillingly left those new Believers alone to fare for themselves knowing they would face fierce opposition and persecution.  When Timothy told him they were standing firm in spite of their afflictions, Paul was comforted by the good news and his anxiety eased just as anyone’s would after hearing a favorable update concerning a loved one’s present state or condition after their operation. 

 Now verse 3:7: “Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress (Paul's problems in Corinth are listed in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 6:4-10 and 11:23-28) by your faith:  Paul doesn’t mean to say he was “comforted” because the Believers at Thessalonica were effective missionaries working to solve the world’s problems.  Instead, they were “comforted… by their steadfast faith:  The sense here is they took to heart and believed what God had said, dispensationaly speaking.  I don’t believe they had access to the O.T. Scriptures (the Pentateuch).  The ordinances of God were only given to the nation of Israel and not the whole world (Psalm 147:19-20).  Believe me when I say the pagan world did not know the One true living God or know of His commandments and covenants (Ephesians 2:11-12).  So, “your faith” means they were holding fast to the teachings or fundamental beliefs Paul had received by divine revelation and had taught them in turn (Galatians 1:11).     

 The same could be said of any new member of the Body of Christ, the first thing we need to establish is, are they taking God at His Word.  Are they resting on the very Word of God and not an emotional experience such as a response to an altar call.  The best definition of faith I’ve ever heard is, “God said it, I believe it; and that’s that.”  According to the Scriptures, to be saved we’re told to believe the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Now I know that sounds too simple to be true, but that’s what we’ve been told to believe in the Dispensation of God’s Grace and one’s salvation today hangs on that spiritual truth (Romans 2:16, 16:25-27).  Nothing is to be added to what the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ revealed to Saul of Tarsus, i.e. the apostle Paul.  If God wanted us to add things to it, Paul would have written about them in his writings.  

 Verses 3:8-10.

Stand Fast In The Lord

For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.  For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?  Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

Paul has much to say about “standing fast” in his writings, however, in verse 3:8 I see something that warrants a closer look where such “standing” is concerned.  For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” – Paul and his companions had endured much suffering and anxiety for many months but the good news Timothy brought back from Thessalonica, where persecution also raged, had gladdened his heart, and lifted his spirit.  Therefore, the words “we live” might also read, “Now this is living,” and this from the apostle Paul who had experienced challenging times but now the sense is he foresees a much better life ahead. 

Please note Paul wrote: “stand fast in the Lord” but to other Believers he wrote: “Stand firm in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13); “Stand fast in (your) liberty” (Galatians 5:1); “Stand fast in one spirit” (Philippians 1:27); “Stand fast and hold the traditions ye have been taught” (2 Thessalonians 2:15), etc.   But here, as he did to the persecuted saints in Philippi (Philippians 4:1), he encouraged the Thessalonians to “stand fast in the Lord.”  Note he did not say, “Stand fast for the Lord,”  but, “in the Lord,” so what do you suppose Paul meant by this?   By God’s grace (alone) we Believers have been given an everlasting position in Christ.  The Scriptures say we are “accepted” in Christ (Ephesians 1:6); we’ve been declared “complete” in Christ (Colossians 2:10); and are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies, “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).  So then, all that we are and have is “in Christ.”  Knowing this to be true, says our apostle, by the Spirit, take your stand “in Christ.” 

The message I believe Paul wants every true Believer to take away from this is, when the world-at-large opposes, when our “old man” leads us astray, when Satan oppresses and tempts us, and when doubt and uncertainty arises, remember, God the Father sees the Believer “in Christ,” and since He’s graciously given us this position, by all means, “stand fast in the Lord.” This is where we all begin our walk with the Lord so we must continue it until we go to be with Him at the Rapture, for to the Philippians saints, who had served the Lord for many years, Paul wrote: “Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved” (Philippians 4:1).

 So, whether you’re just beginning you’re new life in Christ or you’ve been a Believer for many years, know this, God has made you “accepted in the Beloved;” He’s declared you “complete in Him.”  In Christ Jesus you have been crucified, buried, and raised from the dead and exalted to God’s right hand, in heaven, and there to be blessed with all spiritual blessings (See Romans 6 and Ephesians 1).  Therefore, occupy your God-given position, by faith, and take your stand in Christ where the blessing and victory are yours.  It was Paul’s great joy to hear that the Thessalonian Believers were doing that very thing by “standing fast in the Lord.” I say this because verse 3:9 speaks of this great joy: “For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;

More Learning Needed

 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?” (3:10).

 Remember Paul was forced to leave these saints before his labor in the Lord was completed.  So the sense here is that Paul rejoiced in the fact that the Believers in Thessalonica were “standing fast in the Lord,” so now he prayed for the opportunity to teach them those things they still needed to learn.  But what exactly was “lacking in their faith?”  What was Paul desiring to “perfect?”  As new Believers, in Christ, I’m quite certain there was much yet to be learned, but I believe Paul had one specific subject in mind here and that would be the Pre-Tribulation coming of Christ Jesus for His saints, i.e. the Body of Christ at the Rapture.  Note I just said the Pre-Tribulation coming of Christ, and not at the midway point of the Tribulation or at the end of it.  People teach such things, but we’re going to stay with what God has revealed to all those who are in Christ Jesus, “ For God hath not appointed us (the Body of Christ) to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 urges these saints not to be “shaken” by any rumor that the Day of the Lord was at hand, for this could not be, and then adds: “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” (verse 5).  By this we know Paul had discussed “these things” when he was with them, but their knowledge of this subject matter was incomplete, i.e., “lacking.”  At the time of this writing these Believers were evidently confused and concerned about their saved loved ones who had died.  They questioned whether or not they would be present at the Rapture, so this issue needed to be answered and Paul did so in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; and we’ll get to that in just a bit.  But there was so much more for them to know and Paul earnestly prayed that soon he might “see their faces” again to explain all “these things” in detail and to strengthen their faith.  Paul most likely had that thought in mind when he wrote verse 3:11: “Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

 In closing chapter 3, Paul encouraged them as to the love which all Believers should have toward one another, “and toward all men” (3:12).  The apostle Paul, as our Lord and Savior, had much to say about love.  Here he expressed his desire that their love toward each other and toward all, may “increase and abound,” as his love toward them had increased with the intensity of their persecutions:  To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming (presence) of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (3:13).

 Paul strongly desired God would “stablish” these Believer’s hearts “blameless in holiness before God… at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…”  Paul did not pray that they would be sinless but “blameless,” free of all valid accusations at His coming.  No one can attain sinlessness in this life.  The apostle John wrote, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him (God) a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).  Even our apostle Paul, who had been saved, recognized his sinful behavior: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:10).  

 It is our nature to sin, but the good news is, if you recognize sin for what it is and are trying to make adjustments to your lifestyle, it means the Holy Spirit is working in you.  I’d be more concerned about someone who sinned without giving it a second thought rather than those who recognize sin for what it truly is and what it cost God’s Son. 

 (To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry

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