2016-07-03-19 - 2 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ Paul's History
Paul again reminds the believers of the fact that though his missionary group had suffered persecution in Philippi, this didn't keep them from giving out the Gospel in Thessalonica, even in the midst of opposition there. Paul makes it clear it was the help provided by God, that allowed them to proceed, not their own strength.
Paul also wanted the believers to understand suffering was not synonymous with failure. While our witness may be rejected and though we feel that we have failed, we haven't. The test of success or failure is simply obedience to God in the carrying out His directions, not the results of them. Results are in the Holy Spirit’s hands, God’s hands.
“… So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
We don't always know God's purpose, and we aren't required to know it. Remember, we talked about what had occurred in Philippi, an account of which was found in Acts 16:12-17:14 Here we read the account of the conversion of Lydia, the casting out of a demon from the slave-girl, the resulting riots, and the beating and imprisonment of Paul and his companions. There, through the intervention of God, they had the opportunity to lead the jailer and his family to Christ. Yet they still had to flee town, for fear of being the cause of further riots.
It was in this context, that Paul and the others showed up in Thessalonica with the same Gospel message, and their coming was not empty (or vain), but was filled with boldness, empowered by the Lord.
The important thing we should note, is that while it takes boldness to spread the Word under opposition, Paul’s primary concern is that the Word is spread. To accomplish this, one must be de- pendent on the Lord. Too often, it seems that our ability to give out the truth of the Gospel is significantly undermined - not because of opposition - but fear of rejection. First and foremost, we want people to accept us and our views.
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.