Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen
A Believer in a Dangerous World
by Erik Momsen
The world is probably becoming more evil and it is as difficult as ever to stay faithful to Jesus. Historians speak about a neo-pagan society and the post-Christian age. How do we remain true in a time like this?
The letter to the Thessalonians is most probably Paul's first letter recorded in the Bible. Thessalonica was (and still is) a thriving port town and the junction between many continental travel routes. Paul, Silas and Timothy started this little church and after leaving due to persecution write back to encourage the young believers. Most were gentile, but a few were Jews. They knew how to be Christians in a pagan place.
The first thing about them was that they were “the church of the Thessalonians in God”. (1 Thessalonians 1:1).They had a relationship with and "in” God. Not of fear or law - note the example of their witness to fortune teller.
Paul also gives a three part summary of their secret to faith:
"Your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, your endurance inspired by hope."
TURNING FROM IDOLS
"Your work produced by faith"
Paul hears from others in the area what their faith was visible to all. "They tell how you turned to God from idols." (1:9)
Faith produced a work in their lives. The work it produced was a turn from the past to God. Note the direction of the change. It is not from idols to nothing or even goodness. It is a positive move - even a headlong dive in God’s direction. "... to God from idols".
Faith is not what you believe, it is what you think and do. Faith must produce a change.
How do we turn from idolatries?
Paul notes in the next verse "brothers loved by God, ... he has chosen you".
- "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." (John 3:16)
- "God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
He loved us / He chose us / He died for us / we recognise His love / we focus on His love / He changes us .
SERVING GOD FROM LOVE
"Your labour prompted by love"
"They tell how you turned to ... serve the living God."
The sign of love at work is a changed attitude from complaining to joy.
v6: "In spite of severe suffering you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit."
The young Thessalonian believers experienced God’s love by the Spirit, knew that despite their sufferings God was working a plan for them, and allowed the joy that His protection brings to issue in witnessing.
Love - joy - service
Jesus said he "did not come to be served, but to serve". (Mark 10:45)
Those who constantly seek to be served are seeking worship / attention. See to my needs! Focus on me! This is an idolatry.
We are called to serve the Lord, not just believe a few truths about Him.
Serve with your life style and with your actions.
HOPE IN THE RETURN OF CHRIST
"Your endurance inspired by hope"
Each chapter in both 1 & 2 Thessalonians ends with a reference to the return of Christ. We differ from them in that they looked forward to the coming of Jesus, while we look back to past events. This can lead the church to becoming a historical society.
"And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath" (1:10)
- Jesus is coming again - the other Counsellor is already here.
- Jesus raised from the dead - we likewise.
- He rescues us from the coming world disasters.
"I will never leave you nor forsake you" said Jesus.
Paul could say "even if I am being poured out like a drink offering." (Philippians 2:17)
Date Added: 2008-12-11
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