4. Concern for the Word & the World
The normal Christian life involves God’s Word working in you whilst the world works against you.
” 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!“ – I Thessalonians 2:13-16
- What evidences did Paul give to the church in Thessalonica that they were genuinely converted? (see 1:2-10)
- What evidences did Paul give to the church in Thessalonica that his ministry was genuinely apostolic? (see 2:1-12)
- How did last week’s text affect your thinking, habits, and behavior as a follower of Jesus Christ?
I. Concern for the Word at Work in the Church, i (v 13a)
II. Concern for the World at Work against the Church (vv 14-16)
III. Concern for the Word at Work in theChurch (v 13b)
Quick Thought: Christian Persecution, Suffering & God’s Purposes
God the Father is intimately involved in our lives, and the purpose of that involvement is that we might share in His holiness. The Father uses all the circumstances of our lives to make us more and more holy, including persecution and accompanying suffering, as is referenced in today’s sermon text (verse 14). One way god does this is that God uses persecution and suffering to weaken our allegiance to this world and set our hope on the world to come, to weaken our dependence on worldly things and strengthen our faith in him. Even the sinless Son of God was made perfect by God through suffering (Hebrews 2:10). Think of it like this: a trainee in a new workplace may be given a range of tasks and experiences to equip them for their work. They learn partly through teaching, partly on the job. They are exposed to difficult circumstances so that they gain confidence and experience. God the Father has designed a complex and full training package for each believer. Every circumstance of our life is part of this life-long development program. Day by day, He is working out his plan, and its goal is that we may share in his holiness. Are you going through persecution and or suffering? Reach out to our pastoral team so that we can come along side you in prayer and support.
Life Group Questions
Quick Review of the Text
- What is it that Paul is particularly thankful to God for in verse 13?
- In what ways was the Word of God continuing to be at work in their lives (verse 2:13)
- In what ways has the Thessalonian church imitated other churches? (verses 2:14 & 15
- What was especially displeasing to God about the actions of those who persecuted the church? (verses 2:15 & 16)
- What are the consequences of the actions of those who persecute the church? (see 2:16)
- To what extent would these verses have provided encouragement to these new Thessalonian believers?
- Read the following blog post about where the church is facing particularly strong persecution: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/countries-most-dangerous-christian-2021/. Why is there so much hostility towards the Christian faith? What are our own experiences of opposition or hostility if any?
Apply the Text
- How is it possible to ensure that God’s Word is heard (consider 2:13 in light of 2:4)?
- What part should hearing God’s Word play in our lives as believers? In what ways could this be developed of strengthened?
- What positive role does suffering play play in the Christian life?
- To what extent is Paul describing normal Christian experience in this text?
- How could you experience those who preach at your church and other churches you know so that God’s voice is heard?
- How could you encourage those who are persecuted for their faith in Christ?