1. A Healthy Church
A healthy church is growing in faith, love, and hope and persevering in trials as it looks to God’s kingdom.
”1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
I. Paul’s Description of a Healthy Church
II. Paul’s Perspective on a Healthy Church
Quick Thought: Joy in Trials
Today’s text reminds us that God allows some suffering in the believer’s life to groom them for His kingdom. This idea is nicely portrayed by C.S. Lewis in his Narnia book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in Eustace Scrubb’s character. The boy Eustace is selfish, immature, thinks only about himself, and in the land, he is in on the voyage of the Dawn Treader, he finds himself in a dragon’s cave, and in that cave, he finds himself suddenly turned into a dragon. So, he goes down and tries to take off his skins, and he takes one off and then goes back to the water, and it grows back. He cannot seem to remove them by himself. Finally, Aslan the Lion, who is the Christ figure in the story, comes, and this is what Eustace said happened: “Then the Lion said, but I don’t know if he spoke, “you will have to let me undress you”. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was desperate, so I just lay flat on my back and let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right to my heart. Then he began pulling the skin off, and it felt worse than anything I had ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.”
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” – James 1:2
Post-Service Online Coffee Fellowship
Please join us on a zoom call for our Virtual Coffee Fellowship (bring your own coffee!). We’d love for you to say hi, whether you’re a first-time visitor to United Community Church or a longtime member. All are welcome!
The call will be open for more or less an hour after the service finishes – you can join by clicking here! If you can’t join with the link, the Meeting ID is 998 7707 5071, and the passcode is 221309
Life Group Questions
- Can you think of any situation where what will happen in the future shapes your ability to keep going in the present? In what ways is this a helpful insight into the way Paul encourages the Thessalonians Christians facing persecution?
Review of the Text
- What is distinctive point about the location of the Thessalonian church in 1:1? Why does Paul describe the church in this way?
- Paul extends grace and peace to this new church from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Although this is a typical greeting from Paul, as with all of his greetings and salutations, it is more than routine. What are grace and peace and why does Paul so often greet fellow believers this way?
- In what three ways do healthy churches stand distinct from the world? Which of these three do you personally find most challenging now?
- In what ways can you see links between Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13 and his thanksgiving at 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4?
- How is God’s justice revealed in this passage? See 1:5-7.
Apply the Text
- Why does Paul start with thanksgiving (1:3-4) rather than other topics he wishes to raise?
- How would you counsel a young believer who thinks that his trials must mean that God doesn’t love him? What Scriptures would you use?
- Why is God’s judgment a good thing?
- Why is it crucial to trust God and not grumble in minor trials before major trials hit? (see Proverbs 1:20-33)
- Read and discuss the “Quick Thought” passage above.
- How does our text refute the popular “prosperity gospel” heresy, which promises that if you have enough faith, God will make you rich and healthy?