Summary: This is the first message in a series on the book of 2 Thessalonians. Paul gives encouragment to Christians who are going through trials and tribulations.
A few months after writing his FIRST letter to them, Paul writes his SECOND letter to the Christians at Thessalonica.
WHY did he write this 2nd letter?
o The 1st letter didn’t answer all their questions.
o Persecution had intensified (1:4).
o They got a letter from someone claiming to be Paul … but this letter wasn’t from Paul (2:2).
o Some had quit their jobs to wait for the Rapture (3:11).
Because they were under such intense persecution by fellow Thessalonians, they thought God was displeased with them.
Have you ever felt this way?
- When things go wrong … or bad things happen to you … do you feel like God is punishing you … or is displeased with you?
This is called “The Principle of Retribution”.
- It is at the heart of every major religion.
- If you displease the gods, they will get you … floods, famines, fire, disease are the result of the wrath of the gods.
- If you don’t appease the gods, they will take it out on you.
It’s amazing how many Christians have the same idea about God.
- Many Christians believe that God will reward the people who do good with prosperity … and punish those who do bad with suffering.
We learn this from childhood.
- Good behavior earns you rewards … bad behavior earns you pain or disaster.
We carry this into our Christianity.
- Suffering is a sign that God is displeased with you … prosperity is a sign that God is pleased with you.
- This is where we get the “Name it, Claim it” philosophy.
- i.e., if you have enough faith, God will reward you financially, physically & spiritually.
- If you don’t have enough faith, that’s why you’re sick, poor & unsuccessful.
We get to thinking that when things go right, God is pleased with me.
- AND … when things go wrong, God must be displeased with me.
- That’s not how God works! But that’s how the Thessalonians thought God worked.
THE TRUTH IS … you can be PLEASING God … and everything seems to be going wrong.
- AND … you can be DISPLEASING God … and everything seems to be going right.
The WICKED can PROSPER … and the GODLY can go through TOUGH TIMES.
- I’ve seen it … HAVEN’T YOU?
- David saw it … and it troubled him … Ps. 73:2-3, 5, 12, 16, 21 – all turn
- THEN … David got his answer – 73:16-18
The Thessalonian Christians were under severe persecution … so they thought they must be doing something wrong.
- Paul wrote this letter to clear that up.
1:1-2 – “grace … and peace”
Paul knows that this is what they need right now:
“grace” … to let them know that God is a “gracious” God … Who will give them the faith they need to grow in their persecution … and be victorious.
“peace” … to let them know that God will see them through … and it’s not because they are bad.
1:3 – Paul begins by ENCOURAGING them.
When you’re going through a hard time, you need ENCOURAGEMENT, don’t you?
“thank God” - Paul lets them know that they aren’t a disappointment to him (or God) … but that he thanks God for their faithfulness.
“faith grows exceedingly” – that’s the PURPOSE for trials in our life … to grow our faith.