Summary: Strengthen in and through God’s faithfulness we become able to direct our inner man, our hearts into the love of God and into the perseverance that comes from Christ. It is the directed heart that dwells in the love of God and in the endurance of Christ.
[ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE FUTURE SERIES]
2 THESSALONIANS 3: 1-5
This last major section of the epistle calls on its readers to live in the light of the truth of God’s Word. If we believe the truth it will change our lives so that we can live out the truth.
As we begin to live out the truth we begin to make a difference in life, in the lives of others. If we are making an eternal difference in lives we not only are worthy of being prayed for so that God will use His word that we are sharing, but we will need to be prayed for, for the evil one does not allow souls to be taken from the kingdom of darkness without resistance, without a fight.
Yet as we labor for God we encounter not only the resistance of the enemy but the faithfulness of God. Strengthen in and through God’s faithfulness we become able to direct our inner man, our hearts into the love of God and into the perseverance that comes from Christ. It is the directed heart that dwells in the love of God and in the endurance of Christ (CIT).
I. REQUESTS FOR PRAYER, 1-2.
II. REASONS FOR CONFIDENCE, 3.
III. REDIRECTION FOR LIFE, 4-5.
Chapter three begins with Paul and his companions requesting the prayer support of their Thessalonian brethren for whom they were praying. Verse 1 introduces the last major part of the letter. “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the Word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;”
As Paul prepares to close his second Thessalonian letter he says, “Pray for us.” Blessed, indeed, is the pastor who seeks and who receives the continuing prayers of the people.
Specifically here, Paul asks for their prayers in order that “the Word of the Lord may run swiftly.” The verb literally pictures the Word of the Lord as running, running to overtake more and more people.
Too much work today is directed by human plans and programs instead of trusting that God’s Word will accomplish God’s work. When the sheep are fed they will flock together in love, follow the Lord and reproduce.
Notice that the Apostle doesn’t say, “Pray for our programs.” He doesn’t say, “Pray for our projects.” He says, “Pray for our preaching of the Word.” The apostles knew that the moving forward of their labors was due to God’s blessing His Word as they proclaimed it.
As the Apostles established the early church they set forth the priority for its ministers in Acts 6:4. “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”
A hundred and twenty-five years ago, God did a mighty work in London through a giant of the faith named CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON [1834-1892]. His sermons are still studied today. The story is told that one Sunday afternoon, a group of ministers came to the massive Metropolitan Tabernacle to observe him. Assuming the stout man at the side of the building wearing bib overalls to be the janitor, they asked, “Sir, would you kindly show us the power plant for this huge structure?”
“Certainly,” the man replied, leading them to the basement. As he opened the door at the end of a hallway, the ministers expected to see a mighty furnace. Instead, they saw over two hundred men on their knees praying for the upcoming evening service.
“Prayer, gentlemen,” he said, “is the power plant of the Metropolitan Tabernacle.” For it is by prayer that the Word of God becomes effective. By the way the man in the overall was Spurgeon himself. He knew the source of the church’s and his preaching’s power. [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 1358.]
Not praying for the proclaiming of the Word limits its potential for spreading. Prayer empowers the Word causing the Word to run or spread swiftly. Swift spreading of the Word glories the Word. Will be “glorified” can be translate be “received with honor.” [What could be more gratifying and rewarding than to know that because we have prayed, taught or proclaimed the Word of God, it has been received by some with honor?]
Rejecting the Word is the most obvious form of not glorifying or honoring the Word. But the Word of God is not honored when we dust off a Bible, but when we read it and practice it; we might call this active listening. Our positive response to the Word honors it. Passively listening or listening with no intention to obey dishonors it. An unopened Bible dishonors the Word. An unread Bible dishonors the Word. Reading the Word as part of a meaningless, dead ritual dishonors the Word.
So Paul requests prayer that the preaching of the Word would quicken or enliven lives so that it would spread rapidly. Yes, the Thessalonians needed prayer in their struggles, but they also needed to pray for others. Assuming a burden of prayer for others lightens one’s own load. Praying for the spreading of the Word glorifies the Word and the God of the Word.