Summary: None of us like it, but it is the best teacher we will ever know...I'm talking about pain.
1. Spurgeon, “I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see the most.”
2. We may prefer a painless life, but it’s in the fiery trials of life that we grow and learn the most.
3. God’s Best Teacher – Professor Pain!
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 (NKJV)
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 are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,
5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;
6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,
7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,
12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. First, Congratulations for their Progress. 1:3-5
A. The Expressions of their progress. 1-4a
1. Godward – faith.
2. Manward – love.
3. Onward – perseverance.
This is an answer to prayer. I Thess. 3:10,12
Hiebert, “Your faith, denotes the personal confidence and absolute trust Godward…The present tense records that their love is continually increasing, overflowing its normal limits like a river…The growing faith and increasing love of the Thessalonians was a direct answer to the prayers of the missionaries. In the first epistle both were mentioned as a matter that needed improvement and were receiving attention in their prayers for the readers. Now they record their thanksgiving to God that the prayers have been answered.”
B. The Environment of this progress. 4b
1. Persecution – “to be pursued.”
2. Pressure – that’s what affliction means.
This shows us that we can grow spiritually no matter how much pressure we are under.
Hudson Taylor, “It doesn’t matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies, whether it comes between you and God or whether it presses you nearer His heart.
If we just keep God between us and our pressure we will grow, but if we focus on the pressure and keep it between us and God we will become discouraged.
C. The Evidence of God’s righteous judgment. 5
1. The Witness of God’s righteous judgment should be plain in our persecution. How does it work?
Morris, “To us the fact of suffering seems to deny rather than to prove that God is working out His righteous purpose. But the NT does not look on suffering in quite the same way as do most modern people. To us it is in itself an evil but in the good providence of God suffering is often the means of working out God’s eternal purpose.
It develops in the sufferer qualities of character. It teaches us valuable lessons.”
1 Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV)
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV)
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
When I was going through Basic Training in the Military I thought the drill sergeant was mean, unreasonable and unfair. Push-ups, running, Sir yes sir this and that, and no need to ask questions.