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Summary: Church problems are like physical problems: if left unsolved, they grow and become worse, and they infect more people. The local church is a body; and what germs are to the physical body, sin is to the spiritual body.

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ORDER IN THE CHURCH

2 Thessalonians 3:6-18

INTRO: When problems are not solved, they grow and become worse. A sliver left in the finger can become infected and cause a toxic condition so serious that surgery may become necessary. If you tell your doctor that you stepped on a rusty nail, he will immediately give you a tetanus shot, even though the wound may appear insignificant to you.

Church problems are like physical problems: if left unsolved, they grow and become worse, and they infect more people. The local church is a body; and what germs are to the physical body, sin is to the spiritual body. When Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonican church, he warned the idle busybodies to get to work. Apparently these trouble-makers did not repent, because Paul devoted the rest of his second letter to this problem.

These trouble-makers had left their jobs and were living off of the generosity of the church. They were possibly the source of the false teachings Paul talked about in chapter 2. They were also spreading gossip about people in the church.

Paul expected the whole church to work together in solving this problem. The church, in love, must deal with its own members and seek to help each one obey God.

I. THE EXHORTATION OF THE WORD (v. 6).

Paul had used the word command earlier. He uses it again in verses 10 and 12. Paul considered the church like an army; and if the army does not obey orders, there can be no order.

What authority did Paul have to issue the command in verse 10? He had the authority of the name of Jesus.

What does the Bible teach about manual labor? For one thing, labor was a part of man’s life before sin entered the scene. God gave Adam the job of taking care of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). Although sin turned labor into almost hopeless toil (Gen. 3:17-19), it must never be thought that the necessity for work is a result of sin.

Paul recognized the fact that some people could not work, perhaps because of physical handicaps or family responsibilities. This is why he phrased the statement as he did: “If any man is not willing to work.” It is not a question of ability but willingness.

II. THE EXAMPLE OF THE APOSTLES (vv. 7-10).

As an apostle Paul had a right to expect financial support; but he deliberately gave up this right that he might be an example to the young believers. In this attitude, Paul proved himself to be a mature Christian leader. A truly dedicated leader will use his rights to build up the people, and will lay aside his rights and privileges for the sake of others.

A Christian leader may appeal to the authority of the Word; but if he cannot point also to his own example of obedience, people will not listen.

Every Christian worker has the right to support from the church as he serves the Lord. We must not use Paul’s example as an excuse not to support God’s servants.

III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE CHURCH (vv. 11-15).

The faithful Christians were discouraged by the conduct of the careless saints who refused to work. “If they don’t have to work, why should we?” was their argument; and Paul nipped it in the bud.

Sin in the life of a believer always affects the rest of the church. As members of His body, we belong to each other and we affect each other. The bad example of a few saints can destroy the devotion, and hinder the service, of the rest of the church.

Paul named the sins of this group. To begin with, they were disorderly or out of order, out of rank. They were bringing confusion and division into the church. Further, they were busybodies not busy workers. The Greek word for busybody literally means to be working around. They were meddling in matters that did not belong to them (1 Tim. 5:13).

But suppose these saints did not obey God’s Word and go to work? What then should the church do? According to Paul, if these believers did not obey, the members of the church should personally discipline them.

What is church discipline? For one thing, it is not the pastor or deacon’s acting as a police force trying to trap a sinning saint and kick him out of the church. It is an exercise of, and evidence of, correcting love. When a parent disciplines a child, it is not a judge punishing a criminal; it is a loving father seeking to make his child a better person.

There are various levels of discipline:

1. Personal Differences Between Christians Matt. 18:15-18; Phil. 4:1-3.

2. Doctrinal Error Determine first why they are teaching error. If necessary rebuke him (see Titus 1:10-14; Gal. 2:11ff; Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Tim. 2:18ff; 2 Jn 9ff).

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