Summary: The Faithfulness of God
2 Thessalonians 3 - Working While Waiting - 7/24/16
Turn with me to the book of 2 Thessalonians, chapter 3. We’ve been looking at the book of 2 Thessalonians, which is a letter from the Apostle Paul to Christians in a town in Greece called Thessalonica. It’s a town that is still in existence today. Paul came to town, preached in the Jewish synagogue, and many Jews and Gentiles believed. A church was started at Thessalonica, but rowdy Jews stirred up a riot, and Paul had to leave quickly. As he travels down to Athens, Paul writes them a letter to encourage them to continue on in their newfound faith.
In his first letter to them, Paul praises these new Christians, because they had a faith that was growing, showing, and echoing.
But shortly after Paul had written them the letter of 1 Thessalonians, he felt a need to write them a second letter, the letter of 2 Thessalonians. Paul wants to straighten out a few misunderstandings that the church had. Here in 2 Thessalonians we have three chapters, and three key ideas.
• In chapter 1, Paul gives Commendation: he writes in Praise for their Perseverance
• In chapter 2, Paul gives Comfort: he writes about the Reality of Christ’s Return
• In chapter 3, Paul gives Correction: he writes about the need to Work while we Wait
We saw last week Paul corrects the wrong views about the Lord’s coming, and reassures them of the truths about God’s love. Today, we move on to chapter 3. And Paul gives a little transition here before he gets into the topic he wants to address.
Some people are “bottom line” people - they just tell you what they think, and you can take it or leave it. But Paul is one who is careful to make the truth as pleasant for people to accept as it can be. So as he enters a “touchy” topic, he smooths his way into it with some transitional words. So here is his
SETUP - Read 3:1-5 - Pray
As Paul transitions, he points out a play on words: When men are faithless, God is faithful! And Paul takes a few verses to talk about the faithfulness of God. First, Paul rejoices that
• The message is spreading - and for that to continue, he asks for prayer. Finally, brothers, pray for us - How much do you need prayer? Sometimes we view prayer like a “spare tire.” It’s nice to know I have it in case I ever need it. After all, when’s the last time you had to put your spare tire on. Chances are, it may have been years! But it’s there when you need it.
Instead, we should look at prayer like our “steering wheel” - we can’t go anywhere without it! We constantly need it, and it determines where and how far we can go. If Paul, this gifted Apostle who was a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. If this man needed prayer, HOW MUCH MORE do we! And the reason we DO is not just to help us live a good, godly life - but coming back to the key point Paul is addressing in his transition: we need prayer to have an effective witness to the gospel.
Let’s realize that we are on God’s “search & rescue” team. But far too often instead of being the lifeguard who is swimming out to rescue the ones who are drowning, we want to stay back on the beach and polish the chairs! Think about this - and it will be humbling for almost all of us - when is the last time you shared the gospel with someone - not just “God loves you” - but actually talked with someone about their need of salvation and the gracious gift that God supplies. THIS IS OUR JOB! And to do it, we NEED prayer! Do you pray - not for indidual’s salvation - but for God to use YOU to share the gospel so that individual might be saved?!
So Paul asks for prayer for the continued spread of the gospel. And then Paul rejoices that
• Christians are growing - vs 3 - But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. Paul saw in these “baby” Christians great growth. He starts the letter of 1 Thessalonians commenting on that growth and then here he affirms that God is going to continue to help them grow spiritually by strengthening and protecting them.
So there’s the SETUP, Paul has done a little affirmation - but now he gets right to the heart of the matter - he has to confront them about