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2 Thessalonians 2

2 Thessalonians 2

Someone had falsely written the Thessalonian church in Paul’s name that the Day of the Lord  (DOL) had come (v. 2). Paul told the church to remember what he told them when he was with them (v. 5); they should thus view the letter as a harmful forgery.

The Thessalonians were afraid the persecutions they were experiencing were tell-tale signs that the DOL had come. The DOL is the future period that will consist of God’s judgment on unbelievers followed by blessing in the Kingdom. Here Paul teaches them that (1) before the DOL they would be gathered together to Christ (v. 1; cf. 1 Thess 4:16-18); (2) the “Restrainer” (the Holy Spirit in the church) of the “mystery of lawlessness” (the Antichrist) would be removed when they were gathered to Christ (vv. 6-7); (3) then the Antichrist would be revealed, beginning the DOL (vv. 3-4, 8-10); and (4) God’s judgment would fall on all who follow the Antichrist (vv. 1-12).

The Thessalonians were to remember that their salvation through Christ enables them to look forward to Christ’s return, not dread it (vv. 13-15).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Being unfamiliar with basic Christian truth (such as the end times!) makes one easy prey for error and lies that unsettle the soul. Christian, learn God’s truth and stand fast in it! (v. 15)
  2. The Holy Spirit currently works through the church to hold back the power and effects of sin in society. Look where there are few true Christians and there will be rampant sin and corruption. Christian, the aim is not to reform society but to proclaim Christ! When God saves souls then society is changed!
  3. The basis of God’s judgment is always unbelief (v. 10).

2 Thessalonians 1

2 Thessalonians 1

Paul wrote this second letter to the Thessalonian church a month or two after his first, as he had received another concerning report about them. The church continued to experience severe persecution (1:1-12), someone impersonating Paul wrote a letter to them saying the Day of the Lord had come (2:1-17), and some of the Christians there were not working (3:6-18). Paul thus sought to encourage them and correct these problems.

The Thessalonian church must continue enduring persecution as faithful Christians should (vv. 3-4). Though evil men caused Christians to suffer, believers must remember that when Jesus returns God will judge the wicked with vengeance and everlasting destruction and be glorified in his saints (vv. 5-10). Paul thus prayed they would so endure so that Jesus would be glorified in them on that day (vv. 11-12).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Christian virtues such as faith, love, and patience never depend on circumstances but must always be present and growing (vv. 3-4).
  2. In this life it is normal for Christians to suffer for their faith (v. 5b; cf. Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 3:12). Christian, do not live for or expect unending ease and comfort in this life; that will not happen until Christ establishes his kingdom (v. 5b)!
  3. God sees, knows, and will righteously judge the wicked. Christian, you must not take vengeance now but leave that to the Lord (Rom 12:19).
  4. God gave promises for his saints, and Christians must pray for God to fulfill those (vv. 11-12). Paul had just said what God’s will was for them (v. 10) and then he immediately prayed for that very thing (vv. 11-12)! God uses prayer to accomplish his purposes. Do you know God’s will, plan, and promises as given in the Bible? Are you praying for your brothers and sisters according to God’s Word?

1 Thessalonians 4

1 Thessalonians 4

Having addressed issues affecting the Thessalonians’ relationship with Paul in chapters 2-3, Paul now deals with several problems they had. Chapter four looks at three problems: sexual purity (vv. 1-8), their conduct with each other and the outside world (vv. 9-12), and the state of Christians who died (vv. 13-18).

God’s clear will for Christians is sexual purity (vv. 1-8). Christians must be controlled by Jesus’ commands (vv. 1-3); this means they must control their bodies with honor and holiness (v. 4), not passionate lust (v. 5). Why? Because God called Christians to be holy, not to be impure (v. 7).

Christians must love one another (vv. 9-10), working hard in their homes and at their jobs so their needs will be met and they will have a good testimony to unbelievers (vv. 11-12).

Evidently some Thessalonian Christians were concerned about the eternal state of Christians who died before Jesus came (v. 13). They so anticipated Christ’s return they never thought about Christians dying before then! Paul teaches that when Jesus returns to the clouds Christians who died will be raised from the dead, and then living Christians will be “caught up” (the Latin word for this phrase is rapturo, so this is often called the “rapture”) with their resurrected brethren to meet the Lord in the air (vv. 16-17).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Jesus wants Christians to continually grow more like him by obeying his commands (vv. 1-2, 10). Note, Jesus is pleased when Christians obey his commands. That’s why Jesus gave such! It is sad that some professing Christians downplay “commands” and “obedience.” Jesus didn’t! To be sure, no one is saved because they obey, but no one is saved who doesn’t obey.
  2. Christ’s coming to the clouds to gather his church to himself (the “rapture”) can and will happen at any moment (vv. 13-18). Jesus didn’t give this truth to cause divisions in churches! Jesus didn’t put this in the Bible to ignore it or treat it as unimportant! Jesus gave this truth to encourage godly living and give godly comfort (v. 18).

Justification

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This is the 12th message in the series, “Gospel Truths,” taught by Pastor Dan Greenfield at Orwell Bible Church’s 10:30 a.m. Sunday service on May 29, 2022.

God justifies sinners when they receive and rest on Christ alone for salvation.  God declares believing sinners righteous. Through Christ God pardons the believer’s sin and credits Christ’s righteousness to his account.

You can download  an outline of this message to follow along, here

God’s judgment, godly pastors, and Christian living, 1 Thessalonians 5

Paul here addresses three more problems present in the Thessalonian church: questions about the day of the Lord (vv. 1-11), how church officers should be viewed (vv. 12-13), and various Christian responsibilities the church had (vv. 14-22).

Since the beginning of their church Paul taught about “the day of the Lord,” a period of world-wide judgment followed by the establishment of the kingdom. The Thessalonians probably thought that the great persecution they experienced meant that the day of the Lord had come, but here Paul rules that out. That future time of world-wide judgment will happen suddenly when unbelievers least expect it (vv. 2-3). It will involve God’s judgment on unbelievers, a time of great wrath, which God has not appointed Christians to experience (vv. 5-10).

Christians must have a loving, high regard and respect for their spiritual leaders who work hard among them (vv. 12-13). His admonition, “be at peace among yourselves” (v. 13b), shows that problems between church leaders and members isn’t a new thing!

Last, Christians must be faithful in all the different aspects of church life (vv. 14-22).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Truths about the end times are essential for basic Christian living and church life. Paul taught these things to new believers! Sadly, “end times” teaching is too often ridiculed, viewed as non-essential or unimportant, or is all that some focus on. A Christian’s “balanced diet” of Christian truth must include truth about the end times!
  2. Christians “quench the Spirit” (v. 19) when they don’t listen to or disobey God’s Word. God’s Word is the Spirit’s sword (Eph 6:17). The Holy Spirit works through the Word to save souls (1:5), bring joy to Christians’ hearts (1:6), and guide and protect believers from sin (4:8). Don’t quench the Spirit by a disinterested attitude or disobedient spirit!
  3. When Jesus comes God will remove every trace and effect of sin from human life (v. 23)! “Amen! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).

Perseverance, Prayer, and Christ’s Return, 1 Thessalonians 3

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Paul continues relating his concern for the Thessalonian church in 2:17-3:13. Though he wanted to see them, Satan kept him from that (2:17-20), so he sent Timothy to help them persevere through persecution (3:1-5). Though Paul knew he would be persecuted (he told the Thessalonians that would happen, vv. 3-4), as new believers the Thessalonians’ faith was not as strong as Paul’s. Consequently, through their trial of persecution Satan sought to tempt the Thessalonians to turn away from Christ (v. 5).

Timothy returned to Paul and reported that they were doing well, which greatly encouraged him as he prayed constantly for them (vv. 6-13).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Christ’s coming is the anticipation and goal of Christian living (2:19). Christian, you cannot make final evaluations or judgments based on life in a sin-cursed, Christ-hating world! You must, through God’s Word, look ahead to when you stand before the Lord Jesus Christ at his coming!
  2. Jesus uses Christians to help Christians be stabilized and grow in the faith (3:1-5, 10). Every Christian has this responsibility and every Christian as part of the body is essential for this end. Care for your brothers and sisters by encouraging and exhorting them every day!
  3. Prayer is essential to life and ministry (3:11-13). Prayer is an essential means God has ordered through which his purposes are accomplished. This is why the church and faithful gospel ministers must devote themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42; 6:4)! The church does not fight a spiritual battle with material weapons (2 Cor 10:3-4) but the armor of God (Eph 6:11-20).

Answering Slander, 1 Thessalonians 2

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The first big problem Paul had to address with the Thessalonian church was lies they were being told about himself (2:1-3:13; the lies came from Jews, 2:14-15). Paul didn’t answer these lies because he had a big ego or cared about what others thought about him, but because he was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Jesus specially chose the apostles to be his representatives and to give his truth through them to churches (Eph 2:20). So, when false believers slandered apostles, Jesus was slandered!

Paul reminds the Thessalonians that while he was with them he didn’t seek after their money but supplied his own needs (2:1-5). He didn’t want great glory or act wrongly among them, he sacrificially gave of himself for their good (vv. 6-12). Paul reminded the church how they welcomed him (v. 13) and that when they received the gospel they joyfully suffered as Christians (vv. 14-16).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. True gospel ministers have stellar, Christ-like character and conduct (vv. 1-12). As we saw from 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6, they must be blameless. One who calls sinners to turn from wickedness and to live for the true God must himself have turned from sin to righteousness!
  2. The means and evidence of true conversion is receiving God’s truth (v. 13). “Receive” has the idea of welcoming warmly, with open arms, and believing as absolutely true. God’s Word is powerful, effectively working in those who truly believe. What is your attitude toward the Bible? When you read it or hear your pastor teach it, do you love it? Welcome it? Long for it?
  3. Those who oppose Jesus Christ and true religion can and often appear very religious (vv. 15-16). Paul would know, for before he became a Christian he was a zealous Jew who persecuted Jesus’ followers! Christian, don’t be surprised when there’s opposition to the truth (Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 3:12).

Christian Character, 1 Thessalonians 1

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The church in Thessalonica began during Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-9). He wrote this letter to them because Timothy reported someone told lies about him (2:1-3:13) and that the church needed instruction about several matters of the Christian life (4:1-5:24).

It’s important to recognize that the NT letters were written because of things happening in the lives of those whom the letters were written to. This helps understand the reason why biblical authors wrote the letters (this is sometimes called the occasion of the letter; not once-in-a-while occasion, but what-was-happening occasion) and what the biblical authors’ goal or purpose in writing was.  

Despite the problems the Thessalonian church had, Paul thanked God for their Christ-like character (1:2-3), their example of steadfastness in persecution (vv. 5-7), and their reputation (vv. 8-10).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. God’s election of some sinners to salvation in Christ can be known (vv. 3-4). Those whom God in eternity past chose to save (Eph 1:4) will believe in Christ (Acts 13:48) and show the evidence of their election by changed lives (1 Thess 1:3, 9-10).
  2. There should be little doubt whether or not one is a Christian; a changed life seen by all is the best evidence of salvation (vv. 6-10). Most of the Thessalonian church were controlled by faith and love and possessed steadfast confidence in Jesus (vv. 3, 10). What do people see about your life?
  3. Salvation is received by turning from error to truth, from false religion to the true religion, from godless living to godly living (vv. 9-10). Idolatry (v. 9) in NT times was not just wrong worship; it involved gross immorality and godless living. True salvation is evidenced by turning from godless living and turning to Christ-centered living. That is what true repentance looks like!
  4. Christ’s return is the event Christians look forward to (v. 10)! This little letter has many references to Jesus’ return. As we will see in this and 2 Thessalonians, the “waiting” here does not mean sitting around and doing nothing, but rather the exact opposite! Because Christ is coming Christians should “serve the living and true God.” Are you looking forward to Christ’s return? Eagerly waiting for him?

Faith

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This is the 11th message in the series, “Gospel Truths,” taught by Pastor Dan Greenfield at Orwell Bible Church’s 10:30 a.m. Sunday service on May 22, 2022.

Faith is the knowledge of, assent to, and unreserved trust in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the Christian Scriptures. True faith alone in Christ alone is the sinner’s only hope of eternal life.

You can download  an outline of this message to follow along, here.

How Christians Must Live, Titus 3

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Titus must also exhort Christian slaves to be controlled by the Holy Spirit (vv. 1-2; the fruits of the Spirit are evident in these verses, showing one to be controlled by the Spirit). The basis—again—for such living is the grace of God. The same grace that saves is the basis, reason, and means for Christ-like living (vv. 3-7). In order for the church at Crete to be properly ordered Titus must continually teach and insist on Christian living (v. 8).

Having told Titus what he must continually teach, Paul then tells Titus what he must not give any time to whatsoever (v. 9). If there are any in the church who insist on teaching what is wrong and useless, they must be warned twice and then put out from the church if they refuse to repent (v. 10), having proven by their non-repentance and commitment to sin that they are unbelievers (v. 11).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Salvation is entirely of the Lord, from start to finish (vv. 3-7). Consider Christian what you were like before you were saved (v. 3); did you deserve God’s kindness and mercy? What did you deserve from him? And yet what did the Lord do? Why? How? To what end?
  2. Christian living is Christian doctrine. Merely “believing” Christian truths without such bringing about a real and evident change in life is not true faith. Examine your life: how does it compare with Jesus’ truth about how you should live? Is your life “out of order?”
  3. Those whom Christ saves are justified and have the certainty of eternal life (v. 7). Despite many groups that teach salvation is by grace and works, or teach that Christians could lose their salvation, such beliefs are rooted sinners’ earning salvation, not what God has done in Christ Jesus.

How Christians Must Live, Titus 2

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In contrast to what false teachers say, Titus must “speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (v. 1), namely how Christians of different life situations must live as Christians (vv. 2-10). The foundation for living this way is the grace of God that saves all kinds of lost souls (v. 11) and teaches those saved how they should and shouldn’t live (vv. 12-14).

Because these things are “proper for sound doctrine” (v. 1) they must be spoken, and Christians must be accordingly urged and corrected. Regardless of what people may say or how they respond, truth must be spoken (v. 15). It is through Jesus’ truth that souls are freed (John 8:32) and made holy (John 17:17). It should not be surprising that sinners don’t like to hear such truth! (John 3:19-20)

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. The only hope of salvation from sin is the grace of God (v. 11). Whether man or woman, old or young, married or single, salvation is by grace alone. What—who—are you relying on for salvation?
  2. The same grace that saves (v. 11) is the same grace that sanctifies (vv. 12-14). God’s salvation results in holy living. Christian, you must stop living a God-ignoring, craving-oriented, sinful life, and you must live a self-controlled, righteous, God-focused life. What is your life characterized by?

Cleaning up a Messy Church, Titus 1

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Titus was a Gentile convert (Gal 2:3) and co-laborer (2 Cor 2:13; 8:23) of the apostle Paul’s.

Like Timothy, Titus was not the pastor of the church on the island of Crete, but was Paul’s representative there. Paul had other plans for Titus (3:12—Titus was to join Paul at Nicopolis once other co-workers arrived there in Crete).

Cretans had a notoriously and proverbially low moral character (1:12). There’s a Greek word that means “to act as a Cretan” which meant the same thing as “to play the liar.” Greek scholar Daniel Wallace put verse 12 this way: “Liars ever, men of Crete; nasty brutes who love to eat.” This was the heritage of the Christians Titus ministered to.

The church of Crete needed qualified spiritual leadership (1:5-9); they had false teachers among them (1:10-16; 3:9-11), and they struggled with unchristian behavior (2:1-3:8, 14).

These issues caused the church to be disorderly—or, out of order, unregulated, confused, a mess—so Paul wrote this letter to help Titus put the church in good order by appointing godly pastors (1:5-9), rebuking false teaching (1:10-16), and encouraging godly living (chaps. 2-3).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Jesus cares about the “orderliness” of his churches. Orderly involves properly arranged and regulated. Jesus tells what his churches must “look” like, what characterizes true orderliness, what makes a church a good church, and Jesus details such needed orderliness in the book of Titus. Over the last several years churches have almost bragged about being a “messy” church, some even naming themselves that! There is nothing virtuous or right in remaining in a messy, disorderly, unregulated, confused, and incorrect state or condition. Jesus says through Paul in 1 Cor 14:33, 40, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints…let all things be done decently and in order.” We must heed what Jesus, the Head of the church, says about his church!
  2. Pastors must have godly, Christ-like character to faithfully teach truth and rebuke error (vv. 5-9). Sadly, pastors frequently evaluate themselves and are evaluated by external standards such as being culturally “with it.” While there is no virtue in being “culturally backward,” Jesus Christ demands pastors to be thoroughly Christian, not worldly, so that truth is faithfully ministered.
  3. Jesus’ command for straying believers and teachers in a local church is sharp rebuke (v. 13). Such must be given with great love (Gal 6:1), trusting the Lord to bring them to repentance (2 Tim 2:24-26). The end or goal is not to win an argument but so “that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13).
  4. False teaching hardens minds and consciences in sin (vv. 15-16). There is no such thing as “neutral” thinking. Everything must be seen from the Triune God’s perspective.
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