The Faith That Perseveres

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

This morning we talked about “Walking Worthy Of The Gospel”. We focused on 1 Thessalonians 2, verses 1-13. Walking worthy of the Gospel – the Good News of salvation – begins when the Bible, the Word of God, has preeminence in your life. We read again verse 13 nof this text:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

The Thessalonian believers received the Word of God, the Bible that the Apostles shared, not as a work of man but as THE Word of God. To those who see the Bible as just “another book written by old dead men”, the Bible has no power. But when we see the Bible as precious as Jesus saw it, then God the Holy Spirit uses that Scripture to make us more like Jesus. The Bible will not effectually work in the lives of those who do NOT believe it.

Israel Lost It’s Place Of Blessing Because She Did NOT Believe the Word Of God Was The Word of God

The early Church suffered intense persecution because the leadership of Israel did not believe the Word of God. We read:

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: {these are Churches located at ground zero, where the resistance is the greatest}for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

The religious leadership of Israel had gradually moved away from God.

The Pharisees placed more emphasis on being physically born a Jew, and on knowledge of Scripture rather than application of Scripture.

The Pharisees, Scribes, and Priests of Israel gathered together in conspiracy, we are told in …

Matthew 26:3-5 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty {conspiracy}, and kill him. 5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people {political conspiracy}.

As Paul said,

1 Thessalonians 2:15 {they} both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets…

The Jews plotted against Jesus. They hired men to tell lies about Jesus at His trial. They held Jesus’ trial at night so there would be few witnesses to what transpired. In short, those who should have known better violated numerous teachings in God’s Word in order to get rid of Jesus. They did the same thing with the Prophets that God sent to them. Jesus said of these pitiful religious lost people:

Matthew 27:29-37 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

God cannot save any people who wander away from His Word. When evil invaded Israel, it was only a matter of time until Israel fell. God’s people must stay profoundly attached to God’s Word. The Apostle said:

1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 … they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

God will destroy the Temple and scatter the Jews in 70 AD, fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy (Mark 13:1-2). The wrath of God was poured out on Israel because they rejected not only God’s Word, but they rejected God’s Messiah.

The Word of God cannot fail. God has promised through Abraham that Israel will one day occupy the Promised Land in full. God’s Word never fails. We are told in

Joshua 21:45 There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

And in Isaiah 55:10-11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

God’s Word cannot fail. These words are echoed throughout Scripture:

Proverbs 30:5 (ESV) Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Isaiah 40:8 (ESV) The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Matthew 24:35 (ESV) {Jesus said} Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV) … if we are faithless, He remains faithful — for He cannot deny himself.

All Israel will one day inherit the Promised Land, but only when all Israel submits to the Word of God and trust in the Savior that God has sent. As Paul writes this letter, Israel is not representing God, but Satan. They have wandered away from God’s Word.

Believers Are To Stand Firm On The Word of God

Though Paul, Timothy and Silas were being persecuted on every side, and the Church at Thessaloniki was being equally persecuted, the Church was standing firm on the Word of God. This is a main reason that we who are faithful and trust in God’s Word are to stand firm. We dare not drop the flag of the Holy Scripture, or the enemy will overrun us. The Apostle tells the Thessalonian believers:

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. 18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and joy.

Nothing weakens a believer like seeing another believer fall away from God. But nothing strengthens a believer in his faith more than seeing other believers standing firm, trusting the Word of God. Though Satan hindered the Apostle Paul in returning to Thessaloniki, Paul was encouraged because the believers of Thessaloniki refused to quit the faith.

Illustrate: There was a movie years ago that starred Mel Gibson called “The Patriot”. One of the scenes that sticks to my memory is when the British Army is defeating the American Army, and the Red, White and Blue – our glorious flag – is dropped. Seeing the flag dropped, the American Army started retreating, running away from the enemy. Gibson saw the flag drop and ran against the tide of retreating soldiers to pick up and hold the flag high. As he waved the flag in the air, shouting to the soldiers to return to the line, first one soldier, then another turned around and rejoined the fight. At the end of the day America won that battle because a few faithful stood strong.

Beloved, we must stand strong,
trusting in the Word of our Lord.

The Apostle Paul was getting discouraged, standing against so much opposition. He tells the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 3:1-8 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain. 6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.

Paul sent Timothy to Thessaloniki to check on the condition of the persecuted Church. When Timothy returned, Paul was delighted to learn that the Church continued in faith and charity. By standing under duress, the Apostle said we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith. Then Paul says a most amazing thing:

1 Thessalonians 3:8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.

The Church can withstand a lot of stress and persecution as long as it stands unified in love one toward another. The Apostle said, We Apostles – We Missionaries can continue to live, though terribly afflicted. Why? Because YOU STAND FAST IN THE LORD.

Genuine Salvation Will Persevere
For It Seeks Jesus

Our Lord Jesus said in:

Luke 9:62 (ESV) … No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

Illustrate: A young man was being taught by his father how the plow a straight furrow. He would plow a “back furrow” in the middle of the field. If this furrow was straight, then all the other furrows would be straight. He told his son, “I’ll stand at the other end of the field. Don’t look back. Don’t look to the side. Look at me. Keep your head up, and plow focused on me”. This is the Christian way of life. Saved by Grace – the free and glorious Grace of God – we are to keep our eyes on Jesus. The Scripture says:

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Do Not Grow Weary 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Encourage one another to focus on Jesus. Jesus said:

Mark 13:13 ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

Those who are genuine Christians, are genuine Christians because of the preaching of the Word of God. A Christian cherishes God’s Word, for it is what made us alive, and what keeps us alive. Salvation is a free gift from God. But once saved, the Christian becomes “the workmanship of God” (Ephesians 2:10). Paul now emphasizes this to the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

When a person is saved, then the Lord will cause that person to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men. A Christian will grow in love toward other Christians and the lost themselves. A Christian will not avenge themselves, but trust in God, and love others with all their hearts. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

We are sons of God because THE Son of God gave His life for us. We are to “do good” always. We are called to not repay evil for evil, but

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Evil cannot be destroyed by evil, but only by good. Let us keep doing good for the glory of God, and the advancement of His Kingdom. May God touch your hearts through this His Word. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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