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  • Writer's picturePastor Brett

Trustworthy (Part Two)


About 150 years or so before the Protestant Reformation, there was an English theologian named John Wycliffe. Many of his theological positions would be hallmarks of the Reformation.

For example, Wycliffe believed that the Bible, not the Pope or any other earthly authority was to guide the life of every Christian. Wycliffe wrote, "Holy Scripture is the preeminent authority for every Christian and the rule of faith and of all human perfection."

Because of this belief, Wycliffe translated the Bible into the common language of the people so that it could be read, understood, and applied by everyone. His ministry continues on today in the organization Wycliffe Bible Translators. This work is essential because people speak more than 7,000 languages worldwide. It may surprise you to know that 1.5 billion people don’t have a full Bible in their language and 128 million people don’t have any Scripture in their language.

Though it sounds perfectly normal to our ears, Wycliffe’s translation of the Scriptures and his belief in them as the primary authority found may enemies in the church leaders of his time. Although Wycliffe execution for his theological positions, he was condemned by the Pope during his lifetime. a few decades after his death, Wycliffe was posthumously declared a heretic; his bones were exhumed and burned.

Other reformers who dared to insist on the authority of the Bible fared worse that Wycliffe, enduring persecution and even for holding to their conviction that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. This is the faith that the Apostle Paul commends in the passage before us.

Those who reject the Bible do so at their eternal peril. Those who trust in themselves or any merely earthly authority are not saved. Sadly, they remain in their sins. As do those who merely give lip service to the Scriptures or misrepresent them with false teaching. As we learned last Sunday, Paul endured to give the Thessalonians opportunity to receive the word for what it is: God’s love letter telling us what we must believe to be saved.

Put your trust in the Lord by following His word, the Bible.

-( Previously )-

1. Trustworthy messengers declare the truth. (1-12)

-( Presently )-

It is trustworthy because His message is not made up of MERE HUMAN IDEAS, it is THE VERY WORD OF GOD. Its divine origin is indicated in two things: One, those who receive it give thanks to God. Two, it is continually at work in believers. As Hebrews 4:12 testifies, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

3. We who receive His message must have a trustworthy response. (12-16)

Our response includes living IN A WAY GOD CONSIDERS WORTHY. (12) What way of life does God consider WORTHY? The way that follows most closely the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ.

We must be thankful for God’s message; it reveals God’s will. (13) Christians should inhale grace and exhale gratitude. Thankfulness to God should be an everyday attitude among the people who’ve accepted the Bible as the truth and live according to it.

We must demonstrate His word is at work in us as we BELIEVE. (13) WORK (energeitai) is always used to describe the supernatural acts of God. These acts are constantly happening and always for our good.

We must endure persecution by standing in the word. Verses fourteen through sixteen give us three examples of patient endurance of persecution. We can follow Paul’s example. (2+16) Verse two = As we saw previously, Paul and his companions had suffered abuse and arrest in Philippi before coming to Thessalonica and being set up on by the Jews there too. In verse sixteen, Paul said the aim of the Jewish persecutors was to keep him FROM PREACHING THE GOOD NEWS OF SALVATION TO THE GENTILES. They were very selfish people, for though they didn’t accept Paul’s faith, they didn’t want to share anything remotely Jewish with any non-Jews.

We can follow the example of the believers in the churches in Judea. In verse fourteen Paul reminded the Thessalonian believers that they were not alone in suffering opposition from the Jews. The church in their homeland – Judea – also suffered violent persecution by the Jews. They were persecuted BECAUSE OF THEIR BELIEF IN CHRIST JESUS.

We can follow the example of the prophets. (15) Long before Jesus appeared in history, the Jews made a habit of killing the people God sent them to tell them the unwelcome but necessary truth. Then Jesus appeared and identified the Pharisees as DESCENDANTS OF THOSE WHO MURDERED THE PROPHETS (Matthew 23:21-26). In this, Jesus fulfilled a prophetic role and in the same way as they killed the prophets, THEY KILLED THE LORD JESUS. The book of Acts tells us that Jews from Judea even stalked Paul along on his journeys in other parts of the empire, making trouble for him in many places, repeatedly causing him to leave those cities. Appropriately, the word Paul used for PERSECUTION, ekdioko, can also be translated as “driven out.”

It can help us to endure if we trust God to dispense justice. (15-16) Paul warns us that those who are faithful to God’s word should expect opposition from evil people: THEY HAVE PERSECUTED US TOO. (15) One purpose in their persecution is to try to keep the Bible out of the public sphere: THEY TRY TO KEEP US FROM PREACHING THE GOOD NEWS OF SALVATION TO THE GENTILES. In Romans 11:11+25 Paul reasoned that the Jews objected to his witness to the Gentiles because they saw it as implying that God had rejected Israel and chose the Gentiles instead. These actions by the Jews are characteristic of pettiness and poor theology. It was not what Paul believed, as he went into considerable detail in chapter 11 to explain.

This is a case of piling that sin atop all their other sins. In their rejection of Jesus as Messiah, they have failed to PLEASE GOD. This is an understatement because they are defying God. They have worked AGAINST ALL HUMANITY. Working against God will always make you an opponent of God’s people. The only way to truly to do good is to do it in faith.

The last word in this passage is a word of encouragement; though they are threatening, the fact is that they’re not getting away with anything, for THE ANGER OF GOD HAS CAUGHT UP WITH THEM AT LAST. This, with Romans 1:24-28, shows that in His justice, God’s patience with unrepentant sinners has limits. God justly sets the limit and when it is reached, the unrepentant sinner – like pharaoh and Judas – is abandoned by God. (See Genesis 15:16 and Daniel 8:23 for parallel passages.) The day that Paul anticipates here is Judgment Day. That is the day that God’s ANGER will be poured out on unrepentant unbelievers, the devil, and all evildoers.

Put your trust in the Lord by following His word, the Bible.

Israel was the people He chose for Himself, to be His people. He rescued them from slavery in Egypt and shortly thereafter gave them ten WRITTEN commandments to show them how to do His will.

From that beginning – Moses coming down the side of Mount Sinai with two stone tablets – God has provided His people with written instructions. He would give Moses many elaborations and additional commandments, all of them written down, so the people would have no reason to doubt or dispute what God wanted them to do.

That process of publishing God’s word was completed in the New Testament, where the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, God the Son, are compiled and explained. The Bible is the objective authority that settles for all time what God expects of the people who want to be saved.

His first requirement is that we accept, by faith, the testimony of His word. Though millions will try, we do not make up our own faith, we accept the faith revealed in the Bible and confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

That faith requires us to draw near to God by first and repeatedly as necessary, repenting from our sins. To repent is not just to regret our offenses against God, though it starts there, to repent means to turn away from them.

These are not just the obvious sins of murder, adultery, and blasphemy, but also the more subtle sins of laziness, pride, and selfishness. To repent means we confess these sins to God, ask His forgiveness, and turn from them, forsaking them privately and publicly, seeking to do God’s good works instead.

We obtain forgiveness because of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. His sacrifice for our sins is so effective that we are utterly cleansed of all sins. Freed from the guilt and influence of sin, we can follow Jesus’ directions and example. We cease to love self first, instead loving God first, then others second, self last. When we do, we discover this new life in Jesus Christ to be the most satisfying, most joyous, way to live. And in addition, we have heaven as our hope. There is no better way to live than to live biblically.

RESOURCES:

John Wycliffe introduction based on data from https://harvestpca.org/sermons/receive-gods-word-1-thessalonians-213-16/, retrieved on 27 July 2023, Pastor Andrew Lightner, author.

Wycliffe Bible Translators data was retrieved from their website, https://www.wycliffe.org/about/?gclid=CjwKCAjwq4imBhBQEiwA9Nx1BvcV5XQxihB-fyTNC3YB_FMPlf_zv2Gg1hr805egNtTIUjEpJ3WGBxoC9rUQAvD_BwE on 27 July 2023.

Philip W. Comfort, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol. 16, 1 Thessalonians, 2008, pp. 342-350.

Robert L. Thomas, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 11, 1 Thessalonians, 1978, pp. 249-261.

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