What we call the Holy Bible specifically the New Testament which is inspired by the Holy Spirit, is simply a letter written by a man who never knew it would be part of the New Testament. When Paul wrote this letter to the church of Thessalonica, he was just trying to take care of business and get things done. He was concerned about the church. How God would use this letter and inspired it to let us know and so we can read it, it’s not just a letter from Paul to the church of Thessalonica, but it’s like a letter to us in many ways so we can gather the lessons for us.
Paul founded the church in Thessalonica which is in Greece. This is the first time the Gospel ever came to the country in a place called Philippi where he preached, established a church but then got beaten and thrown in jail. God delivered him out of it and after a lot of victory and persecution he went into Thessalonica. He was there a few months and started a church. No New Testament, no buildings, no microphones, how did he do it? Nobody knew about public gathering places until about 300 years ago. Before that it was all meetings in homes, caves, you name it with no air conditioning.
1 year later he is writing this letter reminding him why he sent Timothy to see them because he was gone for a year and knew they were going through trials, persecutions and difficulties and he wanted to find out how they were doing in their faith. Not how much money they were making, not what kind of houses they were living in, or what kind of cars they were driving, but about their faith.
1 Thessalonians 3 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
Paul as an Apostle, the main thing he is interested is in their faith. What does the devil want to destroy? Our Faith. How are we supposed to be walking? By faith. How do we pray and worship? Full of faith.
When you lose faith, you no longer have a relationship with God. This is the critical one. He is not asking how big is your church, how many members you got, what kind of sound system do you have, all that is just stuff we developed but it’s not the essence of Christianity. When Paul preached the Gospel the people responded by putting their faith in Jesus. How do you become a Christian? By putting your faith in Jesus in what he did for you on that cross, that he shed His blood for us, gave His life so we could live.
If you your faith is strong, you are a strong Christian, if it’s weak then you’re a weak Christian. He implies that if Satan or the tempter does his job by destroying their faith, his work would be for nothing (in vain). SO it’s all about faith. That’s why the bible tells us to encourage each other every day to build up our faith. Faith doesn’t stay neutral or static, it can grow or it can diminish. You can have people of great faith, and people who just go by the motions and go to church. Everything hangs on faith.
Every discouragement, every distraction, every trial, every difficulty, when the bottom falls out, when your heart is broken, the enemy will use that to destroy your faith. Every distraction of the world, making money, paying bills, the cares of life, what’s gonna happen, terrorism, zika viruses, is to distract us away from faith in Christ. That’s where the whole battle is. No wonder Paul says, I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith. That’s the battle. You can lose your faith.
Notice that what Paul says, he tells them he could not stand it any longer, he had to find out how they were doing. He knew they were going through trials and persecution. He remembered that part of the whole package of following Jesus would mean some bad times too. We won’t hear too much of that in the churches of America, it’s not good salesmanship.
What minister would say, yes come to Christ yes He died for your sins, He will forgive you and you will have eternal life and you will be with Him and by the way, while you serve Him, the enemy is going to come at you with everything he’s got. You will be persecuted, you will be mocked, laughed at. In the Christianity’s first century, they were driven out and killed by the Romans because they were not loyal to the Roman Empire, they wouldn’t bow down to Cesar and call him God. This is the way it was back then and Paul warned them about this.
In America we now live in a softer, materialistic market driven world so people are selling Jesus to the world. You hear televangelists saying God wants you to follow your dreams and everything will work out. That’s not what the New Testament says, it says follow Jesus and there will be some trouble along the way. Attacks from Satan, people turning on you, even your family turning on you. This should not throw you off. You should expect trouble and just be ready to stand firm.
Acts 14 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
It’s worth the trouble because he gave up His life. In these last days, America is experiencing more and more opposition to Christianity than before. Christian teaching is going to be linked to hate speech and a bunch of other clever things they will try to do to marginalize people who follow Christ.
The very testing, persecution, and trial that Satan can use, God uses the same trial to build your faith. Every time you are in a difficult place or situation, there is a battle going on. Satan wants to use it to say “Where’s your God? I thought He loved you. Where is He? Where is the answer to your prayers? Where’s you Jesus now that you need Him” He is trying to get us to look away from the promise of God, to not trust God.
God is using it because, just like lifting weights to destroy muscle tissue to make them rebuild bigger and stronger, through opposition of gravity with the weight. Resistance builds muscles. Trouble builds faith. How will you help somebody through something if you’ve never been through it yourself? You now have a testimony. You passed the test, so now you have a testimony and now you can really help them when they sat, you know what I’ve been through, Oh yes I do! I went through that, God brought me through and he will bring you through it.
Faith is attacked at 2 different times.
In a society that’s filled with things, not necessarily persecution or trials, Satan uses that to blind us to invisible realities. The more money and credit cards, social media, and physical things become prominent in our lives and become our world, then the invisible things of God become less real and he will take your faith away. This is why Jesus warns us Luke 21:34 34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.
Your heart can get weighed down with everything around you, things you see, and now the internet and social media has made it easier by making accessible in the palm of your hand. Now that becomes your only world. The value of a soul the power of prayer, the beauty of worship, materialistic people don’t understand any of it. It becomes like something weird and out of their world.
It’s not always persecution. Usually it’s just trouble. It could be financial, relationships being attacked, a marriage that’s broken, you lost a job now what are you going to do? Bills like crazy. And Satan uses those. Where is your God? And there is the test.
This is why Paul sent Timothy, to strengthen them in their faith. I want to strengthen your faith. God know what we are going through. He loves us and He will see us through.