Chapter 2: 1-9
“For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.
5 For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”
Just this morning, I had a conversation with my older daughter; she is about to become a mom, and as we were discussing the events that are transpiring before us, she asked if there was anything we could do that would slow down Jesus’ return? Not that she wanted it to slow down, but in particular reference to the federal election we are having here in Canada, would voting for a super conservative candidate who would stop vaccine passports and the insurgence of the New World Order slow down Jesus’ return?
I assured her that God the Father was in complete control of when that would happen, but what we had to do was to make sure, to the best of our ability, that the world her daughter and my granddaughter was coming into would be a world where she could worship Jesus freely. I was thrilled to have that conversation with my daughter, to hear her live expecting Jesus’ return, and to have it on the front of her mind. This was what I encouraged you to do last week, live expecting Jesus to return anytime. Today we are going to explore how or what is needed as we wait for Jesus.
- The Gospel is Needed, verses 1-2
Paul tells us that he came to Thessalonica in the midst of much trouble; they were accosted at Philippi and were run out of the city. He hastily left Thessalonica as well; if you recall, he only preached there for three Sabbaths. There are some that think he was there for about 3 months, but even so, that is a short time to plant a church. Paul, to some degree, is defending himself and his work, but what he really wants them to focus on is the Gospel.
At the end of the day, the Gospel is all that matters. The purity of the Gospel is all that matters. There are a lot of churches that preach ‘another gospel’; they mix works and salvation; they teach about the election as if some are born for hell and a few are made for Heaven. Still, others preach the ‘Santa’ Jesus, all gifts and no wrath. All heaven and no hell. Others deny Jesus altogether and still call themselves a church. Others preach a Jesus that is foreign to the Bible, and some even call Him a sinner. Heretics.
Paul, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what happened to him, no matter what the cost, and no matter the crowd, preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that He is the only way whereby men and women must be saved and that His death, burial, and resurrection are the only means of salvation and redemption. All else are lies and offer no hope.
One of the hardest things to do is to stick to the purity and power of the Gospel. It is easy for us to add or take away from it. People need to be lost to need to be saved; they need to know how sinful they truly are before they can appreciate the price that was paid and humble themselves. The pure, simple, and powerful Gospel is our main focus; Jesus and Jesus alone can save. All else are lies.
- The Gospel is not popular, verse 3-4
Paul and his companions did not preach to please men; they preached in obedience to God. This is why they got into trouble in just about every town they went into. They refused to water down the Gospel, they refused to be tolerant of other religions, and they refused to be diplomatic about the need to be saved. Were they gracious? Always. Were they loving? Always. Were they honorable men? Always. On we can go, but they never, ever watered down the Gospel for the sake of not offending the listener.
The Jews of Jesus’ days hated Him because He told the truth. When we tell the truth today, in the day of ‘tolerance,’ we will be branded as hateful and maybe even as arrogant to think that we have the only answer. We simply repeat what the Bible says. It is not our own message; it is the message from God to all men everywhere, and we should not tamper with it, just speak the truth. Sadly, we have a world that is founded on lies, and the truth has become offensive. As we get closer and closer to Jesus’ return, the truth will be more and more offensive, and we, the carriers of it, hated the more.
- The Gospel is not to be a means of wealth, verse 5-6
I pastor one church and help with another. I receive an income from this, and there is nothing wrong with that. The Old Testament priests lived off the offerings and were given land in each tribe in lieu of their service. It would appear that some became wealthy, and most seemed to be comfortable financially. In contrast, the New Testament preachers, even Jesus himself, were all quite poor as far as the world is concerned. Jesus’ ministry needs were met by the generosity of women who gave to the ministry. These ladies are listed in Luke 8:1-3.
But Paul wanted to make it clear to these new Christians at Thessalonica that just as he did not come there asking for money, nor expecting money for preaching the Gospel, neither should they as the Gospel is sent out and exported by them. Once again, I have no problem with men and women making a living preaching the Gospel, and more importantly, the Bible is good with it as well. But the main goal, and not even the second or third goal, should not be to make money. The mark of a growing and maturing church is that of financial maturity; they should be able to pay a pastor, cover the ministry expenses, and give to a mission, as well as meet the needs of the members when they arise. The goal is not to be wealthy.
The Laodicean church in Revelation 3, was wealthy, but her wealth clouded her vision, and she lost sight of her need for Jesus.
- The Gospel is not for our own glory, verse 6
You and I are not the focus of the Gospel. Paul did not save anyone in Thessalonica. You and I cannot save anyone we talk to. It is okay if they forget who we are as long as when we leave, they know the name of Jesus, the one and only Saviour. Do not interject yourself; talk about Jesus. You may speak of how He saved you, but He must be the star and the focus of the message.
All too often, we want to fancy up the message and make it more attractive. Don’t!!! Tell the truth as plainly and as carefully as possible. Memorize the scriptures, carry a tract, use a Gideon’s New Testament, and walk them through the pure, simple Gospel. Remember, do not get into arguments, and listen to the Holy Spirit. There are many times that I have begun to witness, and the door was closed right before my eyes. Then a few days or weeks later, the door opened, and they asked me questions. Listen to Jesus; listen to the Holy Spirit; it is His Gospel, not yours.
- The Gospel is not a club to beat them into Heaven, verses 7-8
You cannot cajole people into Heaven. You will not debate them into Heaven. Many Christians win the debate but lose the soul. The Holy Spirit takes the truth that you speak from the Bible, not your opinion, then He uses that to convict the lost soul about their sin, the need to be saved, and the reality is judgment (John 16:8). No one will be saved forcefully. They must choose of their own free volition to submit to Jesus. They must choose for themselves to be humble before Jesus.
This also means that you need to listen to the Holy Spirit as to when to shut up. I work in the car sales business, and sometimes you can talk a customer into a sale, but if you keep talking, you can talk them right out of it as well. Listen to the Holy Spirit, and He will tell you when to shut up. It may be according to 1 Corinthians that this is a team effort; your job is to plant the seed, another’s is to water, and God reaps the harvest. Sometimes we want to do it all, but God just wants us to do the part He has for us. Listen. Remember, it is Jesus’ Gospel, not yours, nor mine.
- The Gospel is just the beginning, verse 9
Paul preached the Gospel, but he also labored so as not to be a burden financially to them. He worked another job. Many preachers like myself are like that today, and that was a common practice for many years among the Lord’s churches. Paul set an example of diligence and hard work for the men and the leaders that would emerge after he was gone. What kind of Gospel legacy are you leaving?
In addition to preaching the Gospel and working to support himself and the other ministers he brought, Paul was training and disciplining Silvanus and Timotheus; he was setting the example of discipleship and mentoring young men in the ministry. The Gospel does not stop at salvation. Truthfully, it is just the beginning, and there is a labor that comes with the Gospel, a labor of love like a spiritual father to those that hear and trust the Gospel of Jesus. Now, there are times when you will have a short window of opportunity to share the Gospel, and a person that you may never see again will be saved. But make no mistake, God has a person who will take them on as a labor of love the help them mature and become productive citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Are you invested wholly in the Gospel? All too often, we ‘get them saved’ and leave them on the pew to wait for Jesus. No, no; we should have people actively involved as soon as possible in sharing the Gospel themselves and mentor them to be a mentor to others. Let us tell others about Jesus as often as we can, and so much more as we see the day of His return approaching.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
P.S. I will be away on vacation next week, and there won’t be any Bible study sent out.
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