1 Thessalonians Lesson 4: Tribulation and Faith :: By Sean Gooding

Chapter 3: 1-5

“Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.”

Thanks for the responses and emails concerning the last lesson. Wow, it is encouraging to know that people actually read them, and it makes you think enough to write to me.

We continue to see the dangerous growth of socialism and communism in North America. These two philosophies hate Christianity because we are free thinkers, and with the Holy Spirit in us, it is difficult to fool us.

Sadly, as we can see from the last elections, both in the US about a year ago and the Canadian elections a week or so ago, many Christians are blinded and do not have their lives grounded in the Bible. There is no way that these evil, corrupt, and lying leaders could have been elected without the help of many ill-informed or simply rebellious Christians. I recall one young preacher fellow telling myself and others that he was voting for President Biden after much prayer and thinking. Wow! So, God led him to vote for a man who murders babies by the millions. No, God did not. But we hear this over and over.

Last week we explored Paul’s conversation about the persecution that he was suffering at the hands of his own countrymen. In particular, a lot of the Jews hated Paul, they hated the truth, and many of the pagans hated him as well. As more and more people got saved, they had less and less business.

False doctrine and false gods are big business, even today. Right now, right here in Canada, we have at least the Alberta government that is actively trying to shut down one pastor. They have arrested him 3 times, and they seem to target him. But make no mistake; as socialism grows here in Canada, the governmental hatred for Bible-believing Christians will grow at the same rate. Like the Soviet Union, there will be a state-sponsored religion. Even the Anti-Christ will have a religion and a false prophet. The masses need someone or something to believe in, someone or something that transcends themselves.

Before we get into the lesson, let me ask you a question. What if the vaccine mandates are a test run to see who the resistant will be in the event of the Mark of the Anti-Christ? We see hundreds of nurses and doctors who would rather resign or be fired than take a vaccine. What do they know? As well, we are being told that the remaining nurses and doctors are being asked to sign NDA agreements. They are not allowed to talk about what they are seeing. This is not the mark of a free society.

What we do see is that a lot of people will take the vaccine so as to have their lives back; they are not thinking about the long-term effects of this vaccine. They are not making rational decisions; they have been couped up for 20+ months, and the authorities are promising them freedom and a return to ‘normal’ if they get the vaccine. But this is not going to be the case. Governments never give back power once they take it. They will want more and more control of our lives.

  • Paul left, verses 1

Even the great Apostle Paul got to the point that he could no longer bear the hardships that were being dished out. He left and sent Timothy back. It could be and most likely was that his presence, as the noted missionary, caused pain for the church there in Thessalonica. He was more of a hindrance than a help, as the enemies came for him and caused trouble for the whole group. Timothy was certainly a capable leader and minister, but his presence was not a cause for trouble.

All too often, our spiritual foes think they can stop the movement by cutting off the leaders. They killed Jesus, and that sparked a revival in Jerusalem. They killed Stephen, and that sparked the export of the Gospel to all of Europe, Northern Africa, and Asia Minor. Over and over again, every time one of our enemies attacks, they end up making the Gospel bigger, stronger, and spread far and wide. The Gospel was bigger than Paul. It is bigger than any of us. Timothy was just as capable as Paul to teach and to lead.

This is very, very important for us to know. We preachers, we older preachers, need to prepare young men to take our place when we go. We need to be diligent in mentoring and disciplining these young men to make sure that the Gospel moves ahead when we are gone, no matter the case. We all leave, whether by persecution, death, or a U-Haul. Have we done our best to prepare the next generation to carry the torch? In regard to freedom, I think it was Ronald Reagan that said that losing freedom is only one generation away. It is important to prepare the next generation for the Gospel and freedom. Sadly, those who take freedom for granted are prone to lose it, and it takes a long, long time to get it back.

  • Timothy Came verses 2-3

Timothy came and did an awesome job. All too often, we all want to be like Paul, the famed Apostle. But there was a faithfulness in Timothy that was priceless. He had been nurtured and prepared by his grandmother and mother with the Word of God, and one day it was his turn to lead. His turn to take this church in Thessalonica that was being persecuted and help to steady her, help ground her in the faith. Remember, Paul was actually here just a short time, a few weeks or a few months at most. It was Timothy who did the grunt work; it was Timothy who stepped into Paul’s big shoes and filled them.

God always has someone to fill the empty shoes; He prepares them and sharpens them for his use; He gets the glory as they do the good work. We should be excited that God is not done; He is still calling men to do the job. Oh, that we would tell the young men that there is no greater calling than the service of the eternal Kingdom! Tell them that fame on earth is temporary, but to be famous with God is eternal. Tell them that the efforts for the Kingdom are eternal. Pray that these young men will find wives that want to make the trip in the ministry with them and that will pray for and support them. Oh, for more Timothies in our day!

  • Their faith Grew, verse 5

This is what happens when we put God first, no matter what happens. This is what happens when the right spiritual leaders point the people to Jesus and Jesus alone. This is what happens when the Bible and the proper teaching of it are the center and foundation of a local church. Persecution grows the faith of the saved and often weeds out the pretenders.

When we understand that serving the Lord may cost us our lives, it makes us have to make serious choices about serving Jesus. I could not imagine almost 40 years ago, when I landed here from Barbados, that one day serving Jesus may be illegal in Canada. It is not yet, but it is certainly moving that way. The Lord’s churches are the bastions of freedom. We are all about freedom: the freedom to choose, the freedom to forge your future, and to deal with the consequences of those choices. One of the most repeated phrases in the Bible is ‘choose you.’ When God created man in ‘His Image,’ He gave man the freedom of choice and the consequences of that freedom.

We can see that we are getting closer and closer to the end, and that will bring more and more pain for the Lord’s churches. As we get closer and closer, we will see more and more deception, more and more people who claim to work for God but obviously work for the devil himself. These very people will be the ones to pursue us. Remember, the religious leaders killed Jesus, and they killed Stephen. The only hope we have is that we will grow in our faith in these troubles and that we will be more and more secure in Jesus, more and more secure in His Word, more grounded in His promises, and more determined to live faithfully, no matter what. Lord, increase our faith.

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding

Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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