Chapter 3: 16-18
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. 17 The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
I pray that you have had a good week. Thanks once again for your loving encouragement in regard to my writings. This year is about 12 years that I have been doing this. It all started as mid-week lessons with 9 people because, as a small church, we did not have a place to have mid-week services, so we came up with the idea that I would write a lesson and then email it to the 9 persons each week. We started with the Gospel of John. I don’t recall how many lessons we did in John, but somewhere along the line, people began to share the lessons with friends and family. At one point, I was emailing over 100 persons directly, and then they shared it.
One day, a long time ago, I mentioned that we have gotten to where I was emailing some 150 or so directly; it is a milestone, at least for me. One of the dear sisters said that we had surpassed that a long time ago, and others chirped in that they had been sharing the lessons far and wide. Soon, we began to get responses from people in other countries, and it just kept growing.
But it is a testimony to the Lord and His faithfulness; we did not do anything special. We just wanted to know more about the Bible, and the people God gave me to serve wanted to know more of the Bible. They, by the grace of God, expanded this ministry to the ends of the earth. I get calls and/or emails from new people often, we add persons to our prayer list often, and I get to answer questions every now and then. Along the way, the Lord provided us with a very dedicated young lady who helps me with editing and streamlined our delivery system. Then, just over 6 years ago, we got the opportunity to be useful to the Lord on Rapture Ready. Wow, God is amazing! He did it; it is His Bible and His Gospel, His help and His name that matters. We are blessed as a church to be a useful vessel.
Over the years, we have worked our way through many books in the Bible from Daniel to John, Romans, Revelation, Ruth, Esther, and many other books. Today, we come to the end of our look in 1 & 2 Thessalonians.
- Paul had a team, verse 17
This second letter to Thessalonica was written in the early 51-52 AD. Paul had been saved well over a decade by now, and he had been on the road for a large part of that. From what we can glean, it would seem that Paul’s eyes were beginning to fail him. In Galatian 4:15, Paul tells us that the church there would have given him their own eyes if at all possible. And we see here in 2 Thessalonians, Paul writes the greeting at the end in his own handwriting so that he could authenticate the letter.
As his eyes got worse and worse, Paul would dictate the letters and then sign the end to authenticate them. If you turn to 2 Corinthians 13:10, you will see that Paul says, ‘I write these things.’ He is the one writing here. And it would seem that his handwriting was well known by the churches so that he could just sign the end of 2 Thessalonians 3, and they would know it was him.
If you take the time to read 2 Timothy 4: 9-18, you will see that the great Apostle Paul had a team that traveled with him. Some helped, others did not, as we can see there. Others of the team had been sent to help other churches, and he was sending for others like Mark to come to help. There are no superstars in the ministry of the Gospel. We are a team. As I mentioned to you as we began today, this ministry of our church, and that is what it is – a ministry – was grown as a team. I wrote, others edited, and all shared the words. But it was a team effort and still is to this day.
As you keep reading the last few verses of 2 Timothy 4: 19-21, you will see that there were not only men but women that helped the ministry progress. These people invested their time and even their homes for the sake of the ministry.
I had the opportunity to work with the Billy Graham Ministries here in Toronto a few years back. And of course, Franklin is the face of the ministry, but it took hundreds of people and hours of effort to organize and pull off one crusade here in Toronto. It took months of training and going to meetings to be able to make this one 3-day event work.
Paul was the face of the ministry on the New Testament. For the most part, he wrote about 50% of the books. But he had a team of dedicated men and women who toiled with him, served him, prayed for him, supplied physical needs for him, and befriended him so that he could do the work.
This is why being a part of a local church is so important. We need each other; we need to help and be helped by each other. We need even the hard things that we go through with people.
As we can see in 2 Timothy 4, Paul had men who hurt him, men who deserted him, and others who flat out did him wrong, but he never let that stop him from serving the Lord. Every day, I hear of people who have left the Lord’s churches because someone hurt them, stabbed them in the back, or whatever. If Paul had quit like we see today, half of the New Testament would not be here. We just need to let God handle the people that hurt us and move on. Sadly, too many of God’s people are looking for an excuse to abandon God, and the Devil is more than able to provide you with reasons. Thank the Lord that Jesus did not quit when people stabbed Him in the back, denied Him, or lied about Him. Where would you and I be? What hope would we have if Jesus just quit like we do all too often?
- Grace and Peace, gifts from our Lord Jesus, verses 16, 18
In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. In the Old Testament, a king was often called a prince. We see this in Daniel, especially when we see the references to kings as princes. Isaiah is saying that Jesus is the King of Peace. In Romans 5:1, we are told that since we are ‘justified by faith,’ we have peace with God through Jesus. If you and I have placed our trust solely in Jesus as our Saviour, we are at peace with God. This opens the door for us to have peace with anyone else.
Once we have peace with God, we should be able to have peace with anyone, even our enemies and the ones that harm us, in any situation. God’s peace, a gift that we have in Jesus, can transcend all of the hurts and trials of life. Unfortunately, a lot of us have identified with our struggles, and they become our identity rather than have the identity of peace that we have in Jesus. You and I know people that only talk of their struggles and never seem to get to the part where Jesus carried them through or is carrying them through.
We live in troubled times right now. Here in Canada, there is a serious political push to thwart freedom, there is a serious push to squash free speech, and yes, it is disconcerting at times. But we who study the scriptures and see the truth of the prophecies being played out have peace that God is in charge. If we should be arrested for our faith, then we have peace that the same God who helped Paul and Silas sing in prison will also help us. Is it scary? Yes, it is. We are not superheroes, but we have a super God who has everything under control.
In Philippians 4:2, we find a strange verse referring to believers in the ‘household of Caesar.’ Yes, while in prison, well, really house arrest in Rome awaiting trial, Paul led members of the guard that protected him, as well as members of Caesar’s very home to Jesus. This man was at peace no matter where he was and simply did his job; he shared the Gospel with all who would listen.
In 1 Peter 5:10, Peter writes to us to remind us that in this life, we may have to suffer for a little while, but the God of all grace will restore us and make us strong and firm in our faith. We hate to suffer; I am not a fan of it. But it is in suffering that we grow in grace. It is in suffering that we are made strong, and it is in suffering that we grow the spiritual ‘muscles’ to stand for the Lord no matter what. We have a lot of weak Christians in our churches because as soon as there is some trouble or pain, they run to another church. They refuse to simply put up with and let God handle stuff in His time. They just run, and once the Devil knows what makes you run, he will put it in every church you attend. You end up spiritually immature and weak, no good to the Kingdom of God.
Grace requires that we treat people the way that God treats us. We are to give them the best when they deserve the worse. We are to be kind when they are not, and we are to forgive them even when they don’t apologize and when they don’t even seem to care that they have hurt us. Those who refuse to grow in grace simply are malnourished and weak-saved people. We are stunted by our lack of growth and remain babies in Jesus. We cry at every little hurt, and we are always complaining.
If you find yourself to be a church hopper, ask yourself why? Some are just looking for the newest and shiniest; others are just not interested in staying in one church. They are required to put down roots, take responsibility, and invest in that local church. They are more like leeches; they take and take, and once they have had their fill, they move on to take and take at another church. That is not the Biblical way.
The Biblical way to grow is to put down roots, make friends, and become responsible for each other. We are to grow together; our kids marry and make babies, and we keep the church alive. More than 90% of kids born into a 2-person, dad-led family that serves the Lord will also follow the Lord. For the most part, if churches will just build a family, have the kids marry the kids and have more kids, they will never go out of existence until Jesus comes. This does not mean that you don’t evangelize, but the greatest mission field is in your home. However, this kind of longevity requires that people grow in grace and live in peace; these are added to us by the Lord himself when we have committed relationships with Jesus that transcends the trials, struggles, and pains of life.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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