Tuesday, July 31, 2018

This is an encouragement to the saints (1 Thess 1.2-3)
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

1Thessalonians 1:3 — constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.

When Paul speaks of the τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως of the Thessalonian church, he recalls the work that is produced by their faith. Their faith sprouts forth godly works. Note how the work is singular. There are, of course, many manifold works that believers produce for the glory of Christ. But in the body of Christ, they are unified, working together, and here noted as being singular. He notes their work produced by faith. O that every church would be marked by and characterized by its work that springs forth from its faith in Jesus Christ. That means that true faith in Christ is never alone; it always produces works. Though no one is saved by his works, true faith is never without works. All true faith will generate works, produce good works, and seek to live a life of good works NOT in order to attain salvation but in gratitude for the salvation already received by faith alone in Christ. O may churches excel still more in the Thessalonians model of having this kind of work that stems from faith!

The Thessalonian church also is recognized for its τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης. Amazingly, Paul marks out this church’s work, labor, toil, even trouble because of their great love. The labor of this church springs forth out of its great love! The love of this church is not only for Christ but it’s also for one another. And, of course, this love that marks the church in Thessalonika did not generate with themselves but it was initiated first and ultimately by God Himself in the sovereign grace He bestowed upon His elect in saving them. Then, those who have received this saving love in Christ, respond with a great love for Christ and a contagious love for one another in the local assembly. This great love brings forth toil, work, labor and a diligence in serving one another. This kind of hard work, this unrelenting service, and this inconvenient (at times) commitment to one another all grows out of a diligent and impassioned love for Christ and for His Church. The gospel of God’s grace, revealed in Christ, granted by mercy is the great foundation of this great working love in the local church of Thessalonika.

Finally, the Apostle Paul commends the church for its τῆς ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος. The believers are grounded in a solid, unshakeable hope that produces their steadfastness. Their endurance, their perseverance, their steadfastness is not grounded on their own human efforts or consistency, but rather it is based upon the hope that believers have in the Lord Jesus Christ (τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). Amidst much hardship, many sorrows, severe persecution, and harsh afflictions brought on by gospel-opponents, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ refuses to flinch and retreat. Rather, believers are marked by godly hope which springs forth joyfully and unfailingly in perseverance. Note that the church is corporately commended for this steadfastness. One cannot be steadfast apart from the local assembly. One will not persevere through trials and great oppression left to himself, in isolation, as a lone ranger. Rather, it is the community of faith, the assembly of the redeemed that stimulates one another to keep enduring because of the great hope that is laid before us in Christ Jesus, our Lord and King. O that churches would remember this and that true hope in Christ (hope in heaven, hope in Christ’s return, hope in evil’s defeat, hope in the coming Kingdom) would catapult the church to great steadfastness as believers endure together, grow together, meet together, encourage one another, and remain steadfast shoulder to shoulder. 


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