One of the features of New Word Alive is the series of Bible readings which, over the course of each morning, covers a book. This year Hugh Palmer is covering 1 Thessalonians. I missed the opening session which focused on how the word was being twisted and assaulted in Paul’s day.
Hugh began by speaking of the intolerance against Christians happening right now in the UK, the likes of which we would never have imagined. Christianity and British culture have drifted apart. Hugh said that he had been asked in a TV interview about homosexuality, sex before marriage, and Islam. The interviewer asked, “How come your values are so conservative and yet so many young people are coming to your church?” Actually, we are seeing just a small fraction of what it would have been like in the First Century.
2:13 ff. The Ministry of the Word of God, not of men
Any preaching we hear must be judged by the Bible, that is how you know if it really is the word of God you have heard. We must be like the Thessalonians and welcome God’s word into our lives and embrace it. Our ministry should, like the Apostle’s, be a word-centered message. The word is living and active. We do not get to heaven by learning information. We aren’t word-centered because we are academics. We believe this because when personalities have gone, the word remains active in us.
Receiving opposition and persecution is a true mark of those who have received the word of God.
Those who try and gag the gospel are warned. Actually, historically and in the rest of the world today, to live in a culture where it is considered “normal” for people to be Bible-believing Christians is unusual. We tend to think that if someone gets into trouble for their faith it is probably because he has been excessive. The Apostle Paul thinks it’s normal. Paul’s attitude is that if we live, we will continue to share the gospel, if we die we will go to heaven to be with Jesus.
For Paul, seeing his readers in glory will be the best moment of his life. Paul looks for faith in them, and rejoices when he sees it. He is really living because of them standing firm. There is a godly discontent. Paul is always wanting more for them. He doesn’t settle for merely someone becoming a believer, wanting instead to see them grow to maturity and be blameless and holy. We are not meant to be individualistic, but committed to the well-being of others.
You cannot understand this Apostle without understanding two things: (1) Paul’s huge love for God’s word, which explains why he has so many enemies. (2) Pauls huge and costly love for God’s people, which explains why he has so many friends. His life is a challenge to us to follow his example.