Up Close and Personal with the Apostle Paul Series
2nd THESSALONIANS – The Health and Vitality of God’s Church
2 Thessalonians 3:1-3 (KJB) Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: 2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
Paul begins this second letter to the Thessalonian Church with a greeting from this spiritual trio of himself, Timothy, and Silvanus (also known as Silas). These men of God had just recently departed from Thessalonica and were currently serving God in the city of Corinth. Paul used this second occasion to remind this church of the merciful and grace-filled nature of God and to thank them for their love and service to God as was reported back to the Apostle Paul soon after departure from this church.
This great news must have seemed both surreal and refreshing to Paul who often had to address problems with false doctrine and sin at work in churches he visited rather than finding a rare opportunity to praise fervent adoration and service a congregation with spiritual vitality showed for things of God. This news must have been so encouraging to the ministry of Paul and his assistants even as they faced looming issues they had to deal with in the Corinthian Church.
The rewards of God are never sparse, in fact, they are quite remarkable. However, as Paul clearly understood, they often came when a person, a congregation, a family, were willing to “put their feet in the fire” in serving God through great difficulties, trials, and tribulations. He knew that this Thessalonian Church had faced many difficulties and spiritual battles as they stood together in God’s power and strength as the fires raged about them. Even so, it was vital these ministers of the grace of God remained healthy.
Though the return of God was something this congregation yearned for, they also realized individually they each must be busy about things of God even as they waited for the day Jesus Christ would return. So often, a child of God, then and today, might choose to slack off in his service for God knowing they have their eternal home “all wrapped up.” When their hour comes for those who are content to sit on the sidelines of life and let somebody else practice genuinely serving and savoring God, they might want to take their own “spiritual temperature” and be certain of the place of their coming eternal address.
You see, both then and today there is much deception out there regarding sin, the antichrist, and in a person sincerely serving God. The antichrist has corrupted unsuspecting hearts in this world full of lies, spiritual leisure, and lackadaisical attitudes far removed from the holiness and perfection of God. The Apostle Paul wrote back to this church to praise their adoration and service, to encourage their worthy walk, to comfort their hearts as they served in the midst of persecution and correct any lingering false doctrine among these believers.
Paul called for this congregation to praise God, be patient in trials, and to stand spiritually tall, and persevere as they waited for the imminent return of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul’s words are still speaking to us today for the day of Christ’s return has not yet come, though it undoubtedly will according to God’s timetable after the falling away and deception of many hearts by the god of this word and the antichrist. Knowing this, not only can these godly serving people escape Hell, but they can reach hearts naturally designated to reside in Hell forever and instead be counted worthy for dwelling with God in Heaven. You see, children of God have vital spiritual work to do as they wait on the Lord’s return or their own physical death as they sojourn on this earth.
Just as the Apostle Paul was reaching out to believers in the ancient Thessalonian Church with the purpose of encouraging their walk with God, yet today God still uses this inspired writing penned of Paul to encourage you and me to walk worthy of God’s calling on our lives as we sojourn on this earth:
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (KJB) Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, undoubtedly the flaming fire of judgment will “rear its ugly face” to collect every lost soul choosing not to identify with the nature and spiritual character of God as he or she dwells on this earth. Every lost soul will reside forever in the fires of Hell. God’s judgment will reign at some point according to God’s timetable after Jesus Christ removes His saints to reside in sweet fellowship with Him in eternity forevermore.
The Apostle Paul ends this second letter to the Thessalonian Church, written from Greece, with a heartfelt prayer directed towards encouraging and strengthening these believers serving God as they sojourn in this wicked world. We, too, can find encouragement from Paul’s inspired words and prayer to God today.
The Apostle Paul invoked prayer with God through His Son Jesus Christ to establish and encourage the work of these Thessalonian saints to solidify and stabilize their ministry and set them aside from following the ways of this wicked world by being grounded in the foundations of His Word (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). This heartfelt prayer was collectively offered for members of God’s church and can be applied to every child of God at work with love among brethren steadfastly ministering to lost and disorderly hearts showing the grace and mercy of God despite untoward circumstances or oppression from the enemy always lurking about in this world.
**In the next devotion in this series Up Close and Personal with the Apostle Paul titled Sound Doctrinal Ministry as we look at the first book penned by the Apostle Paul with instruction for his young friend and brother in Christ Timothy. Paul eloquently passes the spiritual torch with the gospel message for enlightening hearts in the next generation of believers.