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30 November 2020 – 1 Thessalonians 2:9–16

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! – 1 Thessalonians 2:9–16 (ESV)

Gary Shogren writes:

Paul knew that the eternal gospel would have no effect in Thessalonica if God did not open a successful entrance of the Word (1:9; 2:1), working through His [servants] in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is why they paid such close attention to their attitudes and actions.

The church of Ephesus was later to experience a failure along these lines. Paul predicted that people would be greedy for their own gain (Acts 20:25-35). Perhaps six years after his talk to the elders at Miletus, he wrote to Timothy in Ephesus that church officers must not be lovers of money or proud. Later the Didache would have to devote three chapters to detailed instructions on how to spot a false teacher; one bad sign was if a “prophet” asked for money.

Paul thanks God because the Thessalonians received their message as the Word of God. In so doing, he communicates one of the major assumptions about evangelism. If it has success, then this must have been the work of God; why else would he be thanking God? That is, behind the apostles’ success was that they prayer. In fact, later on he tells the Thessalonians: “Pray for us, brothers and sisters, that the word of the LORD might run well and be glorified by its hearers” (2 Thess 3:1). The successful sharing of the Word is prayerful sharing.

Paul did not go around giving seminars in which he promoted “Proven Methods for Successful Evangelism” or “The Seven Irrefutable Principles of Preaching.” The heart of the matter is that neither strategy nor methodology will have success in bringing down the power of God from heaven.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 106
Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.