Friday, October 7, 2011

The Gospel Life

The Key Verse in our passage (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8) is verse 4:


...but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
(1 Thessalonians 2:4, ESV)
  

The first several verses in the passage alludes to what had happened in Philippi to Paul and his companions.  Apparently, they went to Thessalonica after they had been in Philippi.  We have to read Acts 16 and see what happened to Paul in Philippi to fully understand what he is talking about here.  He was "mistreated" in Philippi and he says to the church in Thessalonica that they had already heard about how he had been mistreated.  Even though Paul had been mistreated there, he writes in our passage that they had the boldness to declare to the Thessalonians the Gospel.

Paul was not discouraged by what had happened in Philippi. He was emboldened!  He didn't let the circumstances that transpired in Philippi discourage his mission.  A few things regarding observation:
  1. λαλέω is the Greek word for declare and it is used twice in our passage.  It is in verse 2 and verse 4.  Implications?
  2. The priority of the Gospel getting to all people was forefront for Paul and nothing was going to stand in the way.  He was a mission minded man who kept his eye of the job at hand.  What are the implications of this today for us who suffer?
  3. "...we speak to please not man but God who tests our hearts..."  It is clear that humankind does not "test" our hearts.  It is God who tests our hearts and knows our intentions.  What are the implications of a life that lives with this truth in mind?
Great passage.  There is lots happening here.  Until next time,

J

3 comments:

  1. The idea of Paul's reaction to suffering reminds me of Viktor Frankl, who survived the
    Nazi prison camp. He was not a Christian (Jewish), but he came to see
    suffering as something to be accomplished, a great test, a great challenge
    that life was asking of him---You might have read his *Man's Search for Meaning.* Copied from the Amazon website: "Our generation is realistic, for
    we have come to know man as he really is," Frankl writes. "After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also
    that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or
    the Shema Yisrael on his lips."

    My thought: those who persecuted Paul were like the evil doers at Auschwitz,
    and those triumphant ones were like Paul...seeing purpose and meaning in the suffering.

    Also, Joni Eareckson Tada comes to mind...and Paul Billheimer's *Destined
    for* *the Throne*. I get lost in Billheimer's reasoning sometimes, but I
    find his main point motivating: that our difficulties and sorrows
    *here*are training us for our lives
    *there* (heaven)---"your trials are not an accident; no suffering is purposeless; your eternal profit is in view," he says. Consistent with Paul
    in 2 Corin. 4:17-18.

    Thanks for asking for ideas....I get a little carried away! You do a super
    job. God bless!
    Mary Sue

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  2. I like that.

    There have been so many people who have overcome. Does anyone want to share any tangible ways that they use to help them overcome? Not necessarily spiritually, but it can be for anything. I know for me that when I was losing weight (70 lbs now), I kept reminding myself that I would rather be healthier than to have that bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup on it. I used note cards placed around my house (and even in the freezer next to the ice cream) to remind me of this. Anyone have anything that they have used to help them overcome and persevere in the midst of suffering?

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  3. John, on a slightly different train of thought but expanding upon what you are working on. What is this word "tests" that Paul uses? Is it positive or negative. This word in the Hebrew (nasa) is quite a challenge to define and so I would be interested to learn what is its full implications in the Greek. In Genesis 22 Abraham is "tested" by God with the sacrifice of his son Isaac. But the word "test" was not descriptive enough and I landed on "put to the proof," because I felt that God already had confidence in Abraham to "pass" the "test" and so he was really "proving" to Abraham that he had what it took. Invariably when God "tests" humanity God seems to be displaying his power and love for His people, however, when we "test" God or others it is usually for us to try to "gain" power. I wonder if this has any implications for Paul and his use of the word in Greek in this passage? Just some thoughts.

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