Read: Eph. 4:11-16.
Go to any bookstore or turn on any afternoon talk show and you will find the 'experts' giving us their advice on how to rear children. In the text we have just read we find God's plan for rearing His children. It is not His will that we remain children; He wants us to mature into adults. One characteristic of children is their naivety. They will believe just about anything. That is why it is so important that they be taught the truth! Paul makes application here to those who are spiritually immature children.
(Eph 4:14) "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"
Like a ship without an anchor, the spiritually immature drift aimlessly! They need to be established. In chapter three of 1 Thessalonians, Paul gives us three ways that he helped this young church to become established.
I. He Sent Them a Helper (1-5)
A. Note Paul's concern v 1
1. The "wherefore" refers back to 2:17-20
a. It was because of his love for them that he could not abandon them when they needed spiritual help
b. He chose to be left alone in Athens so that Timothy could return to Thessalonica and establish the saints
2. Paul was much more than a traveling evangelist - he had the heart of a Pastor
3. We need not be a Pastor to have that kind of concern for one another 4. That kind of love needs to exist between family members
B. Note Timothy's character v 2
1. He was equipped to "establish" the brethren
a. Ideally, every Christian should be mature enough to help other Christians grow in the Lord
b. Unfortunately, some Christians are like those in Hebrews 5:11-14
c. When they ought to be teachers, they need to be taught the basics again.
d. They have gone backward in their spiritual walk and have forgotten the basic truths of the Word
2. Timothy was a "minister
a. The word simply means 'a servant'
b. He had served with Paul faithfully in churches
c. There he developed two very important qualities; love and patience
3. He was a 'fellow-laborer'
a. That means he was a team man
b. He never tried to run the show himself
c. There is a vast difference between leadership and dictatorship
d. He was used to working with other people in the church
C. Note the church's conflicts v 3-5
1. The trials and testings that come to our lives as Christians are not accidents; they are appointments
a. We must expect to 'suffer for His sake'. Phil 1:29
b. Persecution isn't foreign, but it is a normal part of our lives
2. It is important that new believers realize that living for the Lord isn't easy
3. All too often young Christians have the mistaken idea that they will never face any problems since they have turned their lives over to Christ
4. As a result, when the trials do come many become discouraged and defeated feeling that God has forsaken them
5. Behind these persecutions is Satan, the enemy of the Christians
a. The cause of so many casualties in the Christian life is because the new recruits are not taught how to deal with their enemy
b. As a serpent, Satan deceives and as a lion, he devours
c. He will use any means-to attack the Christian and weaken his faith in God
6. Timothy's job was to establish their faith
a. It is faith in God that keeps our feet on the ground when the enemy attacks
b. Without faith in God we are defeated
(1 John 5:4) "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
II. He Sent Them a Helper and He Wrote Them a Letter (6-8)
A. Timothy's report
1. Good news!
a. He reported that they were standing firm in spite of persecution
b. Their faith and love, which had been taught to them by Paul, had not diminished
2. It brought comfort to Paul
a. No one enjoys hearing about a child who has fallen by the wayside
b. Especially if that child is yours!
c. Paul had been concerned Satan might gain a victory in their lives
(Prov 25:25) "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
3. Everyone enjoys a bit of good news, especially in the midst of "affliction and distress"
a. Paul expressed his joy in verse 8
b. This good news was like a breath of new life for him and his ministry
B. Paul's response
1. As a result of Timothy's good report, Paul wrote this epistle to the church at Thessalonica
2. One of the best tools for the establishing of new Christians in the faith is the Word of God
3. The Bible is able to establish us because it is inspired of God
(2 Tim 3:16) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
a. 'Doctrine' tells us what is right
b. 'Reproof' tells us what is not right
c. 'Correction' tells us how to get right
d. 'Instruction' tells us how to stay right
4. A working knowledge of the Bible is essential for spiritual growth and stability
a. God's Word is food to nourish,
b. A light to guide us, and
c. A weapon to defend us
5. One reason God established local churches is that believers might grow in the Word, and in turn, help others to grow
III. Paul Sent Them a Helper, Wrote Them a Letter, and He Prayed for Them (9-13)
A. He prayed that their faith might mature
1. Our faith never reaches perfection: there is always need for adjustment and growth
2. Faith is like a muscle; the more we exercise it, the stronger it gets
3. God tries our faith
a. Not to destroy it but to develop it
b. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted
4. Paul prayed that the suffering Christians in Thessalonica might grow in their faith
B. He prayed that their love might abound
1. Nothing reveals the true inner man like the furnace of affliction
a. Some people build walls in times of trials, and shut themselves off
b. Other build bridges and draw closer to the Lord and His people
c. This was Paul's prayer
2. Our growing faith ought to result in a growing love for others
a. True Christian love is not just shown to believers, but
b. Is 'toward all men' v 12 c. Love one another, but don't forget to love the lost and our enemies
C. He prayed that their lives might be holy
1. Once again we see that the return of Jesus Christ motivates the believers to live a holy life
2. Our Lord's return is also a source of stability
a. Where there is stability, there can be holiness
b. Where there is holiness, there is assurance
3. Notice that Paul's prayers were not occasional or careless
a. He prayed night and day
b. He prayed exceedingly
4. This should be our prayer for others
a. That their faith will mature
b. Their love will grow, and that
c. Their character and conduct will be holy and blameless before God
In this chapter we have a good example of what our relationship should be toward other believers