First Thessalonians 008 – Examples of Suffering (Part 1)1 Thessalonians 2:13 • Dr. Andy Woods • December 4, 2022 • First Thessalonians
First Thessalonians 008
Examples of Suffering, Part 1
1 Thessalonians 2:13
December 4, 2022
Dr. Andy Woods
Full year. We just praise you for Your faithfulness to us over the course of the last year. And we look forward to Your faithfulness in the next year should You decide to, tarry. We do pray, Lord, for the illuminating Ministry of the Spirit whereby we might understand the deep things of God. And we understand that part of receiving that ministry is preparation in our own hearts. And so we’re going to just take a few moments of silence to come before you individually and prepare ourselves so that we can receive eternal things today. We do pray, Lord, that You would be with everything that’s happening at Sugar Land Bible Church today at the Lord’s table. The fellowship meal, our two lessons this morning. Things going on with the Youth group, Children’s Ministry. Everything that’s happening here, Lord, we just ask that You would be in the midst of it. And we do ask that people would leave here changed today; either understanding, correction, encouragement, a relationship, whatever. We just ask that You have Your way today at Sugar Land Bible Church. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, God’s people said, Amen. Well, very good. If you could open your Bibles this morning to the book of First Thessalonians Chapter 2. That will give me a second to get open the right lesson since I have Genesis opened here. That comes later.
First Thessalonians chapter 2. And let’s start there with verse 13. As you know, we’re continuing on our verse-by-verse teaching in Sunday school with the Book of First Thessalonians. And you remember in our first lesson together, I think we’re on lesson number eight. But who’s counting, Right? We laid the foundation of the book and tried to make the point that one of the things that Paul is doing in the first three chapters is he’s kind of reaching backward into his relationship with the Thessalonians, his planting of the church at Thessalonica. And he’s sort of, for lack of a better expression, he’s sort of rehabilitating his torn-down reputation. Because what had happened is Paul, as we have studied, was forced out of Thessalonica by the unbelieving Jews, and that drove Paul into Corinth. And they drove him out of there basically because of jealousy. He was very effective amongst the Gentiles in Thessalonica and that- nothing will upset the religious world more than an effective church. Amen. And so when he was driven into Corinth, basically the same crowd that drove him out of Thessalonica stirred up a bunch of false rumors and accusations against him, basically trying to discredit him so that his audience that he had won to Christ through God’s power in Thessalonica wouldn’t listen to him anymore. So in Corinth, he’s receiving word that the Thessalonians church needs greater understanding and greater correction on a couple of things. And it’s not the kind of situation where, you know, he could just say, go home and read your Bible because there was no Bible.
This is one of Paul’s earliest books. There was an Old Testament, but the New Testament was just being developed at this point. So if they’re going to get correction and understanding, they’ve got to get it from the lips of the Apostle himself. And he’s going to give them that correction and understanding in chapters 4 and 5. But you can’t really do that when your reputation has been torn down and dragged through the mud. So he has to rehabilitate his reputation, which I think is what’s happening in chapters 1 through 3. And once that goal is accomplished, then he’s in a position to respond to them by way of correction. So we’re in that section, chapters 1 through 3, where it’s dealing with personal experience, looking backward. Don’t you- don’t you remember that when I was with you this happened and that happened? And I was this way and I was that way. So therefore, all of these rumors that have been trumped up against me are false. So I think what’s happening in chapter 1 is he’s defending the genuineness of their conversion. Because I think the unbelieving Jews told the Thessalonians that, your conversion to Christianity is not real. Christianity is not real. All you did was hear a pep talk from somebody. Someone gave you a motivational speech.
You know, nothing to see here, folks. Move right along. Go back to business as usual. And so I think what’s happening in chapter 1, and there’s ten verses there where he’s explaining to them that what happened to them by way of conversion was very real. And the things that are happening in your life now are inexplicable. Absent the minister, absent the supernatural Ministry of the Holy Spirit. Then in chapter 2 verses 1 through 16, he gets into the subject of- or defending himself against the accusation of the impurity of his motives. And his objectors basically, I think we’re saying things like, you know, Paul’s just in it for himself. He’s just in it for the money. He’s in it for fame. He’s in it for popularity. Why would you listen to a guy like that? So what he does in chapter 2 verses 1 through 16 is he defends his message, his motives, and his method. And the last time we were together, we were in chapter 2:12, where he was defending his method. His method is pure. His motives are pure. His message is pure. And I wanted to call to your attention one other fast thing in verse 12 before we move on to verses 13 through 16 this morning. And that has to do with this reference to the Kingdom. Paul here in verse 12 of chapter 2 explains his goal when he was with the Thessalonians Christians. “So that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”
So what Paul was trying to do when he was with the Thessalonians is he was trying to create in them, by God’s power, of course, a walk that’s worthy of their destiny. What is their destiny? Their destiny is the kingdom. Their destiny is basileia, which is the Greek word for kingdom. It’s that stone cut without human hands that we read about in Daniel two that will strike the feet, which I think at that time will be the anti-Christ’s ten-king confederacy, and it will instantaneously destroy that confederation. And then the stone cut without human hands will grow and grow and grow till it fills the earth. And what he’s explaining to the Thessalonians is that’s your destiny. You’re going to be reigning citizens in this coming kingdom. So you’ll notice what I’m doing here with Kingdom is I’m putting the Kingdom completely and totally in the future. And most Bible interpreters don’t do that. They make it sound as if we are in the kingdom now. The reason I’m putting the kingdom in the future is because whatever you’re doing with Kingdom, basileia, you also have to deal with this word glory. Because the two are mentioned back to back. The Greek word for glory is doxa. And the two, when you study this in Greek, are linked together in what is called the Granville Sharp Rule.
Who was Granville Sharp? Granville Sharp was a very interesting guy. He was an abolitionist. He worked alongside William Wilberforce to abolish the slave trade from Parliament. And using Wilberforce’s position in Parliament to speak over and over again against the slave trade in Europe at that time- Granville Sharp when you study his history, he worked right alongside Wilberforce. And Granville Sharp was also a Greek scholar. And Granville Sharp came up with something called the Granville Sharp Rule. And every first-year Greek student knows this rule. And the rule is basically when you have two nouns that are basically the same parsing, but you have these same two nouns and they’re joined by a conjunction. Here you see the conjunction, Kai, which is translated “and”, which separate those two nouns. The first noun is kingdom and the second noun is glory. And the Granville Sharp rule says when the definite article is placed in front of the first noun with no other subsequent definite article in other words, when the definite article like “the” is governing those two nouns joined by a conjunction then those two nouns are equal. They’re talking about the same concept. And so it’s interesting that you can use the Granville Sharp Rule to defend a lot of important things in the Bible like the deity of Christ. Because I think it’s in Titus 2:13, if I remember right, where Jesus is called our Savior and Lord.
And because the Granville Sharp rule is in play there, is Jesus our Savior or is He our Lord? And the answer is yes, He’s both. And so you can use that to sort of defend the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. So that’s sort of the value of the Granville Sharp rule. And I think what you have here is the Granville Sharp rule is in play because you have one definite article, you have two nouns joined by a conjunction “and” which makes the two nouns equal. Which means Paul is correlating the kingdom with glory. And that becomes a big deal because glory, doxa, is yet future for us. We are not yet glorified. Amen. Because I’m looking at it, you guys, you don’t look very glorified. I don’t think I look very glorified either. But that’s our inheritance. As Christians, we’re headed to future glory. It’s the third tense of our salvation. We’ve already been justified. We’re now in the sanctification process where hopefully we’re growing in Christ. But there’s going to arrive a future time in which we will be freed from Sin’s very presence called glorification, yet future. So, glorious future. And you’ll notice that Paul connects the kingdom, the basileia, with the future glory. And the reason you can draw that connection is because of the Granville Sharp Rule. In other words, whatever you’re doing with Kingdom, you have to do with glory. Whatever you’re doing with glory, you have to do with kingdom.
And this then becomes the logic or one of the pieces of logic for arguing that we’re not currently in the kingdom. The kingdom is yet future because according to the Granville Sharp Rule, it’s connected to glory. E.R. Craven, I gave you this quote last time on first Thessalonians 2:12 says “The preposition in the Greek is εἰς. But since believers on earth are not yet in glory, the whole expression is manifestly proleptical.” And then he mentions the English version gives the translation unto. So the reason I put up these scholars from the past is just to show you that I’m not making things up. They took it, or at least E.R. Craven did the same way as the word glory and put kingdom completely and totally in the future. So what we believe is that we are in the church age- that’s that green area there with a parenthesis around it- which will be completed via the rapture. And then what will happen is the seven-year tribulation period during which time the nation of Israel, that’s currently in unbelief, will come to faith, triggering Christ’s return to planet Earth. Not in the rapture. That’s already happened, but in the second advent of Jesus. And once he does that, he will launch his 1000-year kingdom. So according to this structure that we keep teaching from, the kingdom is totally future. And that is consistent with the Granville Sharp Rule and its connection of the Kingdom with future glory.
So when Paul says walk in a manner worthy of the kingdom, he’s saying, this is your inheritance as a child of God, you will enter the kingdom. The kingdom is yet future, but you should walk as a citizen of the coming kingdom. You shouldn’t walk according to the value system of this world because you belong to a higher order that’s on the horizon. Why? Why make an issue out of this? Because countless evangelicals today are teaching that we are now in the kingdom. You know, they have conferences called Kingdom Builders Conferences, and people in their ministry marquees throw this word kingdom around constantly. That we’re building the kingdom, we’re bringing in the kingdom, all of these kinds of things, and nothing could be further from the truth. All you have to do is look at the newspaper to see that we’re not in the kingdom. And they will pounce on a verse like this and first Thessalonians 2:12 and try to make it look like we’re in the kingdom. But you can’t do that because the Granville Sharp Rule connects kingdom with future glory, which is yet future. So why would Paul talk about the future kingdom in a context where he’s telling the Thessalonians how to live? The answer is your view of the future shapes your value system in the present. And I gave you this quote last time.
It’s in Second Peter 3:10. It says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” So that’s obviously a futuristic verse, right? I mean, global warming advocates can say whatever they want, but this verse isn’t happening right now. But what people do is they read verse 10 and they leave off verse 11. Verse 11 says, “Since all these things will be destroyed in this way,” eschatalogically future, “what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” So if you understand God’s end-time program that everything is going to burn, you start to say to yourself, Well, you know, the Titanic’s going down. Why am I so living for the value system of the world when the whole thing is going to be burned up? Maybe it’d be better if I invested my life into things that are going to stand the test of time. That’s what eschatology, a knowledge of the future does for the present. And that’s all Paul is doing in First Thessalonians 2:12. He’s basically saying, since you’re a citizen of the coming kingdom which will operate by a completely different value system than the world system of today you ought to act accordingly according to your citizenship. So we’re not here on the earth for regime change.
That’s why we’re called ambassadors. Second Corinthians five, verse 20 calls us ambassadors. If I’m America’s ambassador to Iran, I’m not in Iran for regime change. I’m in Iran to represent American values on Iranian soil. So we are living in the devil’s world. And that will not change until Jesus touches down on planet Earth and starts His kingdom. And the first order of business will be to take Satan and bind him in a place called the Abyss for 1000 years. And once that happens, the whole world is going to operate by a different value system. So since that’s my inheritance, I need to walk worthy of that ID and I need to represent kingdom values on the devil’s soil. This is what bothers me about all of these churches teaching social justice and all of these kinds of issues where there- you listen to them talk and they basically sound like they’re bringing in regime change now. That’s not our job. I mean, we’re a preservative influence while we’re here, but we’re not- if you’re trying to recruit me into bringing in some kind of kingdom you can just count me out immediately. Because I believe what the Bible says is Jesus will bring in His own kingdom. And only He can do it. Now, if you’re going to recruit me to say, okay, well, maybe we should live according to our citizenship of the coming kingdom, then sign me up for that.
So I bring this up because a lot of people are confused on this. And a little bit of knowledge of Greek, like the Granville Sharp Rule kind of rescues you from some of that. So that’s what Paul has done in the first 12 verses of Chapter 2. He’s defended his message, his motives, and his ministry method. And in that section, the last thing he said was, walk worthy of the coming kingdom. So with all of that being said, we now come to chapter 2 verses 13 through 16, where he seems to go backwards and sort of rehearse what he was talking about a little bit in chapter 1 where he is defending, a little bit, at least in these verses, the genuineness of the Thessalonian’s conversion. And it looks to me like he’s doing that in verses 13 through 16, and he’ll keep doing that until verse 16, and then he’ll switch subjects in chapter 2 verse 17 through the end of chapter 3, where he will defend himself against the false accusation that, Paul, you just don’t care. You don’t care about people. You don’t care about the Thessalonians. That’s why you left Thessalonica. So before he gets into that, there’s kind of a brief parenthesis, I guess, if you will, where he’s going back into the content of chapter 1, and he’s defending once again the genuineness of their conversion. And this is where he talks about their changed lives.
So notice, if you will, chapter 2 verse 13. He says, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” So of course your conversion was true because your life was changed. I mean, it’s hard to argue with the evidence of a changed life. I remember when my cousin in the early 1980s was having all kinds of problems with, you know, rebellion against his parents, rebelling against the public school. He was in a lot of problems with alcohol and drugs. And his uncle- no his father, my uncle who was a believer had him checked in at a place called Teen Challenge- I don’t know if anybody’s heard of that- which deals with Christians. A Christian outreach trying to reach troubled youths. My cousin came out of that ministry, a completely different person. I mean, he talked differently. All of this experimentation that he was doing with rebellion and abuse of substances, all of that was gone. And he would talk about Jesus. And it was sort of hard to argue with what he was saying because look at his life. My goodness. How do you explain that? You know, other than the Ministry of the Holy Spirit, which has the ability to come into a person’s life and totally change a person around.
So this is the kind of thing that Paul is dealing with here. I mean, of course, your conversion is real. Look at your changed life. And if you look at the beginning of verse 13. He says, it’s for this reason that we constantly thank God. I mean, Paul says, even though I’ve been driven away from you and I am in Corinth, I’m constantly thanking God for you because of your changed life. Paul didn’t, thank God periodically. He was constantly thanking Him. Which is a good thing to think about when you think about it. Not far removed from Thanksgiving where we paused and thanked God for all of our blessings. Thanksgiving should probably be every day when you think about it, because there’s so much we have to be thankful for. Spiritually and materially. So why was Paul thanking God for them? It says in verse 13, “that when you received the word.” What does it mean to receive the word? Well, if you look at the end of verse 13, you’ll see the word believe. So receive and believe are synonyms. Sometimes we use the nomenclature, so-and-so received Christ, and that’s appropriate to use that. But really what it means is they believed, meaning they trusted in the work of the Savior for their salvation. You see John the Apostle using the two as synonyms in John 1:12, Gospel of John.
He writes, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” So when you got saved, did you believe in Christ or did you receive Christ? And the answer would be yes, because the two are synonyms. Meaning different word, same meaning. So we don’t really teach two steps to Jesus. The Texas two-step right? Two steps to Jesus: first, you got to receive. Then you got to believe. Well, no, the two are one in the same. There’s one step to Jesus which is to trust in what He’s done for you. And the Bible says that when you do that, you have automatically received Him. But how did the Thessalonians even become aware of their need to receive Christ? He says, “that when you received the word of God.” One of the very, very important things to understand is it’s the word of God that creates within people an awareness that they need to receive Christ or believe in Christ. You cannot get there through sophistry, philosophy, gimmickry. You can’t even get there through so-called Christian apologetics. I’m not against Christian apologetics. I think it has its place. But ultimately it is not some sort of apologetic argument that leads a person to Christ. Certainly, apologetics might be used by God to remove a doubt somebody has so that they can be in a position to trust Christ.
But it is the proclamation of God’s Word that leads to salvation. A few cross-references on that, if I can give those to you. Romans 10:17. “So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” Paul writing to Timothy in Second Timothy 3:15 says, “And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings.” So, Timothy, you had a mother and a grandmother that really loved you. And I can tell they loved you because they poured God’s word into your life at the point of infancy. It says, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings.” In other words, the Bible. In this case, I think it’s talking about the Old Testament. Because the New Testament was just being compiled and completed at the time this was written. “And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” It’s the Bible or the Scripture that makes people aware of their need to trust Christ. James 1:18. It says, “In the exercise of His will He gave us birth by the word of truth.” Scripture, in other words. “So that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” First Peter 1:23 says, “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that which is through the living and enduring word of God.” So notice the connection in all of these verses between salvation, regeneration, being born again, and the Scripture. And of course, I’m reminded of that story. I think it’s- I don’t like to call it a story because I think it’s a historical account- of the rich man, you remember, that died and went into Hades. A place of torment. And he wanted Abraham or he wanted Lazarus to go back. Because I’ve got five brothers and they’re on the same path I was on that ended me up here in Hades. The same pattern of unbelief. Just- Just bring back someone from the dead to talk to them. And they’ll change their minds. They’ll trust Christ as Savior and they won’t end up in this terrible place that I’m in. So it says in Luke 16:27, he said, “‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house- for I have five brothers- in order that he may warn them, so that they will not come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said,” and it’s very instructive what Abraham says here to this request. “Abraham said-” And by the way, there’s a lot of people that want to turn this into a parable. And I understand why they want to turn this into a parable. Because it’s frightening what’s spoken of here. But I’m here to tell you that this doesn’t fit the language of a parable.
Because when Jesus talks in parables, He says, learn the parable of such-and-such. He doesn’t do that here. And Jesus, when He gives parables, doesn’t give personal names. And as you study this, at the end of Luke 16, you’ll see three personal names. A. Lazarus, B. Abraham, C. Moses. In other words, this doesn’t fit the characteristics of a parable. He said, “‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house- for I have five brothers- in order that he may warn them, so that they will not come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets.” In other words, the Word of God. “‘Let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'” In other words, if you reject the scripture, which is the means that God uses to awaken people to their need to trust Christ. And it doesn’t just awaken that need, but it gives you the answer to your predicament, which is salvation in Christ. If a person won’t listen to that it doesn’t matter how many miracles they see. It doesn’t matter how many communications they have with a dead person that comes back.
It’s all irrelevant because this is the primary tool that God uses. And if you reject this, then there’s really no hope for you at all. There’s always hope until you die. But going to one’s grave, looking at the scripture, rejecting, rejecting, rejecting, rejecting, listening to Bible teaching, rejecting, rejecting, rejecting, rejecting. There’s not a lot that can be done for that kind of person because they’re rejecting the tool that God uses to awaken people to their need to trust Christ for salvation. And they’re rejecting the tool that God uses to lead people into and unto salvation. You know, when I got saved, this would go back to about 1983. And I can remember it as if it was yesterday. I was about 16 years old. It was not a philosophical presentation that somehow magically erased all of my doubts about things. It was the Bible study teacher showing me John 3:3-5. And you know the passage, it says, “Lest a man is born again he cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God.” And it was the kind of situation where he said, I want to show you this in the Bible. And I’m looking at the Bible passage. He’s reading it. That presentation did more for me than any other single thing I could ever think of in terms of bringing me to Christ. Because I saw that and I said, I don’t even know what that means, what this all means, being born again.
But I knew that whatever it was, I didn’t have it. And that created an openness to my reception of the gospel. It wasn’t through scholarship, academia, the gift of gab. It wasn’t through lowering the lights in the auditorium and someone getting out some dry ice, playing something emotional. I mean, it wasn’t anything like that. It was just the naked word of God. And that’s what Paul is explaining here in verse 13, how these people got saved. Because you accepted the word. You accepted the word of God. And he goes on and he says, “the word which you have heard from us, you accepted it.” Now, that’s a tremendous verse there on bibliology. The doctrine of the Bible. Because you can find a lot of verses in the New Testament telling you that the Old Testament is God’s Word. But you don’t have a lot of verses in the New Testament telling you that. The New Testament, that was just being formulated at the time, is also God’s word. On equal par with the Old Testament. And Paul, very clearly here does the latter. Because he says, I gave you the word of God. I gave it to you. “It was not the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God.” In other words, when I spoke as an apostle, I was giving you scripture that’s just as inspired as Old Testament.
So you probably know Second Peter 1:19-21. It says, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own private interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God.” Now most would understand that as Peter making a statement about the Old Testament. The writers of the Old Testament were carried along by the Holy Spirit much like wind fills up sails in a sailboat and propels the boat. In fact, when Peter says they were moved by the Holy Spirit. The same Greek word pherō is used to describe the propulsion of a boat in the Book of Acts. A sailboat. So Peter here is making a statement about the God-breathed nature of the Old Testament. I think Paul is doing the same thing here in second Timothy 3:16 and 17, where he says “All Scripture is inspired by God.” That’s a compound word. Two words making up one word, God-breathed. I think that’s what you call a hapax legomenon. Meaning a word spoken only once. I think you find that word only here in the Greek New Testament.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training and righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequately equipped for every good work.” And most, I think, would interpret that as Paul to Timothy is making a statement about the Scripture, the Old Testament, because the New Testament was just coming into existence. So what I’m trying to get at is it’s easy to find passages in the New Testament that tell you that the Old Testament is inspired. It’s a little harder to find passages in the New Testament that tell you that the New Testament is just as inspired as the Old Testament. One such passage is in Second Peter 3:15 and 16. Where Peter says. “And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul.” So here Peter is commenting on a New Testament writer, Paul. He’s not commenting on an Old Testament writer. He says, “regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters.” And what Peter is doing there, is he’s saying the Old Testament is inspired by God. But the things that Paul saying, they’re just as inspired by God as the Old Testament. So you have these very rare instances, and this relates to bibliology, the doctrine of Scripture, where you have some rare instances where the New Testament says, Hey, the New Testament is just as inspired as the Old Testament.
Those are a little bit harder to find, but you’ve got one of them right there in verse 13. Because Paul, as he’s talking about the word that he gave to the Thessalonians, says “not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God.” Paul says, as an apostle, when I spoke to you the truth, God was speaking through me. And what God said through me was just as inspired as anything you’ll find in the Old Testament. And then you look at the end of verse 13. He says, “for which also,” concerning the word of God, “performs its work in you who believe.” So the Scripture doesn’t just lead the unsaved person to Christ. The scripture- It’s like being born. A brand new baby, a brand new infant is born. You don’t bring the child home from the hospital and put him or her in the living room on the floor and say, help yourself to a ham sandwich when you’re hungry. I mean, that’s parental neglect. And so, unfortunately, we treat a lot of new Christians that way. And we don’t help them understand that the same word of God that brought them to faith is the exact same word of God that they’re to grow thereby. Some have called this the work of the Word. You see a tremendous passage on the work of the Word both in the unsaved and then the saved.
In a passage I’ve alluded to a few times already. Second Timothy 3:15 through 4:2, where Paul says, “And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” That’s the work of the Word and the unsaved. And then Paul says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching.” That’s for the saved. “For rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness.” That’s for the saved. “So that the man,” or we could say our woman. “So that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.” Those are ministries that the Word of God does in the saved. And once you understand this, it should shape your philosophy of ministry. I mean, why in the world are you guys at Sugar Land Bible Church devoting two-plus hours on a Sunday morning to Bible study? In fact, more than two plus hours. Amen to that. And different lessons. I mean, why don’t you just do it the easy way? Why don’t you just have a canned one for the first hour? A canned one for the second hour, and you could even shorten those up. You could have all kinds of theater and skits. And you know, we’re doing a new building project here, and maybe we could put one of those wires that goes across the sanctuary from front to back, like at Disneyland, where Tinkerbell kind of goes down Main Street.
And we could put one up for the pastor. It better be a strong wire, by the way. And just think of all of the people that would come to church to watch that kind of thing. You could have smoke, you could have a light show you could have all this stuff. The truth of the matter is, those things, although they’re very entertaining, they don’t produce what God is trying to produce, which is what? A. Salvations and B. Spiritual growth. If you’re in an environment that is not teaching the Bible chapter by chapter, verse-by-verse, book by book, systematically, you are in an environment where salvations can’t happen. And you’re also in an environment where people cannot grow in their newfound faith in Jesus. You’re in an environment where the work of the word can’t transpire. So once you grab hold of bibliology the promises that God makes in His word. One of the promises He makes is- it’s in Isaiah 55. He says that when I send it forth, it will always accomplish the purpose for which I sent it. It will not return void. Now there’s something you have to hold on to as a teacher. Because you can’t always see the results, because those are God’s results and they’re, to the human eye, invisible.
And sometimes, as preachers, very sadly, we can send out God’s Word for our own purposes. Hey, I’m going to preach on this verse because brother so-and-so has a problem in that area, and I’m going to sock it to him right between the eyes and I’m going to straighten him or her out on this subject. And the problem is, well, you just sent out the word for your purpose. And so the promise doesn’t apply. The promise is it goes out and accomplishes God’s purpose. The truth of the matter is there’s all kinds of things going on in your lives, all kinds of needs that you have that I can’t even see. Most of the time, I don’t even know most of them. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t need to know them because God knows them. And you have to stand on the promise of Bibliology. That God, when you teach His word, will send it forth for the reasons He sends it and it will minister to people in ways that you could never calculate or plot out from a human perspective. The work of the Word. Bibliology. A high view of the doctrine of Scripture. And once you grab hold of that, that shapes your ecclesiology, which is the doctrine of the church. What are we supposed to be doing in church? Well, one of the main functions of a church is to preach and teach the Bible to God’s people so that they can grow their body.
So that’s why our services are oriented towards a teaching of the word of God. This is exactly what Timothy is being told here by Paul after he mentions the work of the Word. Bibliology. Now, he gives him a lesson on ecclesiology, because Timothy at this time was the pastor at the church at Ephesus. So after explaining all of these things that the Bible will do when taught, he says, “I solemnly exhort you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing kingdom.” It kind of sounds like Paul is serious about this charge. “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” In other words, do it when it’s in vogue and do it when it’s not in vogue. “correct, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction.” So correction, rebuking, exhorting and instruction. This is part of the Ministry of the Word. This is part of the work of the Word. Do it “in season and out of season” because he goes on and he starts to explain, “For the time will come.” Can I be so bold as to add something to that? “the time will now come,” parenthetical insert: “and now is.” End of parenthetical insult- insert. It is an insult too. “In which men will not tolerate sound teaching.” But we’ll gather around themselves, many teachers, to tell them what their itching ears want to hear.
So that time is coming. And even though there’s coming a time in church history where the Bible will lose its popularity, even within the church, as a faithful minister, you have to stand your ground and keep teaching it anyway. So this is how bibliology of informs ecclesiology. How do you guys do things like you do at Sugar Land Bible Church? Which is an ecclesiological question. Well, we can answer that by going into bibliology. That the New Testament and Old Testament are equally inspired. And God will use those books, not human sophistry to A. Produce salvations in people, and B. To help that new child of God grow in the things of God. And so if that’s what you’re into, then Sugar Land Bible Church is a great place for you. If that’s not what you’re into, there’s a lot of other places to go to that will offer you something else. Because they are much better marketers than we are. A marketer- and I used to teach- one of my majors in college was business. And I used to teach marketing at the community college level in Southern California. Marketing is all about figuring out the audience’s needs, wants, and desires done primarily through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Perceive needs that people have. And then coming up with a marketing mix that appeals to one or more of those levels of need.
And if you can do that successfully, you are a successful marketer. The problem is it’s very poor bibliology and it’s very poor ecclesiology and it has almost nothing to do with the priorities of God. God is all about salvations and growth that do not fit nicely or neatly into Maslow’s pyramid or hierarchy of needs. So that’s why Paul says, Of course, your salvation was real. You heard the Word of God, and it came from us. It came from me, an apostle. And then he says at the end of verse 13, “which also performs its work in those who believe.” And there believe I’m understanding as a synonym for receive. This is why Paul in First Timothy 4:13 to Timothy. Now we’re into ecclesiology. Doctrine of the church. Instructing a pastor. And three epistles in your Bible are written to pastors. First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus. If you want to understand what is supposed to happen in the life of the church, read those three books. And it’s very common to go into a so-called Christian bookstore and read all these books about how to govern a church, how to manage a church, and they will hardly reference those three epistles. Now, why is that? Because they’re coming from a business angle. An angle I understand, because I used to teach business theory. But they’re not coming from an ecclesiological, God-ordained angle. So given the work of the word, Paul says to Timothy, “Until I come, give your attention to the public reading, to exhortation, and teaching.
That’s your primary ministry in the church. Yeah, but pastor, aren’t there other ministries in the church? Of course, there are. Thank God for all of them. But they are ancillary ministries. They are ministries that are to come alongside what currently exists at the pulpit concerning the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. If those ministries start to take on a level of priority that eclipses the Word of God, then you’ve got the tail wagging the dog. And you’re outside of God’s divine ordering. I like this quote from Dan Wallace, Greek scholar. He’s just making a comment here about second Timothy. He says, “By my count, there are twenty-seven explicit commands given in the body of this letter. In 27 words, Paul tells pastors what to focus on.” Because this is one of our pastoral letters. He says, “you have to be blind to miss the thrust of Paul’s instructions here, because 18 of those commands- fully two thirds- have to do with the ministry of the Word.” You will discover in the Book of Acts- we’re studying the Book of Acts, Wednesday evenings. I think we’re getting ready for, this coming Wednesday, our last study for the fall quarter. We’re currently in Acts one. So if you’re wanting to get on board with a verse-by-verse Bible study through an important book of the Bible, we would invite you Wednesday nights either in person or online, to follow us on that study.
But when we get to Acts 2. You have a description there of the first church meeting. You have 3000 conversions. Why do you have 3000 conversions? Because Peter got up and he spoke, by my count, three or four scriptures. Joel 2, Psalm 16, Psalm 110. Applied them beautifully. And there might be another one in there that I’m neglecting. But you read what Peter says in Acts two and it’s pure scripture. And when you preach pure scripture in a way that people can understand it, the Word of God goes forth and accomplishes the reason for which it was sent and 3000 people are saved. Think about that. And then what do you do with 3000 people? They have a meeting, they have a church meeting. They have an assembly gathering. They’re meeting in the temple, a big group. They’re meeting house to house, small groups. And you’ll see a description of it in Acts 2:41-47, and they were involved in seven things. You can see these seven things here. One of them we’re going to practice a little bit later, the ordinance of communion. But when you study that list, you see the very first thing they gave themselves to. Priority number one. It says they actually devoted themselves to this. And what was that? It was apostolic doctrine.
But why were they devoting themselves to apostolic doctrine? Because they had just repented or changed their minds. They heard Peter’s message. They understood that Israel was wrong in rejecting her king. They heard Peter’s message that Jesus can be your savior. Although Israel had rejected the offer of the kingdom. And they changed their minds and repented. In other words, they said National Israel is wrong. Peter and the Apostles are right. And they placed their faith in Jesus for salvation. Now, what do you do with 3000 people that just changed their minds? You have to teach them the new way of life. These people were all from surrounding areas there on the day of Pentecost. Ah, just go home and read your Bible. You don’t have a Bible yet. So you have to get the new truth from the Apostles. There’s no New Testament yet. There’s only Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. And they have to stay in town long enough to hear apostolic truth. Because now that they’ve been saved, they need to grow. And this created an economic problem. Because they came from faraway places as Jews to celebrate on the day of Pentecost. And they only had resources for, let’s say, a weekend kind of trip. They couldn’t go home and read their Bibles. They had to stick around to learn from the apostles. And so now we’ve got a financial problem. And so those that own property in Jerusalem liquidated their assets to help the out-of-towners stick around.
Why would they want to stick around? Because they just repented. And they need to learn the new truth. And that’s why it says there in Acts 2:42, they, first church meeting, were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching. Now they devoted themselves to other things also. Fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, evangelism, benevolence, fellowship. But the very first thing they gave themselves to was the Doctrine of the Apostles. Why is that? Because if you understand the doctrine of the Apostles, you’ll understand how to do everything else on the list. That’s why Bible teaching, preaching has to come first. Because if you don’t have that first you don’t really understand as a Christian how to do anything else. I’m not saying these other things are unimportant. What I’m saying is that there’s an order in God. First comes the Bible to teach you how to live the Christian life. Then comes living out the Christian life as a responsible member of God’s church. So Paul’s point is you changed. So obviously your salvation must be authentic. And I foolishly thought I was going to get through verse 16 today. So we made it through a verse. Amen. Let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for Your truth, Your word. Help us to keep, in these last days, Your priorities. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, God’s people said,