The Preciousness Of Our Growth In Sanctification (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10) by Bro Jezreel Madsa

Illustration:

I just recalled back when I was in Elementary student. We have a subject in  EPPwhere we get to plant okra seeds. Most of my classmates were first timer in planting it. We just followed certain directions given by our teacher on how to do it about soil preparation, we measure how many inches deep, and about the necessity of removing rocks and the weeds from the soil. So on and so forth.  

After regularly watering it and surrounded it with some fertilizer for over a week or two, I found out that the okra of my classmates were growing well and fine, while mine did not. 

TRANSITION: What seems to be the problem? While it is true that my effort and labor to plant it is indispensable to make it grow, but ultimately it’s God that makes the plant grow. We only plant and he gives the increase. I think the same is true with the church of Thessalonica.

 

Contextual Background:

We are quite familiar with how Paul and Silas planted the seed of the Gospel in the Thessalonian church. Right at the wake of his first missionary journey, when he reached an impasse (Acts 16:7-8) like he was providentially hindered to go to Bithynia and Mysia. When a vision suddenly came to Apostle Paul about a Macedonian call, (Acts 16:10) from Troas to  Samothrace and the next day to Neapolis, Philippi, until he reached Thessalonica. Remember his persecutions when he rebuked the spirit of that soothsayer woman which was the source of profit of the wicked people, he was brought to the magistrate, falsely accused to incorporate Jewish custom contradictory to Roman custom, the crowd attack the Apostle Paul (Acts 16:22). We see his humiliations, and sufferings, beaten with rods and inflicted with many blows, both feet were fastened and were thrown into inner prison.

To be a preacher of the Gospel was very costly to him. It costs him his time, strength, effort, his well-being, and even his life (1 Thessalonians 2:9)But with all of this, he did not see the growth of his ministry as owing to His own performance and labor. (1Thessalonians 1:2). The object of His thanksgiving is God. At the back of his mind, he knew that ultimately it is God alone preserves and nourishes the growth of everyone.


“How long Paul remained at Thessalonica on his 1st visit we cannot precisely determine; certainly we are not to regard his stay there as confined to three weeks, and Ramsay suggests that it probably extended from December, 50 AD, to May, 51 AD (St. Paul the Traveler, 228). 

He was thanking God that despite his absence, the Thessalonian church left without a shepherd, yet upheld by the grace of God and hence they continue to grow exponentially more than any other churches. Indeed Paul planted, but it was the Lord gave the increase.

True enough that God ordinarily nourishes his church by means of appointing elders, but he is showing to us that he can in some special case make it grow even in its absence. Ang Dios ang siyang magtataguyod. 

 Now that we have seen the backdrop against which Paul wrote this epistle.  At this point, we’re going to begin to unpack the passage and we are going to look at the Preciousness of the Believer’s Growth in Sanctification.

It is precious because 

I. God Designs it to be the Means of Joy, Comfort, and Glory to the Ministers/Christian Workers( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)

NOTE: Paul, Silvanus and Timothy thanked God frequently and constantly for them even with all the persecutions they went through to get the Gospel preached to them. 

• Just like a mother in pain for giving birth to a child but gets relief when the baby comes out, so does the ministers and the pastors.  (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2).

POINT : Suffering and hardship can be present in the ministry, yet the minister can find joy and ease in the tangible work of the Spirit in making the members grow in sanctification. 

Matthew Poole | “He saw in them an imminent seal of his apostleship, and effect of his ministry, and advantage to the gospel in their examples. And his thanks is to God, because the success of the gospel was more from His blessing than from his own ministry,”

-> When Paul saw the fruit of the work of the Spirit in their life, he was comforted, and he was thanking God. (1 Thessalonians 3:6-7). Their growth in the faith lingers in his thought and naging bukambibig niya po ito sa kanyang mga panalangin at pasasalamat.

And not just in some rare occasion, but FREQUENTLY mga kapatid he bore this in his mind in all his journey as a missionary and Apostle of Christ. (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

For the ministers your growth in sanctification is precious mga kapatid. Nothing ever makes them happier than to see their labor is yielding fruit of holiness manifested in our lives.It gives them confidence in the day of reckoning that God indeed used them for his ministry. ( 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 ). What was kept to their charge is so precious. The people whom Christ purchased with his own blood. Acts 20:28.

And equally, nothing ever saddens and breaks the heart of a minister than to see his flock going wayward and led astray to sin. Most especially when you invested time, effort, labor, prayer and etc.

Not only that, but it is also a means of encouragement sa kapwa believers  1 Thessalonians 1:7P

Your striving for growth in sanctification is precious mga kapatid not just because it benefits you but it also edifies and encourages others. It makes others see that you stay true to your church covenant. That you are not a stumbling block to the brethren, but an edification to them to build them up and walk in the same path as you do. We all should be pointers to glory.

CHALLENGE: Edify your Pastor, your deacons, your fellow covenant members through your sincere pursuit to grow in sanctification. 

It is precious because 

II. God Designs it to be a Means of our Individual Assurance that we are Truly Elected by God ( 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 )

Note: Paul is certain that the Thessalonians are elected by God

How did Silvanus, Timothy, and Paul know that the Thessalonians were elected or chosen by God from before the foundation of the world?

1.) They received the Gospel, not just in Word, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit creating full assurance and conviction in them about the truth. ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5) 

–> It’s possible for a person to receive the Gospel only in word— that is, only in concept, idea, and theology, but the real work of the Spirit in regeneration and sanctification is totally absent.

GOSPEL CALL: It’s quite possible for a person to receive the Gospel only in word or in concept yet still bereft of the Spirit’s work of regeneration and sanctification. A false christian could go on devoting much time loving the study of theology and could become well-versed with technical terminologies and stuff. . .all the while remains unconverted at the end of the day. 

The Gospel is not a piece of philosophical literature or novels you devour during your past time for purely intellectual purpose, rather it’s the truth about the person and work of Christ that transforms your entire Being. In a nutshell, Without sanctification, no genuine conversion.

-> But the Thessalonians were not so, their conversion was genuine 1 Thessalonians 2:13

POINT: Although we cannot know absolutely who really were the elect but we can draw confidence in the undeniable manifestation of the Spirit’s work in their lives.

-> Paul goes on to say that they imitate the Apostles and received the word in much affliction (1 Thessalonians 1:6)  (Acts 17:5-10). In our generation where our society takes what is good and successful life as being the total elimination of hardship, pain, suffering, and ease. But a good life— christian life— is to have perfect joy that far transcends over the swarming cloud of affliction. The gospel is associated with suffering and affliction. Just as the person of Christ suffered, so should those who are in union with Him. 

-> Their faith sounded forth into every region of Macedonia through evangelism (1 Thessalonians 1:8)

-> they renounced their idolatry (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

How do we grow and cultivate our assurance?

Challenge: Keep yourself in the community of the redeemed—the local church— and be nourished therein the ordinary means of our assurance—the sacraments.

The Thessalonian church is one of the proofs that God is faithful to his promise.

“It is impossible to overstress the importance of the arrival of Christianity in Thessalonica. If Christianity was settled there, it was bound to spread East along the Egnatian Road until all Asia [Minor] was conquered and West until it stormed even the city of Rome. The coming of Christianity to Thessalonica was crucial in the making of it into a world religion.” (William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. Rev. ed. [Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, 1975], 181) 

CONCLUSION: The short stay of the Apostle Paul in Thessalonica and the pagan culture around them did not hinder their growth in the faith. God is indeed faithful in Christ. Therefore, whom he justifies, he certainly sanctifies and upholds until Christ’s return.

“At Thessalonica, We are here in a Greek commercial city and a seaport, a “free city,” moreover, enjoying a certain amount of autonomy and its own constitution. Here we find a large number of resident Jews and a synagogue.” —ISBE

“It is impossible to overstress the importance of the arrival of Christianity in Thessalonica. If Christianity was settled there, it was bound to spread East along the Egnatian Road until all Asia [Minor] was conquered and West until it stormed even the city of Rome. The coming of Christianity to Thessalonica was crucial in the making of it into a world religion.” (William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. Rev. ed. [Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, 1975], 181) 

In summary, whom God elected, he will sanctify and make their faith grow by virtue sa union natin kay Christ.

 

Transcribed by: Kim Javier

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