"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"
Holding Up Under Hard Times (1:3-7) INTRODUCTION 1. As Paul began his second epistle to the Thessalonians, he expressed thanksgiving... a. Thanksgiving which he felt compelled to offer - 2Th 1:3a b. Thanksgiving which was fitting - 2Th 1:3b 2. He was thankful regarding their faith and love... a. Their faith was growing exceedingly - 2Th 1:3c b. Their love toward each other was abounding - 2Th 1:3d 3. Indeed, he was even boastful regarding their faith and patience... a. Boasting of them among the churches of God - 2Th 1:4a b. Boasting of their faith and patience in the midst of persecution - 2Th 1:4b 4. The perseverance of the Thessalonians is certainly worthy of note... a. They were a congregation that was born in tribulation - cf. Ac 17: 1-9 b. Persecution evidently continued, yet they endured - 2Th 1:4 [What can we learn from the Thessalonians about "Holding Up Under Hard Times"? First of all, they serve as a reminder that...] I. HARD TIMES HAPPEN A. THIS MAY SURPRISE SOME... 1. Contrary to the promulgators of the gospel of health and wealth, who would have us believe that becoming a Christian is the key to success in life 2. Many suffer disappointment because of the trials they face as new Christians B. THE BIBLE WARNS OF HARD TIMES... 1. Jesus warned His apostles - Jn 15:19-20; 16:33 2. The apostles warned the disciples - Ac 14:22; 1Th 3:4; 2 Ti 3:12 C. WE CAN EXPECT HARD TIMES... 1. We are not spared the affects of sin and evil in this world a. We still live in a world with sickness and death b. We may often suffer the consequences of choices made by others 2. We can anticipate persecution because we are Christians a. Our families, friends, and foes may ostracize or even physically persecute us b. We have an adversary who seeks to devour us - cf. 1Pe 5:8-9 [Be thankful if you seem to be spared trials and tribulations, but be prepared for difficulties in life that will inevitably come. From the example of the Thessalonians we learn that...] II. FAITH, LOVE, AND PATIENCE IS NEEDED A. FAITH THAT GROWS EXCEEDINGLY... 1. Faith that is: a. A strong conviction in things unseen - He 11:1 b. Created by the Word of God - Ro 10:17 c. Constantly growing - 2Th 1:3 2. This is the kind of faith that sustains one in persecution a. Remember the faith of Job! - Job 19:25-27 b. Recall the faith of Habakkuk! - Hab 3:17-19 B. LOVE THAT ABOUNDS TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER... 1. Love that is: a. Taught by God Himself - cf. 1Th 4:9 1) Through the example of the Father's love - 1Jn 4:9-11 2) Through the example of the Son's love - 1Jn 3:16 b. Increasing more and more - cf. 2Th 1:3; 1Th 4:10; 3:12 2. This is the kind of love that sustains one in hard times a. Even as it comforted Paul in his tribulation - 1Th 3:6-7 b. So we can endure persecution when we are surrounded by brotherly love! C. PATIENCE THAT HOLDS UP UNDER TRIAL... 1. Patience that is: a. Based upon the hope that we have - Ro 8:25 b. Developed by reading the Scriptures - Ro 15:4 b. Needed if we are to receive the promise - He 10:36 c. Strengthened the more we look unto Jesus - He 12:1-3 2. This is the kind of patience that makes us even stronger! a. It makes us complete, lacking nothing - Jm 1:3-4 b. Giving us experience, which can strengthen our hope even more - Ro 5:3-4 [As long as our faith is growing, our love for one another is abounding, and our patience remains firm, we will be "Holding Up Under Hard Times". We can also take heart in knowing that...] III. RECOMPENSE IS COMING A. GOD'S JUDGMENT WILL BE RIGHTEOUS... 1. For God's people who have endured tribulation with faith and patience a. Which is evidence of God's righteous judgment to come - 2 Th 1:4-5 b. Having been made worthy of the kingdom through their suffering - 2Th 1:5 1) Though we must never forget that it is God who qualifies us for the kingdom - cf. Col 1:12 2) He is the one Who perfects, establishes, strengthens, and settles us - 1Pe 5:10 2. For those who have caused tribulation for His people - 2Th 1:6 B. GOD WILL REPAY THOSE WHO TROUBLE HIS PEOPLE... 1. Tribulation will come upon them, a righteous recompense - 2 Th 1:6; cf. Ro 2:4-11 2. Paul will describe the nature of this tribulation more fully in 2Th 1:8-9 C. GOD WILL GIVE HIS TROUBLED PEOPLE REST... 1. Also a righteous recompense - 2Th 1:6-7 2. The same rest enjoyed by Paul, Silas, Timothy ("rest with us")! - 2Th 1:7 3. This rest to be given when the Lord is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels - cf. 1Th 4:16-17 CONCLUSION 1. We will consider what more Paul has to say about that great day in our next study - cf. 2Th 1:7-10 2. What we have seen so far should help us to endure trials and tribulations... a. Don't be surprise by hard times, God's Word has told us they will come b. Look to God and His Word for the faith, love, and patience needed to sustain us c. Anticipate the coming of the Lord, who will bring us rest even as He brings judgment upon those who trouble us! Is your faith growing exceedingly? Is your love abounding? Are you patiently enduring what trials come upon you, looking for the rest to come when Jesus returns? Let the Thessalonians be an encouragement to us in "Holding Up Under Hard Times"!