Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
Thesis: The motivation of the "preacher" is absolutely critical to the integrity of his message.
Introduction: In our last study we considered Paul's claim that his message is an honest summons from God to men to come alongside of Him so that they may eventually receive all of the good that is contained in "The Promise". This evening we are going to look into another claim: that Paul is a trustworthy messenger of that honest summons. This is no small matter. If the messenger cannot be trusted, neither can his message be trusted. We saw this in our studies in Galatians where we read that as soon as Peter's motives became corrupt, so did his message. Jesus actually taught this in John's Gospel. In 5:44 He asked, "How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?" In 7:18 He said, "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." Then, in 8:50, He claimed, "I seek not mine own glory..." At stake is the trustworthiness of the message. For this cause, in our text this evening Paul makes his claim that he is trustworthy because God trusts him. This is just a claim that must be evaluated, but it is made on the weight of 1:5. The Thessalonians did not have to accept this claim, but to reject it with any appearance of legitimacy they would have had to demonstrate that Paul was not what he appeared to be. This would be difficult, given the statement of 1:5. Additionally, Acts 15 is past history by this time and Paul's creds are sky high in terms of "The Church".
So, let's look into what Paul claims is our text this evening (2:4).
May 4, 2014
- I. The Extreme Contrast.
- A. Paul initially set forth his claim that the Gospel is an honest summons to men made by God through select men.
- 1. This claim is made by what I call "a negative argument": what the Gospel is not makes it what it is.
- a. It is not a deceit based "error".
- b. It is not rooted in anything that would disqualify a person from standing alongside of God.
- c. It is not a deceptive attempt to manipulate others for dishonest gain.
- 2. Thus, Paul sets forth the claim that the Gospel is an honest summons from God to men.
- B. But the first word in 1:4 is the most insistent term in Greek for introducing a contrast.
- 1. This is because of Paul's "negative argument".
- 2. The contrast is between what the Gospel would be if deceitful men were its authors.
- II. The Actual Claim.
- A. Its essence: you can trust our Gospel because God trusts us.
- B. The details.
- 1. "Just as..." God has serially subjected us to situations that challenged our most basic motives.
- a. The word translated by the NASB as "we have been approved" is consistently used in the New Testament to refer to a process wherein a person is subjected to a "values-challenging" circumstance to see what the challenged person will do.
- b. Now, with God, this is technically unnecessary because of His omniscience, but it is put into play because this is the best way for what God knows to be true to be made clear to people who do not have omniscience at their disposal.
- 1) The Thessalonians could not have "known" what manner of men Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus were without this process as it played out in Philippi.
- 2) The way things played out in Philippi is Paul's argument for the Thessalonian's confidence in 2:2.
- 3) History confirms God's "faith" in Paul because he selflessly obeyed at extreme cost to himself.
- c. This issue: God's "trust" in Paul as a messenger of The Gospel who will not "bend" the message to save, or benefit, himself.
- 2. "...so we speak..."
- a. Not as men-pleasers.
- 1) As Paul said in Galatians 1:10, a person cannot be a servant of Christ as a man-pleaser.
- 2) As we saw in our introduction, Jesus declared this reality.
- 3) Jesus said it a different way on another occasion when He pointedly declared: no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
- b. But as a God-pleaser.
- 1) The strong contrast is once again inserted into the verse.
- 2) Additionally, the fact of God's serial subjection of Paul to circumstances that would bring out the hidden reality of his "heart".
- III. The Point.
- A. Life for everyone consists of an on-going exposure to "claims" made by men as "truth".
- B. These serial exposures are designed to bring out the truth of the "heart".
- C. The most fundamental "truth" of the "heart" is the answer to one question: whose "pleasure" is being pursued?
- 1. Romans 15:3 makes this point: even Christ...
- 2. No man escapes this process and the heart's values are brought to light over time.
- 3. Galatians is an example of how crucial is this truth when men are not committed to pleasing God, and 1 Thessalonians is the counter example.
- D. Each of us is being "revealed" as the days go by as to whether, or not, we are "alongside God" in respect to His "honest summons".