Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
Thesis: The "growth" of faith is the result of a significant work of God within the mind/heart complex of the one who "believes".
Introduction: In our study last week we looked into the "obligation" that grace imposes upon those who are recipients of its goodness. We saw that grace does not remove "obligation"; it satisfies it in a substitutionary way. God does for the needy what His character demands from the needy so that the "obligation" is met by the divine input. Paul's "gratitude" was not a "laborious" effort; it was the expression of a heart changed by God to recognize the blessedness of being a recipient of the grace of God.
This evening we are going to look into at least a part of the basis for Paul's gratitude: the "super growth" of the faith of the Thessalonians.
July 19, 2015
- I. Faith Exists By the Grace of God.
- A. Paul's "gratitude" assumes a "dispensation of grace" by God.
- 1. This "gratitude" is called a "worthy" or "suitable" or "fitting" response to God.
- 2. This means that God has graciously done something that summons the "fitting" response.
- 3. There are two things that are not "fitting".
- a. Not responding to grace when it is extended in benefit.
- b. Giving thanks to the wrong person for the thing done: the one who does the work deserves the gratitude.
- 4. There are two things that are "thankworthy".
- a. The super-abounding faith of the Thessalonians toward God.
- b. The abounding love of the Thessalonians toward one another.
- B. Paul's gratitude assumes his long-held conviction that those who are "of faith" are so by the grace of God (Philippians 1:29 says that "belief" and "suffering" are grace gifts from God).
- II. Faith Grows By the Grace of God.
- A. The "growth" issue raises the host of questions that swirl around how a person comes to "believe" the promises of God.
- 1. The majority of these questions were answered by Paul's declaration in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5.
- a. The "root" is the Plan of God from the beginning which included the entire host of details that allows that Plan to develop as God has already declared that it will (this is that which involves "election").
- b. The details of the process are involved in the way "the Gospel comes to" a person.
- 1) It comes in words directed by the Holy Spirit as revealed by the entire process of how Paul ended up in Thessalonica by reason of the "Macedonian Call".
- 2) It comes attended by "powerful" demonstrations.
- a) This includes both overt events and living examples.
- b) These both are among the "many convincing proofs" mentioned in Hebrews 2:3-4.
- 3) It comes attended by the internal working of the Holy Spirit Who takes the "evidences" and makes God's "case" from within the mind and the heart of the person exposed to the "words".
- 4) It comes with the persuasion of the word-bearers whose lives have been changed by it.
- 2. Thus, the actual initiation of "faith" is a "thankworthy" affair since it is "of God's own doing".
- B. The "growth" issue also raises the questions of what it is that the Holy Spirit is doing within as a person's faith "grows".
- 1. First, as "faith" is a response of yielding to the truthfulness of the promises of God, the first stage in "growth" is coming to understand the specifics of the promises so that they are "believed".
- 2. Second, the "growth" issue is a matter of "seeing" more and more how a specific promise addresses a specific circumstance with which a person is faced.
- 3. Third, the "growth" issue is also a matter of "seeing" more and more how the three basic promises of God address the plethora of circumstances in our daily lives.
- a. Exceeding growth stands upon the foundation of "faith" as a very precise response to a very precise "promise". [As such it can be "measured" as Jesus did when He identified "faith as a grain of mustard seed"; or as He did when He commended a centurion for "such great faith" as He had not found in all Israel. The "growth" level is discerned by the state of the "soul" as illustrated by a comparison of the fearful woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:47) and the completely relaxed confidence of the centurion who displayed "such great faith" (Luke 7:9). Both received what they "believed", but one did so with such little faith that she was in fear and trembling and the other did so with such great faith that he was completely at ease.]
- b. Therefore, a "growing faith" requires a progressively greater ability to "see" how a given promise applies to an ever larger number of particular situations [Abraham's "faith" is explained as the ability to "see" that the command to offer Isaac upon an altar meant that God would raise him from the dead after the obedience had been exercised. It would have saved him a great deal of trouble (and us as well) if he had been able to "see" that a promise of a son meant he could not be killed by a lustful king if Sarah was not pregnant].
- c. Another aspect of a "growing faith" is a greater ability to "see" the significance of more than one promise at a time. [Since there are only three major "issues" with which believers must deal in this world (1 John 2:16), there need only be three major "promises" to address them. But, just as there are only three "primary colors" and a veritable host of variations, so also do the three major issues/promises contain a veritable host of specific applications to the gazillion situations with which we are faced day by day. A "growing" faith simply means that "Someone" is giving insight to His people so that they may see just how a specific, foundational promise meets a specific circumstance on any given day.]