Thesis: It is only by "believing" that the people of God can relate to God in a healthy way.
Introduction: We come this evening to the last paragraph of chapter one. It is an expression of Paul's prayers as a reflection of his theology. It is particularly a reflection of his theology of how God accomplishes His plans. In our former studies, we have seen that "retribution" is a significant aspect of the accomplishment of those plans. "Retribution" as a concept is simple: one gets subjected to what he/she has subjected others to. However, that simplicity is complicated as soon as one adds a few "application" issues into the mix. There is overt, divine action taken by God Himself, directly, and indirectly through intermediate agents. Then there is less direct action taken by God in the form of simple cause-and-effect as an enforced principle of God's creation (the law of sowing and reaping). Then there is the reality that a person can actually be subjected to something that he/she actually had nothing to do with simply because he/she was in the circle of someone else's experience because that person had taken some action that resulted in some form of "retribution". And, then, there is the fact that sometimes a person is subjected to something simply because someone else took aim at them and pulled the trigger (but this is not, technically, "retribution" unless God is behind the actions of the person inflicting the experience).
So, this evening we are going to look at Paul's concluding remarks to see how we are to live in the light of this "retribution" thesis.
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1
October 25, 2015
- I. The First Principle is That of God's Involvement.
- A. The bottom line issue of all "prayer" is that God's involvement is being sought.
- 1. This is a tacit declaration that "unless God builds the house they labor in vain who build it".
- a. There are twin issues here.
- 1) God's involvement is substantially His activity and goal.
- 2) There is a human element -- those who labor to build -- as the intermediate agents of God's activities and goals.
- b. The danger is, of course, that men will turn this order upside down and see themselves as the "God" and see God as the "intermediate agent".
- 2. This is also an implied statement of "repentance" (wherein one brings down the mountains of pride and raises up the valleys of despair) because, though God uses all things to forward His agenda, He particularly uses those who humble themselves and depend upon Him for the fulfillment of His Promise to them.
- B. The second issue is what God's involvement is going to look like.
- 1. First, it is going to look like "people who are living by faith".
- a. Paul's request is a base "so that" the superstructure will be solidly supported.
- b. The superstructure involves both long and short term goals.
- 1) Paul's long-term goal is that God would "deem" them worthy of the calling.
- a) This is the second time "deeming" someone worthy of something has been Paul's focus of attention in this context.
- b) This "deeming" is considering the facts and drawing a conclusion.
- c) The first time God considered someone worthy in our context is the decision He made to consider them sufficiently righteous to participate in the Kingdom; a decision made abundantly clear by their suffering for that Kingdom.
- d) This second time has to be different because Paul is seeking God's input "so that" He might deem them worthy of something.
- 2) Thus, the short-term goal is that God would firm up their "faith".
- a) God's on-going "calling" is a summons to trust Him enough to walk through one's circumstances without deciding to take actions He has proscribed.
- b) Thus, one will be "deemed worthy of the calling" only when he/she trusts so that he/she actually walks close to God.
- 2. Second, it is going to look like "God applying His power to their 'satisfaction'".
- a. At issue is whether, or not, the Thessalonians have bought into God's goals and methods: the "good pleasure" is of "His goodness" and the "work" is out of "faith".
- b. Then, the issue is whether there will be sufficient power to bring those desires to fulfillment.
- II. The Second Principle is That of Grace Making Truth Clear.
- A. On the back end of Paul's "this is how" statement is his "according to the standard of grace"
- B. On the front end of his statement is the mutual "glorification" concept.
- 1. The name of our Lord Jesus is "glorified" by you.
- 2. You are "glorified" by Him.