MP3: The Rapture Road Thru 1 Thessalonians 1
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
Since the first installment of The Truth Will Set You Free podcast series titled “The Rapture Road,” Vic Batista of Miami’s Calvary Chapel Broward and Nathan Jones of Lamb & Lion Ministries have been teaching through the biblical prophetic book of 1 Thessalonians in a verse-by-verse study. We will now continue with chapter one verses 2-5.
The Elect Work in Love
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5
Vic Batista: I really love verse 2’s reference to “making mention of them in our prayers” and “remembering without ceasing their work of faith,” and their “labor of love.” All those spiritual works need to go hand in hand, because if what we are doing is not done so for the Lord, if Christians are not working out of love, then we really are not going to change lives for eternity or earn any of those heavenly rewards that the Bible promises.
Nathan Jones: Two clues provide us with a pretty clear indication that the Thessalonians Paul was writing to were saved. The Church, after all, should be a collection of saved people.
The first clue, Paul mentioned “your election by God.” When you are saved you are considered by God to be elect. You have chosen to surrender your life to Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit has moved you towards belief and repentance. The subject of election has been a great mystery that no Christian has ever been able to fully explain because the mind of God is so deep and timeless. What Paul was assured of was that the church he helped plant was full of people who were the elect of God.When you are saved you are considered by #God to be elect. You have chosen to surrender your life to #JesusChrist because the #HolySpirit has moved you towards belief and repentance. #salvation Click To Tweet
The second clue, Paul knew that they were saved because of their good works. Their works were works based on their faith in Christ, serving as a labor of love, and built on the patient hope of the Lord. How amazing that a church that was only a few weeks old demonstrated this kind of high level of Christian maturity. The good works coming from these people were quite impressive.
Vic Batista: I agree. I also just love their “patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.” Patience is one area where Christians are tested where you really can see what they are made out of, whether the believer in Christ patiently endures life’s challenges or not.
Nathan Jones: Yes, remember that this new church was likely under deep persecution, after all, Paul and company were forced out of Thessalonica. The Jewish synagogue leaders who forced Paul out surely didn’t stop persecuting the new and expanding church Paul had left behind. Surely the full wrath of those who hated the message of the Gospel continued to beat down upon Paul’s people. The rioters probably yearned to force the new Christians out of town as well. A lot of the new converts were probably brothers, sisters, and other relatives, so the addition of Christianity caused great division among families across the city.
The new church in Thessalonica also had to contend with the continuing pagan influences of the Greek and Roman cultures. The seaport industry trading in their town, along with the major land route, brought travelers in from all the foreign lands, along with all their secular influences. Thessalonica created a very hostile environment to the truth of the Gospel. We are talking about planting a baby church in the middle of a very difficult area and telling it to grow. But, they did just that! Paul commended the Thessalonian believers for remaining Christ’s followers and being great examples for Jesus in the midst of all that pagan influence and persecution.
Turning the World Upside-Down
Vic Batista: Verse 5 reveals how the Gospel came to Thessalonica not just in word, but also in the power of the Holy Spirit. I really love that the Holy Spirit is given credit for this miraculous situation. Acts 17 confirms this with the accusation that Jason and the others were accused of “turning the world upside-down.” In other words, the people saw the true power of the Gospel by the work of the Holy Spirit. The elect accepted the Word and believed.
Nathan Jones: Isn’t it great when the Holy Spirit turns the world upside down? True power comes from the work of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel didn’t come timidly. It didn’t come quietly. No, it came in great power! Just look at the results. Many of those people in Thessalonica came to know Jesus as their Savior and in such a short time span. They had never heard of the Gospel before, but when the Gospel came in power and the Holy Spirit was at work, those people got saved.Isn't it great when the #HolySpirit turns the world upside down? True power comes from the work of the Holy Spirit. #salvation Click To Tweet
Even though Paul had to leave, he was still able to send some letters along with Timothy back to Thessalonica. There the Holy Spirit remained to guide that church and keep it from falling into worldly temptations, long after the messengers had left. Sure, later we’ll see Paul had some concerns about the people’s behavior and some bad habits that they still had to get rid of, but at this point in his letter, Paul commends them for producing the fruit of their faith and love of Jesus Christ in their works.
In the fourth part of our travels along the Rapture Road and our verse-by-verse study of 1 Thessalonians, we’ll continue in chapter one.