MP3: The Rapture Road Thru 1 Thessalonians 2
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 enter into chapter two.
A Heart for the People
Vic Batista: Before we shift gears in our verse-by-verse study of 1 Thessalonians and jump into chapter 2, let’s briefly recap chapter 1.
Nathan Jones: We began with the Apostle Paul preaching in the town of Thessalonica. Not too long after he began preaching, maybe three weeks, Paul was forced to leave town. A number of Jews who wouldn’t accept the Gospel got enraged and caused a giant brouhaha, causing the city’s officials to command Paul and his companions to leave. As he traveled on from there, Paul sent back two letters to the little church that he had started. He was probably only there for a few weeks up to a few months, a very short time, so he had left all of those baby Christians behind needing spiritual guidance.
First Thessalonians is a very personal letter, called an epistle, to this baby church to encourage them on in the Christian faith. Paul was their spiritual father, and since he was forced to leave, his heart was yearning to go back to the church. So, what we’re reading is a heartfelt letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica.
Paul reminded the Thessalonians of his ordeal in bringing them the Gospel in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-3.
“For you yourselves know, brethren that our coming to you was not in vain. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.”
Vic Batista: One of the points that’s really interesting is how this Gospel came. Paul in verse 2 mentions suffering. Today here in the West we don’t think that we suffer when preaching the Gospel, but there’s still a lot of suffering today around the rest of the world, especially when Christians stand boldly for the Lord in the face of hostile religions.
Nathan Jones: Poor Paul! How interesting to learn that as Paul and his companions got gotten kicked out of Thessalonica, now he’s referring back to the time when he was spitefully treated in another town called Philippi. Despite hardships, Paul planted a church in Philippi and later wrote them a letter which we call the book of Philippians. So, no matter where Paul and his friends went, they always seemed to draw more often than not ire from the people who rejected the Gospel message.
What’s interesting about Paul’s missionary journey is how when he and his team were forced to move on from one city, they just went on to another city, and there they would also bring the Gospel. So, the church in Thessalonica was blessed due to the suffering that Paul and his companions had to endure in the previous town. Just think that if they didn’t endure, they might have returned home. Or, if they didn’t suffer, they may have gotten comfortable in the town they were in and not moved on to the next town.
The Holy Spirit often turns the persecution of Christians around to spread the Gospel. We see this paradigm prolifically throughout the New Testament, especially when the Church was first formed in Jerusalem. Persecution finally drove the somewhat comfortable church members out of Jerusalem to spread across all of the Roman Empire. Even today we see the persecution of Christians driving the Christians out of their homes, but in the process, the Gospel message spreads out to places where it might not have gone otherwise.Nathan Jones: The #HolySpirit often turns the persecution of Christians around to spread the #Gospel. We see this paradigm prolifically throughout the #NewTestament. Click To Tweet
Vic Batista: Good point! Notice how verse 3 Paul explained, “For our exhortation didn’t come from error or uncleanliness, nor was it of deceit.” When we stand up for what is right and choose not to use deceit or engage in error, but to honestly bring the Good News of Jesus Christ, there will be opposition. What I love about Paul and his team is how they presented the authenticity of the Gospel. They stood up for the truth and never made excuses for it. We have a lot of people out there teaching false doctrines contrary to the truth of the Bible. The Gospel is something that we should never water down.
Nathan Jones: I commend pastors who have a strong passion to teach the Bible in its pure form, without uncleanliness or error. Like Paul, they would never teach false doctrine or deceit.
Paul defended himself from the likes of those who forced him out of Thessalonica. They surely were engaging in accusing Paul for their own personal reasons, but they could never say he did what he did in order to get rich. His motives were pure. We know that there are preachers today who you have to wonder if they are even saved. They peddle the Gospel for themselves. They’ll teach a health and wealth gospel so they can line their pockets with cash. But, Paul said to the effect, “No, money was never my intention for coming to you or for having to leave. We taught the Gospel message alone as it was written.” That’s how we should approach preaching the Gospel today. We should never teach the Gospel for personal gain. It should always be for God’s glory and to lead people into getting saved.Nathan Jones: We should never teach the #Gospel for personal gain. It should always be for God's glory and to lead people into getting saved. #salvation Click To Tweet
Vic Batista: Some ministries’ teachings are laced with this prosperity and get-rich gospel. And, it seems so many are following their ways. When we read about the Apostle Paul, and even when we read about Jesus’ life here on earth, we don’t see them driving around on gold plated camels, right?
Nathan Jones: That would be something to see a gold plated camel. What a picture!
You are right, though. Jesus at one point even stated that He didn’t have a place to lay His head. If it weren’t for some wealthy women who were His followers, Jesus and his disciples wouldn’t even have had food to eat. Paul emulated Christ’s example for us. Paul would be sent overseas by various churches and they would raise mission funds in order to send him. When Paul arrived in these towns, he made tents to sell. He didn’t just mooch off of the people there, or the church, even though a worker is due his wages. The Bible teaches a preacher is due his salary. He could have taken money from the people, but, no, he weaved and sold tents while he was preaching in order to pay for his own expenses. Again, in doing so, Paul wanted the people to know that he wasn’t there to use and abuse them. He was there just to share the Gospel and see their lives changed for Christ.
As we go through chapter 2, the heart of Paul really pours out and we will learn what a great love he had for these people. He’d only known them for a short amount of time, and yet Paul held a great love for this new church. And that love still moves the reader of 1 Thessalonians even today.
In the seventh part of our travels along the Rapture Road and our verse-by-verse study of 1 Thessalonians, we’ll learn more about what motivated Paul to preach in 2:4-9.