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 continue on with chapter two.
Preaching With Unselfish Motives
Vic Batista: Let’s return to our study of 1 Thessalonians be reading 2:4-9.
“But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”
Nathan Jones: This section of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica shows especially how much Paul loved these people. And, there’s a reason for it. He says, “God who tests our hearts.” In other words, Paul was accountable to God. If he mistreated the people, or if he preached out of selfish motivations, well God knew his heart and so would be the one that Paul would have to contend with.
What a strong reminder that when we teach the Bible, like we’re doing now, it’s very important that we check our motives at the door, for God is judging us. He’s the one who is testing Bible teachers’ hearts to discern why we are doing what we are doing. So, to every believer who shares the Gospel, and it should be every believer who shares the Gospel, we need to make sure that we remember that we are accountable to God, not only for what we are teaching, but also for why we are teaching.
Vic Batista: Great point! Verse 4 talks about how Paul and his evangelism team had been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, as we Christians are today. That’s keeping the main thing the main thing. We should never seek out the approval of anyone except our Lord Jesus Christ when we are proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. We don’t worry so much about people’s opinions, only God’s opinion, because we believe the Gospel has the power to change people’s lives.
Nathan Jones: Exactly, for as verse 5 states, “God is witness.” Christians are accountable to God at the end of the day. When it’s time for us to stand before the Lord and be judged for our works, remembering the Christian’s judgment will not be a judgment for salvation but a judgment of rewards, I want to make sure that the works I did on this earth for Him were pure and blameless. As Paul is saying here, they’re not done for my own personal advancement, or personal wealth, or any of those superficial reasons, but so that God alone gets the glory.
Reading between the lines, it almost seems that Paul was countering an accusation that he had traveled to Thessalonica under false pretenses and also had left under false pretenses, but that wasn’t the case. He’s really making a case here like, “Hey, God is my witness. I know I did the right thing, and I did it because I love you so much.”
Vic Batista: Excellent point! You can see that in verse 7 where it says, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” It’s like why we take care of our own children.
Nathan Jones: Yes, just like all parents should, we take care of those God has entrusted to us. You love your children. You parent them. You don’t leave them to dangle in the wind.
That love and concern is part of Paul’s anguish. He had helped found this church, but he wasn’t able to stay long enough to really help them into spiritual maturity. And so, he’s reaching out to them with a letter expressing, “Oh, I am so sorry. I love you!” We know there’s a 2 Thessalonians, so Paul must have eventually gotten past their doubts. Paul even expressed his intentions to go back and visit them, despite the potential that he’d again suffer great persecution. In the meantime, Paul sends Timothy back in his place, possibly because Timothy was unknown to the hostile crowds.
Vic Batista: We forget that Paul had brought a little evangelistic team with him to Thessalonica. It wasn’t just Paul, but Paul and Barnabas, or Paul and Silas. Timothy was also Paul’s sort of the right-hand man in a sense. He was very faithful to the work of the Lord. Paul at one time said he had no one else like Timothy, almost like a son.
Nathan Jones: When we preach and teach it’s great to be serving in groups of other people who are also serving the Lord. Other believers help solidify our teachings and cover what we miss. They also keep each other accountable. It’s good to see that Paul had that on all his journeys, at least until the very end in a Roman prison.
Never Being a Burden
Vic Batista: I really love verse 9. “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.” Paul is kind of defending himself. He’s saying, “We didn’t take advantage of you. We were willing to work.” He even says they toiled both night and day.
Nathan Jones: Maybe Paul burned the midnight oil when weaving his tents and then preached during the days, or vice versa. He makes it clear his team wasn’t there lying around collecting food at church picnics and taking handouts. No, they were there to work, and they worked hard. Again, this statement provides more proof of Paul’s commitment to the truth of the Gospel. He proved his faith and love by living exemplary among those he was ministering.
Vic Batista: Our church has worked in missions to the Dominican Republic for the last 12 years. Every time I went there I also held a full-time job at the same time that I was doing the ministry. It was interesting to me that every time we would go to these foreign countries I’d encounter many pastors and evangelists who just wanted to be supported. They didn’t want to work. And I would ask them, “What’s wrong with getting a job?” And, they would look at me like, “What!? A job?”
Nathan Jones: Christians should work, right? Right, if you are a servant of the Lord, you work day and night, either in full-time ministry or in a mix of secular and ministerial jobs. That’s why most pastors never see any time off. Pastors, preachers, and evangelists obviously need time to recoup and recharge, but Paul is making the case that ministers work for the Lord, so it ends up becoming a full-time job both night and day.
Just look at the results. We wouldn’t have the Gospel today if it wasn’t for Paul and his team going out there preaching and planting churches. His converts eventually spread the Gospel, mostly moving westward. And, as hard-working Christians shared their faith, we too one day received the Gospel. Christians today owe our salvation through a string of hard-working people that winds all the way back to the work of Paul’s church planting.Christians today owe our #salvation through a string of hard-working people that winds all the way back to the work of Paul's #churchplanting. Click To Tweet
Have you ever thought that if you went back in time to the person who gave you the Gospel, and then met the person who gave them the Gospel, and you go back 2,000 years, that maybe one of those converts in Thessalonica was the one who shared the Gospel that leads up the chain to you? Considering that can really blow one’s mind!
Vic Batista: So true! In the same way, when you and I share the Gospel and someone gets saved, and they go forward and they share the Gospel, when we get to Heaven I’d bet we are going to look back and meet all these links in the evangelistic chain.
Nathan Jones: Yes, Christians are all tied together across the centuries by one conversion to the next to the next.
In the eighth part of our travels along the Rapture Road and our verse-by-verse study of 1 Thessalonians, we’ll continue to learn about what motivated Paul to preach in 2:10-12.