1 Thessalonians 3:9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
Actually, nothing is lacking in faith! That is, nothing is missing! For these having recently been given the gift of faith are like a new born human being. The infant child is just as much a full human as is his grandfather! He has all the fingers and toes, the eyes and ears, and internal organs as does the older gentleman! The only thing lacking is maturity! And in the next chapter the apostle speaks of abounding more and more, and of, increasing more and more! (verses 1 and 4). So that which the apostle is concerned about is the maturing of their faith!
And he fully realizes that any degree of faith is good! For even if it is the size of a mustard seed it can still move mountains of hinderance in the life of the believer (Matt. 17:20). And no matter if it is but bruised reed, or, smoking flax faith, the Lord, who gave it, will protect it and nurture it for its increase (Matt. 12:20).
Beware of any ‘minister’ who refuses to recognize that there is faith in every believer! Those ‘preachers’ who think themselves to be the only voice of direction for the peoples of God will exact priestcraft (“management of selfish and ambitious priests exacting fraud in religious concerns.” – Webster’s Dictionary of 1828), upon their souls. 2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
But the true shepherds know that they are not lords over God’s heritage, but are to be examples to the flock! (1 Peter 5:3). Listen at the true spiritual attitude expressed by the Apostle Paul which is set forth to be the proper attitude of every minister. 2 Cor. 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
In fact, the true ministers of the Lord seek to be, as the apostle states, sacrificed for the faith of the Lord’s elect people! Phil. 2:17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me. And this kind of self sacrificing devotion to the true church is not limited only to the ministers. It is also the Spirit’s invested attitude and character in every true believer! Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. God had only one Son without sin! But he has none without a cross!
And the Apostle Paul instructs them that their faith was a strong faith, spoken of in every place, having been birthed in much affliction. (1 Thess. 1:8,6). And of this the Apostle Peter writes in the first chapter of his first epistle. For in verse seven he speaks of the trail of faith, before he focuses on the end of your faith in verse nine. He speaks of faith as being like gold as it is tried in the fire. He instructs us that this is such a ‘normal’ activity to bring our faith to it’s purity and maturity that we should never think this method to be strange! Read 1 Peter 4:12.
Then Peter instructs that we must add to your faith. (2 Peter 1:5). But here again, not in the way furnishing anything that the Lord left out! Certainly not! But we must add to it in the way of maturing and developing it! Like the infant spoken of earlier, in coming to be mature like his grandfather, he must develop in mind, spirit and body.
Paul’s Plan: The apostle’s intent is plainly and clearly listed in 1 Thessalonians 2:17. There it is stated, But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
He had been forcefully driven from among these dear new born Christians by the jealous hearted preachers who refused to bow to the Lord. Here is the biblical account of that: Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
Therefore Paul’s intention was to get back to them and, as he thought, fulfill the will of God among them with the preaching of the gospel! Had he not been sent in the absolute authority of Christ to preach the gospel to every creature? Sure! And did not the love of Christ towards these souls surge within his heart? Absolutely! They were so much given him to love in the Spirit’s love that he told them, For ye are our glory and joy. (1 Thes. 2:20).
Then why couldn’t he get back to them? The only answer we are given is, Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. (1 Thes. 2:18). But the devil is not sovereign! He is a created being! He is under the absolute control of God, and can do nothing without God’s eternal purposes being fulfilled through his actions! Psalm 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. And since man’s wrath serves the purposes of our Lord, certainly does that of the spirit realm! (Read Job 1:12, 2:6).
What then is the reason of Paul’s separation from this assembly of God?
God’s Plan: The Lord Jesus Christ is the pattern for the lives of the entire church! It is only in him we live, and move, and have our being; (Acts 17:28). His journey to the cross is the pattern for our entire lives! 1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Let’s think more about that in this situation of the Apostle Paul’s experiences.
First we must understand that we cannot always know the intent and purposes which God has ordained in providential events! The gospel itself was hidden from the foundation of the world until the Lord was pleased to bring it forth in these last days! Read Ephesians 3:3-5.
The Prophet Ezekiel saw the unfolding glory of God in the cloud of amber, which the Hebrew Rabbi Yisrael Shaw speaks of as, “amber of fire speaking.” Then he saw God’s providences interrelated like wheels within wheels. (Ezek. 1:4,16). We can see something of this in the gyroscope! For although the wheels are separate, moving and spinning in different directions, the whole is perfectly balanced! And so is God’s perfectly balanced, eternally predestinated purposes! (Eph. 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:) Therefore Paul’s plans were based on only what he could see in these events, and upon what he could feel within his heart. But let’s look into the realm of the Pattern of his life.
Paul stated that Satan had hindered him from any additional preaching ministry among these disciples. That’s what happen to his Lord! John 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
And Paul then began to enter into a devoted prayer life for the faith of these disciples. 1Th. 3:10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? That’s exactly what the Lord did! Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (And we have a marvelous copy of his prayer for all his disciples as listed in John chapter seventeen.)
The Lord Jesus Christ had left his earthly preaching ministry, giving Satan and the powers of darkness their “hour!” He went into heaven to sit down at the right hand of the majesty on high (Heb. 1:3), there to ever live to make intercession for them! (Heb. 7:25). Therefore the Lord exacted the same pattern on the ministry of the Apostle Paul. The young Timothy could be sent to preach to them. And he was!
But the living, enthroned, interceding Lord found better use for his seasoned servant in calling him to enter into the fellowship of his own sufferings! (Phil. 3:10). He would keep the Apostle away from them by the use of his servant, the Devil, in order to have Paul’s heart filled with true spiritual yearnings that would be only able to be uttered by the Spirit’s groanings! (Rom. 8:26). That would cause this righteous man to offer up fervent, heart felt prayers to himself, which would avail much! (Jas. 5:16).
And these prayers co-mingled with the spiritual fire of God’s glory at Calvary would be poured out into the earth and cause the shakings of the new kingdom! Revelation 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
The interpretation of this earthquake is found in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Hebrews 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
And then the Apostle writes to these same disciples of this in his second letter. For there we read of his confidence in God’s shaking of their nation for the failure to receive His kingdom! 2 Thessalonians 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Pastor Gene Breed
July 15, 2010.