September 10, 2018
Joke of the Week
Our mountains aren’t just funny, they’re hill areas.
Turning vegan would be a big missed steak.
Well, to be Frank, I’d have to change my name.
Forget world peace, visualize using your turn signal.
Ban pre-shredded cheese, make America grate again.
For chemists, alcohol is not a problem, it’s a solution.
My mood ring is missing, and I don’t know how I feel about that.
News of the Week
Sept. 7 (UPI) — A body of a young woman found in Tennessee in 1985 has been identified as a missing 21-year-old from Indiana. Tina Marie McKenney Farmer had been missing from Indianapolis since the 1980s.
This story goes on to tell how she was identified after all these years. The story probably is not over. Now that the woman has been identified, the focus will be on finding her killers. There is a decent chance that they will do so. The new is full nowadays of crimes committed long in the past that have come to light recently; in many cases the perpetrators are identified, and often punished. Recent exposure of sexual abuse in Roman Catholic institutions is one area where this is happening. The Mexicans have a saying which I have quoted here before, “I didn’t think the blood would reach the river.” Nothing stay buried forever.
The take-away for us is this: If fallible human beings can expose crimes or immoral behavior committed long in the past, and (sometimes) bring the perpetrators to justice, how can anyone who has covered up sin long ago expect to escape the judgment of God? All of our sins, no matter how well and how long hidden from men—and often forgotten by ourselves—will be brought to view at the Last Judgment.
What can we do about the inevitable exposure of our sin? Flee to Christ for forgiveness. He will cover our sins with the blood of Christ and put them as far away as the east is from the west. If you have not turned to him, do so today.
Reformation Day (October 31) will be on us before we know it. Why not read what started it all, Luther’s 95 Theses, a document he nailed to the cathedral church door in Wittenberg, Germany, 501 years ago? Buy my book, Luther’s 95 Theses for 21st Century Christians, to find out what Luther protested against and to consider how the same issues have been reincarnated (so to speak) in our own time and in our own churches. Go to Buying My Books at the top of the home page and buy now using PayPal (PayPal accepts all major credit cards). I’ll send the book directly to you in time to read it before Reformation Day. Oh yes, I have few copies left, so don’t miss out by procrastinating.
Bible study. Lesson 3. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
- Did Paul feel that his visits to Thessalonica had failed of their object? v. 1
No. His visit was not in vain. The Thessalonians had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1:9). Indeed, they “became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1:7)
- Why might someone think his visits had been failures? v.2
He and Timothy and Silvanus had suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi; then they had been forced to flee Thessalonica after only three weeks. Who would have thought they could establish a faithful church in such a short time while enduring such affliction? To his adversaries it must have looked at first as if they had succeeded in thwarting his efforts. See study note 1.
- Paul defends his conduct in Thessalonica in vs. 3-7. Why do you suppose he felt it necessary to do this?
No doubt his adversaries maligned him and attributed bad motives and shameful tactics to him, especially when, in time, they saw that he had succeeded in winning converts to Christ.
- What kind of behavior is unworthy of an evangelist or minister? vs. 3-6
Teaching error, practicing or tolerating impurity, being deceitful, trying to win favor by flattery, acting from greed, and seeking glory from believers or others. See study note 2.
- Summarize Paul’s behavior as he preached in Thessalonica. vs. 7-10
He was gentle with them, like a mother taking care of her child. He was affectionate. He selflessly shared himself as well as the gospel. He worked to support himself so as not to be a burden to the Thessalonians. He could appeal to the Thessalonians themselves to witness to his holy, righteous, and blameless conduct. He encouraged and exhorted them like a loving father.
- Paul compares his behavior towards the Thessalonians to what? vs. 7, 11
He was like a mother and father to them.
- What was Paul’s charge or exhortation to his converts? v. 12
He charged them to walk (that is, to live) in a manner worthy of God.
- Paul’s sufferings and ours.
Paul underwent more suffering and hardship for the gospel than one can scarcely take in. He wrote to the church in Corinth:
Are they [false apostles] servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
2 Corinthians 11:23-29
Paul knew that his afflictions and sufferings had a purpose. God intended to strengthen and comfort Paul in the midst of them so that he in turn could strengthen and comfort others when they underwent affliction.
The principle applies to us as well today. All who would live a godly life in Christ Jesus should expect persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).
One of God’s purposes for us in our undergoing trials and afflictions for Christ and then experiencing his comfort and help is that then we will be able to help other Christians, particularly less mature Christians, when they undergo suffering for Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). But we might ask why Christians have to undergo affliction and suffering at all. Why doesn’t God keep us from such troubles? Why do Christians suffer; in particular, why do they suffer for loyalty and obedience to Christ? Paul told the Christians in Rome why:
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
In a word, the Holy Spirit works in us using suffering to build Christian character and hope.
What if we have never experienced suffering for Christ? That is the situation for most Christians in North America. Does it mean that we have blended into our culture so well that the offense of Christ is not evident in our lives? It may mean that, or it may mean that our time is yet to come, or it may mean that God will use other means to perfect our obedience, character, and faith.
Finally, it may mean that we live in a time and place of small things, without suffering but also without any spectacular work of God in our midst. Let us pray neither that we may avoid suffering nor that we will suffer, but that God will ready us for suffering, preserve us in it, and refine us in it if and when it is his purpose for us.
- Paul defends his conduct.
Why does Paul defend his conduct among the Thessalonians in 2:3-7? His second letter to Corinth is full of self-defense, and we know why: false apostles had tried to alienate the Corinthian believers from him. But we have no indication that was true in Thessalonica.
It’s likely that Paul was responding to lies and misrepresentations spread by the Jewish opponents who drove him out of Thessalonica on his first visit. They hated the message of the cross and slandered the messenger. No doubt they hoped to taint the gospel message by smearing the man who spread it.
Ad hominem arguments, that is, arguments that attack a man rather than his reasoning, are a well-known rhetorical device. They are logically invalid, but may be very effective. Paul was subjected to ad hominem attacks on several other occasions. His Corinthian opponents said, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account” (2 Corinthians 10:10). When he appeared before the Roman governor Felix his opponents launched another personal attack:
And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul. and when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, :“Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. But, to detain[a] you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly. For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him.. By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.” Acts 24:1-8
How does one answer a personal attack? Paul appeals to the Thessalonians’ personal knowledge of how he had behaved among them (2:2, 5, 9, 10, 11). No matter what lies and slanders his opponents hurled at him, they knew how he had lived among them. That knowledge was enough to repel any and all personal assaults on his character and behavior.
The Apostle Peter recommends the same passive defense for us when we are spoken against falsely:
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:12
This defense only works if we have been living honorably and doing good deeds among our neighbors. Let us so live as to glorify our Lord and Savior and put to silence the gossip and slander of the ungodly.