An example for the modern Church – Part 2
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because…” Why did Paul feel compelled to thank God for the Thessalonian Church? Not for possessing any worldly substance, success or significance, but for possessing the indispensable virtue of faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6)”. Paul was thankful or grateful to God because their “faith groweth exceedingly.” The word “groweth” signifies continual growth day by day. As their challenges to the Christian life increased, their faith also increased to be victorious. What made Paul grateful was not the Thessalonians’ growing size, budget, popularity or status in society. His joy knew no bounds because they were growing “from faith to faith.”
Saved and justified by faith, they lived and walked by faith (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 5: 1; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:7). Sanctified by faith, they stood fast in the faith; quenching all the fiery darts of the wicked by faith, they were “able to withstand in the evil day and to stand” (Acts 15:9; 26:18; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:16,13). Resisting the adversary of their souls “steadfast in the faith”, they overcome the world by faith (1 Peter 5:8,9; 1 John 5:4,5). Knowing that “according as His divine power (He) hath given unto us ALL THINGS that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and promise, …through faith and patience (they) inherit the promises” (2 Peter 1: 3, 4; Hebrews 6: 12). As our “faith groweth exceedingly” we shall have conversion through faith (Acts 14: 27; 15:3), the commitment of faith (Hebrews 11: 8-10), the courage of faith (Hebrews 11: 24-27), the confession of faith (2 Corinthians 4: 13), the contentment of faith (2 Thessalonians 1:4), the consolation of faith (Hebrews 10:34-39), the conviction of faith (Romans 8:28-39).
“And the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth”. Their charity, that is, their abounding love towards each other was like water overflowing its banks. The virtue of increased love was not demonstrated by just a few of them, but by everyone towards everyone else. It was a striking manifestation of the power of divine grace in their hearts. Though persecuted, they did not become self-centred neither did they live in self-pity, nursing their wounds and bemoaning their injuries; instead, they spent their time loving and caring for one another. The love spoken of here was not fleshly, sentimental, emotional feeling or superficial sympathy for each other. It was loving, sacrificial service or labour of love, permeating the entire congregation.
They were all loving towards one another and were all beloved of one another. There was no schism or division among them. They constantly obeyed the timeless commands: “by love serve one another”(Galatians 5: 13), “speaking the truth in love, grow up into Him” (Ephesians 4:15), “walk worthy, forbearing one another in love” (Ephesians 4: 1, 2), “be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8), “let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Love not only builds, but also sustains a living church.
Further Reading (King James Version): Thessalonians 1:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:1,2; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14; Acts 13:43; Hebrews 13:9; 2 Peter 3:17,18; Colossians 3:15-17; Philippians 4:7-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Romans 1: 16,17; 3:23-28; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 2:20; Acts 15:9, Ephesians 6:16; Colossians 1:21-23; Hebrews 10:22, 35-39; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:9,10; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13; Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:34,35; Romans 12:9,10; 13:8-10; 1 John 3:11-18; 5:2,3.