Year 2 Day 344
Read - 1 Thessalonians 3v6-13
Message - Scott Woodburn
There is no such thing as an independent church. I know we all like to think that our own church is the only church that matters but it is simply not true. Paul was far from the Thessalonians and missed them dearly. He had laboured among them and a church had been planted but Paul had not forgotten them. Indeed he was so concerned about them that he had sent Timothy to see how things were going in Thessalonica.
By the grace of God, Timothy's report was a positive one. Timothy had returned to Paul and reported that the Thessalonians were trusting in Christ and loving both the Lord and each other (v6). Just as Paul remembered them, they hadn't forgotten him and they too longed to see Paul once more (v6b). This is a beautiful picture of the inter-dependance of the church. It didn't matter that these brothers and sisters were separated, by faith they still loved one another and shared a Christ-centred concern that couldn't be diluted by distance.
As Timothy's report reached Paul's ears it caused him great comfort. He knew great distress and affliction but the good news coming from Thessalonica delighted his soul (v7). He speaks as a parent in verse eight. He has heard that the Thessalonicans are doing well and so he says "now we live". In other words Paul had been worried about his spiritual children. Would they endure affliction? Would they stand for truth? Would they be led astray? Paul "lives again" when he hears that the church is standing firm. It's as if he had been holding his breath and now suddenly a gulp of fresh morning air fills his lungs.
Paul's response to the good news is to be thankful towards God (v9). It is the Lord who preserves His people and it is the Lord who keeps churches in the faith. As a mark of his thanksgiving Paul longs to return to see the Thessalonians and supply what is lacking in their faith (v10). The Apostle hasn't spent enough time with these people and so he wishes to return and teach them the Word of God once again. It is by this means that the church grows. Each week fellowships meet on the Lord's Day to worship and to hear the voice of God - do not neglect this unbelievable grace!
As the section comes to a close Paul prays two things. Firstly, that the Lord will reunite Paul and the Thessalonians (v11). Secondly, he prays that the Lord would increase the love that the Thessalonians had for one another (v12). As they lived together and prayed together and loved one another the Lord would sanctify them and they would be found "blameless in holiness" at the last day (v13). Do you notice that? The love of the saints found in a local church is a sure mark of our salvation. Indeed as we walk together and love one another the Lord grows us up in the faith. This cannot happen when we deliberately stay away from the local church!
There is no such thing as an independent church and there is no such thing as an independent Christian. Regardless of distance the church of Christ should be marked by a sincere and abiding love for our brothers and sisters in the family and household of God.We are to meet together, pray together, hear the Word together, weep together and rejoice together. As we pay heed to one another the Lord is at work in our souls, growing us up in the faith so that we will stand on the last day.
None of this works if we choose to stand alone. Brothers and sisters, take your place in your local fellowship which itself is part of the worldwide church of Christ. Take your place and love God's people. Take your place and love God's Word. Take your place as one for whom Christ died. Take your place and rejoice at the glorious beauty of Christ's bride.
Q97 What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper? It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves, of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.