Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #318 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 Thessalonians 2 today and our focus is on How Does Discipleship Happen? What Was Paul’s Discipleship Method? How Are People Saved? How are Christians Matured? Pauline Discipleship Explained. We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
1 Thessalonians 2 is basically a description, by Paul, of how the Thessalonian church began. He doesn’t lay it out in a step by step history, exactly, but in a far more pastoral way – and by reading this chapter, we can get a big insight into what exactly first century discipleship was like. Let’s trace Paul’s discipleship method through a few verses in our chapter.
2 On the contrary, after we had previously suffered and were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition.
So, the church in Thessalonica was founded because Paul and Silas didn’t give up after a time of defeat and persecution and trouble. Indeed, not only did they not give up (remember how they were jailed and beaten?) but they were actually EMBOLDENED to keep going. Think about that kind of perseverance: persecution and pain didn’t slow them down, it lit a fire under them!
3 For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. 4 Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please people, but rather God, who examines our hearts 5 For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives—God is our witness— 6 and we didn’t seek glory from people, either from you or from others.
Paul and Silas were honest and transparent with this church – they spoke the good news – the gospel – in a way that would please God, and not necessarily in a way that would grow a big church. We can learn much from this. It is a good thing to take the message of Jesus to lost people, but there is a place where we can do that in an almost people-pleasing way, and that can be very dangerous. The seeker sensitive movement from the 80s-90s really struggled with that line – the line between proclaiming God’s Gospel to please Him and proclaiming a message to please people. A people pleasing message will possibly gain a bigger audience, but will always result in less genuine and real fruit. Flattery is dangerous and so is greed. Some people seek to minister and share the Word of God to puff people up, or to be thought of as something special, or even to make money and get rich, but Paul decries all of these motivations here.
7 Although we could have been a burden as Christ’s apostles, instead we were gentle among you, as a nurse nurtures her own children. 8 We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember our labor and hardship, brothers and sisters. Working night and day so that we would not burden any of you, we preached God’s gospel to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how devoutly, righteously, and blamelessly we conducted ourselves with you believers. 11 As you know, like a father with his own children, 12 we encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to walk worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
Here we see the character and approach of Paul and Silas – their personality and behavior among these new Christians. They weren’t harsh. They weren’t a burden. They didn’t expect to be cared for, instead, they did the caring. They were gentle like a nursing mother with a baby and like a father with his own children. Further, they worked hard, apparently engaging in tent-making work so as not to be a financial burden to these new believers. And, how did they make disciples? #1 they spoke the good news/gospel. #2 They “encouraged, comforted and implored” these people to live their lives in a way that lined up with God’s Words. That sums up the ministry that all Christians are called to quite nicely. We are called to share the good news with the world and to “encourage, comfort and implore.” Of the kind of gentleness Paul speaks of here, pastor Charles Spurgeon writes:
(Gentleness wins far more than severity. Many will be led who will not be driven. If we would do good to others we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves. Selfishness and soul-winning never go together. Love is power. What are we doing for our neighbours? Have we an affectionate concern for their eternal welfare? If not, how can we hope that we are ourselves converted?…Let every teacher weigh these words of Paul, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children; so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” The genuine soul-winner knows what this means. For my own part, when the Lord helps me to preach, after I have delivered all my matter, and have fired off my shot so fast that my gun has grown hot, I have often rammed my soul into the gun, and fired my heart at the congregation, and this discharge has, under God, won the victory. God will bless by His Spirit our hearty sympathy with His own truth, and make it do that which the truth alone, coldly spoken, would not accomplish. Here, then, is the secret. You must, dear teacher, impart to the young your own soul; you must feel as if the ruin of that child would be your own ruin. You must feel that, if the child remains under the wrath of God, it is to you as true a grief as if you were under that wrath yourself. You must confess the child’s sins before God as if they were your own, and stand as a priest before the Lord pleading on its behalf. The child was covered by Elisha’s body, and you must cover your class with your compassion, with the agonising stretching forth of yourself before the Lord on its behalf.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Soul Winner: How to Lead Sinners to the Saviour (New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell, 1895), 151–152.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1964), 720.
This is the way. This is how the lost are won, how churches are built and how the kingdom of God expands – by the hard but joyful work of discipleship. It is not merely about attending church once a week and inviting others to join you, but is about meeting needs, encouraging, comforting, imploring and speaking the Word of God.
Bible Memory passage for the month of November: John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
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