Mystery of Faith

Mystery of Faith

Words of Faith 4-24-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Thessalonians 3

    Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. [2] And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.

 

        Paul moved into this final section of the letter by requesting prayer for the missionary efforts that they were engaged in.  The Thessalonians needed prayer when facing temptations, but they also needed to pray for others. We need both!   

        Prayer was requested on behalf of the apostles for two matters. The apostles acknowledged that the success of their missionary labors was due to God blessing His Word as they proclaimed it. In particular, the spreading of the Gospel was God's work and its reception among those who heard it was due to His preparing hearts.

        The Thessalonians knew from their experiences how God works in people's hearts to prepare them to receive the Gospel.  They knew better than most the need to pray with conviction that God would honor His Word by causing others who heard it to believe it.

        The second request was for deliverance from enemies of the gospel. As the missionaries traveled from city to city, opponents of Christianity tried to frustrate their efforts. The Thessalonians knew all about this.  Jealous enemies in Thessalonica had formed a mob to start a riot in the city and then blamed it on the Christian believers.  The believers were falsely accused of causing trouble and then forced to post a bond to avoid jail (Acts 17:5-9).

        But at a more fundamental level, the enemies of the gospel were doing something irrational, namely, resisting the free gift of God.  It is something we struggle to understand.  They were also being destructive of the spiritual welfare of others. The hostility of these enemies was due to their lack of faith in the message of salvation. They were wicked (literally "perverse") and evil (literally "actively harmful").

         Paul made a quite obvious summary statement but also very revealing-- Not everyone has faith.  There is a mystery here for us that we know to be true.  Not everyone has faith, and we don't really know why.  We often will observe people we care about and love who just do not seem to have the "lights on" as far as believing the Gospel and receiving the grace of the Lord.  We may proclaim and preach in one place, and many will come to faith, but in another place, there does not seem to be faith.  

         How do we get at this mystery of faith?

         We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The Word itself stirs up faith in a person, but there is a response called for in the life of a believer.  

         Paul wrote: "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (Romans 10:8-10).

         Paul also tells us that "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:11-13).  We are stirred, and we respond.

         But we also know that it is the Spirit that gives us new birth. 

         Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit" (John 3:5-6).  Jesus also said, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).  Some choose to love the darkness, and they refuse to come into the light for fear that their deed will be exposed (John 3:20).

         What is the answer?  We are left with this earnest prayer that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.  Our prayer should be that people would be born again of the Spirit and not reject the Light of life.  Our prayer should be that the Word of God would be honored and not treated with disdain and that people would come to faith as they hear the Word.

 

         Father God, I lift to You the progress of Your Gospel in my world.  I pray that Your message would spread rapidly and be honored.  I pray that Your Spirit would prepare the hearts of those that You are drawing to Yourself.  I pray that You would soften the soil of our hearts in this season so that people may hear the Good News.  In Jesus' name.