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Lesson 6: Friends Forever *

Introduction: Have you noticed that some people make decisions based on logic, and some based on emotion? I think I'm firmly in the "logic" camp, but history says otherwise. When my wife and I purchased our current home, we were considering three houses. I listed about ten important factors to consider (like how much it cost, how close it was to work), and then we ranked each home on each of these factors. When we got done with this very logical approach, we looked at the result, and decided we didn't like it. We purchased the house that ranked lowest on the logic list! Emotion prevailed for a decision we have lived with (and in) for thirty years! Last week, Paul explained to the Thessalonians the logical reasons why they should believe and trust him. This week he shares with them his emotions. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. God's Word Under Fire

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Is this an appeal to emotion? (I love it when people say, "I'm thankful for you!" It is an appeal to my emotions.)

      1. Many so-called Bible "scholars" claim that they can pick and choose which Bible texts are right and which are wrong. Others are not so blatant about it, but they reject certain texts because they conflict with their personal opinion. Others pick a certain text to follow and ignore everything else in the Bible on that subject. What does Paul say about the authority of the Bible? (It is the "word of God.")

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:14. Who made up the "churches in Judea?" (Jewish believers.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Who does Paul say killed Jesus? (The Jews.)

      1. When I went to law school, I learned that Jews were not just characters in the Bible, but were real, live people today. When I acquired several close Jewish friends, they would tell about being taunting as a child about being a "Christ-killer." One friend said he was called this before he even knew about Christ. When I'm asked, I generally answer that the Romans killed Jesus. But, Paul clearly says that the Jews did it. What attitude is Paul suggesting towards Jews? (Paul just got through saying that the Thessalonians were doing a good thing by imitating their fellow Jewish believers. Paul is Jewish. Jesus is Jewish. Paul cannot be suggesting a bad attitude towards the Jewish people.)

      2. Who, then, are the "bad guys?" (Those who are the enemies of the gospel: those who opposed Christianity by killing Jesus, killing the prophets, driving out Christians, and trying to stop the spread of the gospel.)

      3. What emotional appeal is Paul making when he talks about all the Christians suffering at the hands of the bad guys? (We are in this together!)

  2. The Wrath of God

    1. Notice that 1 Thessalonians 2:16 suggests that we can identify the bad guys because they are the ones trying to keep others from speaking. What is God's reaction to this? (The "wrath of God" has come upon those who believe in physically stopping Christianity.)

    2. What does 1 Thessalonians 2:16 say about the timing of the wrath of God? (It came "at last.")

      1. Paul sounds like God's wrath is overdue! Why is wrath appropriate? How is it consistent with love?

      2. Recently, an agent of Satan killed a number of people at a movie theater. If you heard of this, what was your reaction? What would be your reaction if you knew someone who was killed? What would be your reaction if one of those killed was your child? (Do you see how the level of emotion increases as the level of your love increases? God's wrath is terrible because He love for us is infinite.)

    3. What does Paul mean when he says that God's wrath has actually begun? (The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary points out that in 48 AD a riot took place in Jerusalem during Passover in which about 30,000 were killed. Josephus claims that over a million Jews were killed later when Jerusalem was destroyed.)

    4. Read Luke 19:42-44. What does Jesus say is the reason for the destruction of Jerusalem? (They did not recognize that Jesus was God.)

      1. Is this an argument based on emotion? (This is the pivotal event in the history of the world. God died for His creation. His creation killed Him. God has an incredible emotional involvement with us. To reject God's love, to tread on what God has done, is trigger the most terrible emotion - wrath!)

  3. The Struggle

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-19. What prevented Paul and his friends from visiting the Thessalonians again? (Satan.)

      1. Consider this just a minute. God is on the move punishing those who trample on His love, while Satan is on the move to restrict the good news of His love. How should this knowledge affect our everyday life? (We need to be keenly aware of the role the supernatural plays in every day events.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:20. What gives Paul joy? What gives Paul glory?(Notice the emotions. Those who listen to Paul's presentation of the gospel and act on it give him joy. On the other hand, Paul is upset when Satan tries to undo his work.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. What is it that Paul could no longer stand? (The emotional strain of separation. He could not stand the Thessalonians suffering persecution without help. He was worried that they would not stand firm.)

      1. What did Paul do about it? (Sent Timothy to be with them to encourage, strengthen them and undo any damage done by Satan's agents.)

      2. How do you feel when someone says, "I miss you, I want to come and help you?" (It warms my heart. It lets me know that person cares.)

    4. We see a lot of emotion in Paul's writings. We discussed in the introduction the logical and emotional approach to life. What if Paul had used only logic in his appeal to the Thessalonians? (His appeal would have been seriously crippled. People not only need to know the truth, they need to know you care.)

  4. The Report

    1. 1 Thessalonians 3:6. What has changed? (We just went from Paul saying that he sent Timothy on his behalf to visit the Thessalonians, to Timothy returning with a report.)

      1. What report does Timothy make? (The Thessalonians have pleasant memories of Paul.)

      2. Read Acts 17:5-8. We discussed this in a previous lesson. Paul's visit stirred up opposition, with the result that Jason and some other new believers got dragged before the authorities and had to post a bond. Is this a pleasant memory?

      3. How can this "pleasant memories" be an honest report? (Under emotional strain, people form strong bonds. It is not as if Paul mislead them. He not only shared with them the good news of the gospel, but he also told them ( 1 Thessalonians 3:4) that persecution would follow.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9. How does the steadfastness of the Thessalonian believers affect Paul? (He is encouraged. He feels alive ("we really live"). He feels joy.)

      1. When Satan or his agents attack you, have you considered the impact that your faithfulness might have on others?

      2. Doesn't Paul's reaction seem a little excessive? (Do you remember the last time you won something? Earned a great grade. Won an athletic contest. Won a job promotion. You feel great. You feel "alive." Paul has just won a battle (through the Thessalonians) against Satan - and he feels great about it.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:10. Wait a minute! Paul is rejoicing over their victory against Satan. How can he write about them "lacking" in faith? (We are all on the road towards a better and deeper relationship with our Lord. We all have room for improvement.)

    4. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13. Paul asks that God will allow them to come, that the Thessalonians would show love to each other, and that God would strengthen their hearts. What does it mean for God to "strengthen your heart?" (This is a mental and emotional change that the Holy Spirit makes to help you become more loving and more obedient.)

    5. Friend, how are you on the emotional side of dealing with fellow church members? If you think this is a weak spot, why not ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen your heart?

  5. Next week: Living Holy Lives.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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