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Lesson 13: Keeping the Church Faithful *

Introduction: "Tough love" is a phrase that has been around for a very long time. Every parent should understand what it means - sometimes you have to be mature and discipline your child. You do it because you love your child, not because you love to discipline. But, when it comes to two adults, the discipline side seems more difficult to understand. What right do I have to discipline you? What right do you have to discipline me? Doesn't love require me to always help you, no matter what? These are difficult questions, and Paul deals with them in his closing words to the Thessalonians. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Called


    1. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:13. Has God chosen you to be saved?


      1. Are there some who God did not choose to be saved?


        1. If God chooses everyone, then why would Paul write that God chose the Thessalonians?


    2. Read Matthew 22:1-10. What does this story about the Kingdom of God teach us about those who are called? (God searches out everyone to come to His wedding feast. In the parable, when the King told his servants to invite "anyone you find," this represents the gospel now going to the Gentiles. That is how the Thessalonians were "chosen.")


    3. Look again at 2 Thessalonians 2:13. We speak of being justified by grace alone. What role do we play in sanctification - the idea of progressively living a more holy life? (Paul says the Holy Spirit sanctifies us.)


    4. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:14-15. Have we no role in this? (We have a role. Paul writes about us believing the truth and holding firmly to the teachings.)


      1. Why is believing the truth so important? Just last night I heard a famous American television host talk about the "many paths to heaven." (My main struggle with sin is in those areas in which I continually debate God's will. I don't want to admit something is sin, because then I would have to turn away from it. We have to have a guiding star of belief in the truth. We have to first lock down what is right before we can hold firm to it.)


    5. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17. How many of us need encouragement? (We all do.)


      1. What is the source of our encouragement? (God died for us. He died for us so that we can live with Him in the future.)


      2. What is the result of this encouragement? (We are given strength to live better lives.)


  2. The Evil One


    1. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2. What threatens our lives? What threatens our witnessing? (Wicked and evil men who do not accept the gospel.)


      1. For what should we pray? (That the gospel will spread and be accepted.)


      2. How is that connected with the problem with evil people? (The people who are trouble in our life are likely those who are unconverted. Converting them solves the problem.)


    2. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:3. What does God do to protect us from evil? (Two things. He strengthens us and He protects us from Satan.)


      1. If God totally protected us, why would we need to be strengthened?


    3. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:4-5. If our lives in Christ have the proper direction, what direction is that? (God's love and Jesus' perseverance.)


      1. Are those two connected? If so, how?


  3. The Lazy


    1. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6. How should we treat the lazy and the disobedient? (We should keep away from them.)


      1. I'm going to assume that Paul has not forgotten the last thing he just wrote. He just wrote that we should increase in love and perseverance. How is that consistent with staying away from the lazy and the disobedient? (This is a "tough love" message.)


      2. If we are too stay away from them, what does that mean about helping them?


    2. Let's skip ahead and read 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15. What is the point of staying away from lazy and disobedient church members? (The idea is that this is a warning. The lazy and disobedient are not our enemy. Instead, they are people who need to be warned and disciplined by our absence.)


    3. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8. What did Paul model for the church? (Diligence. Not being a burden. Paying for their food.)


    4. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:9. Why did Paul not take food from the Thessalonians? He was working for them.(He was entitled to be supported by them for his gospel work, but he modeled diligence.)


      1. Should this also be a model for government, to encourage diligence?


      2. If the answer is yes, then should government impose higher taxes on those who refuse to work? (Governments generally do just the opposite, they place the highest level of taxation on those who are the most successful in their work.)


    5. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:10. What should we do with people who approach us and beg for money for food? How should you, how should your church, respond to the lazy poor? (The Bible is clear that we should encourage, indeed require, work from those who are helped.)


      1. How can you tell if a poor person is diligent or not? (Here is the root of the problem. You would have to get to know the person to be sure. It is easy (and probably wrong) just to give someone money without knowing their situation. Aren't we required to get to know someone before we can make a correct judgment?)


      2. The evening after I wrote the prior series of questions, a young man approached me in a restaurant and asked if I was a priest. (I often wear only black, so his question was not ridiculous.) Joking, I responded, "Why, do you have something to confess?" I told him I was not a priest. We spoke a little bit, and I could tell that he was socially awkward. Later, I walked out of the restaurant just behind him. He asked me for a very small amount of money for food. What should I have done? (I'm embarrassed to say that I was running late for a meeting, and so I gave him some money. Later, I thought "how stupid can I be?" There were much better ways to handle this, instead of just giving him money. We had just walked out of a restaurant!)


    6. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12. What is the problem with encouraging laziness? (Work is one of the blessings in life. It keeps you out of trouble. It allows you to help others. God desires us to be diligent in our work, not sitting around gossiping about the lives of others.)


    7. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:13. Can we get burned out doing what is right? (Doing good for others is a joy. However, we need to work intelligently with those in need.)


    8. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18. Why would an able bodied person want to stop working? (They think that is the most enjoyable kind of life. A life of leisure.)


      1. What does Paul indicate should be the chief goal of our life? (A God-given peace.)


    9. Friend, have you considered making a peaceful life your goal? Paul teaches us that walking towards holiness, and working to bless others, is the path to peace. Will you commit to begin walking in that direction today?


  4. Next week: We begin a new study entitled "Growing in Christ."
* 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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