The Power of the Spirit, The Persecution of the Saints

Today’s selected reading is found in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Thessalonica. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first three chapters of this New Testament book. “Paul and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:1).

 

            “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for yoursake. And ye became followrs of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every  place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10).

 

            “For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance is unto you, that it was not in vain: but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetoueness; God is witness; nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth 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. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

 

            “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye have also suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16).

 

            “But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming For ye are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20).

 

            “Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; and sent Timotheus, our brother and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to k now your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day, praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:1-13).

 

            When you come to the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints you will encounter the first of any epistles written by the apostle. What’s more is that if you take the time to read the epistle you will find that at the time of writing it Paul was together with Silvanus whom we know to be Silas and Timotheus whom we know as Timothy. I am absolutely convinced that in order to truly understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it is necessary to turn and direct our attention to the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul arriving in Thessalonica after departing from Philippi upon the supernatural intervention of the living God while in prison and the salvation of the jailor and his entire household. As you come to the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul arriving in Thessalonica and entering into the synagogue of the Jews as was his custom. Within the synagogue the apostle Paul would teach and preach unto both the Jews and the Gentiles the word and gospel of the kingdom of heaven. With this being said, however, the apostle Paul would experience tremendous resistance and opposition to the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            Upon reading the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Thessalonica it is absolutely necessary to consider the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. I am convinced that if you want to truly understand the context and language found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Thessalonica we must needs turn and direct our attention to the words which are found here as they help us truly understand the urgency of the apostle Paul to write unto them. If there is one thing we must needs understand concerning the first—and even the second epistle—written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints we must needs recognize that although he would enter into the synagogue and would preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ he was forced to depart from among them because of opposition, resistance and persecution by the unbelieving and envious Jews. Although the apostle Paul would indeed enter into the city of Thessalonica which is in modern day Greece he would be forced to abruptly depart from the city due to envy and even threats and danger from the Jews. What so amazes me about the words which are found in this epistle is that it was the first epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints and the churches. With this in mind and being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the first and opening verse:

 

            “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go” (Acts 17:1-9).

 

            “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed” (Acts 17:10-15).

 

            It is absolutely clear when reading the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that while at Thessalonica he sought to not only preach the gospel but also argue and contend that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed both Christ and the Son of the living God. What makes the time the apostle Paul was in Thessalonica so incredibly unique and powerful when you think about it is when you consider how there was a tremendous amount of opposition and resistance—not necessarily to him as a person but to the word and message he preached. You cannot read the seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts without encountering the resistance and opposition the Jews presented unto and against the apostle Paul. What’s more is the Jews which were present in Thessalonica—those who were envious and unbelieving—could not tolerate or endure the preaching of the apostle Paul and the response and reception that was granted towards it. Not only this but as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that they not only opposed themselves but also blasphemed in the sight and presence of the apostle Paul. What makes this truly intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the fact that those Jews and Gentiles whose hearts were tender and receptive to the preaching of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ received it in much affliction, hardship, opposition and resistance. Those who heard the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus preached by the apostle Paul in Thessalonica were not only introduced to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ but they were also introduced to the persecution, the affliction and the opposition that is more often than not linked to it.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the preaching of the gospel—and not only the preaching of the gospel but also the receipt of the gospel—and its being connected to persecution, to suffering, to affliction and opposition. There is something truly unique and astounding when you think about the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and its being preached in the midst of persecution, affliction, opposition and even suffering. I can’t help but be absolutely and completely gripped and captivated with the truth of those who not only received the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in comfort and ease but those who are able to hear and receive it directly linked to persecution, affliction and suffering. I am absolutely convinced that those who are able to receive the gospel in the midst of affliction, suffering and persecution are those who cannot and will not be surprised when they experience suffering, affliction and persecution in their own lives. There is something absolutely tremendous about those who receive the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of persecution, suffering and affliction. In all reality I would dare say that those who receive the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of suffering, persecution and affliction are those who are much less likely to become offended when they experience it themselves in their own lives. Oh in all reality the more I think about this particular reality the more I am brought face to face with the fact that there is a great disparity and difference between how many hear and receive the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in comfort and ease and yet know absolutely nothing about suffering, affliction and persecution.

 

            As you come to the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Thessalonica you will come find the apostle Paul beginning and opening by describing Silas and Timothy being present together with him. When the apostle Paul began writing this first epistle written unto the Thessalonian saints he referred to them as “the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.” The apostle Paul began this epistle by specifically referring to the church which was present among the Thessalonians—a church that was established in the midst of suffering, affliction and persecution. The first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints was one that was written unto a church that was established despite and regardless of the affliction and opposition that came as a direct result of the preaching of the gospel. It’s quite interesting to consider the tremendous truth surrounding the church which was established here in Thessalonica and how despite the affliction, persecution, opposition and suffering that was directly linked to the preaching of the gospel there were those who received it despite that being present. How absolutely wonderful it truly is when you think about and consider the tremendous truth surrounding the Thessalonians hearing and receiving the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of suffering, affliction and persecution.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in the opening chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints we find him giving thanks to God always for them all making mention of them in their prayers. I have to admit that the more I read the words which are found in the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous amount of prayers he prayed for the churches. We know and understand the apostle Paul as one who preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ unto both Jews and Gentiles, however, we must also recognize that he was just as much a man of prayer and praying as he was preaching. In each of the epistles beginning with the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints we find the apostle Paul writing and mentioning unto the churches how he not only gave thanks to God for them but also how he made mention of them in his prayers. As you read the words found in the first chapter of the epistle you will find the apostle Paul giving thanks to God always for these saints and making mention of them in his prayers as he remembered them without ceasing and their work of faith, their labour of love and their patience of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is actually quite unique when you consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul not only speaks of faith as work but he also speaks of love as being a labor. I feel the tremendous need to call and draw your attention to your own walk and relationship with the living God and whether or not the faith which is present in your life is indeed work and whether or not your love is truly that which you are willing to labor to produce within your life.

 

            The apostle Paul—when writing unto the saints which were at Thessalonica—spoke of faith as work, love as being a labor and hope as being patient. In all reality I can’t help but think about the words which are found in the epistle written in the second chapter of the epistle written by James the half-brother of the Lord Jesus. It is in this epistle we find the half-brother of the Lord Jesus speaking concerning faith—and not only faith but also faith and its direct connection and link to work and works. If you read the second chapter of the epistle written by the half-brother of Jesus you will find him emphatically declaring that faith without works is dead and abides alone. When writing the epistle unto the saints which were scattered abroad James sought to relay unto them the tremendous truth that faith must needs a manifestation and demonstration and cannot simply be a declaration we make with our mouths. Oh there would indeed be those who would like to think they can merely make verbal declarations concerning their faith without having any type of demonstration of faith within their hearts and lives. There would be those who feel their faith is best relayed through verbal declarations and yet fail to recognize and understand that faith is best manifested through demonstration. Faith is something which must needs be more than simply verbally declared unto others and must needs be something that is demonstrated within and throughout our lives. With this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James beginning with the first verse:

 

            “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law accoding to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy: and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:1-13).

 

            “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath. Not works, is dead being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou. Know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).

 

            Please don’t miss the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by the half-brother of James for within it we are brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth of faith without works is dead. What’s more is that not only is faith without works dead but faith without works abides alone because there is no outlet, manifestation and demonstration. I am absolutely convinced within my heart and spirit that faith is in and of itself something that requires more than just declaration and desperately needs demonstration to survive and thrive within our hearts and lives. When the apostle Paul wrote unto the Thessalonian saints we find the apostle writing of their work of faith, their labor of love and their patience of hope in the Lord Jesus thus intrinsically linking faith, love and hope—three realities which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. It is in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth we find him speaking of faith, hope and love and how the greatest of these is love. When we come to the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints we find him writing and speaking of work of faith, the labor of love and the patience of hope. It is truly remarkable when we consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with the tremendous reality that faith not only needs works but faith is in and of itself a work. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to understand that faith without works is dead and that faith is in and of itself work.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the first chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints and I am brought face to face with the awesome truth that the apostle Paul remembered concerning the saints how they were those who gave themselves to the work of faith, the labor of love and the patience of hope. I am writing these words and I am coming face to face with the fact that more often than not faith is that which is indeed work and how love is indeed a labor. Have you ever stopped to think about the reality and manifestation of faith and love within your heart and life and how faith is something that is indeed work and how love is indeed something that requires labor? Have you ever committed and devoted your life to a work of faith—and not only a work of faith but also works of faith? Have you ever committed and devoted your life to a labor of love—and not only a labor of love but actually labors of love? I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with the words found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is a powerful picture of faith, of love and of hope all working harmoniously within the life of the Thessalonian saints. Despite the fact that they had heard and received the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in much affliction, in much opposition and in much persecution they continued their lives committing themselves to faith, to love and to hope. The Thessalonian saints were such that committed themselves to faith, to love and to hope. What’s more is that the apostle Paul gave thanks unto the living God always for them making mention of them in his prayers upon remembrance their work of faith, their labor of love and their patience of hope.

            As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will be brought to the point where the apostle Paul writes and speaks unto them concerning their election of God—that which the apostle Peter wrote unto the scattered and suffering saints concerning. It was when writing unto the saints which were scattered and suffering the apostle Peter instructed them to make their calling and election sure and here in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul we find him speaking unto them concerning their election of God. The apostle Paul would immediately follow this by writing and speaking unto them concerning their gospel not coming unto them in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, in much assurance. Oh that we would recognize when thinking about the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that it cannot and must not come in word only but also in power and in the Holy Ghost. In fact this is precisely what the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth in the epistles written unto them. What’s more is that if you read and consider the final words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples and followers before He ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven you will find Him also speaking of the demonstration of the power and of the Holy Ghost in direct connection to the gospel. Oh we must needs recognize and understand that when considering the preaching of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs acknowledge the tremendous need for the demonstration and power of the Holy Ghost. The gospel is in of itself the power of God unto salvation and faith does indeed come by hearing and hearing by the word of God, however, with that being said we have a great need to recognize that the word and gospel of the living God must needs be accompanied by the demonstration of power and of the Holy Ghost. Oh it is with this being said I invite you to consider the following words written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narratives written by the gospel authors:

 

            “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to k now any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

 

            “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” (1 Corinthians 4:14-21).

 

 

            “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, the worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20).

 

            “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:14-20).

 

            “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins. Should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:45-53).

 

            “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:1-8).

 

 

            It is absolutely necessary to recognize and understand the words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture for when we consider the mission and assignment the disciples and early church were going to complete in the absence of Jesus it was one that was never meant to be done simply and solely in word only. The word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is such that must needs be accompanied by signs, by wonders and by miracles. The apostle Paul wrote unto these saints in Thessalonica and declared unto them concerning the gospel which was preached unto them and how it not only came unto them in word but also in power and in the Holy Ghost. What’s more is that immediately after this the apostle Paul goes on to write how they became followers of them and of the Lord having received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for while we do in fact read of the power of the Holy Ghost we also witness and experience the persecution that more often than not accompanies the preaching of the word. I am absolutely convinced there are those who fail and miss the point of preaching coming in power and in the demonstration of the Holy Ghost and yet having nothing to do with the affliction, the persecution and the suffering of the flesh. We like having conversations about the power and yet there are very few who like speaking about persecution that can more often than not accompany the preaching of the word of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you will be brought face to face with the power but also the persecution. I am absolutely and entirely convinced we must needs recognize that directly associated with preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the power of the Holy Spirit but also the persecution of the saints. THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT, THE PERSECUTION OF THE SAINTS! There is something truly unique about this particular reality and concept when you take the time to think about it for many men and women among us want the power of the Spirit and yet have absolutely no room or space for the persecution of the saints. In all reality I would dare say that if you speak about the early church you must needs recognize that while it was a church that moved and operated in the power of the Holy Spirit it was also a church that operated and moved in the persecution of the saints. If you read the New Testament book of Acts you will indeed read of incredible stories of the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit but intrinsically linked and connected to the power of the Holy Spirit was the persecution of the saints of God. In fact I would dare say that you could not have a conversation about the power of the Spirit without at the same time having a conversation about the persecution of the saints. Moreover I am absolutely convinced that more often than not the demonstration and manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit is directly linked to the persecution of the saints. The early church of the Lord Jesus Christ was not only synonomous with the power of the Holy Spirit but it was also synonomous with persecution—first of the Jews and later of the Romans who persecuted them relentlessly and without mercy.

 

            It is truly interesting when reading the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints for when we read it we encounter the work of faith, the labor of love and the patience of hope. Directly alongside of this was the apostle Paul writing of the election of God and how the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ came unto them in more than just word only but also in power and in the Holy Ghost. Upon receiving the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus in power and in the Holy Ghost there was the presence of affliction, persecution, suffering and opposition. While in the city of Thessalonica the apostle Paul experienced a tremendous amount of affliction, suffering and opposition and so much so that the disciples and brethren would have to send him forth from the midst of their presence. So fierce was the persecution, and affliction, and suffering experienced by the apostle Paul that he would need to be delivered from the hands of the unbelieving and envious Jews who sought to raise themselves against him. There is something truly interesting when reading the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints for within them we are brought face to face with the demonstration of the power of the Spirit and that being directly linked and connected to the persecution of the saints of God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the apparent link between both the persecution and the power. What we must recognize is that more often than not there can be and we dare not seek to separate the persecution from the power and how perhaps one of the main reasons men and women are unable to experience the power of the Holy Spirit is because they are unwilling to walk through and endure the persecution of the saints.

 

            What I love when continuing to read the words found in this epistle is how the apostle Paul declared they received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost and were examples to all that believe in other regions of the world. Not only this but the apostle Paul would write and speak unto the Thessalonian saints that from them sounded out the word of the Lord in Macedonia and Achaia as well as in every place their faith to God-ward is spread abroad. What makes this even more remarkable when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that the apostle Paul declared unto them that he did not need to speak any thing concerning them because their testimony was such that spoke for itself. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when we consider the Thessalonian saints they were such whose faith was such a powerful and witness unto the saints throughout the world. There is something truly awesome and powerful about the words the apostle Paul wrote in this epistle for within it we find him writing of how they became followers of the Lord having received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit. Despite the fact they received the word of the Lord with much affliction they would become examples and ensamples unto other saints throughout the world during that time. This takes on an entirely different meaning when you read the words found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul spoke and declared concerning them that their witness and testimony was proof enough to both the world and to the saints which were present in the world during those days. What a truly awesome and powerful thought it is to think how their work of faith, their labor of love and their patience in hope would not bear and bring forth fruit but would also serve as a witness and testimony during those days.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you will find the apostle Paul going on to speak of the suffering and bitter treatment they experienced at Philippi. In the opening verses of the second chapter the apostle Paul would write how the Thessalonians knew their entrance in unto them was not in vain and how they had suffered before and were shamefully entreated at Philippi. Despite the fact they had suffered and were shamefully entreated in Philippi they were bold in their God to speak unto them the gospel of God without contention. What’s more is the apostle Paul would go on to declare that their exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile, but as they were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel so also did they speak—not as pleasing men but God which tries the hearts of men. The apostle Paul described unto and reminded the Thessalonian saints how at no time while present among them did they use flattering words nor a cloke of covetousness and did not seek of men glory, nor of them, nor of others. The apostle Paul was affectionally desirous of them and were willing to have imparted unto them the gospel of God, yes, but also their very souls because they were dear unto them. The apostle Paul would go on to write unto them and called them to remember their labor and travail and how they labored night and day because they would not be chargeable unto any of them as they preached the gospel of the living God unto them.

 

            If you continue reading the words found in this passage of Scripture we find the apostle Paul exhorted and comforted and charged every one of them to walk worthy of God who had called them unto his kingdom and glory. It was as a direct result of this the apostle Paul would go on to write unto them how he thanked God without ceasing because when they received the word of God which they heard from them they received it not as the word of men but as it was in the truth which is the word of God. These saints who were brethren became followers of the churches of God which were in Judaea in Christ Jesus for they suffered like things of their own countrymen even as they had done the Jews who not only killed the Lord Jesus but also their own prophets and persecuted them. What so amazes me about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture is the passionate plea and appeal made unto the Thessalonian saints to walk worthy of God who had called them unto his kingdom and glory. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are those who are indeed walking worthy of God—and not only walking worthy of God but also walking worthy of the calling wherewith we have been called. There is a great need for us to recognize and understand this within our own lives for we have indeed been called to walk worthy of the living God who has called and redeemed us. We as the saints of God have been called to walk in such a manner that pleases, honors and glorifies the living God who has purchased us, who has reconciled us unto Himself through the Lord Jesus. We as the saints of God must needs recognize and understand that we have a testimony that is needed in the earth and that we have been called to walk in a manner that is pleasing and glorifying to the living God.

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it worth calling and inviting us into a place where we recognize that we have indeed been called to be those who walk in a manner that pleases and glorifies the living God. We as the saints of God have been called to be those commit ourselves to the work of faith, to the labor of love, and to the patience of hope. We must needs recognize that we have been called to walk in the demonstration of the Holy Spirit—and not just the demonstration of the Holy Spirit but also be willing to commit ourselves to persecution, to suffering, to affliction and to opposition. We dare not miss and lose sight of those for the living God has indeed called us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men. It is the divine will of the living God that our hearts may be established and unblameable in holiness before God at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. We have indeed been called to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and that our lives would be such that bring glory, honor and praise unto Him. That which we find in this passage of Scripture is incredibly awesome and powerful when we truly take the time to think about it for it brings us face to face with the life we have been called to be saints of the most High God and of the Lord Jesus Christ

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