by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3 March 23, 2014 Dayton, Texas
8 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.
9 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;
10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
1901 ASV Translation:
8 For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything.
9 For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God,
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, who delivereth us from the wrath to come.
I. Your Faith Has Gone Out.
A. At issue: "your faith".
1. At the very core, one's "faith" is internal (Romans 10:10 says "...in the heart man believes...").
2. At issue, then, is how this internal reality "goes out" and the text tells us; "...from you sounded forth the Word of the Lord...".
a. This "sounding forth" is specific in terms of impact: we have no need to speak anything.
b. "They" tell "us" of our impact upon "you".
3. In terms of "significance" this text addresses the debate surrounding whether "faith" necessarily produces "works". Clearly the "faith" of the Thessalonians yielded "works"; the question is whether this is a requirement of "faith", or simply an occasional occurrence. At root is this question: Can anyone "believe" anything without that "believing" making a difference in the way one thinks and, subsequently, acts?
a. If the thing "believed" has no obvious connection to a person's particular, immediate, circumstance, the internalized "faith" will not yield any thoughts or actions that make an impact upon that circumstance. If I "believe" 2+2=4, but I am not facing a circumstance that has any obvious mathematical connections, my "faith" will be without any "works". But, if I get into a debate over the price of a car and the seller denies that I have paid the right amount of money because he/she "believes" that 2+2=3, my "faith" will immediately move into "production mode".
b. It is impossible to "believe" a given piece of data and not have that data motivate my thinking and, thus, actions if I also "believe" that the data meets my circumstance at the moment. For example, suppose I "believe" that it is my responsibility to give the Gospel to every person with whom I have a conversation that lasts more than five minutes. What will my faith make me "do" the next time I get into a situation wherein it is obvious that I will have more than five minutes with a person? There are only two possibilities: I will either share the Gospel, or I won't. If I do, clearly my "faith" is producing the action. If I don't, my "faith" will still produce an impact by producing an immediately following sense of guilt that invariably comes when I "believe" and do not follow through. That I do not share the Gospel does not mean I do not "believe" I should; it only means that my "faith" will have some uncomfortable consequences (actions) for my relationship to God because my "faith" produces my "guilt" that then stains the freedom I have before God.
c. A crucial distinction, however, exists within the parameters of "believing" that needs to be as clear as possible. My illustration addresses a scenario wherein I "believe" in "my responsibility"; the biblical issue of "faith", however, is invariably directed toward God so that the issue is not what I end up doing because I "believe" something, but, rather, what God ends up doing. Our text says "...your faith which is toward the God...". The Law and The Gospel are not at odds over "believing" as an activity of the heart and mind; they are at odds over who is "believed". The Law requires me to believe in myself; the Gospel requires me to believe in God. With this distinction in mind, the question of whether "works" will invariably follow is moot: God cannot be "believed" without His response. Jesus said "faith" even as small as a grain of mustard would yield the powerful activity of God. To deny this is to deny His integrity. Paul makes this distinction by positing Law against Promise. Law is demand that I must fulfill; Promise is assurance that God will come across with what He has promised.
B. The Impact of "Your Faith".
1. Others are very aware of it.
2. It has to do with...
a. "Turning to God from idols" ("the work of the faith") [Note Acts 11:21 and Acts. 14:15 and especially Acts 26:20 where Paul defines his "preaching"].
1) The idea of "turning" is often "back to a former position/place", but is sometimes simply "turning from one position to another" so that one's direction is altered.
2) The order is "to God" and then "from idols".
b. "Serving a living and true God" ("the labor of the love").
1) This is a statement of "intent".
2) It is clear in all of the Bible that "faith" is a "methodology" to accomplish a particular goal. The goal is "service" rendered to a living God Who is true (as opposed to a dead god who is a nothing).
c. "Awaiting His Son from heaven" ("the endurance of the hope").
1) The "waiting" is for One Whom God raised from the dead.
2) The "waiting" is caused by that One's intermediate and temporary return to the heavens.
3) The "waiting" is for the One Who "delivers" us from "the coming wrath". This is not the typical term for "saves", but is used very similarly.