by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 September 28, 2014 Dayton, Texas
8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
1901 ASV Translation:
8 for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
9 For what thanksgiving can we render again unto God for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
I. Paul's Issue: a "Lacking" Faith.
A. The term used indicates a deficit of some kind (used in 8 texts of the New Testament).
B. Clearly Paul does not have a great deal of confidence that the Thessalonians will be able to come to a fullness of confidence before God without his input.
1. There is a very real "condition" which people face in this world: ignorance of the truth of God.
2. There is only one "solution" to this "condition": somehow the truth of God is made plain to those in this condition.
3. Apparently it was not in the apostle's "faith system" to "believe" that God would by-pass His typical approach to "ignorance".
a. He told the Ephesians that God had given "apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/ teachers" to the church for the building up of itself.
b. He sent Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles to remedy this "ignorance" and the knowledge of Him was relatively restricted to the activities of those whom He had gifted and given to the Church.
1) These gifted people, however, were not a small group as time went by.
2) Every time someone was established in the faith, God gave them both His Spirit and His Spirit's "gifting" so that every group of believers in every place had the Spirit and His gifts to empower their walk with God.
3) Thus we can expect that the Thessalonians had both the Spirit and the gifts to make the "ignorance" problem go away.
4) The problem with this "solution" is that it takes time for the gifts to surface and mature sufficiently to function at a high level (even Paul had to go away to Arabia to receive the Gospel from Jesus before he could function as God's apostle).
c. He sponsored the writing of His revelation of Truth (our Bibles) so that each successive generation would have the Truth in written form if they had a Bible.
d. He made little, to no, provision for anyone who was outside of the circle of those who were exposed to this spoken/written Truth.
e. His approach took long years that inevitably left many people out simply because the spoken/written Truth never arrived in their "world" [Note Paul's series of questions in Romans 10:14].
4. Also, apparently, the body of "Truth" that must be imparted is not "large": it takes a long time to expose people to the whole of God's revelation and few people have the opportunity in life to receive that exposure.
a. This raises this question: when is "faith" not "lacking"?
1. The question runs in two directions.
a) The issue of a "faith" that "lacks" the most basic ingredient so that it "fails" to be acceptable to God (Acts 15:5).
b) The issue of a "faith" that "lacks" the more detailed truths that enable those who "believe" to inherit well in the Kingdom of Christ (2 Peter 1:11).
2. Thus the answer runs in two directions.
a) A "faith" that is not "lacking" in respect to the issue of "qualification to enter into the Kingdom" only requires enough "truth" to get a person to cease depending upon his/her own capacities to "earn" an entrance into God's Kingdom and to begin to depend upon the Person and Works of Jesus Christ alone.
b) A "faith" that is not "lacking" in respect to the issue of "inheriting well in the Kingdom" requires enough "truth" to get a person to shed his/her self-absorption so that he/she becomes a "servant" to others out of love.
b. However, this also raises a corollary question: what is "required" of those who "believe" in either/both case/cases?
1. The answer seems to be the same in both cases: "faith" must "endure" in order to be effective.
2. This means that the "endurance" arises out of an "established" "faith"; i.e., a "faith" that has become an integrated part of the actual perspective a person takes in respect to theissue in view. A "faith" that jettisons the required perspective is clearly not "established" and the consequences of "unbelief" fall upon those who do not "stand fast". Since the issues are not the same, the content of truth that is "believed" is not the same. But, whatever the issue (entrance or abundant entrance into the Kingdom), the requirement is for a "faith" that depends upon God's promises for the fulfillment to come and does not revert to human performance issues to bring that fulfillment to pass.
II. Paul's Gratitude Toward God.
A. All true "gratitude" is grace based.
1. This means that the person being "grateful" is clearly aware of God's part in the thing done.
2. This also means that God's part in the thing done is according to God's choices and will, not the will and choices of the one being grateful.
3. It would be "nice" if everyone who initially responded to the Gospel was poured into the new life with "faith and love" as were the Thessalonians, but they stand out as an exception to the norm. And Paul sees this as an extra measure of "grace" from God; not the typical measure.
B. His persistent "superabundant" (night and day) insistence that he be allowed to return to them is simply the outworking of his awareness that he stepped into a blessed "pocket" of the "elect" in Thessalonica that he wants to inherit well in the Kingdom and he wants to maximize that possibility by more input of "truth".