1 Thessalonians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings


-This morning I want to talk about the church being an affectionate fellowship of believers.
-Now, I know, that most of the time in Baptist circles, when we use the term fellowship, we are talking about getting together and eating—we often say we are having a fellowship, meaning, we are going to sit down and share a meal.
-But true fellowship between believers in Jesus Christ goes beyond merely sharing a meal—it really means sharing so much more.
To illustrate: I’ll share this story about an American pastor who was hosting a Brazilian seminary student at the church. They were travelling to a conference and along the way the pastor asked the student if he would like to stop for a cup of coffee. The student said, "I would be honored." So the pastor swung through the drive-thru of a Starbucks, and got them each a coffee.
As they were back on their way to the conference, the student became very quiet and when pressed about his silence the seminary student said, "I thought you were asking me to be your friend. I thought we were going to sit together and share life."
-When I read that story, I thought: Hey, that Brazilian seminary student had the right idea of fellowship. It’s not just sharing a coffee, it’s sharing ourselves. It’s sharing life.
-It’s having such a close-knit bond with brothers and sisters in Christ, that our lives are intertwined.----It is said that blood is thicker than water, but the bond that Christians have in Christ is even thicker than blood.
-For the passage that we are reading today, Paul had been forcibly separated from the Thessalonian church, but he wanted the church to know that he still desired to maintain an affectionate fellowship with them that they would both need in order to boldly continue their journeys on this earth.
-The lesson we find here is that an important part of a Christian’s time on earth is to attain and maintain an affectionate fellowship with other believers for mutual benefit and the advancement of the cause of Christ.
-So I hope to lead you today to attain and maintain a close, loving fellowship, a sharing of lives, with your brothers and sister in Christ within this church and elsewhere.
1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:13 ESV
17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy. 1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. 6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
-There are three lessons about this affectionate fellowship that I want to touch on this morning
First, I want to talk about:

I) The reason for good Christian fellowship

-In the beginning of the passage, Paul makes it clear that he was quite bothered by being forced to separate from these believers. He wanted to make sure they were still being the church as he first founded it. Why was this so important to him?
-I believe chapter 3 gives us some clues. First I want to mention that in v. 6 that he indicates he was glad to hear that their faith and love was still going strong. Paul was very concerned about their personal spiritual growth.
-Christians need each other to push and encourage one another toward greater faith, greater love, greater growth. We need each other to spur one another on toward maturity.
-We are familiar with the proverb that says:
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Prov. 27:17 ESV)----This is a reason for fellowship==we help one another conform to Scripture and Christ.
-Secondly, though, throughout this section he makes mention about the distress and affliction that both he and the Thessalonian church have gone through. And Paul indicates in v. 3 that Christians need each other so that they are not moved away from the faith by these afflictions.
-Being a Christian on this earth is not easy. First, you deal with the effects of this fallen world that cause sickness and disasters just like everybody else. And we need to constantly remind one another that we have victory over it through Jesus Christ. These problems from the sin-curse do not have the final say.
-But then you also have to deal with the effects of spiritual and moral wickedness that are opposed to the things of God. We will deal with persecution because the world hates us and the ruler of this world hates us. In v. 3 Paul says that we are destined for these afflictions. Persecution is to be expected.
-So, because of these reasons, we see that we absolutely need each other. If we try to do things on our own, we will be overcome. But when we are locked together with one another, we are the overcomers, which I think was Solomon’s point:
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-- a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Eccl. 4:12 ESV)
-There can be no Lone Ranger Christians. And, I must make mention, that how we relate with other Christians within the church must get beyond a sort of a superficial acquaintance. For fellowship to work and have its effect, it must truly be a sharing of life with one another.
-But having made mention of persecution, I believe it is also important to talk secondly today about:

II) The enemy of good Christian fellowship

-There is an enemy that does not want us to help each other grow spiritually. And he does not want us to protect one another from the onslaughts that he sends our way.
-In 2:18 Paul makes mention that Satan hindered him from getting back with the church, and in 3:5 he warns that the tempter is going to tempt Christians to leave the faith (or at least tempt them to not be an active participant in the faith).
-Satan is going to do whatever he can to keep Christians from sharing their life and helping one another be conquerors over his plans. Since he already lost the battle for their souls, he will do whatever he can to make Christians ineffective.
-How does Satan try to accomplish this? One major way is by isolating Christians so that they are easier to pick off. As Peter warned, Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8 ESV)
-If you’ve ever watched some sort of nature show, you see that this is exactly what lions do.
~Whenever the Animal Channel (or in back when I was a kid it was Wild Kingdom) would do a program on lions, they show how lions hunt. The lions would try to scatter the flock of animals away from one another, find the weakest of them, cut him off from the others, and then go in for the kill.
-Honestly, that is a great picture of what Satan does to Christians. He will try to scatter the congregation by making sure that they are not really, personally close to one another. He will find the most vulnerable of the bunch, and then he will go in for the kill by stunting spiritual growth, tempting them to fall into sin, and/or luring people to walk away from the faith.
-And one of the greatest ways that Satan will try to scatter the flock and destroy good Christian fellowship is by sowing the seeds that will lead to division within the church. When division comes within a church, some will get so disgusted that they will just leave church all together, or they will leave one church to find another church, only to find the same problems, and then begin a cycle of church hopping, never finding true fellowship.
-Most of the time, church division starts from some of the smallest, pettiest stuff, and Satan can blow it up to unbelievable proportions. He then scatters the flock, and then devours whoever he can.
-To tell you the truth, we American Christians can get offended and mad quite easily over the most trivial stuff, and then we leave no room for forgiveness. Somebody “offends” us and we never let it go. And that is the exact opposite of what the Bible calls us to do. We are to forgive one another as Christ forgives us, and give no foothold for the devil to separate the fellowship.
-We gotta thicken your skin a little bit and have genuine, open relationship with one another. I mean, think about this: our spouses, our parents, or our children hurt and offend us all the time, and yet we don’t write them off. We do something to make some form of reconciliation (usually). Why then do we so easily write off other Christians within the church?
-We are playing right into the devil’s hands when we do that. He is trying to isolate us Christians from one another so that he can do his work. Why in the world would we help him do it?----So beware of the enemy of good Christian fellowship.
Thirdly and finally, I want to talk about:

III) The fruit of good Christian fellowship

-In vv. 9 & 10 Paul talks about the fact that because of the good Christian fellowship that he shares with these believers, it leads him to give God thanks for the effect that they have in his own life (as well as what they do for the Kingdom of God), and then it also leads him to pray earnestly for them.
-Then in vv. 11-13 Paul actually gives a prayer to God on their behalf because of the fellowship that they enjoy with one another.
-When we are experiencing the real, genuine, affectionate fellowship with other Christians that Paul is talking about here, it leads us to pray to God, intervening on their behalf before the throne of grace.
-And when you look at the prayer that Paul gives, it might give us some prayer points that we can lift for those within our fellowship. First, he gives a prayer that the fellowship would be maintained. We need to pray that God would protect us from anything that would break the fellowship up or would hinder us from taking an active role within the fellowship.
-Paul then prays that they would have an increased love for one another, which Jesus says is the open sign that we are Christians=our love for one another. I’ll tell you what, it is hard to stay mad at someone that you’ve prayed for.
-So instead of being mad at someone, pray that God would give you an increased love for that person, that God would love that person through you, and that God would bless their life and make them fruitful for the Kingdom.
-Paul also prays for holiness among the fellowship, such that they would be set apart and consecrated for the Lord’s work until (and up to) the day that Jesus Christ returns. We need to pray for one another that our lives would be a reflection of the perfection and glory of the Lord.
-But I’ll tell you what, this prayer is only powerful and effective when there is that close intimacy of affectionate fellowship where lives are shared. When we know one another on a personal level and we know what everyone is struggling with, we are better able to give specific prayers to God. None of that whole: GOD BLESS EVERYONE kind of prayer, but something specific for specific people.
-Prayer and thanksgiving are the fruit of a genuine fellowship of believers, where we have a desire for God to work in the lives of fellow Christians for their blessing and God’s glory.


-That’s the kind of fellowship I want here at Harvest, and I pray that other churches would have as well.
~I see this kind of fellowship illustrated in the first book/movie of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It happens to be called THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and it follows a group of 9 men, dwarves, elves, and hobbits, who are completely opposite of one another, and yet they share a common cause and fight a common battle and it keeps them together for the common good.
~But to be part of this type of close-knit group, you first need to be a Christian, and you are a Christian when you are broken over your sinfulness, you turn from the direction your life is headed, and you fully trust in Jesus Christ (that He died for your sins on the cross and rose from the grave for your redemption). Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved and become part of the fellowship.
~Others of you are looking for a church home in which to share this type of fellowship. You can find this at Harvest Baptist Church, and I invite you to join us.
~There may be some here who know of someone in need of prayer, and I invite you to come to the altar and pray for them. Others may need to pray for a reconciled relationship in order to have fellowship, and I invite you to come to the altar to pray for that as well.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more