Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
Email Preach Him with Dr. Jim

The Possibility of Perfecting the Faith
1 Thes. 3:8-13 NAS

8 for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you; 13 so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. NAS

Introduction
This week the St. Louis Rams are preparing for a ball game that, if they win, will mean they are league champions and are on their way to the super bowl. I have listened to several interviews this week and the coach has basically said, "we're trying to perfect our ability in defense and offense." What he meant by 'perfect' is not to become perfect but they are diligently working to achieve a goal to improve the football team. That is what we're talking about when we use the word perfecting the faith.

Have you ever heard anybody say that if your looking for the perfect church and you ever find it, don't join it because you will ruin it.

In the church Jesus started:
    the treasurer was Judas a thief.

    The one of the leading spokesman was one who would on three occasions deny his faith.

    One prominent apostle was one who regularly expressed some doubt.

Although we can't find a Perfect Church we should look for a church Perfecting in the faith.

    Perfecting the Faith through . . Purpose. v 8-9

        Perfecting the Faith through . . Prayer. v 9-12

            Perfecting the Faith through the . . Parousia. v 13
 
 

1.    Perfecting the Faith through . . Purpose. v 8-9


A.    The . . Reason of Perfection through Purpose.   v 8
            v "8 for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord"

        1.    The Reason of . . Living. v 8 a Phil. 1:21
                a.    "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. NAS

        2.    The Reason of A . . Lasting Stand. v 8 b

B.    The . . Recognition of Perfection through Purpose. v 9
v  "9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account"

        1.    The . . Returning Appreciation. v 9 a

        2.    The . . Rejoicing Account. v 9 b

Illustration
Here in January we are receiving many statements which indicate our accounts in 1999. Today the financial record of your gifts is available. You will get a report of what you have given in the year 1999. Suppose the Lord gave out annual reports. What would our account look like?

Illustration
Lloyd Ogilvie has a book of sermons on 1 Thessalonians. In this book he tells the story of being at conference where none of the church leaders were wanting to really listen to what he had to say about change for church growth.

He decided one day t leave the hotel and take a walk. As he passed the reception desk he heard the receptionist say Dr Ogilvie has checked out of our hotel. He went over and told the lady he in fact had not checked out and would be there two more days.

As he walked God told him you really have checked out, even though your here physically you've checked out mentally, and spiritually.
 

Application

They forced Paul to leave Thessalonica physically but he had not left spiritually. He had Purpose for these new converts.
 
 

2.    Perfecting the Faith through . . Prayer. v 10-12


A.    Perfecting through . . Unusual Prayer. v 10
v  10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?

        1.    The Word for Prayer here is different than usual it has the idea of deep longing or begging.

                a.    Unusual In Persistence. v 10 a

Illustration
Friday, I got an email from a pastor that I've become acquainted with in California. I have never met him but I have communicated with him on email. He sent me an email prayer request Friday night and I prayed for him on Friday and all during the day on Saturday. When I awakened in the middle of the night, I also remembered him in prayer. This is what Paul is talking about when he talks about praying for them night and day. He was persistent in his prayer.
 

        b.    Unusual In Passion. v 10 b

This unusual prayer also has an unusual passion about it. Notice the words 'most earnestly'. That is really a strong expression and so the passion of Paul in this pray for the people of Thessalonica

               1)Passion to be . . Present.

Illustration
In an interview with Garth Brooks he said," I need to be home my children need my presence."
 

                2)Passion to be . . Perfect. (Complete what is lacking)   Note the same word in this verse.
Matt 4:21
And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. NAS
 

B.    Perfecting through . . Unassertive Prayer. v 11
v  11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you;

        1.    Unassertive In . . Demand. v 11 a

The matter of praying can be unassertive in demand. About 10 years ago there was a quite a movement among the Pentecostal community to say that you could demand from God. One of the Pentecostal preachers in town disagreeing with that called it the 'blab it and grab it' theology. Well I didn't understand immediately his term, but I agreed with his explanation. Those who have emphasized that we go to God and demand what we want just do not understand Lordship.
 

        2.    Unassertive in . . Direction. v 11 b

Strong's # NT:2720
kateuthuno (kat-yoo-thoo'-no); from NT:2596 and NT:2116; to straighten fully, i.e. (figuratively) direct: KJV-guide, direct.

Strong's # NT:2116
euthuno (yoo-thoo'-no); from NT:2117; to straighten (level); technically, to steer: KJV-governor, make straight.

            a.    Compare to Satan Hindering in 1 Thes. 2:18

Strong's # NT:1465
egkopto (eng-kop'-to); from NT:1722 and NT:2875; to cut into, i.e. (figuratively) impede, detain:
KJV-hinder, be tedious unto.

Paul was also unassertive in his direction. The word direction means to straighten fully. It's almost like pounding it down and making it smooth. By way of contrast, I want you to notice (above) again the word in 1 Thess. 2:18 where it says that Satan hindered. This word is to cut up or to cut into, to impede. So whereas the road was hindered by Satan, Paul's prayer was Lord make it straight make the direction clean and clear.
 

C.    Perfecting through . . Dependent Prayer. v 12
v  12    12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you;

        1.    Dependent In . . Cause. v 12 a
                ". . . 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound. . ."

                        a. Paul Can't Do It God Has To.

        2.    Dependent In . . Considerations. v 12 b
                ". . . in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you; . . . "

        3.    Consideration of Love . . Desired.

                    a.    For Christians.
                    b.    For Lost People.

        4.    Consideration of Love . . Demonstrated.

                    a.    In Deed as Well as Word.

If you Love Jesus, you Love His Church, You Love fellow Christians, You love the Lost.

Illustration
Prayer is changing a retirement community in Catonsville, Md. There is less gossip and fewer complaints, and more people are trusting God to meet their needs at the Parkview retirement center. Four Christians pray every day in front of each apartment.

At first people asked them what they were doing, but now residents come out of their apartments to give them specific prayer requests, the Grand Rapids-based ministry Hope Ministries said. At Charleston, another Catonsville retirement community, 99 residents including Protestants and Catholics have registered to pray daily for their neighbors.

Application

Paul expected the church to reach for perfection. He knew it would take prayer. We need to begin some unusual methods of Prayer for Our Church and all Persons.
 
 

3. Perfecting the Faith through the . . Parousia. v 13


Introduction NT:3952
parousia (par-oo-see'-ah); from the present participle of NT:3918; a being near, i.e. advent (often, return; specifically, of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked); (by implication) physically, aspect: KJV-coming, presence.

A.    Character at the . . Coming of the Lord. v 13 a
            ". . . so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord.. . "

        1.    Established Character.
        2.    Exemplary Character.

                a.    Paul was blameless In Character according to the Law before his salvation.
                b.    Paul was Lost and on his way to hell,

Phil 3:6
as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. NAS
 

B.    Characters at the . . Coming of the Lord. v 13 b
            ". . . Jesus with all His saints.

        1.    The Lord Jesus Is Coming.
        2.    All the Saints who have died are coming with Him..

Illustration Fearing the Coming of the Lord
During his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy often closed his speeches with the story of Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.

One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand. Quelling a clamor for immediate adjournment, Davenport rose and said, "The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought."

Rather than fearing what is to come, we are to be faithful till Christ returns. Instead of fearing the dark, we're to be lights as we watch and wait. Harry Heintz

Application

I would say Davenport had a mature understanding of the faith.
 

The Possibility of Perfecting the Faith
 

Perfecting the Faith through . . Purpose.
 

Perfecting the Faith through . . Prayer.
 

Perfecting the Faith through the . . Parousia.

3: 13 so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.