The Organic and Practical Lifestyle of the Expectant Believer.

1 Thessalonians speaks often of the New Testament believer's hope of seeing Jesus. We eagerly await Christ's return. This anticipation only grows as we get older.

Last week, we discussed the nature of biblical faithfulness that begins and ends with God. This week, we will investigate how we live day-to-day in light of this anticipation.

1 Thessalonians contains no direct address to a pastor but is written to the whole church. This church was part of the impoverished Macedonian region and was the most persecuted church in the first century. They were a very expectant people.

God's grace causes us to look to Jesus, and that governs how we live. Our faith functions as a fruit of looking to Jesus' return.


Most historians believe this church was only 1-3 years old. The first thing new believers did was find someone to follow (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7). They were "imitators" who mimicked older believers. Regardless of their environment, new believers will grow by the grace of God's Spirit; but the most healthy growth happens in a personal discipling relationship.

Every believer can be equipped to lead and teach another. Nothing in the text limits who is qualified to disciple another believer. This is the foundation of the future success of the church.


1 Thessalonians 2:1-13 is about how we nurture faithfulness with our disposition and demeanor. Christians are called to do the right thing in the right way. If we stand for what the Bible says in an angry way, it will fall on deaf ears and do more harm than good (Galatians 5:22).

The Thessalonians became examples to churches in other cities in their region (1 Thessalonians 1:7). Paul had come to the Thessalonian church in the midst of opposition. He set an example of a gentle and loving demeanor. The Thessalonian Christians accepted his Gospel message and imitated his life (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8). They became equally dear to him as a family. This is counter-cultural to American Christianity.

The purpose of these intimate spiritual relationships was to learn together and "walk in a manner worthy of God." Christians learning together can't help growing spiritually (1 Thessalonians 2:12-13). Growing deeper in the Word will lead to more opportunities to share Christ (Colossians 4:5). The church should be able to grow by natural new birth without any programs or events. The goal is a church full of individuals who are interdependently owning God's Word.

Application Points

  • What drives us to follow the commands of God's Word? Our hope of seeing Jesus turns obedience from an obligation into a joyful opportunity.
  • Do interdependent spiritual relationships seem awkward to you? This level of discipleship is counter-cultural to American Christianity. But a church full of individuals interdependently owning and living God's Word will find more opportunities to share Christ and will grow by natural new birth as God intends. Will you be part of this growth?

A Hymn to Encourage: "Christian Hearts, in Love United"

Christian hearts, in love united,
Seek alone in Jesus rest;
Has He not your love excited?
Then let love inspire each breast;
Members on our Head depending
Lights reflecting Him, our Sun,
Brethren His commands attending,
We in Him, our Lord, are one.

Come, then, come, O flock of Jesus,
Covenant with Him anew;
Unto Him Who conquered for us,
Pledge we love and service true;
And should our love’s union holy
Firmly linked no more remain,
Wait ye at His footstool lowly,
Till He draw it close again.

Grant, Lord, that with Thy direction,
“Love each other,” we comply,
Aiming with unfeigned affection
Thy love to exemplify;
Let our mutual love be glowing,
Thus will all men plainly see,
That we, as on one stem growing,
Living branches are in Thee.

O that such may be our union,
As Thine with the Father is,
And not one of our communion
E’er forsake the path of bliss;
May our light ’fore men with brightness,
From Thy light reflected, shine;
Thus the world will bear us witness,
That we, Lord, are truly Thine.