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3. Timothy's Encouraging Report
1Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone; 2and sent Timothy, our brother and God's minister in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith; 3that no man be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed. 4For verily, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5For this cause I also, when I could no longer forbear, sent that I might know your faith, lest by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor should be in vain. 6But when Timothy came even now unto us from you, and brought us glad tidings of your faith and love, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, longing to see us, even as we also to see you; 7for this cause, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith: 8for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 9For what thanksgiving can we render again unto God for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 11Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto you: 12and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you; 13to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
The more we find pleasure in the ways of God, the more we shall desire to persevere therein. The apostle's design was to establish and comfort the Thessalonians as to the object of their faith, that Jesus Christ was the Saviour of the world; and as to the recompence of faith, which was more than enough to make up all their losses, and to reward all their labours. But he feared his labours would be in vain. If the devil cannot hinder ministers from labouring in the word and doctrine, he will, if possible, hinder the success of their labours. No one would willingly labour in vain. It is the will and purpose of God, that we enter into his kingdom through many afflictions. And the apostles, far from flattering people with the expectation of worldly prosperity in religion, told them plainly they must count upon trouble in the flesh. Herein they followed the example of their great Master, the Author of our faith. Christians were in danger, and they should be forewarned; they will thus be kept from being improved by any devices of the tempter.
Thankfulness to God is very imperfect in the present state; but one great end of the ministry of the word is to help faith forward. That which was the instrument to obtain faith, is also the means of increasing and confirming it, namely, the ordinances of God; and as faith cometh by hearing, so it is confirmed by hearing also.
Prayer is religious worship, and all religious worship is due unto God only. Prayer is to be offered to God as our Father. Prayer is not only to be offered in the name of Christ, but offered up to Christ himself, as our Lord and our Saviour. Let us acknowledge God in all our ways, and he will direct our paths. Mutual love is required of all Christians. And love is of God, and is fulfilling the gospel as well as the law. We need the Spirit's influences in order to our growth in grace; and the way to obtain them, is prayer. Holiness is required of all who would go to heaven; and we must act so that we do not contradict the profession we make of holiness. The Lord Jesus will certainly come in his glory; his saints will come with him. Then the excellence as well as the necessity of holiness will appear; and without this no hearts shall be established at that day, nor shall any avoid condemnation.