SBTS chapel live blog: Desiring good

Communications Staff — February 19, 2009

Chapel message

Speaker: Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church and president of 9Marks ministries

Text: 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13

Dever focused on how to help students, or anyone, persevere in ministry.

Paul was passionate about his ministry, wanting the good of others.

Paul’s concern for the Thessalonian believers is shown by him breaking into prayer in the midst of his letter. Paul said he prayed for them night and day, that he prayed for them regularly.

What did Paul pray? Three things:

1. That their faith would be supplied

Paul intensely prayed for the Thessalonian believers. He prayed from the heart. Paul prayed that he would be able to see the believers again. Paul did not want to see them again to receive money (1 Thess 2). Paul wanted to see them again so that their faith would be supplied.

Paul wanted to complete in them anything that was lacking in their faith. Paul was not being uncharitable by mentioning the deficiencies of the Thessalonian believers. Rather, he was being charitable.

When someone goes to a doctor, they want an honest examination and prognosis. Brothers, when we step in the pulpit as pastors, we step into this role. I hope that when you pray in the morning before time in the Word that you are not praying for divine flattery.

Paul knew that his fellowship could strengthen the faith of the Thessalonian believers. Christian fellowship is part of how believers image the Trinity.

Paul’s prayer that he would be able to come to the Thessalonians, reveals His knowledge and view of God’s sovereignty. Paul prayed to God because God is in control of everything. And Paul addresses God as Father, showing that he is God’s adopted son.

2. That their love would be increased

Paul did not say that the love of the believers was non-existent. But he did pray that they would increase in love, that their love would abound. Paul prayed that their love would increase and overflow for each other. It was important that mutual love be shown so that people would recognize a difference in the community in the church.

Consider the mystery of the church: We are supposed to be a question mark to the world, something that makes them ask further questions. It is thus important that our churches be demographically diverse and show love to one another.

Paul speaks of a love apart from the worthiness of the object being loved. We speak of loving steak or football or sunshine, but Paul speaks of a love that is rooted not in the worthiness of the object being loved. This is love like the parent for the childe, like the Savior for the sinner, like you for that awkward church member.

The ministry of the Word is not merely proclamation. It is necessarily proclamation. But according to the New Testament, it is also the model we present with our lives.

You can come up with all of the illustrations you want in your sermons, but your life will always speak more powerfully than any illustration you use.

3. That they would be accepted by God

Paul prayed about what he wanted for the Thessalonian believers ultimately. The love Paul prayed for was to act as a motivating factor in them that they might persevere in their faith.

Paul prayed that God would make the Thessalonian believers able to persevere. Paul was not just praying for their emotions, but for their will and mind.

God does not give us strong hearts for no reason. That reason is for perseverance until we are in His presence. Perseverance that, in my experience, ministers often lack. Paul prayed for blamelessness, holiness in the lives of believers, before God, not before men.

If we don’t have the final horizon of heaven in view, we will not persevere in the race. You need to pour our your last full measure of devotion in this life because of the life that is to come.

It does not matter what is on cable news networks. You are at ground zero of what God is doing in the world, when you are in your local church.

In God’s church, God displays His character to the world. We see this in Ezekiel, Romans and Ephesians 3, that we display the truth about God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realm.

These are Paul’s desires. Are they yours?

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

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