Explore The Bible Study: Shared

10:53 AM

A March 3, 2022, article in Christianity Today by Benjamin Morrison illustrates the impact difficulties can have on one’s faith. The article was entitled, “Bomb Shelter Ministry in My Ukrainian Town.”  The caption for the article stated, “Thanks to air raid sirens, neighbors and refugees are hearing more about the gospel than ever.” History and God's Word reveals that persecution and difficulties prompts believers to become more vocal about the gospel. LifeWay's Explore the Bible Study: Shared includes three words to describe the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to remain faithful to sharing the gospel, no matter the difficulties one faces.

The first word is persistence – 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

Paul and his companions’ journey to Thessalonica was down the path of persecution that originated in Philippi. They had been wrongly accused, beaten, and imprisoned. As Paul noted, they had been treated outrageously. The Greek word Paul used here described insults, abuse, and shaming. It included not only physical attacks against Paul’s body but also attacks against his reputation and dignity. The mistreatment did not stop the gospel. Paul and his coworkers were more emboldened by God to share the gospel. 

Paul’s ministry to the people in Thessalonica was not wasted.  The Thessalonians’ spiritual transformation demonstrated the truth of the gospel message. His response became an example to the believers in Thessalonica, giving them the strength to not slow down but to actually accelerate their efforts to share the gospel in spite of persecution. In fact, they had become an example for other Christians in Greece and around the Roman Empire (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

Had you experienced what Paul experienced, would you have been "emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God . . . in spite of great opposition"? What could remaining quiet about our faith when faced with difficulties reveal about what we believe about God and the gospel?

If the gospel had been something Paul invented or if it was something that he half-way believed, he probably would have stopped preaching when faced with suffering. But this was God’s message, so opposition had no impact on his ministry.

Additionally, if Paul and his friends had withered under the attacks of their enemies, the Thessalonians may have never heard the good news of Jesus or gotten the chance to make such a profound difference in Greece and beyond. The missionaries’ refusal to quit in the face of persecution had opened the door for the Thessalonians, and God was using these new believers to open new doors around the world.

Integrity is the second word that describes how one should persistently share the gospel - 1 Thessalonians 2:3-7

Even though Paul, Timothy, and Silas were emboldened by persecution to share the gospel, their actions were taken with integrity.

Paul and his companions demonstrated integrity by:

  • Not teaching error.
  • Not teaching with impurity.
  • Not coming with an intent to deceive.
  • Speaking to please God and not people.
  • Not using flattering speech.
  • Not having greedy motives.
  • Not seeking glory from anyone.
  • Not trying to be a burden to anyone.
  • Being gentle.

While false teachers and hucksters in Thessalonica might have been more concerned with large followings and healthy profits, Paul and his coworkers cared more about the people and their response to the gospel. Manipulation had no place in the gospel.

As you consider all the acts of integrity Paul and his companions demonstrated, what wisdom do you need to apply to your own life as it relates to sharing and showing the good news of Jesus?

This leads us to a final word that describes Paul’s exhortation to remain faithful to sharing the gospel: Selflessness - 1 Thessalonians 2:8-12

Paul said he cared so much. When we hear someone say this we sometimes wonder what that means, but Paul details how he selflessly gave himself to caring for the believers in Thessalonica.

Paul cared so much that he and his companions:

  • Were pleased to share the gospel.
  • Were pleased to share their own lives.
  • Labored and faced hardships.
  • Worked night and day.
  • Preached God’s gospel (They didn’t hold back the message of the gospel).
  • Conducted themselves devoutly, righteously, and blamelessly.
  • Encouraged, comforted, and implored them to walk worthy of God as a godly father would invest in his own children.

How would you complete Paul’s statement about yourself as it relates to sharing the gospel: “I cared so much for you that I . . .”? Which part of Paul’s selfless actions would you include in your statement?

Just as Paul had lived a selfless life among them, giving all he had to them for the sake of the gospel, they needed to live beyond reproach. They needed to become more like Jesus and live out an accurate reflection of the One who pursued them and redeemed them.

What About You?

We began this session with how the gospel is being shared in the Ukraine in spite of the difficulties the Ukrainians are facing. Their witness is having an impact on churches and the gospel beyond the borders of the Ukraine. Baptist Press reports, “The church in Ukraine is thriving and doing great." Churches ministering to refugees in Poland pray that, "not only the believers and the churches in Ukraine come out even more strong and on fire, but the Polish churches . . . would catch that and grow. The Lord can do great things out of destruction.”

Perhaps we should take lessons from the believers in Ukraine. It seems that God is using the persecution to embolden believers to share the gospel persistently and selflessly with integrity.

How are you responding to your difficulties? Are you complaining, running scared, or sharing and showing the good news of Jesus to others?

Persistence, Integrity, and Selflessness outlines Paul, Silas, and Timothy’s exhortation to the young believers in Thessalonica to remain faithful in sharing the gospel no matter the difficulties one faces. These characteristics must be prevalent when one faces persecution if we are to continue to share and show the good news of the gospel.

A Bonus Testimony: Take some time to view this video of how God is giving strength to believers from Psalm 31.

Psalm 31 from Ukraine from Premier on Vimeo.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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