Explore the Bible Study: Enduring

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This year marked the return of Sports car championship endurance racing. It is a part of FIA World Endurance Championship and consists of a series of six races between March and November of 2022.  One of those races is 1000 miles and is called the “Super Sebring” held in Sebring, Florida. Another of those races is called the 24 Hours of Le Mans that takes place in France. Auto racing is just one example of endurance events. In the spiritual realm, endurance changes everything. The Explore the Bible Study: Enduring, focuses on 2 Thessalonians 1 and Paul’s communication with the Thessalonian believers regarding their need to endure.

It is believed that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians not long after his first epistle. He expresses his ongoing concern for the Thessalonian believers, assuring them that he was praying for them and expressing gratitude for their love, spiritual growth, and endurance.  When they were tempted to give up, Paul admonished them to stay the course. Here are some things we can learn from Paul regarding spiritual endurance.

Encouragement and Affirmation Builds Endurance – 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4

When we see the word ought, we might not completely understand what Paul is communicating. The King James translation expresses more fully what Paul is saying: We are bound to thank God always for you (v. 3, KJV). It implies a debt to be paid or a moral obligation. Because of his relationship with Christ and his relationship to those believers, he felt he must, or was bound to, thank God always for their unfailing faithfulness. Paul loved what God was doing and he wanted the Thessalonians to know how grateful he was for their progress and faithfulness.

Imagine Paul is writing verses 3-4 to you. How would you respond? How would this help you endure?

Whose faithfulness and love have you observed? What is one action you can take to encourage and affirm believers?

Remembering God’s Judgment Helps Build Endurance – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

Notice, Paul stated that the Thessalonians’ endurance in persecution was clear evidence of God’s work and their worth. Their perseverance demonstrated the validity of the gospel and highlighted the supernatural strength that kept them moving forward. It also revealed the depth of their faith in God’s justice. Then he reminds them that God will judge those who reject the gospel and are persecuting them.

Imagine you are a Thessalonian believer. You are facing increased persecution because of your faith, and Paul writes to you, reminding you of God’s judgment on those who are persecuting you. How would this help build your endurance?

Should this promise of God’s judgment prompt us to have an attitude of vengeance, pity, or mercy upon those who persecute us or reject God? How should we respond to unbelievers based upon this promise of judgment?

Because the Thessalonians accepted Paul’s testimony, they could trust God to avenge their suffering, and they could rest in the fact that their future was secure in Christ. They had believed what he had shared, and that faith made all the difference when it came to endurance. This brings us to Paul’s prayer regarding the outcome of endurance.

The Outcome of Endurance - 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

The phrase, worthy of his calling does not suggest that they could earn salvation. Their salvation was already secure through the finished work of Christ. Instead, it reminded them of their responsibility to provide evidence of their relationship with Christ. 

What do you think it means when someone says they have been “called” to do something? Have you ever considered salvation as a “calling”? How can viewing your salvation as a calling from God change the way you live your life?

Notice the final portion of Paul’s prayer in verse 12, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. In today’s culture people approach life from a self-centered perspective. They might consider Paul’s prayer an unworthy outcome because it doesn’t emphasize how it is going to make them feel better about themselves or receive some type of personal recognition.

Paul’s message is clear; we endure and, yes, that endurance gives us strength, but the endurance is for the purpose of pointing people to Jesus. Our endurance glorifies God, not ourselves.

Yet the apostle also reminded his readers that honor was a two-way street. Your faithful endurance brings glory to Jesus, and this brings joy to Jesus. He in turn glorifies and honors you because of the grace and love He has for you.

Review your walk with Christ and consider the areas in which you feel you are living worthy of the calling of Salvation? Then, consider the areas in which you aren’t living a life worthy of the calling of salvation. 

One-Off Event or an Endurance Race?

Do you view salvation as a quick walk around the block (a one-off event) or as an endurance race? How would viewing salvation as an endurance race help you? What words from this passage could help you build endurance?

Spiritual endurance requires complete dependence on God’s strength working in us. Ultimately, the mission of believers is to point others to the Savior. If we consider salvation a one-off event, then it will be very difficult to build the endurance one needs in order to live a life worthy of the calling of salvation.  This was the emphasis of Paul’s prayers for the Thessalonians and for you!

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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