MOTIVATIONS FOR EXPECTING GREAT THINGS FROM GOD
The Thessalonian church was a congregation
that expected great things from God. First
Thessalonians 1:3 gives three motivations
for this expectation:
". . . remembering without ceasing your work of faith,
and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord
Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father."
1) "Your work of faith"
True Christian work always originates in faith. Look
at your production in life. Now look at your faith.
Is there any connection? True faith shows itself in
work. A faith that is dynamic, active, and real rather
than static and lifeless will produce divine work.
Dynamic faith will have a major impact on missions.
The essential element to faith is its focus. If our faith focus
is credible, then we can trust that point of belief.
Faith claims the promises of God. Faith rests upon
provision from God, not on our resources. We can
work by our own effort or we can work under the
power of God. A contractor can carry the bricks
himself or he can obtain others to do it. The resources
of his business allow him to hire others to do the
work. Every Christian has the capital of
God's resources. The difference
between Christians is some
use their God-given
others do not. When we utilize assets from God, we
produce results. We can expect great things from
God by faith.
2) "Labor of Love"
The second motivation of the Thessalonians was
their "love." The Greek puts it as "your labor, the one
out of love.” Biblical love is more than sentiment.
We confuse cultural love with true biblical love.
Agape love is willingness to sacrifice for others. To
love sacrificially is to labor until it hurts.
The word "labor" means labor to the point of
exhaustion. It is a love of blood, sweat, and tears.
Self-sacrificial love moves us to labor for Christ.
This love is willing to toil and to pay a price. Love
activates arduous labor.
Our love labor for the Lord only dims when Calvary
dims to us and we forget the cost of our salvation.
3) "and patience of hope"
Hope has to do with conviction. Thessalonian
endurance came from confidence in God’s provisions
People who exercise "hope" do not operate on
baseless optimism. The English word for ‘hope’
communicates the idea of wishful thinking, but
Biblical hope is no mere wish. It does not produce
such an idea as "I have this wonderful ideal that
people all over the world will come to Christ. I hope
it works out." No, hope carries the idea that we have
assurance in the future because of who God is. The
notion of hope in the Bible is the concept of confidence,
assurance, and certainty.
This kind of hope produces steadfast endurance through
trouble. Hope helps the believer bear up any trial that
come his way. However, this term does not simply convey
unadulterated perseverance but a perseverance that
goes beyond resignation to problems; it endures with
a quality of life.
Hope helps us claim the promises of God. People who
want to advance the cause of Christ in the world cannot
give up. They must grab hold of what God wants in the
world and hang onto it. These people never give up,
although they may fail many times. They hang in there.
Few people possess this kind of vision. Perseverance
flows from hope.
Biblical hope is no sheer human determination based
on blind fate. This is hope based on confidence in God
and His promises.
"For whatever things were written before were written
for our learning, that we through the patience and
comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
Advancement in missions comes from a faith that
inspires, from a love that motivates, and from a
confidence that rouses us to action.
MILIEU FOR EXPECTING GREAT THINGS FROM GOD
The world needs Christians with strong convictions.
We look up to people with resolute beliefs who are
willing to suffer and to persevere. God wants us fully
persuaded, not just obedient.
Christians who speak the gospel message out of a sense
of certainty are the most successful in ministry. It is clear
that the most aggressive evangelistic success—whether
in local churches, in missions, or in ministries—comes
from a conviction about the certainty of the truth of the
gospel. Method does not bring passion for the gospel;
only the gospel message itself impassions people to
share the claims of Christ.
Everyone has convictions but not everyone has biblical
convictions. Principles and passions of the Word must
filter everything that comes to our mind. The Bible always
takes precedence over our opinions and experiences.
Wrong understanding or interpretation of Scripture
will eventuate wrong behavior. This will negate the
influence of the Word about missions on our lives.
How do we retrieve burning passion for missions?
Burning conviction is a result, not a cause. Compelling
passion comes from confident belief that something
is true. Passion for missions is the outcome, not the
reason, for attempting great things for God.
One area that unites evangelicals is the call to world
evangelism. If this call to missions does not rest on
the conviction of a compelling gospel, then no other
motivation will support that conviction.
OUTCOMES OF EXPECTING GREAT THINGS FROM GOD
People need a certain place to stand, a point of reference
beyond the self. Peter asserted that we have a conviction
that is "more sure" than personal experience:
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; wher unto
you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that
shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the
day star arise in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19)
"More sure" than what? More sure than the 3 apostles
personally witnessing Jesus' transfiguration. Second
Peter 1:16 says that Peter, James, and John actually
observed Jesus transfigured on the Mount of Olives.
They were eyewitnesses of the experience.
They personally heard the voice of God on the Mount
(1:18), yet Peter said that they had "a more sure word
of prophecy" than the Mount experience (1:19). The
Word of God is surer than the apostle's witness of the
Transfiguration. We can trust God's Word more than
we can trust our own personal experience. We can
trust the empirical evidence of the trio seeing the
transfiguration, but we can trust the message of the
Word of God even more. That is eternal leverage.
Lack of faith equates to lack of conviction and expectation.
The Bible deems faith as conviction. Conviction
is a strong belief or persuasion. It implies a conviction
that is based upon trust, not upon knowledge. It was
the message of assured grace that was a catalyst for
"But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace
which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I
labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the
grace of God which was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10)
And it is certainty and conviction which makes us
confident in the gospel.
This article is based on the address that
Dr. Grant Richison delivered at
the 2017 AIM Fall Leadership Seminar
Suppers in Manitoba. Dr. Richison
serves as Vice-President Theology with AIM.
posted on April 18, 2018