2 Thessalonians chapter 1
“Healthy churches plant other churches”, is an often repeated statement, but the question must be asked; why do we plant churches?
Last week as we looked at Ephesians 3:10 we began to understand that the church is more significant than we can ever imagine.
2 Thessalonians is a brief letter that is closely linked to Paul’s first Epistle to the early church in Thessalonica. It was written within three or four months after the first letter, and intended to clear up confusion about the future. In the first letter and chapter 5, Paul wrote about the Day of the Lord – the day when Jesus will come again. The persecution that the early church was going through led some in the city to believe that the “Day of the Lord” had arrived. The early church was struggling under persecution and naturally concluded that Jesus was coming and the Day of the Lord was imminent. Paul’s focus of the second letter was to teach the young church that trials are a part of the Christian life.
Paul commends them that their faith is growing in verse 3, but then he addresses the trials they are going through in verse 4. Paul tells them that he is proud of them for persevering and not giving in. Paul understood the secret that James wrote about in James 1:2-4.
God’s wisdom is that we go through trials not as punishment, but rather to cause us to lean into God and trust in His grace. Trials deepen our faith and through trials we grow in our Christian walk.
Not only that, trials and hardships are one of the most powerful tools to show unbelievers that your faith is real. It is really easy to say that Jesus is my all and sing; “all I need is you Lord!” when things are going well. But when the challenges mount up, people are watching to see if you really live what you say you believe.
The reality is that church planting is hard and there is a lot of sacrifice and trials along the way. It requires perseverance.
So why do we plant churches?
Firstly, plant churches not because the city needs a church like another convenience store or a bowling alley. No, the city needs a church because Jesus is coming back.
If the first century church in Thessalonica were awaiting the imminent return of Christ, how much more can we see the Day and the hour approaching. All we have to do is read Matthew 24, where Jesus explains the signs of the end times, where he talks about nations fighting against nation, famine, earthquakes, terrible global events and then He will come again in glory (See Matthew 24:19-20).
Jesus is coming back soon and we plant churches in dark places because it is the most effective way to reach the lost and disciple them, drawing people out of darkness into the family of God. I really believe that there is not much time. We need to be reaching the lost.
And then secondly, we plant churches for His Glory. Look at 2 Thessalonians 1:2. Remember that God is revealing his wisdom, his grace, and his glory to the universe through the church. Are we revealing the Glory of God here at Grace Point? Does your church reflect the glory of God? Look at the powerful benediction that Paul penned in Ephesians 3:20-21; “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
We plant churches, for the Glory of God.
We need to be a church that displays the glory of God, not because of anything special that we have or do, absolutely not. We reveal the Glory of God when we lift the name of Jesus high. When we are known for being followers of the King of Kings and not merely a gathering of the community.
So what is our expectation in planting a church? For some it is simply a financial decision of sending a family with money to support them, and all we see is the drop in our bank balance.
But my prayer is that we could have a bigger vision. Are we planting with the dream of a harvest? Are we planting for the glory of God, for the name of Jesus?
My prayer is that by planting a seed in the city of Cincinnati, we could stand before Jesus on judgment day and say; “Lord, this is what we did with the talent you gave us.”
It is all about the glory of God and that Jesus is coming again soon. Let us pray for our city and the city of Cincinnati as we pray for our nation.