What do you have to do to be a Christian? Nothing. What kind of person do you have to be? The joy and glory of someone else: of Jesus Christ, and of his apostle Paul. Paul was burdened for these Thessalonian infants in the faith, longing to hear about their faith, as they lived in affliction. This talk was given by our gospel partner Keith Birchley, who has been teaching the faith at universities in Papua New Guinea with his wife Marion for the past 2 1/2 years.
When the word of the gospel came to Thessalonica, people were divided. Some accepted the word, and became the first Christian church. Because of the faith and love of those people, they became Paul’s joy and crown. But others rejected the gospel, and persecuted the church. Because of their unbelief and hatred, Paul says that God’s wrath has come upon them. Jesus is the only one who can deliver us from the wrath to come, and for all those who stand against him and his gospel, they’re standing in the pitch-black reality of that judgement.
When Paul remembers his life with the Thessalonians, he uses many images of family, with incredibly tender words. “We were like infants among you,” “we were like mothers to you,” and “we were like fathers to you.” In the face of Christ, God woke us up to his love, and to the family of the light.
Have you ever bought something that wasn’t “authentic”? As we begin our series through the first letter to the Thessalonians, we hear of Paul’s encouragement from hearing about the church, and his encouragement to the church. He encourages them in the hallmarks of authentic Christianity: work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and living God.
With the word “Monday” used as a mild curse word and phrases like “TGIF” a celebration – it can be hard to know how we as Christians should approach our work. In this talk, Matt Heaton takes us through the Bible’s approach to work: how God called us to work before sin even entered the picture; how God created work to be paired with rest; and how work can bring us great joy as we use our skills for the betterment of society. A helpful talk for thinking through our modern pitfalls to how we approach work, and an encouragement that there’s one area in our life where we only ever need to rest, and that’s in Christ’s finished work on the cross on our behalf to bring us back into relationship with God.
As a postscript prequel to Daniel, John Phillpotts takes us to the final chapter of Jeremiah. The prophet had warned God’s special people about the coming judgment all of his life, and now the entire landscape looks hopeless. But in the closing credits of the book, we see a glimmer of hope emerge.
For his entire adult life, Daniel has had to trudge through the mud and darkness of Exile. Sometimes, he experienced immediate – even miraculous – rescue when he was in trouble. Other times, like near the end of this book, we find Daniel mourning over what’s happening to God’s people. And in this troubled time, God sends a messenger to Daniel to pull back the curtain of reality and give Daniel a glimpse into what God is doing both in our world and in the heavenly realm. In this talk, Philip unpacks for us the great hope that Daniel would have glimpsed in all of God’s plans: how all the sorrow, darkness, futility and evil of the Exile will ultimately be swallowed up in victory when God raises to life all those who now sleep in the dust of the earth.
God gives Daniel a vision of a goat and shaggy ram and a lot of horns. The point being: things aren’t going to get easier for God’s people any time soon. But Daniel remembers God’s promise in Jeremiah, that the exile would last for seventy years, and that a new covenant was coming. Even though God’s people were promise breakers, God would make a new covenant in Christ that would make their hearts new and give them true righteousness.
Daniel has a terrifying dream of four wild beasts. After they appear, the Ancient of Days takes his seat, and one like a Son of Man comes on the clouds of heaven to receive an everlasting dominion. Jesus Christ would later speak these words of himself, that he would come on the clouds of heaven to defeat the kingdoms of the world and reign forever. By trusting and living in him, people could become truly human again.
Now an old man, Daniel is still standing faithfully against the accusations of the Babylonian rulers. Meanwhile, King Darius has to stand faithfully by his own law, and throw Daniel into the lions’ den. In this scene we see a glimmer of the true Daniel who was to come–one who would be falsely accused, sent to his death, but brought back from the tomb by the power of God–Jesus Christ, the one who was raised to life for all who trust in his name.