Steadfast Faith

Pastor Phil Andrukaitis, February 26, 2023

The Apostle Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians

General Theme: Living Righteously While Waiting Patiently for Jesus to Return

Sermon Title: Steadfast Faith

Sermon Text: First Thessalonians 3:6-10

Big Idea:  Steadfast faith, from a persecuted church, refreshes the burdened heart.

Overview & Review

I.          Spiritual leaders prove their concern for the church. (1:1a)

II.        Spiritual leaders provide care for the church. (1:1bc)

III.       Spiritual leaders pray for the church. (1:2-10)

IV.       Spiritual leaders pattern a life of loving service. (2:1- 3:13)

            A.         By evangelizing lost sinners with the saving gospel. (2:1-16)      

            B.         By edifying separated saints with loving concern (2:17 – 3:5)

            C.        By encouraging spiritual saints with hope and prayer (3:6-13)

                        1.         Refreshing hope from a persecuted church (3:6-10)           Today’s Focus

                        2.         Praying for the people of God (3:11-13)


Can you name three “friends” who have helped you through difficult times in your life?  Can you name three individuals who taught you a valuable life lesson?  Can you name three people who have made you feel special?  Have you told them how much they have meant to you?  If so, what was their reaction?

Remember the movie, Gladiator starring Russel Crowe?  He played the role of General Maximus, commander of a Roman legion.  As he prepared his troops for battle, he encouraged them with these words, brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.

As Christians, we should desire to be used by God to impact the lives of others for eternity.  We don’t want to be like the person who buried his talent, failing to invest his life in others.  Brothers and sisters, what we do in life truly echoes in eternity.  Therefore, if any of us are going to impact people for eternity, we need to care for their spiritual well-being in the “here and now.”

By way of illustration, Pastor Vail epitomizes this lifestyle.  He is on a mission to teach others how to share the gospel through the ministry of “Compassion’s Calling”  Pray for his safety and the fruit that the Spirit of God will bring forth from Pastor Vail’s life and ministry.


Paul was a church planter, missionary, and disciple-maker of Christ.  Paul was also a good shepherd because he knew the spiritual condition of the flock of God and was concerned for their physical and spiritual welfare.  In his second letter to the Corinthians, after describing all the sufferings he had experienced (11:1-27), Paul stated, “and apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (11:28).  Paul’s heart was burden for the Thessalonians and their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  After all, we live what we believe. 

As we direct our attention back to the third chapter in 1st Thessalonians, let us remember that Paul and the mission team were “torn away” from the Thessalonian believers and forcibly evicted during the night from the city (1st Thessalonians 2:17-20).  And so, the mission team went to Berea. 

But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned of Paul’s presence in Berea, the Thessalonian Jews came to Berea to stir up the crowds against Paul.  Once again, Paul was forced to leave a city.  Fortunately, the Berean saints accompanied Paul as far as Athens, while Silas and Timothy remained in Berea (Acts 17:1-14).  Later, Silas and Timothy rejoined Paul in Athens, from which Timothy was sent back to Thessalonica to check on the faith (spiritual condition) of the Thessalonian saints (1st Thessalonians 3:2)

While Paul attempted several times to revisit the Thessalonian saints because he was concerned about the young church and the opposition they were experiencing, he was hindered by Satan (1st Thessalonians 2:17-20).  Satan’s opposition against Paul caused Paul great distress in his heart.  Still anxious for the Thessalonian church yet unable to get to them, Paul left Athens, journeyed alone to Corinth (Acts 18:1), and waited for Silas and Timothy to rejoin him.  I suspect that these were troubling days for Paul.  His heart was burden for the saints, just as a heart of a parent is burden for the well-being of their children / teens.

The day finally came when Timothy arrived in Corinth, bringing with him “good news” about the Thessalonian church.  As a result, Paul was “filled with joyful relief and was eager to encourage the embattled and discouraged Christians” in Thessalonica.[1] 

Paul, the battle-worn, spiritual warrior needed encouragement too because his care for the Thessalonian saints weighed heavy on his heart and spirit.  This burden affected him.  It took a toll on him.  It is a known fact that when our body, soul, and spirit are under stress, we exhibit unhealthy symptoms:  [i.e. anxiety, depression, headaches, heart disease, memory and concentration problems, problems with digestion, sleeplessness, and weight gain]. Moreover, the rejection and opposition Paul encountered was a tremendous spiritual battle. 

Insight:  Every pastor whose heart is concerned for the spiritual welfare of his flock carries the same burden as did Paul.  Every pastor knows that one day, he will stand before Jesus and give an account of his pastoral ministry to the flock Jesus entrusted into his care.  Therefore, pastors [and spiritual leaders] who are more concerned about “nickels and noses,” OR “buildings, butts, and bucks” instead of a church’s spiritual welfare are nothing more than duds.

A few weeks ago, we learned that Satanic opposition will crush weak faith (3:1-5).  However, as we move forward through Paul’s letter (3:6-10), we see how Timothy’s report refreshed Paul’s heart and spirit. 

  • Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country (Proverbs 25:25).  And…
  • The light of the eyes rejoices the heart and good news refreshes the bones (Proverbs 15:30).

Steadfast faith, from a persecuted church, refreshes the burdened heart.

Consequently, Paul was able to renew and strengthen the Thessalonian’s hope in the wake of their hostile opposition, which led to some unexpected deaths within the Christian community.  Paul also reassured the Thessalonian saints who were still alive that they and those who had died would be saved and united at Jesus’ second coming.

Here are three reasons why this idea,  Steadfast faith…refreshes the burden heart. 

I.         The church’s strong faith brings joy to its’ spiritual leaders (3:6).

II.        The church’s steadfast faith comforts the afflicted saints (3:7-8).

III.      The church’s sacred faith prompts leaders to give thanks to God and to pray for the saints (3:9-10).

Steadfast faith…refreshes the burden heart  because…

I.         …a church’s strong faith brings joy to its’ spiritual leaders (3:6).

“But now that Timothy has come to us from you,
and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and
reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you…”
(1st Thessalonians 3:6)

As I have previously stated several times, Paul was encouraged by Timothy’s report.  Therefore, Paul chose to use the word euangelisamenou, [taken from the root word, euangelizō Strong’s #2097),which describes the gospel message of salvation by grace through faith], to express his joy. 

            It’s interesting to see that of the 58 occurrences of euangelizō, 56 refer to the gospel of Christ while two other occurrences refer to a good report (1st Thessalonians 3:6) and a neighbor’s good (Romans 15:2).

In other words, Timothy’s “good news” regarding the Thessalonian church was as joyful as receiving and believing the gospel of Christ.  Just as the “good news of the gospel” brings life to a spiritually dead spirit, the “good news of Timothy’s report” renewed Paul’s spirit because Paul knew the gospel had taken root in Thessalonica. 

When the gospel takes root in a person’s life, a church, a city, even a nation, this “good news” manifests itself in three ways:

  • FAITH – The Thessalonian’s faith in God began with the Holy Spirit’s ministry of regenerating them; that is to give them a spiritual life (born-again) and the ability to believe God.  Furthermore, God sent Paul to them to impart sound doctrine from the Scriptures so that they would grow and mature in the Lord. 

God’s ministry to the church today is the same.  The Holy Spirit regenerates the spiritually dead, bringing them to life and giving them the ability to believe and experience a personal relationship with Christ.  And God continues to “raise up” pastors and sends them to His churches to feed them with Scripture and sound doctrine. 

  • LOVE – The Thessalonian’s love for God and one another did not diminish when Satanic opposition arose.  I am reminded of the positive testimonies of two churches, the church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) and the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 2:7-13).  In their midst of their persecution, the believers stood firm upon Scripture and were promised a glorious reward.

            When persecution, trials and tribulations impact God’s people, spiritually weak Christian are prone to disobey God’s Word, exhibit less love to other Christians – even towards his/her own mate and family members – and focus on bringing happiness into their own lives. 

            Let’s remember the words of Jesus: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my Word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him (John 14:23).

  • REMEMBRANCE – The Thessalonian’s remembrance of Paul and his ministry and desire to see him again lifted his spirit.  They loved Paul because he cared for them and shared in the same types of afflictions as they had experienced.  Paul knew that his ministry to the Thessalonian people was not in vain.

            Tell me, have you had someone from your past contact you and express their thankfulness for your ministry unto them?  It brings tears of joy to your eyes.  Listen, think kindly of one another, especially within our church family.  If someone says or does something that offends or of which you do not approve, [I’m not talking about violating Scripture] don’t get bent out of shape.  So what!  Embrace Dot Gildard’s philosophy, It’s a small thing.

Steadfast faith…refreshes the burden heart because…

I.          …a church’s strong faith brings joy to its’ spiritual leaders (3:6).

II.        …a church’s steadfast faith comforts the afflicted saints (3:7-8).

“…for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction
we have been comforted about you through your faith.

For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.”
(1st Thessalonians 3:7-8)

The Thessalonian’s steadfastness in the Lord was very much like Paul’s steadfast faith.  Even though Paul did not know the specifics of the Thessalonian’s trials and tribulations, it was challenging for Paul to maintain his own steadfastness, as Paul reminded his brothers and sisters that he too had experienced…

                        “distress”                    [physical necessities; moral obligations]

                        “afflictions”                [crushing troubles; distressing pressures]

                        “hinderances”             [Satan’s opposition against Paul’s attempts to see them]

Nevertheless, Timothy’s messaged encouraged Paul.  Therefore, Paul was comforted and strengthened to push on with a renewed heart regarding his ministry.  It’s as if Paul “got his second wind.” 

A pastor’s greatest joy is knowing that the people to whom he ministers are maturing in the Lord and laboring in Christ. 

And a pastor’s saddest experience is watching people to whom he ministers ignore the Scripture, ignore praying with others, and ultimately watching some saints walk away from the Lord and even their families, believing that their disobedience before the Lord is not that bad. 

Dear church family, listen to Paul’s words, written to the Corinthian church: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1st Corinthians 15:58).  Don’t hold back your “labor in the Lord.”  Your blood, sweat, and tears in Christ will not go unnoticed or unrewarded by God.

Timothy’s report encouraged Paul’s spirit!  Paul was refreshed knowing that the gospel had taken root in Thessalonica and thus, Paul was ready to live, ready for another “round in the boxing ring of life.”  Good reports have a way of refreshing burdened hearts. 

Steadfast faith…refreshes the burden heart because…

I.          …a church’s strong faith is as joyful as believing the gospel of Christ (3:6).

II.        …a church’s steadfast faith comforts the afflicted saints (3:7-8).

III.      …a church’s sacred faith prompts leaders to give thanks to God and to pray for the saints (3:9-10).

“For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you,
for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,

as we pray most earnestly night and day
that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?”
(1st Thessalonians 3:9-10)

Like the apostle John, I believe Paul experienced great joy knowing the faith of the Thessalonians was maturing.  Listen to John’s words, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3rd  John 4).  Therefore, Paul’s worship included giving thanks to God for working in the hearts of the Thessalonians.

As Paul gave thanks to God, Paul prayed frequently [night and day] and fervently [earnestly] for the church so that it may reach its full potential, since Paul and the mission team’s premature departure prevented them from completing their instructions on the fundamentals of the faith.  After all, questions about moral purity, disciplined living, death, the rapture, day of the Lord, Christ’s second coming, and the resurrection remained in their hearts, thereby challenging their faith. 


Dear Bible Believing Baptist Church, I believe God has divinely brought together this assembly of believers to build one another up for the work of evangelizing our community, family, and friends.  I believe our Lord will soon return for His bride (the church).  I further believe our nation is already under divine judgment and will soon face the wrath of God after the church is raptured.  Satan knows this reality.  And he too is stepping up his hateful wrath against all humanity, especially against the Lord’s bride.  Therefore, remember that

 Steadfast faith…refreshes the burden heart

1.         Maintain an attitude of trust in God.  

      Listen dear Christian, whatever trial, disappointment, pains, or lack of need in your life, know that God’s eye is always on you.  His hands are upholding you.  He knows what you are experiencing because He has joined Himself with you.  You in Christ and Christ in you.  GLORY!

2.         Exercise sacrificial love for the benefit of others.

            With a firm yet loving gentleness, I admonish you in the Lord to not focus on yourself, your limitations, your fears, your personality, your preferences, etc.  Rather, place your entire self on the altar of God and say to God, here am I Lord, what would You have me to do?

            Did Jesus Christ whine when He went to the cross to die for our sins?  Did Jesus Christ walk away from sinners when they rejected, mocked, and crucify Him?  No.  Rather He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

3.         Think kindly of one another.

            After church today, call or write to someone in this church family and tell them how much you appreciate their ministry. 

            Secondly, think back to those individuals who have helped you grow in your faith in Christ.  Then contact them and thank them.  Who knows, your good words may be the very words they need to hear today – refresh their hearts.  For, as Solomon has testified, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

4.         Remain steadfast in the face of difficulties.

            If your heart is heavy because of…

  • disturbing world events,
  • the amoral condition of our country,
  • financial issues,
  • failing health,
  • struggling marriage,
  • loneliness

            …take heart – God is still on His Heavenly Throne and there is nothing that can separate you from His    love.  God is working out His plan, designing these struggles to conform you into the image of Jesus.  

5.         Pray frequently and fervently. 

            Paul’s prayer was filled with emotion because of his devotion to God and God’s people.  Therefore, I believe this church will experience extraordinary blessings

  • when we pray together for the salvation of others and a shepherd of God’s choosing
  • when we study the Word of God together to increase our faith [HOME BIBLE STUDIES], and
  • when we reach out together [EVANGELISM], applying what we have learned

Steadfast faith…refreshes the burden heart

[1] Colin Nicholl, “Purpose, Occasion, and Background,” ESV Study Bible, (Wheaton:  Crossway Bibles, 2008), p. 2302.

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