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Thessalonians Series: Marks of Genuine Salvation (1 Thess 1:1-10)

Updated: Nov 3, 2023



Marks of Genuine Salvation


From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you! We thank God always for all of you as we mention you constantly in our prayers, because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you). And you became imitators of us and of the Lord when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction. As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you the message of the Lord has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place reports of your faith in God have spread, so that we do not need to say anything. For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (NET)



What are marks of genuine salvation? How can we know if someone is genuinely saved? In 1 Thessalonians 1:4, Paul said this to the young believers in the Thessalonian church: “We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.” The word “chosen” can also be translated “election” (NKJV). Election is a controversial topic, but it’s taught throughout the Old and New Testaments. The concept is that God selects people for special blessings or salvation not based on anything they have done but simply out of his sovereign choice. We saw election first with Abraham. Abraham was from a family of idolaters and was most likely an idolater himself (Josh 24:2), but God chose to save and bless him. God declared that Abraham and his ancestors would be a blessing to the nations. We also see God’s election with Israel which ultimately came from Abraham. Out of all the nations on the earth, God would dwell in the midst of this nation in a tent which was later changed into a temple. God gave Israel his written Word, and from Israel, the messiah came to save the world. Israel was called to be God’s witness to the nations. It was not because Israel was more obedient than other nations or more powerful, it was simply because of God’s sovereign choice. We see later on in the New Testament that God chose Paul himself, the author of this letter, to be an apostle to the Gentiles and to write almost half of the New Testament. As with Abraham, this is truly a mystery. Paul was persecuting Christians by imprisoning them when Christ appeared to him and called him to apostleship (Acts 9). God did not look for the most obedient person or even someone already following the Lord to call as an apostle to reach the Gentiles and write most of the New Testament. He found possibly the most antagonistic person. It’s simply election.


Then, as we see here in this text and many others that though there is a human aspect to salvation, in that a person must believe in Christ’s death and resurrection for their sins, repent of their sins, and commit to following Christ to be saved, there is also a Divine aspect. Before creation and therefore before anyone did anything good or bad, God elected some to be saved. Ephesians 1:4-5 says,


For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him in love. He did this by predestining us to adoption as his legal heirs through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will


Though difficult to comprehend, Scripture repeatedly teaches election. And the only reasons given for election are simply God’s love and the pleasure of his will—simply his right to choose. It’s the same reasons implied by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:4 where he says, “We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.” Now, we might ask, “Doesn’t God love everybody?” Yes, certainly, he does. But as with Abraham who was an idolater, Israel who was a tiny rebellious nation, and Paul who was a persecutor of Christians, God has chosen to show special or greater affection to some because of the “pleasure of his will” (Eph 1:4). It’s a mystery within salvation. Someone said if you try to explain election you might lose your mind. However, with that said, we can clearly say that the doctrine of election exalts God and his sovereignty and humbles humans. Election means that humans can ultimately do nothing to be saved. Romans 8:7 says, “the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.” Apart from grace, we are naturally rebellious and therefore cannot repent and follow God on our own. First Corinthians 2:14 says that apart from God’s Spirit, we cannot even understand God’s Word since it’s foolishness to us. Therefore, we are all condemned to eternal punishment as a consequence for our sins. Romans 6:23 (ESV) says, “For the wages of sin is death.” But God in his mercy, instead of justly punishing all, chose to call a remnant to salvation. This mystery exalts God’s mercy and humbles humans because we all deserve punishment and none of us can do anything to be saved. According to Scripture, even our faith is a gift of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” Also, Philippians 1:29 says, “For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him.” Faith is a gift of God to rebellious people he has chosen to be gracious to. Certainly, this is a great mystery in Scripture.


With that said, what makes 1 Thessalonians 1:4 unique is that Paul said that he and his companions, Silvanus (the Latin name for Silas) and Timothy, knew that the Thessalonians were chosen or elected by God. Now, Paul did not know God’s divine decree before time, but he could clearly see the fruits in their lives which proved they were saved. Even Christ taught that one will know a tree by its fruits, whether good or bad fruits (Matt 7:16-19). We’ll consider the Thessalonians’ good fruits which proved their election throughout this passage, so we can look at our lives to discern if we have them. But before that, we’ll briefly consider the book of Thessalonians as a whole.


Intro


The Thessalonian church was founded during Paul’s second missionary journey. It was the second church founded in Europe after the Philippian church. After being persecuted and forced to leave Philippi in Acts 16, Paul and his missionary companions went to Thessalonica (Acts 17). Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia. It was a free city under the Roman Empire in that it was allowed to govern itself by making its own laws and having its own leadership. Because of the road called the Egnatian Way, which was a highly traveled highway from east to west throughout the Roman Empire that went through the center of Thessalonica, and the fact that it had its own seaport on the Aegean Sea, Thessalonica was a bustling city for commerce with lots of foreigners visiting it for business and trade. It was also full of political activity since it was the capital. Acts 17:1-4 says this about Paul and his companions’ visit there:


After they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.


Though it only mentions Paul preaching in the synagogue for three sabbaths, it’s possible that they were in Thessalonica longer than that—probably for a few months. (1) The reason most believe this is because when one reads the letter it’s clear that Paul had thoroughly established the church doctrinally, including teaching them about the end times. First Thessalonians 5:1-2 says,


Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.


(2) Also, Paul had to be there long enough to work to support himself and to receive financial support from the Philippians multiple times, as he wouldn’t accept money from the Thessalonians. First Thessalonians 2:9, says, “For you recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery: By working night and day so as not to impose a burden on any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.” Also, Philippians 4:15-16, says,


And as you Philippians know, at the beginning of my gospel ministry, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in this matter of giving and receiving except you alone. For even in Thessalonica on more than one occasion you sent something for my need.


(3) In addition, Paul had to be in Thessalonica long enough to train and establish church leadership. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, he said:


Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.


To complete all these, most likely, he was there for at least a couple of months. Therefore, he was probably only at the synagogue for three sabbaths, and then moved somewhere else in the city to teach.


Because of Paul’s success at the synagogue, some Jews became jealous and stirred up a riot in the city (Acts 17:5). The mob went to the house Paul lodged in, and since Paul wasn’t there, they imprisoned the owner of the home, a man named Jason. Because of the instability in Thessalonica, the believers sent Paul to Berea where he briefly did ministry (Acts 17:10-12). When the same Jews from Thessalonica heard about Paul’s ministry in Berea, they moved there to cause trouble for him (Acts 17:13). Consequently, Paul moved again to Athens. His ministry there had mixed results (Acts 17:14-34). While in Athens, Paul was worried about the Thessalonians. Apparently, he had gotten word that they were being persecuted for the faith. Because he was worried about their welfare, he sent Timothy to check in on them and encourage them in their faith. First Thessalonians 3:1-5 says,


So when we could bear it no longer, we decided to stay on in Athens alone. We sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know. So when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless.


After his brief ministry in Athens, Paul moved to Corinth where he ministered for eighteen months (Acts 18:1, 11). While there, Timothy returned with a good report about the Thessalonians’ faith and perseverance in persecution (Acts 18:5, 1 Thess 3:6). However, there were also some problems. There was clearly doctrinal confusion about the end times. Some were worried about what would happen to the believers who had already died before Christ returned (1 Thess 4:13-18). Would they miss out on the rapture? Others thought they were already in the tribulation period because their persecution was so fierce (2 Thess 3:1-12). Some had stopped working while they were waiting for Christ’s return and had become a financial burden to others (1 Thess 4:11-12, 2 Thess 3:6-13). In response to Timothy’s report, Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians and soon after 2 Thessalonians to encourage their faith, answer some apparent attacks on his ministry (1 Thess 2:1-3:13), correct their misunderstandings about the second coming and encourage them to faithfully wait for it (4:15-16, 5:1-10), and exhort them in practical living like their need to remain sexually pure (1 Thess 4:3-8), to grow in loving one another (4:9-10), to work hard (1 Thess 4:11-13; cf. 2 Thess 3:10-12), and instructions on their personal and corporate worship (1 Thess 5:16-18).


In 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Paul honors them for their faith. It’s clear they were a model church whose testimony in the midst of persecution was being heard about throughout the ancient world (v. 7-9). Even in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, he pointed to them as a model for the Corinthians in their sacrificial giving, though they were a poor church. As mentioned, their faithfulness gave Paul and his partners tremendous confidence that they were God’s elect (v. 4)—that they were truly saved.


In this study, we’ll consider marks of genuine salvation so that we can test ourselves as well, both as individuals and as a church. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul said this: “Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless, indeed, you fail the test!” Also, 2 Peter 1:10 says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election.” Scripture clearly teaches us to test and confirm that we are born again because there will be many in the last days who claim faith but are not truly born again (Matt 7:21-23). Lord, let that not be true of us!


Big Question: In 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, what marks of genuine salvation were demonstrated by the Thessalonian Christians?


A Mark of Genuine Salvation Is Having a Faith that Works


We thank God always for all of you as we mention you constantly in our prayers, because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you). And you became imitators of us and of the Lord when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction. As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. … For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols…

1 Thessalonians 1:2-7, 9


After greeting the Thessalonians, Paul shared about their constant prayers for them and thanksgivings for their progress in the faith. In describing his prayers to God, he said that he always “mentioned” the Thessalonians (v. 2). This is a freeing reminder for us that it is OK to simply mention people, churches, and nations in our prayers. Sometimes, we fail to do that because we believe we must always be thorough in our prayers. However, there is a place at times for brevity, where we simply mention people and bring brief thanksgivings and requests for them.


When Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, he thanked God specifically because he knew that their conversion and continued spiritual progress was a supernatural work of God. In Philippians 2:13, Paul says, “for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God.” This means that certainly the Thessalonians were working, but it was only because God was working in them; therefore, Paul thanked God for their spiritual progress. Likewise, we should continually thank God for our spiritual progress and that of our church members, family, friends, and co-workers as well. God is working to change us and others into his image.


After sharing his thanksgiving, Paul mentioned three aspects of the Thessalonians’ spiritual progress. In verse 3, he says, “because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” It’s commonly been said that our work of faith is upward towards God, our labor of love is outward towards others, and our endurance of hope is forward towards Christ’s coming. It's also been said that these virtues have past, present, and future aspects. John Stott said, “Faith rests on the past; love works in the present; hope looks to the future.” We’ll first consider the Thessalonians’ work of faith and how that was a proof of their genuine salvation and ours’ as well.


Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by their work of faith?


The Thessalonians’ work of faith referred to good works provoked by their faith. Though we are saved by faith and not works, true faith always produces good works. Ephesians 2:8-10 says this:


For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.


When we were born again, God did not only eternally save us, but he also called us to specific good works that glorify him. To complete these works, he gives us spiritual gifts to develop and use to build up the church and reach the world, including gifts like teaching, helps, hospitality, administration, mercy, leadership, evangelism, etc. Doing these works are part of our sanctification process—the getting rid of sin and looking more like Christ. Apart from good works, we cannot know that our faith is genuine. In James 2:17, James said this to Jewish Christians who had a profession of faith but not necessarily godly works that proved it, “So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself.” Also, in James 1:22, he said, “But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves.” If we simply listen to God’s Word but don’t practice it, we are deceived about the genuineness of our faith. Faith without works is dead. Unlike many in the congregations James wrote to, Paul was sure the Thessalonians believers were saved because their works proved the genuineness of their faith. In the same passage, he lists several of their good works that were rooted in their genuine faith.


Observation Question: In verses 4-10, what works of faith were the Thessalonians manifesting that convinced Paul of the genuineness of their salvation, which our lives should manifest as well?


• A work of faith the Thessalonians demonstrated was their reception of the gospel and continued belief in it.


Typically, our faith in Christ is not referred to as a work, as it’s simply belief. In order for people to be saved, they must put their faith in Christ’s death for their sins and his resurrection as sufficient for their salvation, and in response, commit to following Christ as both their Lord and Savior. It’s commonly said that the difference between biblical Christianity and other religions is “do versus done.” All religions teach one must do something to be saved—prayer, giving, serving the poor, going to church, etc. However, Christianity teaches everything was done 2,000 years ago for us to be saved. Since God is holy, he demands eternal punishment for one sin, including one wrong thought. However, since God is also merciful, he sent his Son to live the perfect life we could never live, die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and rise again as proof that God accepted his sacrifice for our sins. Everything has been done for us to be saved. All we must do is believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior and commit to following him. There are no works we can do to be saved. John 3:16 says, “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”


With that said, when Paul spoke of the Thessalonians’ “work of faith” he seemed to at least be partially speaking of their faith as a work. This is reminiscent of how Christ responded to the Jews who were asking what works God required of them. John 6:28-29 shares this conversation: “So then they said to him, ‘What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the deed God requires—to believe in the one whom he sent.’”


Though we are not saved by works, in one sense, belief in Christ is an act, a work we choose to do in response to what God has done. Paul thanked God for the Thessalonians’ work of faith in that they received the gospel with deep conviction and joy from the Holy Spirit. In verses 4-6, Paul said this:


We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you). And you became imitators of us and of the Lord when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction.


When Paul talked about how the gospel came not only with words but in power, the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction, he was referring both to the power with which the Holy Spirit enabled Paul and his companions to preach the gospel and the Thessalonians to receive it. This is clear because in verse 5 he refers to how the Thessalonians recalled the “character” Paul and his companions displayed when they came amongst them. They had great integrity but also tremendous anointing in their teaching. When Paul says the words came “in power” (v. 5), some think this refers to Paul doing miracles which is possible. However, it’s not the normal Greek word used for miracles (dynameis). He seems to be referring to the special way God anointed their teaching, including their presentation of the gospel. With that said, it’s clear that he is not just referring to their teaching but also the Thessalonians’ receptivity of it because shortly after in verse 6, he says, they “received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit.” Paul and his companions preached with the power of the Holy Spirit and the Thessalonians, through a work of the same Spirit, received the gospel with conviction of their sin and joy. They had faith in God.


Persevering Faith


With that said, true saving faith is not just a one-time event but a continuing work, meaning that one with saving faith continues to believe in Christ and follow him. It is not simply a faith that we had in the past at some retreat where we made a commitment to God or when our parents shared the gospel with us at a young age; it is a continuing faith. This is part of the reason Paul was praising God. It was because the Thessalonians still believed in God though they were being persecuted for their faith. Persevering faith is a proof of true salvation.


In Colossians 1:21-23, Paul said this about the Colossians:


And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him—if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant.


Paul said the Colossians had been “reconciled,” meaning saved, “if” they remained “in the faith” “without shifting from the hope of the gospel.” Also, in Matthew 24:13, when Christ describes the persecution of believers and the rampant false teaching in the end times, he says, “But the person who endures to the end will be saved.” True saving faith is a gift of God according to Ephesians 2:8-9 and Philippians 1:29 and this gift perseveres, while false faith often doesn’t. That’s why when people fell away from the faith in Scripture, it doesn’t say they lost their salvation, it says they were not saved. For example, John said this about those who left the Ephesian church to follow cult leaders. In 1 John 2:19, he says:


They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us, because if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But they went out from us to demonstrate that all of them do not belong to us.


He essentially says that those with true faith would continue to follow Christ, and that the others’ leaving proved that their faith wasn’t genuine. True faith perseveres. It may slip up, have doubts, and fall away shortly, but if the faith is genuine, the person will soon return. Certainly, we get a good picture of this with Judas and Peter. Judas denied Christ and never returned to him. Throughout Judas’ ministry, Christ taught that he was a devil and unclean (John 6:70, 13:10-11)—that he was not truly born again. His denial of Christ just proved what was always true. However, with Peter, he denied Christ but returned shortly after. His faith was genuine.


When Paul was praising God for the Thessalonians’ work of faith, he was praising God both for their conversion—how they initially believed in Christ—but also, how they continued to believe despite the persecution they were experiencing. They didn’t deconstruct because their new beliefs were antagonistic to the world culture and hurting their employment opportunities and relationships. They continued to believe in Christ for salvation which was a mark of their genuine salvation. Are we continuing to believe even as the world culture becomes more antagonistic to our faith? Will we continue to believe when the costs become greater?


With that said, when Paul referred to their work of faith, he seemed to be referring to more than their initial and continued belief in Christ.


• A work of faith that the Thessalonians demonstrated was growing into the image of Christ by imitating mature believers.


In verse 6, Paul said this about the Thessalonians: “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord.” Though new to faith, the Thessalonians were rapidly growing into Christ’s image. In part, they were growing by imitating the godly example of Paul and his associates. We get the English word mimics from the Greek word Paul used in verse 6 for imitators. The Thessalonians, no doubt, were mimicking Paul and his associates’ faithful prayer life and devotion to God’s Word. They mimicked their kindness to others and desire to build up the church and win the lost. As in every area of life, we grow by mimicking others. A child learns how to walk, talk, brush his teeth, and everything else by mimicking his parents and those older than him. In the classroom, we mimic the teacher as she presents a problem and then solves it. In the workplace, we learn to do our jobs by mimicking those who train us. Likewise, God has called us to grow spiritually in part by mimicking those around us who are faithfully following God. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul said this to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” Likewise, God has called us to mimic other faithful Christians in how they love their spouses, raise their children, teach God’s Word, evangelize, lead, and serve others. It’s how we grow. In Philippians 3:17, Paul said, “Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example.” Who are we watching carefully so we can mimic and grow in our faith? This is a work of faith that proves that our faith is genuine. We want to grow in Christ and do so by observing and mimicking other faithful believers. Are we imitating other godly examples so we can grow more in Christ’s image?


• A work of faith that the Thessalonians demonstrated was their continual repentance from sin.


Along with their conviction of sin through the Holy Spirit, the Thessalonians not only recognized that their lifestyle was wrong before God and that they were under his judgment, they repented, meaning turned from their sinful ways to God. In verse 9, Paul said, “For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols.” Along with faith, repentance is necessary for salvation. Though sometimes faith is only mentioned when talking about salvation as in Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 3:16, sometimes repentance is only mentioned as in Luke 24:46-47 and Acts 2:38. In Luke 24:46-47, Christ said this:


…Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem…


At other times, both repentance and faith are mentioned as needed for salvation. In Acts 20:21, Paul said how he testified “to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” It’s often been said that faith and repentance are like different sides of the same coin. To truly believe in and follow Christ, we must turn from our sinful ways. As with a wedding, the spouse is committing to one person for life but, in another sense, turning away from other potential spouses. Likewise, in salvation, there must be faith—belief and commitment to God—and repentance turning away from sin and other supposed pathways for salvation.


Therefore, when the Thessalonians repented of their idols and put their faith in God, this was proof of their salvation. However, just as true faith continues, so does repentance. True believers don’t just repent once at salvation; they repent continually of sins as they follow Christ. Therefore, if a person’s relationship with sin has never changed after conversion, their salvation is not genuine. Many verses teach this:


Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11


No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him... No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.

1 John 3:6, 9


On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many powerful deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’

Matthew 7:22-23


It’s not that true believers don’t sin. They do and repeatedly. However, the direction of their lives has changed. Instead of living in sin, celebrating it, and promoting it like the world often does. When they sin, it creates mourning in their hearts because the Holy Spirit indwells them (Matt 5:4). To be a true believer trying to live in sin, creates a terrible situation. They cannot enjoy sin like they used to because they are new creatures in Christ. Living in sin leads to conviction from the Holy Spirit and discipline by God until they repent. Hebrews 12:6 and 8 says this: “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts ... But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons.” Consequently, a true believer cannot live long-term in unrepentant sin. God will not allow it. He will repeatedly discipline them until they repent, including potentially taking them home early as seen with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) and some of the Corinthians (1 Cor 11). For this reason, the lifestyle of a true believer will be one of continual repentance—the Holy Spirit’s conviction, God’s discipline, and their new nature will lead them to this. They will be constantly repenting over mistreating family members, co-workers, or neighbors, repenting for neglecting God, not being faithful at church or in God’s Word, and repentance for ungodly language and acts. A work of true faith is a lifestyle of repentance, which the Thessalonians clearly demonstrated, as they turned from worshiping idols to worshiping the true God.


Has God changed our relationship with sin? Are we still repenting of sin or are we living in it and enjoying it like the world? What idols is God calling us to get rid of in our lives—idols which consume our time and affection and take us away from the true God?


As Paul, Silas, and Timothy went into God’s presence, they thanked God for the work of faith demonstrated by Thessalonians. It started only months prior when they shared the gospel with them; however, it continued even in the midst of stark persecution. It produced godly works which proved that their faith was genuine and gave the apostles confidence that the Thessalonians were elect (v. 4).


Though not saved by works, true faith always produces good works. True faith continues to believe in Christ and the gospel despite many hardships and obstacles. It leads a person to grow in godliness by imitating mature believers and continually repenting of sins. Is our faith working or is it stagnant, dormant, and passive? Genuine faith works. Next, we’ll consider the Thessalonians’ labor of love.


Application Question: What aspect of the Thessalonians’ work of faith stood out most and why? Why is it so important to distinguish between faith plus works being needed for salvation and faith that produces works (cf. Rom 4:5, Eph 2:8-10)? What’s the difference? What does a lifestyle of unrepentance say about a person’s faith, and how should we respond to believers that are living in sin without repentance (cf. 1 Cor 6:9-11, Jam 5:19-20)? With persevering in the faith, what is God’s role in the believer’s perseverance and what is the believer’s role (cf. Phil 2:12-13, John 10:28-30)? How is God calling you to grow in demonstrating a faith that works and helping others do the same?


A Mark of Genuine Salvation Is Having a Love that Labors Rigorously


because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ … As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you the message of the Lord has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place reports of your faith in God have spread, so that we do not need to say anything. For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God

1 Thessalonians 1:3, 7-9


As mentioned, the Thessalonians demonstrated a work of faith that was upward towards God, a labor of love that was outward towards others, and an enduring hope that was forward toward Christ coming. These virtues were proofs of the Thessalonians’ genuine faith. Paul said that he knew that Christ had chosen them because of the fruits they were bearing (v. 4). In this point, we’ll consider a love that labors as a proof of genuine salvation. Every born-again believer will demonstrate a newfound love for God and others as a proof of salvation. This was prophesied about as part of the New Covenant. In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God said this about Israel which applies to believers:


I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative, and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations.


In the New Covenant, God gives believers his Spirit and a new heart, with new affections including loving God and others. This is why they will obey God’s laws because God’s laws are summed up in loving God and others (Matt 22:37-40, Rom 13:10). Romans 5:5 describes this specifically when it says: “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” When a person is born again, God pours out love in their hearts through the Holy Spirit. For this reason, loving God and others will mark true believers. Consider the following verses:


We know that we have crossed over from death to life because we love our fellow Christians. The one who does not love remains in death.

1 John 3:14


Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.

John 13:35


Let anyone who has no love for the Lord be accursed. Our Lord, come!

1 Corinthians 16:22


In addition, when Paul described the reason behind his ministry, in 2 Corinthians 5:14, he said, “For the love of Christ controls us” or “compels us” (NIV). Certainly, this manifests in many ways. It manifests in faithfully gathering with one another to worship week by week, serving believers in the church, and carrying their burdens. Personally, I struggle when I meet people who profess to be believers but don’t feel a need to go to church or practice their faith corporately. In testing one’s salvation, it fails the test of love. If a guy tells a girl that he loves her and wants to marry her, but he never spends time with her and even avoids her, it would be very clear that he does not really love her. No doubt, Christ will say the same of many who profess to follow him. How can they say they love Christ but avoid his body which is the church? Not only does neglecting to faithfully attend church and serve the saints fail the test of love, but it also fails the test of obedience. In Matthew 7:21, Christ said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven—only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Obedience to God’s will is the surest proof of salvation. It’s one of the reasons that we love God and his people and commit to being part of a local church to grow spiritually and build God’s kingdom. We do it not just because God has given us a new heart with new affections in salvation, but because we desire to obey God (cf. Heb 10:24-25).


With that said, the word “love” Paul used to describe what provoked the Thessalonians’ labor is agape. It is God’s love. It is an act of the will, not based on feelings. It is not necessarily void of feelings, but it is not led by feelings. It is guided by seeking the best for another person, even despite what the person deserves or our negative feelings towards the person. That’s why Christ can call us to love our enemies (Matt 5:44). We may never “feel” great about them. But we can pray for them, forgive them, serve them, and seek their well-being out of obedience to God. And as we do so, often pleasant feelings will follow, but even if they don’t, we choose to love them anyway as an act of the will.


When describing the Thessalonians, Paul said their love led them to labor. The word “labor” means to work hard to the point of exhaustion. This particular word does not focus on the deed itself but on the effort expended in completing the deed. The Thessalonians were working hard even to the point of exhaustion in serving God and others. In verse 9, when Paul said, “For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” The word “serve” means to serve like a bondslave which at that time was the hardest type of service. This was a proof of their salvation. Their salvation created a love in them for God and others, and that love led them to faithfully serve God and others.


Observation Question: According to 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10, in what ways was the Thessalonian church laboring in love towards God and others?


1. A labor of love that the Thessalonians demonstrated was caring for one another in the church.


Though not explicitly mentioned in this text, Paul mentions it clearly later in the book. In 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, he said:


Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,


No doubt, they were loving one another by meeting together faithfully for worship, fellowship, the study of God’s Word, and prayer. In addition, they were surely carrying each other’s burdens and meeting each other’s needs. We saw the same with the Jerusalem church in Acts. Immediately after repenting and being baptized, they started to gather together daily for worship, meeting from house to house, fellowship, and even selling their goods to care for the poor in the church. Acts 2:44-47 says this:


All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.


The reason the Jerusalem church was being so sacrificial with people they had just met was because they were born again, and God’s love was working through them (Rom 5:5). Apparently, the same things were happening amongst the Thessalonian church. In 1 Thessalonians 4:10, Paul said they were “practicing” love “toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia.” This was a proof of genuine faith. They had a love that labored. Again, in John 13:35, Christ said, “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.” Hebrews 10:24-25 says this about how we should lovingly serve one another:


And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.


We love each other by thinking of others often, considering how we can help them grow spiritually, and gathering together to worship and encourage one another.


Are we loving the members of our church? Are we taking time to get to know them, reach out to them, share life, pray for one another, and carry each other’s burdens? Clearly, this was happening amongst the Thessalonians, even as it happened with the church in Jerusalem. Their conversions were marked by radical love for others. Again, Christ said, they will know we are his disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35). Christ died for his church, prays for her, washes her with his Word, and will come again for her. If we’re saved, how can we not love her sacrificially as well? Are we aiming to sacrificially love the members of our local church? It’s a mark of true salvation.


2. A labor of love that the Thessalonians demonstrated was through their evangelism and mission work.


In verse 8, Paul said, “For from you the message of the Lord has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia.” The phrase “echoed forth” was used of a loud trumpet blast. The perfect tense of the verb means that they were continuing to share the gospel. In spite of persecution, the Thessalonians faithfully shared the gospel not only in their local area but outside of it. When the Romans conquered Greece, they divided it into two provinces. The northern part was Macedonia and the southern part was Achaia. Macedonia included prominent cities like Thessalonica, Philippi, and Berea, and Achaia included prominent cities like Athens and Corinth. It's clear that these believers were not just sharing the gospel in Thessalonica but in all of Greece. In fact, because of their tremendous zeal for evangelism and missions, they became a model to churches in other regions, and their testimony became famous. In verses 7-8, Paul said,


As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you the message of the Lord has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place reports of your faith in God have spread,


The ones who modeled Paul and his companions were now being modeled by others (v. 6). The testimony of their repentance from idols, endurance in persecution, and faithfulness in evangelizing was spreading throughout the ancient world and becoming a model for others. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, as mentioned, Paul challenged the Corinthians to give generously based on how the Macedonian Christians generously gave to the Jerusalem church in their sufferings even though the Macedonians were poor themselves. The Thessalonians were a model in their repentance, evangelism, and love for others.


Likewise, one of the surest proofs of salvation is a loving desire to evangelize and share the gospel with others. In fact, young believers are often the greatest evangelists. Because they have been changed, they want their family, friends, and co-workers to experience the same. Unfortunately, this often dulls with time. Consequently, we often need to stir ourselves up and remind ourselves to get out of our comfort zones to share the gospel with the lost. Apparently, even Timothy who helped found the church of Thessalonica at times needed to be reminded to evangelize. While pastoring in Ephesus, most likely he became comfortable just caring for the sheep of the congregation and was not stretching himself to reach out to the lost. Therefore, in 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul said this to him: “You, however, be self-controlled in all things, endure hardship, do an evangelist’s work, fulfill your ministry.” He needed to not only be a pastor but also an evangelist. And that’s true for us, we should not just be a small group leader, usher, children’s minister, or even just a faithful attender. We must invite others to church, small group, and our home. We must ask them their views about eternity and God, and ask if we can share our views and why we live the way we do. But in all of it, we must demonstrate courtesy, respect, and patience as to not turn people away from the Lord by our demeanor. In 1 Peter 3:15-16, Peter said this:


But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.


Are we still doing the work of an evangelist and a missionary? Are we participating in and supporting the work of evangelism both locally and broadly? Are we doing it with courtesy and respect? This is one of the ways the Thessalonians loved others. Their love led them to not only care for the church, Christ’s body, but to reach out to the lost so they could be saved. God allows us to interact with both unbelievers and believers so we can love them to a closer relationship with Christ. Do we have a love that labors to exhaustion? Or are we apathetic to the needs of those around us, including those within our local church?


Application Question: How have you experienced God’s love in special ways through the local church and believers in general? In what ways is God calling you to grow in loving your local church and its members? What is your experience with evangelism and missions? How is God calling you to love him and others by evangelizing and supporting the work of missions more?


A Mark of Genuine Salvation Is a Hope in Christ’s Return that Enables Us to Endure Hardship


because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ… and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 1:3, 10


The final mark of genuine salvation is a hope in Christ’s coming that enables believers to endure hardship. Certainly, Scripture gives us a sure hope that God is using all our trials for the good (Rom 8:28), that he is sanctifying us through them (Rom 5:3-4, Jam 1:2-4), and expanding our ability to serve him (2 Cor 1:3-7). This hope enables us to persevere and trust God in the midst of various hardships we go through. However, the primary hope Paul seems to be referring to in verse 3 is the Thessalonian’s hope in Christ’s return. This is a strong proof of genuine salvation, since unbelievers do not hope in Christ’s return. Sometimes the injustices happening in the world, the failing economy, war, etc., leave people with no hope; however, it shouldn’t be that way with believers. In fact, with the Thessalonians, they were being severely persecuted for their faith, and what gave them hope was Christ’s return. As mentioned earlier, persecution caused Paul and his companions to abruptly leave Thessalonica, and after they left, the persecution continued. In verse 6, he described how they received the message with joy, “despite great affliction.” And throughout the letter, he talks about the affliction they were enduring. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, he said:


For you became imitators, brothers and sisters, of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, because you too suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they in fact did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us severely. They are displeasing to God and are opposed to all people


Also, in 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4, Paul said:


We sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know.


Before Christ died, he told the disciples they would be brought before councils and even put to death for his name (Matt 24). Before Paul was run out of Thessalonica, he taught them the same. He also taught them that their trials were temporary because Christ would eventually return. It’s clear that the Thessalonians lived with a sense of immanency—believing that Christ could return within their lifetime. Titus 2:13 (ESV) calls Christ’s return the believers “blessed hope” because it means that one day he will make everything right. He will vindicate those who have suffered wrongly, reward the faithful, and judge the ungodly.


In fact, at the end of every chapter in 1 Thessalonians, Paul mentions the second coming. In the same way that Paul was seeking to stir the Thessalonians up to greater works of faith and labor from love, he was trying to stir them up to greater endurance based on the hope of Christ’s return. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, he said this about them:


For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.


The Thessalonians were waiting on and serving their Savior who would deliver them from the coming eternal wrath. This should be true of us as well. Our Lord is coming, and we must eagerly desire his return, take hope in it, and serve him until he comes. We should not put our hope in our bank account, our stable family life, or the relative peace in our country. All those securities are temporary. However, an everlasting rule of righteousness and peace is coming when Christ returns. That must be our ultimate hope as citizens of his heavenly kingdom. In Philippians 3:20-21, Paul said this:


But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.


Certainly, many of us struggle with maintaining a hope in Christ’s return. For some of us, it’s the furthest thing from our minds. But if that is true, we lack one of the greatest empowerments to endure trials and temptations on this earth and also a proof of genuine salvation. Apart from a hope in Christ, we’ll lack strength to endure, we’ll commonly fall to temptation, and we will ultimately become worldly—looking like everybody around us instead of citizens of heaven. In Luke 12:45-46, Christ described the consequences of his servants not desiring his coming. He said:


But if that slave should say to himself, ‘My master is delayed in returning,’ and he begins to beat the other slaves, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk, then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the unfaithful.


Living in discord, wastefulness, and other sins is a consequence of losing our hope in Christ’s return and also receiving discipline upon Christ’s return. Therefore, maintaining and increasing our hope in Christ’s return is very important.


Application Question: How can we maintain and increase our hope in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?


1. To maintain and increase our hope in Christ’s return, we must eagerly study eschatology—the study of the end of times.


Because of the importance of hoping in Christ’s return, Paul sought to remind the Thessalonians of Christ’s coming and teach them about it in both 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. As mentioned, the second coming is mentioned at the end of each chapter of 1 Thessalonians. Also, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul taught about the rapture where deceased and living believers will meet Christ in the air and receive glorified bodies at his return. He taught them this so they wouldn’t grieve without hope when their believing relatives died. In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, he taught them about the great tribulation and how it will come upon the world like a thief in the night. In light of this, he taught that believers should live sober and holy lives while encouraging and building each other up as we await the day of the Lord, instead of being worldly like unbelievers. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, he gave them two signs that will signify that the tribulation period (the day of the Lord) has begun. (1) The first one is that there will be a great rebellion amongst saints as many will fall away because of persecution and false teaching, (2) and the second one is the revealing of the Antichrist who will deceive the world into following him through all type of lying miracles. Second Thessalonians 2:3 says, “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” The more we study eschatology (the end times), the more we will hope in Christ’s coming and be better prepared for it. Obviously, Bible books like Daniel, Zechariah, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and the book of Revelation which focus on the end times will be very helpful in increasing our hope and soberness. In fact, though Revelation is a difficult book to understand, God promises a double blessing to those who read, listen, and obey it. Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near!” Certainly, one of the greatest blessings God gives to those who study eschatology is a hope that enables them to endure trials in life. It reminds us that our present circumstances are not the final outcome, and that we have a glorious future in Christ at his return. Lord, come! Lord, come!


2. To maintain and increase our hope in Christ’s return, we must faithfully gather with other believers for worship and prayer and to take the Lord’s Supper.


Consider the following verses:


And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25


For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer.

1 Peter 4:7


For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:26


As we gather for worship, Bible study, prayer, and to take the Lord’s Supper, we mutually encourage one another as we await our Lord’s return. It increases our hope! Therefore, when not faithfully gathering with other believers to worship and seek our Lord, we will become spiritually lethargic and not desire Christ’s return.


Are we faithfully gathering with believers for worship?


3. To maintain and increase our hope in Christ’s return, we must faithfully and zealously serve God and others.


In the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, Christ described his return and rewarding of those who faithfully used their gifts in his absence and discipline for those who didn’t. To those who faithfully used their gifts, Christ will declare to them, “Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master” (v. 23).


Likewise, after teaching about the believers’ resurrection which will happen when Christ returns, in 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul said: “So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Because Christ is coming soon, we must always be outstanding in using and cultivating our gifts to serve others and honor God. When we are not faithfully serving and using our gifts, we won’t desire his coming.


Are we faithfully using our gifts and abilities so that Christ will honor and reward us at his coming? If not, as seen with the unfaithful servant in the Parable of the Talents, dishonor and loss of reward await us (Matt 25:24-30).


4. To maintain and increase our hope in Christ’s return, we must continually get rid of sin in our lives and within the body of believers.


In 1 John 3:2-3 (ESV), John said this to the Ephesians:


Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.


Also, in the context of Christ returning to judge and renew the earth (2 Pt 3:3-4), Peter said this:


Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?... Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for these things, strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence.

2 Peter 3:11-12, 14


Nothing dulls our hope in Christ more than sin. When walking in unrepentant sin, we will not desire for our Lord to come because of shame, a self-focus, and enjoying the passing pleasures of this world. Consequently, we will lack hope and endurance in our trials.


In considering our need to hope in and eagerly desire Christ’s coming, Wayne Grudem’s comments are challenging:


Do Christians in fact eagerly long for Christ’s return? The more Christians are caught up in enjoying the good things of this life, and the more they neglect genuine Christian fellowship and their personal relationship with Christ, the less they will long for his return. On the other hand, many Christians who are experiencing suffering or persecution, or who are more elderly and infirm, and those whose daily walk with Christ is vital and deep, will have a more intense longing for his return. To some extent, then, the degree to which we actually long for Christ’s return is a measure of the spiritual condition of our own lives at the moment.


This is what happened with the Thessalonian believers. Their suffering had removed their hope in this life and placed it in the life to come. They eagerly desired and hoped in the second coming which enabled them to endure their difficult circumstances. Likewise, many Christians have little hope today because it is placed in the wrong object. It is placed in an unsteady economy, retirement, physical and emotional health, pleasant life circumstances, and money. The only hope that is stable is God and that of his promises, including Christ’s soon return.


Are we hoping in Christ’s coming and therefore faithfully enduring our trials? Or do we have no hope in Christ’s coming and therefore lack the endurance God wants us to have? In addition, as mentioned, if we lack a desire for Christ’s coming, we lack one of the surest evidences of genuine salvation. Unbelievers do not hope in the return of Christ and neither do unsaved professing believers. In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, Paul said this soon before he died:


For I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for me to depart is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.


Have we set our affection on Christ’s soon return? If so, it’s a proof of true salvation and eternal reward. Lord, come! Lord, come!


Application Question: Why do some believers desire Christ’s return more than others? What are consequences of not hoping in Christ’s return? In what ways does a hope in Christ’s return give believers endurance in their trials? In what ways is God calling you to increase your hope in Christ’s return?


Conclusion


What are marks of genuine salvation? As Paul considered the Thessalonian church and their testimony, their fruits proved to him that they were truly born again—that God had elected them before time (v. 4). More importantly than being able to discern this about others, Scripture commands that we make sure we are saved. In Matthew 7:22-23, Christ taught that many would say, “Lord, Lord” in the last days and that he would reject them. He would declare, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you” (paraphrase). Because of this reality, in 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul said: “Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless, indeed, you fail the test!” Also, in 2 Peter 1:10, Peter said, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin.” Do we pass the test? Is Christ Jesus living in us and therefore we can see the fruits? Is our calling and election sure?


1. A Mark of Genuine Salvation Is Having a Faith that Works

2. A Mark of Genuine Salvation Is Having a Love that Labors Rigorously

3. A Mark of Genuine Salvation Is Having a Hope in Christ’s Return that Enables Us to Endure Hardship


Application Question: What stood out most in the study and why?



Prayer Prompts


• Pray for God to empower his saints (including us) to be bold witnesses and that those who don’t know Christ would come to a saving knowledge of him—that the Holy Spirit would convict them, bring them to repentance and faith, and give them new life.

• Pray for God to increase our faith, that we would persevere even in the midst of increasing false teaching and antagonism to the gospel.

• Pray for God to increase our animosity toward sin and that he would give us grace to continue to repent and turn from sin and temptation, so we can be holy like he is holy.

• Pray for God to protect his saints who are being persecuted throughout the world, that he would give them grace to endure and be faithful witnesses, and that their persecutors may repent and become saved.

• Pray for God to empower his saints to love God and others more deeply so that they’ll rigorously labor to build up Christ’s body and reach the lost.

• Pray for God to increase the hope of his saints in the coming of Christ and that Christ would come to soon to make all things right. Lord, come! Lord, come!


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