“But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith, for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.”
Timothy had brought his report from Thessalonica, meeting Paul in Corinth. Paul was delighted when he found out that they had weathered the storm of affliction and pressure. Many of them were doing a wonderful job because they were using at least five Problem-Solving Devices: a) the Rebound Technique b) the Faith-Rest Technique c) the Filling of the Spirit d) Personal Love for God e) Impersonal Love for all Mankind. This is brought out in the various phrases within these verses such as, good news of your faith and love, always think kindly of us, and longing to see us.
We rebound after sinning by naming, admitting or citing a particular sin directly to God. The believer in this age is a priest and represents himself before God. We are not to confess our sins to another human being. Another human being, regardless of religious title, has no authority to forgive sin. Only God can forgive sin. The Greek word for “confess” literally means “same name.” In other words, call it what God calls it. If it’s resentment, call it resentment, if it’s being judgmental, call it being judgmental, etc.
The second part of the Rebound Technique is to isolate your sin, put it behind you and forget it. This should eliminate any feeling of guilt for past failures. Remember that God casts our sin as far as the east is from the west and remembers them no more. We need to learn to do the same. The final part of rebound is to resume your spiritual life or move on under the control of the Holy Spirit. Rebound means to be restored to fellowship with God. Confess it, isolate it, forget it and move on! (I John 1:6-9; Hebrews 10:17; 12:1-2; Philippians 3:13-14)
The filling of the Holy Spirit is for every believer in Christ. The purpose of this filling is to empower the believer to live the Christian Way of Life. When a believer is living the Christian Way of Life, he brings glory and honor to Christ. All believers are immediately filled with the Holy Spirit the moment they trust Christ as their Savior. The first time we sin after salvation however, we lose the filling of the Holy Spirit and we are out of fellowship with God. In order to restore both the filling of the Holy Spirit and our fellowship with God, we must simply name our known sins to God. (I John 1:9) We are then commanded to move forward with the execution of the Christian Way of Life, which the Scripture calls “walking in the light.” (I John 1:5-10) The filling of the Holy Spirit is potential, depending on the volition (free will) of the believer. It is also a command and literally means “keep on being filled with the Spirit.”
The Greek word for “filling” is “pleroo” and has four meanings, which all apply to the filling ministry of the Holy Spirit:
Mechanics means that you have made a resolve - a decision as to future action. This means that you have predetermined in your mind what course of action you will take when a problem arises. The Faith-Rest Technique is a versatile technique for overcoming any difficult situation, any problem or any disaster. By faith the believer applies doctrine logically while resting in the promises of God. By reaching a doctrinal rationale the believer is re-explaining to himself the basic concepts of doctrine that pertain to his relationship with God. This will be necessary in a crisis because emotion will normally take over and suppress proper thinking. You must take deliberate steps to reestablish the control of the Holy Spirit in your soul. Here is how the Faith-Rest Technique works:
Impersonal love is not what we normally think of as love. It is the virtue in your soul that causes you to have a relaxed mental attitude toward others and treat them with kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness. In other words, impersonal love is how we treat others. Therefore, impersonal love must be based on the virtue of the subject, the one doing the loving (“the treating”). Since the entire Godhead indwells each of us as believers in the Christ, God’s love also abides in us. The question is, “How do we get it out of us so that it benefits us, and others?” This is what we have studied with regard to the character of Christ being formed in us. Under the filling or control of the Holy Spirit, God is able to produce the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer. The first fruit listed is love. (I John 4:11-16)
No one can execute the Christian Way of Life without love. This includes love for God, love for yourself and love for others. This is the correct order in which we are to love - God first, ourselves second and others third. Why is this true? The Bible says that if we are unable to love our fellowman we cannot love God. Therefore the opposite is true, only by loving God can you have unconditional love for others. The Bible also says that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, which means that love of self comes before love for others. As a matter of fact, love of self teaches us how to love others. (John 15:10; I Corinthians 13:1-3; I John 3:16-24; [Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31 – The Golden Rule])
Personal love is based on the virtue of the object, the one who is loved. Personal love for God is a function of the Royal Priesthood of the believer. Before we can love one another, we must learn to love God. We learn to love God only by getting to know Him through His attributes as revealed in His Word. As we get to know Him through His Word and obedience to His Word, we develop capacity to appreciate Him and enjoy His blessings. Our personal love for God is based upon our thinking, not our emotions. No one can be forced to love God. As with everything in the Christian Way of Life, it is a matter of personal volition. However, I must tell you that you are commanded to love God. (Deuteronomy 6:5) Loving God changes our human norms and standards to divine norms and standards and gives us a foundation upon which to build our Christian lives. This, of course, not only affects our relationship with God (our spiritual life), it also affects our relationship with others (our Christian life). (I Peter 1:8; Ephesians 3:19)
“For this reason, brethren, in our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith, for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?”
Paul had three reactions when he heard the report from Timothy. In verse 7 Paul was comforted by the fact that they were using the Faith-Rest Technique. In verse 8 Paul was excited (for now we really live) because they were standing firm (stabilized) in the Lord. And in verse 9 Paul was full of joy because he heard a good report.
Apparently, it wasn’t as bad as some reports had indicated. There was some confusion and misinterpretation of doctrine, but overall this young church was doing very well. For this reason Paul and his team wanted to revisit them and further expand on the doctrine they had already been taught.
Comfort within the body of Christ is a very interesting doctrine in the Bible. Since we are all “one in Christ” and members on the same body, the Scriptures say that when a member suffers the whole body suffers. It also states that when one member of the body is honored the entire body rejoices. We are linked together by our mutual faith in Christ and even further linked together by the Bible doctrine we have in our souls. This oneness of the Spirit pulls us all together and gives us the same opportunity to fulfill God’s plan for our life. (I Corinthians 12:26)
There are at least seven factors which unify all believers: 1) “There is one body”- the body of Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit 2) “and one Spirit”- the Holy Spirit, 3) “in one hope”- confidence for the future; a personal sense of destiny 4) “one Lord”- the Lord Jesus Christ 5) “one faith”- what is believed; body of doctrine 6) “one baptism”- baptism of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13) 7) “one God and Father of all”- God is the Father of all believers. (Ephesians 4:1-7)
Really live means a believer can begin to live the life God designed for him in eternity past. Even though we have eternal life, God did not give it to us so that we could simply admire it from afar. He gave us eternal life so that His life could be reproduced in us as the character of Jesus Christ on a daily basis. When the believer is producing the character of Jesus Christ he is being set apart (the meaning of sanctification) to God. Producing the character of Christ in the believer is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit controls your soul, He is able to produce Christ’s character, but this control is in direct proportion to the amount of Bible doctrine a person has stored in his soul. As the Holy Spirit controls the soul over a prolonged period of time, the believer begins to advance to spiritual maturity. The advance to spiritual maturity can be accomplished only by proper application of the Bible doctrine that has been stored in the soul. It is the proper application that changes the believer’s thinking from human viewpoint to divine viewpoint. (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:12-16)
Full of joy means that Paul was experiencing inner happiness as a result of the response to the teaching of Bible doctrine in the church at Thessalonica. A happy person provides blessing for others. The happiness of advancing believers often spreads to others either by personal contact or through verbal report. This was in the case when Timothy returned to the Pauline missionary team with a good report. Being happy is one of the many spiritual blessings that comes with increased capacity. Increased capacity to receive God’s blessing of happiness comes only one way - study and application of Bible doctrine. (Jeremiah 15:16; John 13:17)