Friday after the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 (NKJV)
1 Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.
5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain. 6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you—7 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith.
8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
Is it possible to reject the faith and fall from grace? Yes. We mourn when we hear that someone with whom we once shared the Christian faith has abandoned their first love. As the end approaches, Jesus says, “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:12-13). Despite the great effort of St. Paul’s preaching, if the Thessalonians had abandoned their faith in Christ, it would all be in vain. Timothy was sent to see if they remained faithful in Jesus Christ after St. Paul’s departure. With Timothy’s return, St. Paul now exudes great joy in knowing that they “stand fast in the Lord.”
“That we may obtain this faith, the Office of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who worketh faith where and when it pleaseth God in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justified those who believe that they are received into favor for Christ’s sake” (AC V).
Our Triune God has instituted the Pastoral Office in order to provide these instruments for creating and strengthening your faith. Regularly receive the Word and Sacrament that “He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father.” This faith in Christ God imputes for righteousness in His sight.
O Lord, forgive my sin and regard Christ’s righteousness as my righteousness. Make me to abound in love toward others. Keep me in the true faith until Christ’s return. Amen.