Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 13, 1967
NUMBER 10, PAGE 8b-9a

Success In Adversity

Jefferson David Tant

You have read the words of Paul as he praised the Thessalonians: "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father... and ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit so that ye became an ensample to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth..." (I Thess. 1:2-8)

Yes, you have read these words and thought what a wonderful group those Thessalonians must have been. What zeal for the Lord. What a love for the lost. What a wonderful environment they must have been in to have been so successful. No, that's not quite right. Back up a little. Wonderful group? Yes. Zeal? Right. Love for the lost? Correct. Wonderful environment? Hardly!

Turn back to Acts.T7 and note the background of the church. Paul and company left Philippi and came to Thessalonica where there was a synagogue of the Jews. As was his habit, he went in unto the synagogue and preached Christ for three Sabbath Days. The record reveals that many received the word and obeyed, "but the Jews, being moved with jealousy, took unto them certain vile fellows of the rabble, and gathering a crowd, set the city on an uproar; and assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them forth to the people. And when they found them not, they dragged Jason and certain brethren before the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received; and these all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus..." (Acts 17:5-7) The uproar was so great that Paul and Silas were sent away by night to Berea. The Thessalonian Jews were so incensed against Paul and the truth that they even followed Paul to Berea "stirring up and troubling the multitudes." (17:13)

Yes, that was the "wonderful environment" in which the Thessalonian Christians labored. Yet in spite of such adversity, the church became eminently successful, so much so that Paul said that they became an example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia. What a thrill it would be for us to be a working member of such a church. BUT REMEMBER, THEY ACHIEVED SUCH A REPUTATION IN WHAT WE CALL A "DIFFICULT FIELD."

So let us be careful before we attribute our lack of success to a "difficult field." it is true that there are places that are more difficult than others, as evidenced by Thessalonica and Berea, but it is also true that the gospel is still God's power to save.

Let none of us sit around moaning about the "difficult field" while we twiddle our thumbs and dream of more fertile fields. But let EVERY CHRISTIAN get out in the field and move a few rocks, pull up a few thorn bushes, and SOW THE SEED OF THE KINGDOM. Recognize the difficulties, BUT THEN GET OUT AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM.

Do you think the Thessalonians had another formula for success? I don't!