The Sawsall Will of God
Text: 2 Thessalonians 3
Proposition: There is a reciprocating to action to execution of God’s will that operates both with divine, overriding intent and yet also with human response.
Introduction: When it comes to renovations or to building something there are some tools that just seem to be almost universal in their ability to get the job done. Let me show you one of those tools, it’s called a sawsall. The name kind of gives it away doesn’t it, it saws through all kinds of things, pipe, wood, drywall even through things that you can’t see, hidden in a wall yet the faithful sawsall goes through them and gets the job done. The thing about the sawsall is that it can go into tight places because it uses a reciprocating action to cut through things. The blade pushes out and then is pulled back, a push/pull action that has great effect in overcoming all kinds of barriers. It’s the same design that God uses in the creation of our bodies, a reciprocal relationship of push/pull. The reason that you breathe this very minute is because of the reciprocal action of your diaphragm pulling down to inflate the lungs and then your chest muscles and rib cage contracting to push the air out. The same principle is at work in every muscle in your body, even your heart. In your arm one muscle contracts to pull your arm up then another muscle contracts to pull it back down, a reciprocal action enables you to walk, to lift things and live and move and have your being. It’s design, we copy it but God is the One who first put it into action. This morning I want to look at the reciprocal action that is employed in the exercising of God’s will. It too has a two part process, the divine overriding intent of the Father with the Son through the Holy Spirit and the reciprocating action of human response ability. God’s part, then your part, cutting through all kinds of barriers, into difficult to reach places, even to the tearing down of wrong thinking and the strategies of Satan. Let’s talk about the Sawsall will of God, have a look at 2 Thessalonians 3.
I. The Action That We Take Is Greater Than We Might Imagine.
There are many unseen places, hard to reach places, difficult places that God can cut through because of your prayer. It is indeed an action that is greater than we ever might imagine. In verses 1 and 2 Paul says, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.” When you take the action to pray the word of God runs its race, it runs swiftly doing things you could never have imagined. You pray for a church and God reaches people who are in some kind of crisis, need or unbelief and He changes them and transforms them and makes them instruments of His grace. What Paul is saying is that God incorporates right into His will your action of being willing to pray, in fact He even limits Himself sometimes to wait on you to pray, to not glorify Himself until you pray. Ahh but when you pray the word of the Lord runs swiftly, it’s what God used in the Thessalonians lives as Paul and Timothy and Silas prayed for them. Paul knows that prayer for others will be used effectually by God to open hearts and to deliver His people from unreasonable and wicked men. Prayer is an action that we are to take as an expression of God’s will and its effect is greater than what you could ever imagine.
But prayer is not the only action Paul exhorts them to, he also exhorts them to do the difficult work of correcting wrong behavior, wrong actions in the lives of other Christians in their church. This is a subject that causes most people, including me to squirm in our seats. We hate conflict, we don’t want to judge the actions of others much less have to take action in disciplining them. In the Thessalonians church there were some who had misinterpreted the things Paul had said and thought that the second coming of Christ was at hand. So they quit their jobs and began to try to influence others to do the same. So Paul is essentially telling them, ‘Look if you don’t work, you don’t eat. It’s what we demonstrated to you in our own lives when we were with you, we paid our own way as it were to demonstrate that very principle.’ That was their situation and Paul said that the actions they were to take were to, “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” The action of Christian discipline is something we hate to do, it seems vindictive, judgmental, damaging yet as I read this passage it clearly seems to be what Paul is exhorting them to do. So what principles or guidelines are we to use in Christian discipline in the church?
Well according to this passage it must be done with a heart that does not see the offender as if they were your enemy, they are not, they are your brother or sister in Christ. The intent is always restoration of relationship, never just punishment or ostracism because of what they did. Paul says they were to admonish them, even after they had in a sense pushed them out of the church. Well to admonish them means you have to talk with them even if they are angry at you, even if they are turning their back to you. To admonish means to exhort, to warn a person about how they are at risk or in some kind of danger. In Romans 15:14 Paul says, “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” You can do it when you do it in the will of God with the love of God by the direction of the Spirit of God as you pray. Christian discipline begins with one person going to another, it’s a Matthew 18 kind of process. In that passage it’s all about if a brother offends you in some way, in this passage it’s different from that in that it just isn’t about my relationship with them, it’s about the way they are out of joint with the entire will of God as He directs a church. That sounds pretty high handed and yet it’s what Paul was exhorting them to do, to admonish their brother in Christ.
II. The Action That God Takes Is Greater Than We Could Have Hoped For.
Let’s briefly run through all that God does as the tangible expression of His will.
In verse 3, “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” It is God’s faithfulness that establishes us and even guards us from the designs and attacks of Satan. Faithful, even when we aren’t , He is faithful.
In verse 5, “Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.” Really, God can do that? He can direct my heart into the way He loves, even into the way He has patience? That’s more than we could ever have hoped for right there. To love not only like He loves but also to love by His love in us, literally Him loving others through us, taking great patience to reveal His glory.
Maybe this is how verse 13 gets to occur, “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.” Don’t grow weary, usually meaning don’t quit just because you don’t see any results, don’t quit just because you’re frustrated. The call to do good is directly connected to the love of God and the patience of God. Keep going.
In verse 16, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” The word ‘peace’ when used as a noun means, “an exemption from the rage and havoc of war”.The Lord of peace describes thecharacter of God, He does not rage or is any sort of havoc. He is a God of order, control, justice, power and truth and all knowledge. That Lord gives you peace, this peace is comes from being at peace with God through His Son Jesus Christ. There has been at great thing done for us at the cross, the wrath of God against all sin of which we are participants in, that wrath is satisfied by the actions of Christ for us. In does not just create some sort of armistice or temporary peace treaty between God and us, it removes completely, forever the wrath of God from every person who would take shelter in the blood of Christ on the cross. It’s peace with God that leads us into the peace of God. Paul says that peace is given to us always in every way. That surely is something that is greater than we could have ever hoped for. More than 390 times is this peace referred to in Scripture. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace, said Jesus in John 16:33. It’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us, love, joy peace patience … It’s the, “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” says Paul in Philippians 4:7, and it, “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
In verse 18, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” The Blue Letter Bible online defines this grace as, “the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace.” Literally it’s the grace of God that governs us with the power of God working through us. It’s our actions and His divine intent, the two working together, a push / pull force that cuts through the unseen, going into tight places, overcoming all kinds of barriers, the reciprocal action of God’s divine will and the empowered actions of His people the church, the sawsall will of God.