Pastor Steve With
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
November 23, 2014
I. Model Christ Followers – v.1 & vv.6-10
1 This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May God give you grace and peace.
- Paul – the greatest of all Apostles, chosen by Jesus to follow Him by a blinding light on the road to Damascus (I have a good and long time friend who is going to a missionary near Damascus, he will be about 68 miles to the West in Beirut Lebanon) Paul had 3 very powerful missionary journey’s that covered most of the known world…and he is your pastor’s favorite Bible character, and he endured everything for the sake of preaching the gospel of grace. One of my favorite passages about Paul is in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28,
24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.[c] 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.
- Silas – member of Jerusalem church, accompanied Paul on his 2nd missionary journey (Acts 15:40) and later a scribe for Peter (1 Peter 5:12). One of my favorite stories of Silas…
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:22-30
- Timothy – was a native of Lystra, a city in Asia minor. He was Paul’s spiritual son in the faith, and protege. He toured with Paul on the second and third missionary journeys and remained near to Paul during his his prison time in Rome.. Later Timothy served the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3) and Timothy was imprisoned himself (Heb 13:23). And the end of Paul’s life, when Timothy was in Ephesus, Paul wrote to inspired letters to him. At the end of 2 Timothy Paul is about to pass away and he writes these final words to Timothy…
9 Timothy, please come as soon as you can. 10 Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers. 2 Timothy 4:4-13
I read a devotional book that taught a great deal about Paul and Timothy. It is by Chuck Swindoll called Come before Winter. It was a wonderful book that served to challenge me and give me greater devotion to my Lord.
- Church in Thessalonica – (Show Map) all three of these men knew the Thessalonian believers well. They founded the church in Thessolonica (Acts 17:4), and Timothy later checked on its well-being and brought back a positive report (1 Thess 3:6). Because the Thessalonians were close to all three of these men, Paul included his coworkers’ names in the greeting.
- They Belong to, and are Blessed by, God – “to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul knows they belong to God…
- Grace. God’s undeserved favor to a sinner
- Peace. This Grace leads to Peace with God. Peace beyond human understanding.
- They Found Joy in Struggle – “you received the message with joy.” from v. 6
Let’s look at verse 6-10
6 So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. 7 As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia. 8 And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, 9 for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. 10 And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
- They Imitated their Leaders and the Lord, “In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.”
People were talking about them everywhere!!! The Word of the Lord was spreading everywhere
- Became Examples for all Believers (v.7-10)
- in Faith, v 9
- in Repentance, 9
- in Hope, v.10
I think we should follow some of the traits described here in Section 1. We can be Model Christ Followers, but it takes time and commiment and a passion for the things we just describe. Paul, Silas, Timothy and the Church at Thesslonica worked very hard with the power of the Holy Spirit to be a Model Christ Followers.
II. How to Know you are a Christ Follower – v.2-3
2 We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. 3 As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Work of Faith – a true saving belief in Jesus Christ that changes us.
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
- When we live in the mighty work of God we long to be holy and do righteous deeds
- Paul, Silas and Timothy saw their changed lives and deeds, and knew they were of Jesus.
- Labor of Love – acts and deeds motivated by love for others.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. Hebrews 10:24
- Hope that Endures – your enduring struggles because of your confidence in Christ.
Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
III. How to Become a Christ Follower – v.4-5
- Accept that God Loves You and has Chosen You
We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people, v.4
- Because of God’s Love He Choose His People – Christians are the Elect, chosen by God solely by His sovereign, loving purpose, apart from any human merit or wisdom.
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. John 15:16
So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. Romans 9:16
- Because of God’s Love He Gave Us Right Standing – God in eternity past sovereignly chose all believers to salvation, drawing them to Himself in time, by the work of the Holy Spirit.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:11
He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5
Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Romans 8:33
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12
- Trust the Holy Spirit who is Your Assurance
For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true, v.5a
- The Holy Spirit leads us in the Truth
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. John 16:13
- The Holy Spirit is our Guarantee of Salvation
The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised… Ephesians 1:14
- Engage in the Life Christ has for You
And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. v.5b
- Live like Paul, Silas and Timothy…with concern for others.
- Live like Paul, Silas and Timothy…without regret.
Accept, Trust and Engage…that is the message from Scripture for Christ Followers everywhere. God chose before time to be His people, we all need to accept what he did for us. We have to live in Trust of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and leads and we have to show great concern for others. Let’s walk through this together to see if we can become more and more like the church at Thessonica.