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1 Thessalonians 2_1-12

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1 Thessalonians 2:1-10 Well we continue in our study on Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church. If you recall last time, we spent time reading the entire letter and gaining an understanding of what is going on while Paul is writing to this church. One point that I had made about this letter is that it is one of the most complex and theologically rich letters of the New Testament and every pastor, deacon/deaconess, and member of the body Christ ought to spend a considerable time mining the golden nuggets found in this letter. If there are doctrines that make you uncomfortable, you will find more than likely find them in here. And this is why a careful study of the Scriptures is necessary for every believer. You will recall that this is one of his most positive letters to any of the churches that he writes to. In fact, in this letter you find no words of condemnation or correction, but rather exhortation and comfort to the readers. These readers are being persecuted at this time. In fact, the church did not have to wait very long to face persecution, they faced it from the very beginning. And last time, we dug into two doctrines of the Christian faith. Election and Sanctification. Too often these are confused in their definition and their order and their effect. And so we examined those doctrines because those two doctrines do come up again and will influence how you understand the remaining portion of the letter. And so as a brief summary, we saw that in election God elects those who will come to faith, and those who are drawn by God must repent from their sins and place their faith in Jesus. There is a response to the call from God. We also looked at the doctrine of sanctification and how it does not mean that we are perfect. It means we are being conformed into the very likeness of the Son and so we have new desires that no longer seek to satisfy the desires of our flesh, but to do the will of God. All of this is a result from the spirit which is empowering us to resist sin and temptations, because sin no longer has any dominion over us. And now we get to the passage for this morning. This passage can be twisted and contorted (bended), and so let us be faithful to what it says. 1 Thess. 2:1-12 If you remember, the missionary journey of Paul brought him and Silas to Thessalonica to preach the gospel and they faced resistance from the Jewish leaders. Prior to that, in Acts 16, we read of their time in Philippi. On their way to prayer, a demon possessed girl comes following them for many days. From Plutarch’s writings in the first century, we gleaned an understanding of this girl as the word used to describe her is pythona. "The Python was a mythical serpent or dragon that guarded the temple and oracle of Apollo, located on the southern slope of Mount Parnassus to the north of the Gulf of Corinth. It was supposed to have lived at the foot of Mount Parnassus and to have eventually been killed by Apollo (cf. Strabo Geography 9.3.12). Later the word python came to mean a demon-possessed person through whom the Python spoke—even a ventriloquist was thought to have such a spirit living in his or her belly (cf. Plutarch De Defectu Oraculorum 9.414)." But she was screaming “These men, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation, are the slaves of the Most High God.” Well you would think that that would be a good thing. But even the words from the demons were silenced by Jesus. She was very well known and loved by her owners since she was their golden goose. She made them huge profits because she was used to make fortunes similar to a modern day fortune teller now. But just screaming after the apostles, and Paul is a bit annoyed at this. It is probably causing some confusion. For the Jews, they would think of Yahweh. The Greeks would think of Zeus. Well without going too much into details, the demon is exorcised and the owners are upset and have Paul and Silas put into prison. They were preaching the truth, they exorcised the demon, and they were beaten and put into prison. It is on this occasion that Paul reminds the readers of what had taken place from their visit. An outrageous treatment towards them that in the end they do receive an apology, mainly because he was a Roman citizen. But after having been treated poorly, you would think that they would be justified in shaking the dust off their sandals and leaving the area. But that is not what we see happens. Here in vs 2 it says that they were emboldened to preach the gospel in spite of the opposition that they faced. We see that the opposition and persecution that they faced was not a reason or cause for the church in Thessalonica to feel that Paul had abandoned them or was fearful to return. He is sure to mention that despite the persecution they faced, they still went on preaching for several sabbaths there with them. We see that emphasized in vs 17-18 as Paul, co-authored with Silas and Timothy, were not afraid to return because of the opposition, but wanted to return and visit them. That is the heart of a pastor. They love their flock. Paul even goes so far as to even relate to them as a nursing mother. And we learn of the sincerity of heart that a believer has in conveying the message of the gospel. There ought to be love, but it needs to be true. When presenting the gospel, you should not try and tickle the ears of the people you are pleading with. Paul here explains a bit of his motivation and his heart. He did not preach the gospel from error or in an attempt to deceive. But he did so, not to please man, but to please God. Not with flattering words or greedy motives. Unfortunately, we see this too often. False Gospel presentations being made. John R. W. Stott siad "We cannot come to Christ to be justified until we have first been to Moses to be condemned. But once we have gone to Moses and acknowledged our sin, guilt, and condemnation, we must not stay there." 1) Life Enhancement Gospel a. What it promises i. You will be happier ii. You will have purpose iii. Better life iv. Peace and joy v. Your best life now vi. Better children vii. You will get ______________________. b. 5 things Jesus promised his followers: i. John 16:33- trials and tribulations ii. Luke 17:1- temptation iii. John 15:18-20- persecution and hatred iv. John 14:27- Peace through the difficulties c. God did not send his son so we can have a better temporal life, but so that we can have eternal life. d. He did not send his son so we can be happy, but so that we can be holy 2) Example Gospel a. Jesus did not die for our sins, he merely did it as an example i. The Bible does not support this ii. The Bible says in John 1:29- The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. iii. Doesn’t make sense. To say it was an example is to say a man intentionally jumps into a raging ocean when no one is drowning. It's crazy. He died for a purpose. Not to set an example of how you should live. 3) Easy Believism a. Just believe in Jesus and then you are good to go i. It is impossible, because God gives repentance and faith- 2 Tim 2:25, Eph 2:8-9 ii. Ignores necessity to repent- Mark 1:15 iii. Denies Jesus' command- Matthew 16:24 iv. Disregards Jesus' command to practice church discipline on those who continue in sin- Matt 18:15-20 v. Ignores the fruit that a true believer produces- Gal 5:16-24 vi. Bible teaches man is carnal or christian- 2 Cor 5:17 4) Anonymous Christian a. Really nice religious people who don’t know Jesus go to Heaven b. In other words, if a morally good person is trying to faithfully worship a coconut, he is actually worshipping the one true God. i. Makes Great Commission pointless- Matt 28:19-20 ii. Paul didn’t think athenians were going to heaven- Acts 17 iii. Why is it that it there is only one name by which we are saved? Acts 4:12 iv. Against Bible- Faith by hearing- Romans 10:17 v. Paul grieved for those who perish without knowledge- Rom 10:1-5 vi. Rom 10- foreign idolaters need to hear preacher to be saved vii. If idolatry is acceptable, why did God give the first two commandments? 5) Self-Esteem Gospel a. We are so loveable, God just cant help loving us. i. Blaspheming the spirit? Matthew 12:31 ii. We are not loveable, but He loves us anyway- 1 John 4:10 Not to mention: The Fruit Gospel, social gospel, health wealth and prosperity, the spoken word But the danger is that you can avoid one side of the dich and fall into the other side. 6) Legalism a. You have to do X, in order to be saved b. This sort of thinking leads a person to think that they have keep doing this and that and those things otherwise they are not saved. They bring a person to have no peace and actually present a false Gospel. They misunderstand that when you enter into Christ you enter into his eternal rest, where you rest from your works. They make the gospel ineffective and Christ’s death on the cross meaningless, because it is a list of things you must do and not what Christ has done on the cross. They teach a false Jesus who died for your sins but his death on the cross is not enough, now you have to do works to keep your salvation which is contrary to the Scripture (John 3:16; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 11:29; John 10:28-29; Jude 24-25 to name a few). 7) Second Class Christians a. They are Christians who you continually look down on and treat them poorly because similar to legalism you think that they are not doing enough. And so you guilt them and treat them poorly. This is especially seen in the case of parenting. Where you have a believing child and instead of exhorting them and building them up in the Lord to live holy. You rebuke them and do not help them carry their burdens. Make sure that you don’t avoid one ditch and fall into the other side. Because if you preach a false gospel, you shouldn’t be surprised if you have a false convert. Warren Weirsbe wrote: “A nursing child can become ill through reaction to something the mother has eaten. The Christian who is feeding others must be careful not to feed on the wrong things himself.” He preached the truth, in verse 5, not with flattering speech or greedy motives. They preached the truth. In 1 Timothy 2:7 he says even to Timothy, “I am telling you the truth, I am not lying.” Paul faithfully taught truth, never error. He was a faithful guardian of the treasure of the truth. And, of course, that significantly is what he communicates to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 6, verse 3, he’s telling Timothy, “If anybody comes along and advocates a different doctrine and doesn’t agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; and he has a morbid interest in controversial questions, disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicion, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” Chaos and confusion abound when you have people who pervert the truth. And so he says to him at the end of chapter 6 in 1 Timothy, verse 20, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you.” That’s the truth. “Guard the truth. Avoid worldly empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ – which some have professed and gone astray from the faith.” All through Paul’s ministry he was always holding up the truth. “Preach the word,” he said to Timothy. “Preach the word all the time, in season, out of season – reprove, rebuke, exhort with all patience. They will always be wanting to heap to themselves teachers with itching ears who say what they want to hear. Teach the truth.” Second Corinthians, chapter 2:17 he says, I’m not a kapēlos, I’m not a huckster, I’m not a con man. False prophets, spiritual frauds, religious fakes were everywhere in the ancient world, and they’re everywhere today, everywhere. There may have been a lot of them in Thessalonica like there are today. Paul said in verse 3, “When I speak to you, I don’t speak from error, I speak the truth, I speak the truth. And there was plenty of evidence; you know that. You know I spoke to you the truth.” Vs 4- He had been approved dokimazō, to approve as worthy after testing, perfect tense, meaning he had been approved with lasting consequence. He’s saying, “I’ve been tested and I’ve been approved by God; I’ve been authorized.” What he’s saying is, “I’m not self-appointed.” That is a very, very serious issue in the church today – self-appointed ministers who answer to no one; simply appoint themselves, elevate themselves, put themselves in positions of power, say they’re called by God, and the only validation of that is their own personal testimony.      Paul had been chosen by God and it was pretty clear. Damascus Road, Act 9; remember? He was divinely commissioned. Colossians 1 he said he was made a minister, he was made a minister, he was chosen. He says in the book of Acts, “God called us to preach.” In fact, he said, “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.”      To the Corinthians in chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians, he says he is “someone, who by the mercy of the Lord, is trustworthy.” And because he is trustworthy, he has been entrusted with the gospel. He’s been entrusted with the gospel.      It was the Lord who called Paul. But after that, when Paul established how men would be set apart for ministry, he gave that responsibility to the elders of the church, and he even says with regard to Timothy, Timothy belongs in the ministry because he was set apart and ordained by the laying on of the hands of the elders. He was entrusted with the gospel because he was a proven man in the eyes of the leaders of the church and the church as well. He says, “I don’t speak on my own.  But because we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak.” Literally, “So we are speaking.” I love that. He’s saying, “I speak with the authority of God, as one who’s been approved for ministry.” In this passage we read of the heart of Paul. He loved this little body in Thessalonica. He loved them so much. And so after concluding a message on his heart and the gospel he preached to them, he goes on to encourage them and prepare them for maturity. He calls them to walk worthy of God, who calls them into His own kingdom and glory. And this is not simply an exhortation he makes with words. This sets an example to all who are pastors. The Christian minister is expected to give practical instruction to his fellow Christians, but not by way of dictation. Since he cannot rule by decree if he is to be true to the spirit of Christ, he must guide by example.- Frederick F Bruce In fact, that reality of Paul setting an example is all throughout this letter. A spiritual leader does not simply provide spiritual leadership with words, but with deeds. Something that is visible and substantial. Don’t believe me? In chapter 2, verse 1, he says, “You yourselves know.” In verse 2, in the middle of the verse, he says, “As you know.” In verse 5 he says again essentially, “As you know.” In verse 9 he says, “For you recall.” In verse 10 he says, “You are witnesses.” In verse 11 he says, “Just as you know.” In chapter 3, and verse 3, “So that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.”      In chapter 4, again, in verse 2, “For you know.” In chapter 5, again, in verse 2, “For you yourselves know full well.” If there ever was a commendation for a man’s ministry, it would be that he could look at a congregation and say, “You know all this. Some of what you know is what I’ve taught you.” But most of the ways in which he uses this expression is to define what he did. “You know truth concerning the day of the Lord, because I’ve taught it to you. You know the commandments, because I’ve given them to you.” And so an example is set, and an exhortation is made. Walk in holiness. My prayer for each and every one of you here is that you continue to walk in a manner that brings God the glory. You are not a burden to your leaders, if you need help call them up. This world is in darkness and it needs the light. Communion
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