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The Gospel & the Church - Part 4 June 23, 2019

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For the last several weeks we have been lookng at, “ the gospel creates the church and the church spreads the gospel, and how the gospel shapes the church, as the church seeks to live a life that is worthy of the gospel” (John Stott).

I. The Church of God - (1:1b-4)

The Church is a Community which LIVES “ God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” - (1:1b)
The Church is a Community which is MARKED by “Grace and Peace” - (1:1c)
The Church is a Community which is DISTINGUISHED by Faith, Love, and Hope - (1:3)
The Church is a Community which is LOVED and CHOSEN by God - (1:4)


II. The Gospel of God - (1:5-10)

Stott: “It was natural for Paul to move on in his mind from God’s church to God’s gospel because he could not think of either without the other. It is by the gospel that the church exists and by the church that the gospel spreads. Each depends on the other. Each serves the other.”
In (vv.5-10), there are three clear stages of the progress of the gospel in Thessalonica: First, “…our gospel came to you” (v.5). Second, “…you received the word” (v.6). And third, “…the word of the Lord sounded forth from you” (v.8).
It came to you; your received it; and you passed it on!
This sequence is God’s continuing plan for making disciples of all nations!

A. “…our gospel came to you” - (v.5)

Four ways the gospel came to them...

1. “…not only in word”

Certainly, it was not with ONLY IN word, but it was with words! It did require a messenger.
Romans 10:14–17 ESV
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

2. “…in power” - ἐν δυνάμει

Stott: “The reference is probably not to external miracles which are normally designated by the plural word ‘powers’ (dynameis), but to the internal operation of the Holy Spirit. It is only by his power that the Word can penetrate people’s mind, heart, conscience and will.”
It’s the ability or power of the Word of God to transform a life!
Romans 1:16 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
(1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

3. “…in the Holy Spirit”

Gospel preaching is in vain without the Holy Spirit!
(1 Corinthians 2:9-14)
John 16:8 ESV
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
It is the Holy Spirit that convicts the unbeliever!

4. “…with full conviction”

Conviction speaks, not to the content of the preacher’s message, but to his or her’s confidence in the message!
In other words, is the gospel working in the messenger’s life?
(v.5b) - “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
No doubt, you’ve heard the expression, “What you are speaks so loud I can’t hear what you are saying!”
“Preach the gospel at all times! If necessary, use words!”

B. “…you received the word” - (v.6)

Having given a description of his preaching of the gospel, now Paul gives an equally full description of the Thessalonians’ receiving of it.

1. “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord...”

The progression is interesting and practical. You first tend to imitate the person or persons who led you to the Lord—and there’s nothing wrong with that!
1 Corinthians 4:16 ESV
I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
Galatians 4:12 ESV
Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong.
Philippians 3:17 ESV
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Philippians 4:9 ESV
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
2 Thessalonians 3:7 ESV
For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you,
HOWEVER, as you mature as a believer, you become more of an imitator of Jesus Christ!
Ephesians 5:1–2 ESV
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
1 John 2:4–6 ESV
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
The more you walk like Jesus, the more difficult the journey!

2. “…for you received the word in much affliction...”

affliction is from the Gr., ἐν θλίψει, which means, ‘pressure, oppression’
Thessalonica was not friendly to the gospel, or it’s messengers!

The Jews among them must have felt the hatred of their unbelieving brothers in the flesh who, as has been pointed out, were especially antagonistic to the gospel in that city. The Gentile converts must have had to swim against the swift current of paganism that flowed like a torrent through the conduit of commercial Thessalonica. And the city’s chief men’s wives, who had become Christians, had to go home to unbelieving husbands who would not have appreciated their newly sensitized consciences.

2 Timothy 3:12 ESV
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
The good news is, the Devil doesn’t get the last word (or emotion)!

3. “…with the joy of the Holy Spirit”

The same Spirit who gave power to those who preached the gospel gave joy to those who received it!
How in the world does that work?
I only know what the Word of God teaches: Joy is the “fruit” of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)!
Joy also accompanies the work of salvation! (Luke 15:7, 10)
Apparently, the joy in heaven finds its way to earth as well!
(Acts 8:8, 39; 13:52; 16:34) (John 16:33)

4. “…so that you became an example to all believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” - (v.7)

Dr. Leon Morris - “…the imitators in their turn were imitated.”
Stott: “It is marvellous to see the effect of the gospel on those who receive it. It may mean persecution and consequent suffering. But it also involves inward joy through the Holy Spirit, the imitation of Christ and the apostles in changed lives, and the setting of an example to others.”
Matthew 5:13–16 ESV
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

C. “…the word of the Lord sounded forth from you” - (v.8)

The Greek word is, “ἐξήχηται (ex-say-ee-tai),” occurs nowhere else in the NT, and is from echos, and echo or noise.
According to the TDNT, it can mean to ‘sound, ring, peal or boom’. It was used in the LXX of loud noises!
The POINT: the Gospel makes a loud noise!
But MORE than just the Gospel that reverberated through the hills and valleys of Greece:
(v.8b) - “…but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.”
Whereas the Gospel needs to be rung out loud and clear, one’s faith is usually much quieter, but no with less of an impact!
(1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)
It’s important to note that the impact of their faith was not something Paul had to observe and report, but rather,
(v.9a) - “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you...”
In this “report” we see a snapshot of Christian conversion: (1) a decisive break with idols, (2) an active service of God, and (3) a patient waiting for Christ.

1. (v.9b) - “…how you turned to God from idols”

The verb translated ‘turned’ (ἐπεστρέψατε) became an almost technical term for conversion, which is a turn from sin to Christ, from darkness to light, from lies to truth, and from idols to God.

2. (v.9c) - “…to serve the living and true God.”

Stott: “The claim to have turned to God from idols is manifestly bogus if it does not result in serving the God to whom we have turned.”
Jesus had a very clear message to Satan in this regard:
Matthew 4:10 ESV
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”
It’s precisely because God is “…living and true” that we respond in service!
An idol is neither living, nor true, and therefore any response is futile and a complete waste of time and effort!

3. (v.10) - “…and to wait for his Son from heaven”

Whereas ‘serving’ is active, ‘waiting’ is passive!
Stott: “In Christian terms ‘serving is getting busy for Christ on earth, while ‘waiting’ is looking for Christ to come from heaven. Yet these two are not incompatible. On the contrary, each balances the other. On one hand, however hard we work and serve, there are limits to what we can accomplish. We can only improve society; we cannot perfect it.”
In this first reference in the letter to the Return of Jesus, we learn two final truths from Chapter 1:
FIRST, Jesus is further described as the One “…whom he raised from the dead.”
The consistent teaching of the NT is that the Resurrection is proof that Jesus is the Son of God!
Romans 1:4 ESV
and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
FINALLY, Jesus is the One, “…who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
This chapter, like every chapter in this letter, closes with a reference to the Return: (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:16-18; 5:23)
The REASON we can wait patiently is because Jesus is living, and true, and He is COMING AGAIN!
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