The experiences and growth of a New Testament Church as recorded by Paul, an Apostle and a missionary in training.
Paul had been saved, educated, and preaching for about 20 years before being sent out by the church in Antioch. If we consider his missions ministry as most do – referring to his first, second, and third missionary journeys, he had only been involved in these works for about 4 years when he wrote this letter to the Thessalonians, taking the Word to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46,47). We can take from this that he was an experienced preacher but was being educated in the ministry of missions. This is a wonderful thought because we realize that we are learning from him as he learned from the Lord – real time!
A. The Message manifested by the missionary’s lives 1 Thessalonians 1:1-6
1. They were caring – for the saints. Love that remembers. 1:1
The Lord had begun to transform these men, (the missionaries) renewing their minds (which Paul later charged the Romans to do) through their ministry of the Gospel to these gentiles.
Note the –
a. Animosity that existed between the Jews and the Gentiles –
Acts 11:1-3 (KJV) And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
That animosity was changed by the Lord into –
b. Acceptance that is noted in their care for one another.
1). Paul’s words to them – “…Grace be unto you from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
2). Paul’s thanks to them –
Philippians 4:18 (KJV) But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
They had become likeminded in the Lord and now they stood before the Lord on equal footing.
Romans 10:12-15 (KJV) For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
As God worked through them, we can see what He did to them! They had become one in the Lord and would be witnesses together for Him to a world that was dead in sin and in need of the Saviour. They could all boldly go together into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature!
We are truly “…new creatures in Christ Jesus…”
Yet, God’s work in their lives certainly did not stop here. We also find that whey were not only caring, –
2. They were committed – to the saints. 1:2-4 “…remembering…” to have on their minds
These men developed a pattern of life which they followed throughout their ministries and encouraged others to participate in! They regularly met to discuss the church in Thessalonica: the people “…you all…”, the accomplishments, the needs, and the future.
They set forth a pattern of –
a. Corporate prayer. 1:2
b. Informed prayer. 1:3
As they remembered the people and reviewed their works, they were led naturally to –
c. Encouraging prayer and praise. 1:4
As they remembered what God had done through them, they began to realize what God was doing to them.
He was filling them with joy and praise through the work He was accomplishing in these believer’s lives.
Can you imagine how glad they were that they had not quit following –
the difficulty of discerning God’s will in where to go (Acts 16 , this must have been particularly difficult on Paul as the leader. Would Silas and Timothy continue to have confidence in his leadership if he did not know where they were to go?)
the beating and imprisonment in Philippi
the mob chasing them from Thessalonica and Berea
They could have decided that this was not what they had agreed to and spoke the words which Peter spoke in a time of discouragement – “I go a-fishing…” (I do not want to do this any more, I am going home)
But they did not! Their care led them to commitment and because of this –
3. They were consistent – for the saints. 1:5,6 “as ye know what manner of men we were”
They were developing a lifelong practice of ministry in carrying out the commission of the Lord Jesus Christ. They gave the church a pattern to follow until the Lord returns.
They were able to praise the Lord for His working in their lives. They saw that He had brought them through it and not only this, they saw HOW He has used them for His honour and glory. He had made them leaders because they were faithful followers.
I ask you today – are you caring, committed, and consistent?
Are you following the Lord in such a way that He would want someone to follow you?
Can you thank the Lord today for the times that He has worked through you, and in that, how He has brought joy and praise to you? We have a wonderful account of the Lord’s working in the lives of the church at Thessalonica, but there was also a wonderful work going on in His servants lives that we sometimes overlook. What is God doing in your life today?
Are you saved? Have you turned to God through His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, for salvation? He died for you that you might have life through Him.