1 THES 1:1-4
INTRO: Having left the city of Philippi, Paul and his companions came shortly to the city of Thessalonica which was the capital city of Macedonia. This city was a very important city on the Roman route from the west to the east. Today the city of Thessalonica is, according to one commentator, the second most important city in Greece. It was in this city that Jews hostile to Christianity claimed that disciples of Christ had turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). There was immediate success of the gospel there, but opposition grew so quickly that Paul had to leave the city secretly (Acts 17:10). Out of great concern for the disciples in Thessalonica Paul sent Timothy back to them. Subsequently, Timothy reported what he found to Paul. This first letter, then, is filled with feelings, thoughts and concerns of the evangelist.
1. He rejoiced in their example of faith - 1:7,8
a. from the chief city of Macedonia the word would spread to others
b. and the church in Thessalonica was a model for others!
c. they followed the example of the evangelists as they followed the Lord ... and received the word (1:6) - see also 1 Cor 11:1
d. things in which they were exemplary - 1:3
2. He knew the great cost of their discipleship - 1:9
a. he refers especially to the Christians who were formerly pagan people
b. notice in 1:6 his reference to their much affliction
c. in 2:14 he notes they had suffered of your own countrymen
d. any evangelist worthy of the name recognizes and appreciates the cost to people of their decision to follow the Lord!
3. He was concerned about what some were saying about him - 2:1
a. probably the hostile Jews had spread untruths about Pauls motives
b. notice 2:3,5,6 for some hints of what they might have been saying
c. preachers do have feelings, do care what others say about them, do not have skin as tough as a rhinoceros
d. not only is this terribly unfair, but it hurts the influence of such people
4. He expresses deep affection for the brethren - 2:7,8
a. this must always be the nature of an evangelist ... gentle, loving
b. perhaps for some preachers, evangelists this may be a job, profession
c. and perhaps some members of the body view it that way, too
d. but there is (or, should be) an emotional dimension which goes far beyond a job, a profession
5. He encourages to faithfulness - 2:12 ... 4:1,2
a. notice the manner of his encouragement at 2:11 - as a father...
b. yes, evangelists look toward the next sermon, the next study ... but good evangelists are always concerned about those whom they have helped come to the Lord
c. note the encouragement ... walk worthy of God, who hath called you...
d. and how ye ought to walk and to please God...
6. He wants them to know they are his joy - 2:20
a. perhaps this is much the feeling of a father for his own children - his joy
b. I know of few joys to equal that of knowing I have helped someone to find his way into the Lord ... and to witness that persons baptism into Christ
c. from time to time I hear from someone whom I have baptized ... and of that persons continued faithfulness and service
d. how comforting, encouraging that is to me
7. He was concerned about Satans influence over them - 3:5
a. I appreciate that Paul reminds us over and again that Satan is our foe
b. he wanted folks he taught to realize that Satan would work to defeat them
c. Peter shared this concern - 1 Pet 5:8
d. not a one of us is exempt from Satans attacks - but are we ready?
8. He wanted them to grow in love - 4:9,10
a. he made mention of this at 3:12,13
b. one another, all men ... as the evangelists have love for them
c. I would not want to place one quality above or in competition with others - but this quality, properly understood, undergirds so many others
d. recall Col 3:14 - the bond which holds all the others together
9. He reminded them of the great future for Christians - 4:13-18
a. the work of the evangelist is to prepare people for this future
b. both conversion and walking worthy are part of this preparation
c. an evangelist believes, and passionately so, in a life beyond this one
d. if there is no eternal life, then why continue the labor? (1 Cor 15:19)
CLOSE: If you have one last word of loving advice to people you love in Christ, what will it be? Could it be prove all things; hold fast that which is good? What a wonderful maxim by which to life.
Cecil A. Hutson
14 December 2003
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)