Thessalonians a real Christian church
(How Can I Be Sure of My Purpose)

                                                                                      1 Thessalonians Ch 1

The Apostle Paul identified himself twice as the author of this letter in Ch1:1; Ch 2:18. Together with Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy Ch 3:2,6
Paul wrote two letters to the church at Thessalonica. The first is dated about A.D. 51 and most scholars think that it was written from Corinth.
Both the letters to the Thessalonians are referred to as Eschatological letters, as they deal with the second coming of Christ.

From the way that Paul begins this epistle, it was obvious that the church was doing really well, were the Gospel was concerned. This is in spite of being a relatively young church, maybe only a few months.

We learn from the Book of Acts that during Paul's stay in the city of Thessalonica, he preached in a Jewish synagogue on three successive Sabbath days.


Acts 17 1,2 When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 
2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbaths he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,


 He evidently stayed in the city for some time thereafter and continued his work among the Gentiles. Although his ministry was successful to the extent that he won converts to Christianity from both Jews and Gentiles, he did encounter opposition, especially from Jews who resented very much that he was able to win Jewish followers. Because of this opposition, Paul wisely left the city for fear that the newly formed Christian community would be persecuted as he had been.

From Paul’s commendation of this church it is quite clear that the Christians here made Paul extremely happy.
Someone once said "The church is like Noah's ark. If it weren't for the storm outside, we couldn't stand the stink inside."
This may have been the case in other churches and in some of our churches today but it certainly was not the case in the church at Thessalonica.

 In chapter 1 we read Paul’s commendation.
1
Th 1:3  Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 
4  Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 
5  For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 
6  And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 
7  So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 
8  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

9  For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 
10  And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 

 

What a commendation!

Our aim as a church, who are followers of Jesus Christ, should be to act in such a way, that this could be said of us.

 

V4 "Knowing, brethren, beloved by God, your election,"

Paul is saying, Your election is quite obvious. How did he know? How did he know that that they were genuine Christians, genuinely saved, chosen by God, the elect of God?
It was as though he was saying, I know you are wheat and not tares, sheep and not goats. Because you are doers and not sayers.
Because I see the fruit.
I know you are an olive tree because you bear olives.
I know you are born of the Spirit because I see the fruit of the Spirit in your lives.
As Spurgeon once said, “You can’t lift up a man’s shirt tails to find an “E” stamped on his back”
You can only recognise the Elect of God by their words and actions, by the way they speak and live.

This church in Thessalonica is a real Christian fellowship. That’s why in verse 2 Paul can say, "We give thanks to God always for all of you because we know you're elect."

If we don’t pick up anything else from this passage of scripture but we see this truth we will be blessed.
What truth?
That if we are truly born again, we are the elect of God. We are the chosen of God.
Presumptuous one might say. Absolutely not.

In John 15 Jesus said to His disciples, "You have not chosen Me, I have chosen you and ordained you that you should bring forth fruit."
In John 17:9 Jesus prays in His High Priestly prayer, "I ask on their behalf, I don't ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou hast given Me."  
Acts chapter 13, verse 46, "And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." 

 
Believing is a result of God's sovereign choice.  He appoints to eternal life, He chooses, He has ordained and in the fullness of time, He brings it about.


John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
1 Cor 3: 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

In Romans 9 he says, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.  I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." 
Romans 8:28 - 30 And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. 
29 For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 
30 And those He predestined He also called, those He called He also justified, those He justified He also glorified.…
Hebrews 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.


So here was a true believing church, a church that was putting their faith into action, their love into labour and their hope into patience.
Sadly, not all the churches were like that and not all churches are like that today.
The Galatian church was teaching salvation by circumcision, salvation by keeping the law and salvation by good works.


Gal 1:6  I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 
7  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 
8  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 

They were perverting the gospel and teaching what Paul would call damnable heresy. Another Gospel.
By believing such things, it was obvious that those people were not part of the elect of God. They were not true Christians.
We see this in Revelation 2, when reading of the seven churches in Asia. Some were professors of Christianity but not possessors.
Sadly, so it is today in some of our churches, even in those that claim to be evangelical.
Things like this are still being taught, salvation by infant baptism (christenings), claiming to be Christians because they were born in a so called Christian country or that they were born into a Christian family.
Claiming Christianity because of being a good person, going to church, keeping the church rules or observing sacraments.
These too are professors but necessarily possessors.
The Bible is quite clear on how a person becomes a Christian.

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 
Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast. 


John Macarthur once said, “There are more baptized non Christians than there are baptized Christians”.

There are thousands of people who went forward at alter calls at evangelical rallies, who were never truly converted in the first place. They may have had an emotional experience but were never truly born again and when the testing came, just fell away.


Matthew 13: 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables,
saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.


The word that was preached to these Thessalonians fell on good ground and we read of the results.

The power of preaching the gospel, in word and deed.

1Th 1:5  For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 

6  And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 

7  So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 

The Apostle Paul and his team preached and lived the Gospel and in doing this had a great effect on the listeners in Thessalonica. So much so, that they not only embraced the gospel message but began to
emulate the behaviour of Paul and his team, who in turn were emulating Jesus Christ.

Real Christian life will inevitably show itself. If one is truly a disciple of Christ, there will be evidence.

John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

1 Thessalonians 1:3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,

John 4:38 "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor."

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

Matthew 9:37-38 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

Our love for Christ should result in our labour of love to the brethren and the lost.

Matthew 5: 13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We must remember that people would rather see a sermon any day, than hear one. It is important that we practice what we preach.
The stench of sin in the world can often be smelled in the church. When Christians act like the unsaved, carnality enters the church.


1 Cor 3: 3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

A carnal Christian, one that is living as though he is unsaved, is not a good example of the life of Christ.
There should be a difference between a born again Christian and those that are of the world. Christians are in the world but not of it.


John 15: 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

We could do well to learn from the Christians in Thessalonica.

1 Thess 1:7  So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
8  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

 

Being patient in well doing, whilst we wait for Christ to return.
 

1Th 1:10  And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 
 

As Christians waiting for the return of our Saviour Jesus Christ, we should remain patient in good works.

Titus 2:13. 12 It instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 
13 as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 
14 He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.…

 

Romans 2:7 from the Darby Bible Translation says:
to them who, in patient continuance of good works, seek for glory and honour and incorruptibility, life eternal.

As Christians, whilst we wait for the redemption of our bodies at the coming of Christ, we are to live Godly lives, pleasing to the Father, being zealous for good works and being obedient to our commission, “Go into the world and make disciples of all men”.

 2 Peter 3: 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  

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