As we are living in trying times, so it was during the time around 50AD when Paul visited Thessalonica. When we study the Scriptures, it’s good to get a feel for the culture and what was going on at the time. Today’s sermon is based around Paul and his sharing of the gospel.
(1) Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. (2)We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. (3)We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (4)For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,1 Thessalonians 1:1-4
Imagine what it was like for Paul in the years after Jesus’ crucifixion. He had been killing the followers of Jesus, known then as Saul. But, upon the road to Damascus, he encountered Jesus and the events that followed, opened his eyes to the truth. He was God’s chosen instrument to carry the gospel to the Gentiles.
What was Paul’s reason for writing the letters to the church at Thessalonica? He wants the church there to know that he is concerned about them. He was accused of doing his ministry for money, but he needed the people to know the truth. He wanted them to know they were important to him. The church is still young, made up of baby believers, but Paul is confident in the church because it’s God’s church and he has total confidence in God.
The church draws from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. They are one and the same. Looking at Paul’s letter reminds us that the church is built on God and Jesus, not on a pastor or any one servant in the church. God’s work will go on when the church is based on God.
The gospel creates the church, which spreads the gospel, which creates more churches, which in their turn spread the gospel further…
Paul’s letter reminds us it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not the gospel of convenience that drives the church. The church was facing uncertain times, things beyond their control. Paul wanted to remind them that in the midst of their trials, their security was in God. This is where every church gets its life, strength, and stability.
Jon posed these questions for us to contemplate as we look at Thessalonica and Paul’s letters.
- 1. Where do you place your hope?
- 2. What motivates you?
- 3. Is your faith misplaced?
- 4. Is your faith yours?
Don’t tear yourself down over your answers! If our faith is exactly where we think it should be, is that not a warning that it’s not enough? We’ve probably all got something we can do to improve where we’re at. I know I’ve come a long way in my faith over the last few years, but there’s still much I can learn as I continue to study the Word and grow in fellowship with others.
Tumultuous times don’t change us… they reveal who we’ve always been… They reveal who we are behind the masks we’ve been wearing for years.
We have hope because of the grace and peace God gives us. He doesn’t give us what we deserve. His mercy and grace grant us that peace and sustains it.
Join us in the coming weeks as we continue to look at 1 Thessalonians and the message of Paul to build up the church!