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1 Thessalonians 1:1-3 (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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July 15, 2021 6:00 am

1 Thessalonians 1:1-3 (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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July 15, 2021 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the Book of 1st Thessalonians 1:1-3

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Paul, when he gets to Corinth, and he leaves, of course, and later writes a letter to them, he reminds them, because they shared the same trait everyone did with Paul when everyone had come out of idolatry. And to the Corinthians, he writes this to them, which applies also to the Thessalonians.

He says, And such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. This is Cross Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of First Thessalonians.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the Book of First Thessalonians Chapter 1 with today's edition of Cross Reference Radio. Let's open our Bibles to the first letter to the Thessalonians Chapter 1.

I spent all of last Sunday on the introduction, so brief introduction, then we'll begin with the first verse. In this letter, we find Paul conditioning these new Christians in Thessalonica in moral purity, something that the church seems to be increasingly silent about today. When the church is afraid of what people are going to think, if it tells the truth of God's Word, that church is dead. And when the people don't want to hear what God has to say about their lifestyle, that person is likely not saved.

He also sought not only to condition them in moral purity, but to construct them to have disciplined lives, to take some control over their lifestyle with the interest of Christ in mind, and also to comfort them concerning the end times. And when we get to that section of Scripture, there Paul is going to say comfort. He'll bring it up in this first chapter, too, but I don't know that we'll get to it this morning, but he speaks of comforting the Christians concerning the end times.

And for me, it's a very big disconnect. For those of you who don't know, God has promised in His Word that His wrath will come upon the entire earth, but His church, His church, His believers will be spared that moment in time, that seven-year period of great tribulation, the last three and a half of which are horrific in comparison to everything else. Such as the world has never seen, Jesus said. Well, He promises to spare us this, and yet there are those who teach with zeal that this won't be the case. And I don't know why they do that except to say their entire outlook on the character of God and the Word of God is damaged. They're probably likely approaching the Scripture from a sense of guilt as opposed to grace.

Well, we'll get to that later, but now let's look at the first verse, 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, and Paul does not introduce himself to this church as an apostle, and probably for a couple of reasons. One is, well, they really didn't care about titles. Content is what they were after. They knew Paul. They loved what he had to say.

That was enough for them. And whereas other churches, there were those within the churches that were troublemakers. They wanted to say things against Paul to destroy his ministry, and so when Paul wrote to those churches, he introduced himself as Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ. And an apostle of Jesus Christ is one who has been handpicked by Jesus Christ himself. There have only been 13 of them. One fell away.

We are left with 12. Well, we can say there have been 14 of them if you count Matthias, but he really was not chosen by Christ. He was chosen by the first century church.

Well, anyway, none of that is critical as to salvation, but these are points concerning our Scripture. And where he says in the beginning, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians, in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, grace to you and peace from God and our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, we can imagine that when they got this letter from Paul, they were very excited. We covered this last week, and I won't spend too much time on it, but Paul founded the church here, was run out of town, headed towards Berea. The Jews had chased him out of Thessalonica, chased him out of that city of Berea, and he then went on to Athens, and having left Timothy and Silas behind, Timothy and Silas catch up to Paul in Athens. He sends Timothy back to Thessalonica, and himself, Paul, goes to Corinth, where we have him start the Corinthian church, and that is how the letters to the Corinthians come into the picture. Well, Timothy leaves Thessalonica, comes back to Paul, who is now in Corinth, and he gives him an update on the church in Thessalonica. And when Paul gets this news, he writes the first Thessalonian letter that we are reading now.

He is now writing to them based on the report from Timothy. It was so good, so encouraging, that he now, as I introduced, he begins to further condition, construct, and comfort them concerning the things of our faith, so that when they get this letter, remember, when he first shows up in the city, he goes to the synagogues, he preaches there, and still fresh on his back are the wounds he received in Philippi, about 100 miles away. Remembering the landscape, the Ignatian Way, that big highway that the Romans built, went from the Adriatic Sea in the west and traveled to the east, to the Bosphorus Sea.

We're going to get past this in a minute. To the south, woohoo, we're in the south now, was the Aegean Sea. My point is, this Ignatian Way, going from west to east, covered over 500 miles, and along that route was the church at Philippi and the church at Thessalonica, and this is why they were targeted by Paul, and he preached there with such success. So these people, this congregation, they knew people.

It was a city, a lot of traffic. They were not removed from society, but very much a part of it. And so when he arrives there, and this letter arrives there, and it is introduced, Paul, that meant something to the audience. Paul meant something to them. Here was a pastor that not only introduced them to Christ, but bore on his body the evidences of suffering for Christ at the hands of those who didn't want to hear it.

He preached it anyway. See, they had come out of idolatry. They knew about that life.

Many of their family members were still steeped in it. They had embraced all of the immoral practices of the idolatrous religions of the Romans and the Greeks, and anybody else who had one to offer them. Paul, when he gets to Corinth, he leaves of course and later writes a letter to them, he reminds them, because they shared the same trait everyone did with Paul when everyone had come out of idolatry. And to the Corinthians, he writes this to them, which applies also to the Thessalonians. He says, And such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. Wherever Paul went, he taught on the Trinity and many other things, but he's dealing with immorality. And prior to this, he has said you have been adulterers and sodomites and all the things he's naming that belong to sin that were a part of these religions that they practiced. And he's saying you've come out of that.

You've come to Christ. Well, his audience, that meant something to them. His name tied right into the change in their life. They were free. They were free from that junk and they weren't going back. And so, just mentioning the name of Paul got their attention because they knew that everything Paul was about was Jesus Christ and that's now who they were about also.

Now he mentions Silvanus, his partner, and we talked briefly about him. Silvanus was sent from the church in Jerusalem to the church up in Antioch in Syria. So what you're getting is all this activity in the early Christians. They're moving around.

They're traveling and they're bringing the Word. Well, while Paul was ministering in Antioch, there was this big uproar about trying to make Gentiles Jewish and Christians at the same time. Paul said we'll have none of that.

That stuff's gone. Judaism is obsolete. This is Christianity.

Whole other thing now. So to settle this, Brujah, Paul and Barnabas head to Jerusalem and there at the church in Jerusalem, they held a council. James, the writer of the letter of James in our New Testament, he oversaw this. Peter was there. John was there. And they said, you know, Paul is right. They're going to lay these burdens on the Gentiles.

However, because we have Jews who are Christians who are having a tough time with this cultural shock, we're going to ask you Gentiles to back off on some of the things that you're free to do in front of them. And everybody was good with that. So they went back up to Antioch with this news and Silas was one of the men entrusted to follow the news up there and oversee its communication. So he could say, hey, I was there and that's right.

This is what was said. And if anybody tried to mess it up, muddy up the waters, he would get involved. Well, while he was in Antioch, he realized there's a sharp contrast between the church in Jerusalem that is so into Judaism that it's going to struggle if it stays that way and the church up in Antioch which is striving and preaching the Word and getting rid of all of the incidental things that have nothing to do with what Christ has done on the cross and righteous living and the power of the Holy Spirit. So he stays in Antioch and he takes a liking to Paul. Paul now is about to go on a second journey into Gentile territory.

Him and Barnabas split up, not a good split. And when Paul says, well, I've got to take somebody with me, Silas says, I'll go with you. And Paul and Silas head out together.

And so he is still with Paul on his second journey which is when the church at Philippi was started and now the church in Thessalonica as well as Corinth and others along the way. And so that's who Silas is. His name Silas is most likely an Aramaic version of the Jewish name Saul. And so his Hebrew roots are tied into his now Gentile name. And as we continue on, in fact, you may read of him in Scripture as Sylvanus.

That's the Latin version of his name. Just the world was this big melting pot because of the Roman roads. The Romans built these roads again for the allegiance to travel through.

God built them, allowed them to build them for the gospel to travel through and it's the same to this day. Roads bring life to an area where otherwise there was no life. I think one reason why we see so many people have moved back or at least their children have moved back to the south from the north. Well one reason why the south population is increasing is the interstates. I think indoor air conditioning is a big part of it too.

But the interstate will just change everything in its area. Well Timothy. Timothy is one I think most of the Bible scholars get Timothy wrong because most of them want to present this young Christian. Ooh, you mentioned young Christian to everybody.

He's young and there's hope and there's some good to that but that's not the whole story. Timothy I don't believe was as young as some people might have in mind. He was a young man. He was not a teenager and he was probably in his thirties. And he's often presented by many pastors and commentators as this timid chap.

I don't know where they get that. This guy's moving around the world with the gospel. He's with Paul and suffering. He came to Christ in a city where they were not very far from where they stoned Paul.

And so he was very much aware of the hostilities belonging to Christianity and he joined it nonetheless and was very active with it. But I think why they may present him as this timid fellow is because Paul loved Timothy so much he was almost too motherly to him. He was so nervous about Timothy. I don't want anything but yet he'd send him out. He'd send him out. Timothy take the letter.

I want you to go ahead and dispatch him. And yet in Timothy we find him pastoring in Ephesus. Ephesus is a tough city to pastor for a lot of reasons.

And so this is some of the background to these characters here. Timothy, a great man of God and looking forward to getting to his letters. And now we come to that part of verse one where he says to the church of the Thessalonians. Now the word church is ecclesia in the Greek. It's a secular word really. It was at the time it was used. But it's not whether it's, to God nothing is beyond his reach that is good and is proper.

It's nothing wrong with the word. It's those who are called out. It was used various ways in the ancient world but very appropriately applied to the church because we who believe are called out.

We're called out of this world. We're called out of a sinful life. We're called out of the judgment upon sinners. This is a mutual agreement, a covenant between God himself and men who would come and receive it.

And it is what makes the church the church. And again as we covered last week, little did these Thessalonians know that this letter they received was going to be scripture. It was scripture already.

It was made from the same stuff eternity is made out of. Listen to what Isaiah says. He says, the grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of God stands forever. And here we are reading it. They just, you know, they were hungry for Christ, more news about Jesus Christ. They wanted to grow as Christians to be used. And so the letter is read but God is saying this letter that I just sent to you is from me and it is holy scripture.

And so we have it. Then he continues, Paul does in the first verse, he says, in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Where is the church's safe position?

It is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And that's how he is speaking to them now. Couldn't say that to them before he got there. They were in, you know, Jupiter or Mercury or some other pagan God. Now they're in the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Now the Holy Spirit's a part of their life.

Now everything has changed for them. Now you'll see them in heaven and they'll see us. He says, grace to you and peace.

How sweet a picture that is, grace, God's kindness that you don't deserve. Okay, we understand that. We've kind of gotten past that. As you mature in Christ, it's a given.

It's always operating in the background. We don't deserve it. That's what makes it so sweet. And yet God gives this to us anyway. But now as you mature in Christ, what begins to happen, I think ideally, is that you want to be used as a vessel for grace and not just a recipient. See, the immature Christians, they just receive, receive, receive, receive. But the mature Christian looks to be a vessel God is pouring through onto others.

And so he says, grace to you and peace. Now remember, they're being persecuted. They're not taking these words lightly. They're being persecuted. They received a letter from someone else who has been persecuted.

They're now, he's one of them, they're one of him. They're being persecuted for the faith. If anybody in this faith can write grace to you and peace, it's Paul. And it wasn't, what do you mean peace? This is peace? God's not answering my prayers. This is peace?

I'm struggling. Doesn't he see what's going on? If that were their attitude, their conversion would be precarious. That was not their attitude.

We know that because we get the second letter. We find that there are, there's no backlash against the things that Paul had said to them. Grace and peace, manifestations of the Christian life and experience and triumph, that's what peace is. For these Christians, that's what needed to happen.

He continues again, he says, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Just in the introduction, no holding back these superlatives about our faith. The Jews writing about Jerusalem would say, all my springs are in you. In fact, Psalm 87 verse 7, all my springs Jerusalem are in you.

Why is that? Why would they say such a thing? Put it into song. Because they viewed the footprint of Jerusalem as the place that God chose to stand. And that gave it life. That in itself was the spring.

It was God that made Jerusalem the city of peace, even though it's never been any such thing. And so this from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, he's uncorked the spring again. Out flows this connection. Amen.

This was real to them. Maybe you're sitting here this morning and you're going, oh, boring. When are we going to get to the chariot fight? You're already having it and you don't know it if that's your attitude. And you're losing, by the way. Satan's rolling after you, poking you, and you're too dumb to know it. And so this means very much to the Christian from God. From God.

That's what he says. Our Father. You know, when I worked years ago in the construction industry and I would share the faith, in the early phases I kind of thought of God the Father, and I still do think of him as this wonderful father, and I thought of my earthly father as a wonderful father. Not certainly not in line with God, but I had a good dad. But many of the people that I was witnessing to, they did not. Their fathers got drunk and beat them.

Their fathers left home. And God clued me in on this. And so when I began to preach the Lord's Prayer and teach it to guys on the worksite, you ever hear the Lord's Prayer? Our Father who art in heaven?

You know what that means? And I would begin to pick apart our Father is not like any other father there is, good, bad, or otherwise. What an opportunity, what a ministry, a field of ministry, to just take the simple things of the Scripture and present them the way they really are. To hear Paul say our Father and the Lord. The master Jesus Christ, the one that is in control, the one that I cannot say no to and still stand in front of him and say, yeah, you're my Lord. Well if the Lord says go do, you're supposed to go do. And if he says go do and you don't do it because you don't want to do it, then who is the boss? Who is your Lord?

Well, yourself. You're the Lord of your life. Sing that song, I'm the Lord of my life and how silly that would sound. Verse 2, he continues, we give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. Again, knowing the difficulty that they were going through, but also understanding how difficult it is to win a convert, to be used by God to win a convert.

How difficult, and then, then how difficult it is to disciple them. You know, maybe you've been used by God on a long distance relationship in some way to lead someone to Christ and, you know, then you check in on them and you call and say, how are you doing? I'm doing fine. Well, what are you doing with the Lord? Well, I'm going to this church. You go, what?

Oh man, but I like it over there. I feel the earth move. And, and it's like, good night. How about truth? How about truth? Nevermind this emotional razzle dazzle.

And the sky's falling, which would be frightening, but that's what you get. And that's discipleship. I didn't, you know, I didn't lead you to the truth so you can go follow these loony tunes around. Just because they use Jesus' name doesn't mean they use his word. And if they're not doing the two together, we have a great big problem. And it's hard to wrench them free.

But, but they, but I like it over there. Mister, you need a deeper voice. Well anyway, so when he says we give thanks to God always for you all, he's saying, I understand how difficult this is.

I understand how quickly you can drift right into dangerous water, serpent infested, infested waters. He says, making mention of you in our prayers. He's burdened with the needs of the people. How can you not, if you're a Christian, how can you not be burdened with the needs of the people? That's what a relief ministry is. There's a burden.

I can't just sit here. Of course, it's, you know, every need's not a calling. That would, that would bump out the Holy Spirit. We're under the authority of God. But we're all stirred to pray. There's a calling there. There's always a calling to pray.

There's always a calling to do what God leads us to do. And he always leads us to do that, which is right if we let him. And so how could he forget them?

He could not. He's going to say that as we move now to verse three. He says, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father. Thanks for tuning in to Cross Reference Radio for this study in the book of 1 Thessalonians. Cross Reference Radio is the teaching ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. To learn more information about this ministry, visit our website, Once you're there, you'll find additional teachings from Pastor Rick. We encourage you to subscribe to our podcast. When you subscribe, you'll be notified of each new edition of Cross Reference Radio. You can search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app as well. That's all we have time for today, but we hope you'll join us next time as Pastor Rick continues to teach through the book of 1 Thessalonians right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-22 08:17:44 / 2023-09-22 08:27:07 / 9

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