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1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
July 22, 2021 6:00 am

1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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July 22, 2021 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the Book of 1st Thessalonians 1:6-8

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He was telling Agrippa and Herod about his conversion, how the Lord came and intercepted him as he was on his way to persecute Christians because of his contempt and disgust for the belief in a savior who would die in the place of sinners and be righteous nonetheless and rise again from the dead. So he met the Savior. He said, I saw the light. Well, those in Thessalonica saw the light, too.

We are back in 1 Thessalonians, so if you have your Bibles, please open to the first chapter. I am really excited about what is here. I hope I can bring it out. It would be kind of a bummer if I just enjoyed it in my study time. I am really excited about what is here. I hope I can bring it out. It would be kind of a bummer if I just enjoyed it in my study time. I am really excited about what is here. I hope I can bring it out.

It would be kind of a bummer if I just enjoyed it in my study time. This is one of those great churches of the New Testament. Paul had not spent much time with them physically, maybe six months before he was chased out of Thessalonica. That is the name of the city that he is writing to, this church located there in Macedonia to modern-day Greece. When he was chased out, he ended up in Corinth. Word had gotten to him that the believers in Thessalonica were still true to the faith, even though they were being persecuted.

So he took to writing this letter. He answers questions, and then he will write a second letter to answer yet more questions and comfort them and assure them in the faith. We left off at verse 6. That is where we will begin, but I just want to read verse 5 to kind of set it up for us. It says, Our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. Verse 6, And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit. You became followers of us.

Now, as I mentioned, there is much to cover here that I think will serve to keep us real in the faith. When we begin to look at these Christians in Thessalonica, one of the goals is to look at them and say, Well, how do I line up with them? How would I have behaved were I in that church? And what is God doing in that church? What's He doing in this church? What's He doing in their lives?

What's He doing in my lives? That's the whole purpose of going through the scripture to make it connect us to God in the time that we live in. Many of you young Christians, I mean younger than 20, I hope no higher, you are still being greatly influenced by the world.

They're trying to tell you what life is all about, how you should live it. The danger is in the seduction, this process is a seduction, the danger is you try to make it work with Christianity. What I would say that you should do is know your Christianity and live it, period, the end. The world will give you nothing concerning your eternity, but it, sir, will take everything away from you and be on guard against these things.

This is not something that you should be disappointed with hearing, but you should understand what your response to it must be and how God plans to use you nonetheless. Well, where He says, you became followers of us and of the Lord. The Greek word for followers is translated imitators in 1 Corinthians. You imitated us and the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, that's discipleship.

That is if any man is in Christ, he's a new creation, all things pass away, all things become new. This was happening in the church at Thessalonica, should be happening in every church. Unfortunately, we have churches that are loaded with Christians who are insecure about their faith, who really have gotten sidetracked, have majored in minors, have taken elements of the Christian faith and run away with it and are no longer behind the Lord really. Oh, I'm not saying they're not saved, but the question is, am I sidetracked or am I following the shepherd?

Am I behind him or have I gone off to the side doing my own thing? In the next verse, we'll find out they're not only imitators or followers, but they are types of Jesus Christ. It's going to be an interesting use of the Greek word there, tupos, where we get our English word type. It's the same word that was used concerning the prince on the hands of Jesus Christ left by the nails when they crucified him. But this apostle Paul, who's writing the letter, and if that name does not mean much to you, then maybe Christ doesn't mean much to you because the Lord Jesus invested so much in this man that the New Testament church, you could not imagine it without him. Just his life, the way he lived, there are sermons within this alone. And it is something very beneficial to all the Christians to be familiar with such a man as Paul. And they'll slide on some of the other men in the scripture, such as Peter, such as Isaiah, etc. But this man Paul, at his conversion, when he was on trial because of a riot that he started in Jerusalem, he said, I lived a Pharisee.

I was a teacher of the Jewish law, Judaism. Well, these in Thessalonica could now say, I lived in idolatry, no more. See, they were following Paul. Paul said, and this is from the 26th chapter of Acts, he said, I saw the light. He was telling Agrippa and Herod about his conversion, how the Lord came and intercepted him as he was on his way to persecute Christians because of his contempt and disgust for the belief in a savior who would die in the place of sinners and be righteous nonetheless and rise again from the dead. He hated that until he met the savior. He said, I saw the light.

Well, those in Thessalonica saw the light too. And then he said in his confession, I heard the voice. I lived the Pharisee. I saw the light. I heard the voice.

He's describing this transition from a wasted life, powerful life, life that was scarred for Christ. I saw the light. I heard the voice. They heard the invitation too. And it goes on, Paul does, in this address to Agrippa, these leaders, and Herod, he says, I was not disobedient to what I saw, to what I heard, to what I knew.

I was not disobedient. A lot of Christians cannot say that. Again, they treat the word of God like a buffet. They'll pick and choose what they want to put on their plate.

The rest you can do with it, whatever you like. And then get angry at a man of God when he stands up and says, you're being disobedient. Many times your disobedience actually may lead to the question of your own salvation. Would you like to die with a question mark over your head? Then honor the Lord.

I'll get to that. But right now, he says, I was not disobedient. They were not disobedient. And then Paul says, I stand to this day witnessing, when he was given the testimony before this court, when Paul was there in the book of Acts, many years had passed in his Christianity. Many beatings, many sufferings, many letdowns, many things that would make the rest of us say, I've had enough. But he says, I stand to this day.

Where are you going to be in 10 years? You still going to be standing in Christ? Are your feelings going to get hurt and going to run off? Are you going to stand witnessing?

Because that's what he said. I stand to this day witnessing. They stood witnessing. Now this is very significant to this church in Thessalonica. I hope I don't have anyone sitting here or listening that says I'm a Christian and these things are boring.

If they are, it's either your fault or my fault, but I'd rather blame you. And so this powerful section, I want to take it from Acts 26, Acts 26, verse 17. There, listen to Paul as he's finishing up, he's telling about what Jesus did to him and said to him. Verse 17, I will deliver you from Jewish people, Paul talking about what Jesus told him at his conversion, as well as from the Gentiles to whom I now send you. You mean you're saving me and you're sending me? You mean I just can't be saved and kind of like stay the way I am? He continues to open the eyes in order to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. They may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me. You can't do this if you're self-centered.

You cannot do these things. The power of Satan is not only real, it is fierce. What he finds assisting him is a traitor inside of each and every one of us, our own carnal nature, our sinful nature, our fallen nature, that old man that does not remain dead until we leave this life. Christianity is serious business. It is not for the screamish. That is what the cross of Christ should speak to us.

It's not for chumps. That's what the cross says. Are you able to die on this?

Are you able to carry it until you do die on it? Are you able to have God appear that there's no hope and still trust in him because you saw him? You heard the voice.

You're not disobedient and you stand. Well, that's what they were saying. That's what I'm planning on saying through my life in Christ also. So they knew the message. They knew the message of the fake religions that they belong to in Thessalonica before Paul shows up with his aching back.

I've been reminding you through this that he took a beating before he got to Philippi. So when they heard this message of Christ, they said, this is not only different, it is better. They observed the idolatry that they embraced before Paul got there, and they observed the life that Paul was preaching to them, and they became imitators of that instead of this. That's conversion. They abandoned the stinking and sinking ship of things from Satan in the world to embrace what God has, such as we who have been converted. Some of you have not really been converted. You've been exposed. You've been raised in a Christian home.

It's the only life that you really know. Do you really think Satan's going to say, well, I'm good with that? He's going to come after you, guaranteed, and you should be ready. You should prevail because you are not alone. Do you believe it, or do you just find it easier to repeat?

You know what I have found? I have found it easier to repent and pray than it is to obey. And I'm not satisfied with that. And it is my intention to go to my grave dissatisfied with that sort of arrangement. So my plan is to draw closer to the Lord all the time.

So that as the years roll by, I don't say, well, look what it's got in me. I'm not what I thought I would be when I first started out being a Christian. Instead of thinking like that, I'm going to keep swinging. Let God sort out all the other details. But this one thing, he will say with his help, only by his help, well done.

That's what I wanted. I wanted you to persevere, and you did it. And so he says, having received the word in much affliction. They did not come to Christianity because it was easy. They knew when they were turning their back on idolatry what this meant in their society.

The places that they worked, the masters whom they served, the people whom they did business with. They received it in spite of the persecution that followed, and they remained with it once the persecution was on. Something marvelous had to have happened to these people to get them to respond that way to persecution. How could they stand, especially so early in their walk, after living their adult lives as idolaters, to come into Christianity to be abused and to remain? You would think they would resent that this man Paul had come preaching to Savior, who doesn't save from the troubles in the neighborhood.

But wait a minute. Again, Paul came there saying, look on my back. I bear on my body the marks of Christ because I saw him.

I heard his voice. I'm not disobedient. Not only do I stand, but sometimes I limp. But I limp in faith and hope. You know, you cannot have, no sane person can have joy without hope. That's for the insane. The insane can have hope, rather joy, with no hope.

They've convinced themselves outside of reality. The Christian says, my joy is beyond these things, and it can't be touched. And so their remarkable response to hardship was not to punish God for letting them down, as people do.

I trusted you, and you let this happen in my life. You took this away from me. You know the prophet Ezekiel was told by God? He said, God said to Ezekiel, I am going to take your wife from you this day, and I don't want you to weep in front of the people.

And this was a wife that he loved. For a man to respond the way Ezekiel responded was to have had a view of the throne of God with him on it. Not just, oh, there's the throne gold.

Look at that artwork. The throne is not the object of our attention. It is the one on the throne. And he doesn't have to be on the throne for him to be my king.

All he has to do is be my king. And so they redirected this newly found hardship, on top of all the problems in life that were already a part of life, because the unbeliever, it goes through the drudgery of this life, under the curse, the sweat of the brow also, because they're not believers doesn't mean they're outside the curse, quite the contrary. They redirected the spirit of resentment found in this hardship to a spirit of perseverance, away from blaming God. They did not see their faith as a failure because they knew that what they had left behind, that was failure.

This is just the new way, but the effective way that would bring change, long lasting change to the next life. We call it faith. Without faith it's impossible to please God. You want to please God and you don't believe? Forget about it.

It's not going to happen. Doubt was bested. Doubt was shut up by faith. Maybe we use the word faith too much, maybe in the sense that it doesn't hit its mark with us.

It doesn't move us anymore. Trust. Peter. Simon Peter. Lord, if that is you walking on the water, call to me to let me come walk on it with you. The Lord says, come on.

Wait a minute. How about, well Peter, let's talk about this. I'm going to make sure I hold you up.

If anything goes wrong, I'm going to be here. He doesn't do any of that, does he? He says, Simon, come. That's it. Nobody else would get out the boat.

Simon gets out. You look at these stories in the Bible as you go through life, and the Holy Spirit will allow things to put you in a place where you say, do you believe it? Will you receive it? Will you do something with it? Or are you just self-centered? Well, Lord, I am self-centered. That's what sin has done to me. But by your Holy Spirit, the contest is on. And I will vanquish the enemy within. So trust in the midst of anything.

Not resentment, not confusion, though those things show their face, they don't win, they don't prevail. And I want to read this from 2 Corinthians 4. This is when Paul was in Corinth talking about his experiences in other places for the ministry of Christ. It had not yet happened to Paul as he's writing to these Thessalonians. This was later on in his life he would go through these things and write about them. He says, but we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

We are hard-pressed on every side yet not crushed. We are perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down, not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. Some of you remember that story about the plane crash in the Andes many years ago. And the soccer players on the plane, some of them had taken to cannibalism.

I've used this illustration before. And of course whenever you mention gory things everybody wakes up. But here some of them engaged in cannibalism. I'd like to think, I mean I have a tough time with just many other meats, cheeses. Some cheeses is like I'm not eating that.

Let alone, you know, Nicholas or Lenny or whatever it is now. I'm not going to eat the guy. So we kind of draw a line in the sand and say I'm not passing this.

Even if I die I'm not doing that. In fact there was another ship stranded off the coast of Mexico somewhere out in the Pacific There were some that died because they would not subject themselves to eating the raw pigeons. Or not pigeons, seagulls. If it were seagulls, if it were pigeons they might have done it.

I'm kidding. But so they died. Well my point is this. There are some things in life that you don't do. And one of them is forsaking Jesus because of the hardship in your life.

No matter what it is. I've drawn a line here. I'm not going to eat seagulls raw. And I'm not going to eat people that I was just a passenger with. And I'm not going to forsake Christ. That's it.

I don't care what happens or what doesn't happen. I'm not going to forsake Christ. This is where the Thessalonians were. They had a good teacher.

They had the Apostle Paul. And so he says as he's writing to them. We'll get back to some of this. He says, with joy of the Holy Spirit. Again, a sane soul cannot have joy without hope. We are supposed to not suffer as others do who have no hope. We believe in something. We don't just nod our heads and, well I agree with that. It makes sense to me.

It's beyond making sense. I've seen it. I've heard Jesus speak.

He's mine and I am his. And so this is how they met the opposition. This is how Paul lived his life. It's been done before.

There is precedence for this. Are you good with it? Is it who you are? Who you have become? Again, verse 5. For our gospel did not come to you in word only. Well then how did it come then? It says also, it came with the word. In addition to the word, power. And in the Holy Spirit.

And in much assurance you know what kind of men we were among you. For you. For your sake. That's why he took a beating in Philippi. It was for somebody else. It wasn't for him. He was already saved. He was beaten because he was upholding the things of Christ. When there were things that were left unsaid that needed to be said, he said them.

Regardless of the consequences, he didn't do it just once. I'm not telling you. I would have said, this is getting old. I've had enough.

I don't want any more of this. That's not what Paul did. Neither did Peter. Peter was told, you know, you're going to die following me, Peter.

When you are old, they are going to take you, you're going to stretch out your hands, and you will be killed. I'm good with that. That's what he did. So when Jesus said to Peter, come, Peter did it all of his life. And so affliction and joy, as we know, are not supposed to go together according to the natural view of things, the view that has not seen Jesus. This is why when Agrippa and Herod were listening to Paul, they couldn't identify with him. They didn't want to. They were not about to give up their lifestyle, no matter how rich and wonderful and superlative the things that Paul was saying was, they just weren't going to take it. Some of you have met people like that. They admire the gospel message, but they're not giving up their lifestyle, not for Jesus.

And some of them go further. They're not going to give you the satisfaction of converting them. You're going to have to shrug your shoulders.

What else can you do? Acts chapter five, verse 41. So they departed from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

And I'm telling you, I think shame is worse than physical pain. 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, crossreferenceradio.com. 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 / 2023-09-20 17:22:07 / 2023-09-20 17:31:38 / 10

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