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Book of 1st Thessalonians: Introduction (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
July 12, 2021 6:00 am

Book of 1st Thessalonians: Introduction (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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July 12, 2021 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the Book of 1st Thessalonians

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To obey God, we all aspire to that, but those who are in the body of Christ, or Christians, who say, listen, obedience is overdone, it's overrated. It's very likely that you are outside the faith.

That's your approach. Obedience is critical. Amongst the believers I'm talking about, not the unbelievers. Our Bibles, they exist for us to be built up, to be made better. Well, we begin introducing Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians this morning, but I don't know that we're going to get to the first verse.

So, at the point where I would say, let's turn in our Bibles to 1 Thessalonians, let's do that, but I don't know how far we're going to get. Our Lord said, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. But it is alarming to notice how many who say they are Christians appear to be too self-centered, to benefit from the information that surrounds the events in Scripture. So what I'm saying is, there are many who are claiming to be Christians, and I'm not disputing that, whether they are or not, but they come to church and they're really looking just for an emotional hit to last them through the week. And while there's nothing wrong with our emotions, there's something very wrong with them taking the lead, especially all the time. There is more to us than just feeling things about what Christ has done.

He's trying to get our attention, he's trying to say, listen to me, I'm trying to talk to you, I want to arm you, I want to build you up, I want to give you things that you would otherwise not have apart from me. I'm going to do that through the Scripture. As a matter of fact, I'm going to raise up teachers who I'm going to use to do this.

They're going to make important points and share insights that I first shared with them. All of this to make you better serve me. And if I could find a congregation interested enough in the things about my Scripture, I'd get a lot done. But again, so many don't give the Lord that chance, never make it to that step.

It's just I've had a bad week, I've had a bad day, I'm having a bad time, I just want to hear about salvation and good things to come, but I don't want to think. And this, of course, is something that Satan loves to take hold of. And so when a man like me steps into the pulpit and says, I want to introduce to you the Thessalonian letters. It should be a very exciting experience for all Christians. Me as a Bible teacher in preparation for this, how am I going to do this?

How am I going to approach it? What am I going to give to the congregation that they're going to be engaged in and benefit from? Well, I don't know the answer to that apart from seeking the Lord and responding to his promptings when something he points out in the Scripture or in the history belonging to the Scripture stands out and then I try to lock onto it and hopefully step into the pulpit and deliver it the way that I received it. And so, much rather than just simply feeling the wonderful things of Scripture, let us learn to trust God and obey Him. That's a problem.

It's a big problem. It's a problem for all of us because we're born sinners and we will die sinners saved by grace, but we still have this flesh and it is a traitor. It is against everything that God is for. It is rebellious.

And the Spirit is to subdue the flesh and these two duke it out to the end. Well, to obey God. We all aspire to that, but those who are in the body of Christ or Christians who say, listen, obedience is overdone.

It's overrated. It's very likely that you are outside the faith. That's your approach. Obedience is critical. Amongst the believers I'm talking about, not the unbelievers. Our Bibles, they exist for us to be built up, to be made better. When we have the communion, we read that section oftentimes in Corinthians where Paul says, let a man examine himself to see whether or not he's in the faith. All of us need to do that. Take inventory from time to time. Where am I now versus five years ago in Christ? What has changed?

What is different about me? Well, if nothing else, let it be this. I'm still fighting to be a better believer, to be more like Jesus.

Let it at least be that much, even if you've not achieved the goals that you have anticipated. So, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. How's that happen? Well, does God just sort of say, let it be, and it is so? Sometimes. But that's not how he does it on a day-to-day basis. There are many things that are involved. It's not just one thing, though it is one person, God, always in control. But God begins to minister to us in very many ways. But one of the most important is to know the Word of God.

Have the Word hidden in my heart to understand what he wants and not try to fill in the blanks. Have you ever taken an exam? You didn't know the answers? And if it wasn't multiple choice, you had to fill in?

You had to write about it? You're done. As soon as you see that, I quit. Just go, leave, go do something else. But when you know, when you know the answers, you cannot wait to fill them in.

You sort of want to, ha ha, look at that, you're not as smart as me, and you just go off with it. Well, a little bit of that is what God wants from his people. He wants us to fill in the blanks from a position of authority, of faith and trust, of familiarity with him. And so we read in 1 Corinthians, from Corinth, the city of Corinth, Paul wrote the first Thessalonians letter from the city of Corinth. And again, you think about the good churches in the New Testament and the bad churches. Well, some of the good ones were Antioch in Syria, Philadelphia, Thessalonia, Philippi. There were a few others, but those were the great churches that you'd want to belong to. Smyrna, great church, might not want to belong to that church because they were killing the Christians over there in Smyrna. But then there were a great many of the churches that said, you know what, I don't think I want to attend that church. I'm not saying they're not believers over there, but I'm not going there. Well, name one. I'll name a few of them. Laodicea, Jerusalem, the church in Jerusalem, big problems with legalism.

You couldn't make the break that easily. Sardis was another one. The churches in the region of Galatia had a very hard time in the early phases. Corinth, I don't want to, you know, they lacked no spiritual gift, Paul said about the church in Corinth, but they also didn't lack a bunch. Looney Tunes in the congregation, Tweety Bird, Yosemite Sam, all of them were in that congregation, as well as, you know, guys like us. But Corinth was where the action was. Let's take a cop on the beach, you know, he might say, you know what, I want to beat out in the suburbs.

Versus the guy, no, I want where the action is. Well, I'm not saying one is bad, one is not. What I'm saying is as a Christian looking at the church at Corinth and then looking at the church at Philippi, I say, well, where's the action? Well, Corinth certainly was it. You wanted to apply your Christian faith, go to Corinth. But Philippi, what a wonderful church. It was one of the four Macedonian churches mentioned in the New Testament.

Philippi, Thessalonica, Nicopolis, and Berea. All of them, good things, came out of those churches. And this Thessalonians letter, both of them, one and two, of course, deals with this. But Paul also said, well, I never read from 1 Corinthians that I said I was going to do.

At least I thought that I said it. 1 Corinthians, God speaking through Paul to the flock at Corinth, he says, God is faithful by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. You were called into this fellowship with Him, partnership with Christ. We're talking about, or answering my question, how does God go about filling us now? How does He feed us when He says, blessed are those, happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They shall be filled.

Well, how does this take place? Well, step one, God is faithful. That understanding has to be a part of it. That understanding that He also is the one that called us. And not only has He called us to salvation, He's called us to co-labor, to work with Him, to row with Him, be on board with Him. He goes on in this 1 Corinthians letter in the third chapter, and he says, for we are God's fellow workers.

Now, he's speaking about men such as himself, Simon Peter, Apollos, those who were teaching were God's fellow workers. And he says, you're God's field from which God intends to reap a harvest. You're not just a field that He plows all the time.

Is that your Christian life? Is it a field that is just constantly plowed? Is anything ever sowed? Is anything ever watered and nurtured? Does anything ever grow on it? Is there fruit? Is there good fruit? Well, let a man examine himself. We're not fruit inspectors here.

We're fruit cakey sometimes, but we give the Lord His due. He is sovereign. We can't change lives. Only He can change lives.

But we can talk about it. That's what the world needs from us. They need us to tell them about the one who changed lives, and they need to see us in it, in it, deep in it, not just saying it. Well, he says, for we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field. You are God's building. Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 11. This is another church that I would have loved to have belonged to this church in her golden age.

That is before the second century kicked in, because by the time we get to the revelation and the letters of Jesus to this church in particular, he is saying, you left your first love. Anybody here like that? You started walking with Jesus. You enjoyed Him. You loved on Him. Life got hard for one reason or another. Now you're not so in love with Him.

You're just sort of surviving, waiting to cash in your chips, as the phrase goes. Ephesians, chapter 4, though, this is the care that this church was a recipient of so many great Bible teachers here, the apostle Paul, Apollos, John the apostle, Timothy, so many. And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastor teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. That's what the pastors are supposed to do, equip the saints.

Why? So that they can minister effectively. And he continues, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, to make the body of Christ robust, strong, even bodacious. You ever see a church that the people don't really love the Lord? They go, they get dressed up, they really don't care about what's in the Scriptures. That's what we're talking about.

The introduction to Thessalonians. Can you handle it or not? Or do you come to church to get a Band-Aid on every single time? And that's your plan forever. Or you say, oh, I need the Band-Aids. I get hit.

But I want to also know how to dodge some of those things that hit me. So I need the Word. And God says, oh, that's it. I like that. I put it there. I do all things good.

I'm going to give you some, man, and they're going to contribute to this. So that when the body of Christ is big and bad, the world pays attention. Look, they don't have to like us, but they must respect us.

And that's what oftentimes doesn't happen. They don't like the church, and they don't respect it. That's the story of the woman who rides the beast in Revelation. Finally, she is destroyed by the world.

She represents the apostate church that will be here through the Great Tribulation period to the end, and she will be wiped out. Because they didn't respect her. Now, if you are respected too much by your enemies, they look for ways to take you out.

That's what will happen to the two witnesses. They're so respected, they're killed. In fact, that is the story of Christianity. When she is not upholding the righteous commission that she has received, the world does not respect her, it persecutes her anyway.

When she does uphold the righteous things of Christ in the midst of the time and season of Satan's exaltation, she is still sought to be destroyed and persecuted. Time of Satan's exaltation, it moves around like weather, you know, whenever there's a drought somewhere or it's raining somewhere else. Well, Satan's exaltation sometimes, you know, for instance, in Nazi Germany or Europe, World War II, Satan was exalted.

But he wasn't exalted everywhere on earth. And knowing when to these seasons come and go helped the believer to understand, okay, this is where I am right now, this is where I must minister. And so during the times of peace, the church preaches the gospel. But during the times of persecution, the church bleeds out loud for the gospel. This is the case between the church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3 and the church at Smyrna in Revelation 2. The church in Smyrna lived in a place where Satan was exalted. The church in Philadelphia did not have that problem at the time. However, you go to where that church in Philadelphia was located today, modern-day Turkey, you cannot preach as they preached because Islam will be waiting for you.

And so for the edifying of the body, the body is supposed to be built up to do these things that hopefully I've been communicating. It says, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by trickery of men and cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. Man, that is so powerful. That is like, yes, that's why I love the Scripture, because that is true. I've lived it. I experienced it.

I know it so. I don't want to be tossed to and fro. Pastor, how do I stop? How do you stabilize me? I don't. The Scripture does.

How long does this go on? According to Ephesians 4, till we are in heaven, till we see Christ, it is the pursuit of perfection. Don't be afraid of that line, you know, well, you're not perfect.

No, I'm not, but I'm in it to be. And that day is coming where I am shooting for him to say, well done. I want to hear Jesus say, yeah, man, that's it. You did it. What about all those failures?

I covered those. That's why I'm the Lord. And so 1 Thessalonians, just a tease here, because we're going to go back to some historical stuff to set the stage. Having said all that, 1 Thessalonians deals with the coming of Christ as it impacts the church. The first letter deals with Christ's coming as it impacts the church. The second letter deals with the coming of Christ as it impacts the world. You see, the Lord is saying, I'm going to teach you some things here.

So you know where you're going. You know who you are. You won't have this identity crisis. Who am I? I'll tell you who you are. You're a blood-bought sinner. That's what you are. A blood-bought sinner and used by God, if you will allow me.

For what? To build up the church to extract from the world those who are in the world so that they too can be part of this edified church. That's Christianity. And these two letters together provide the one-two punch. Dealing with the church, 1 Thessalonians, concerning the coming of Christ.

That's broad. 2 Thessalonians, dealing with the coming of Christ as it impacts the world. That is end times. And so God has taken the time and the pain, and there is pain in it for Him, to declare His Word, step one, and then to preserve it, step two. The declaration of the Word was not nearly as difficult as the preservation of the Word from our standpoint.

These are lessons for us. And so with those opening remarks, we now consider some of the introduction. The historical background to the city itself. Well, about 300 years before Christ, one of Alexander the Great's generals, the sander, married a step-sister of Alexander the Great, and as they did in those days when they conquered places, they named it whatever they wanted to name it. He named it after Alexander's sister. Sister. From New York coming out there. So, you know, you can always tell a person where they're from when you get them excited.

So I'll just try to turn it down a notch. Thessalonica, that was her name, and the city is Thessalonica. And today it is modern Saloniki, one of the ways to pronounce it.

It's still there. It's big. It's a thriving city. Almost a million people in it. One of the largest cities in that part of the world. And the second largest non-capital in that Baltic area of the world. Major seaport to this day. A thriving city, as I mentioned. And it's interesting. How would you like to be today pastor of, say, Calvary Chapel Thessalonica?

I would love that. Anytime someone would write to you, it would be to the church of Thessalonica. Okay, anyway, it's a pastor joke.

All right, well, the biblical background, though. That's just, you know, the basic information as to the city. And this is in contrast to, say, a place like Colosse, where we studied last week, closed the study on them last week. There's still just a mound, a hill.

There's nothing there. No one has dug Colosse up, but Thessalonica is there to this day. And some of the ancient ruins are being worked on by archaeologists also. Well, as I mentioned, it's one of the four churches that we know about in that region of the world at that time, Philippi. The first church in Europe, Philippi. That's where Paul, you know, he was in Turkey.

He received this vision. A Macedonian coming on over and preached to us. And Paul goes over there and he establishes the first church in Europe, in Philippi. And then Nicopolis is where he wintered. He vacationed there. And you know, there was a lot of preaching when it wasn't too far from Philippi. Thessalonica, then Berea, where he was chased from Thessalonica.

And he'll also be chased out of Berea and ends up in Athens. And we'll cover some of that because I think it's rich with information that is going to mean something, not just news. You know, sitting at a Bible study without anointing is just, well, if you're a child of God, it's annoying. I don't think, you know, if you can avoid it, you young scholars in college and they offer the Bible as literature or they offer anything on the Bible, skip that. You don't need to hear it from them. Look, we don't teach civil engineering, for example, or quantum physics.

And aren't you glad? And we don't want them teaching about our God. And you as a believer should know that unless you are an extract team being inserted.

You're, you know, what do you call, what do they call when the news reporters are embedded. If you're going to say, I'm taking this course because I'm going to stir this, I'm going to kick the hornet's nest, so to speak. Then you go have at it. But if it's like, what can I learn? Boom, what's wrong with you? Nothing. You go to church for that. But back to this, you know, you sit at a Bible study with no anointing. It's just information. It's nothing.

It's a heartbreaker. It's like, man, they don't even know what they have in their hands. But if you go to an anointed Bible study, then the word sounds forth. And you recognize this. You want more and you want to spread it. I remember being, first time I went to a church that really dealt with the word of God.

I could remember sitting in the pews. This is amazing. I want to sit here and I want to take it all in. I want to go through every book of the Bible with this group of believers. But at the same time, I want to take it somewhere else. I want to tell somebody else that you can learn the Scripture and it means something.

No man could have ever compiled such a record as this. And so this church in Thessalonica was started when Paul went out the second time. See, the first time he goes out, you know, they're in the church at Antioch in Syria. The Holy Spirit says, separate to me, Paul and Barnabas. And they send them out and they go around and they start churches. They come back to Antioch. And then after a while, Paul says, we need to go follow up on these new churches that God has allowed us to plant for him.

And so they get into this big argument of who's going and who's not. And so they split up and Paul takes a man with him named Silas. Silas was one of the officials sent from the church in Jerusalem to oversee the announcement to the Gentiles that they did not have to be Jews to be Christians.

And he came to like Paul and respect him. I want to stay with you. I'm not going back to Jerusalem. This is where it's happening. This is the action here in Antioch. You've got Gentiles getting saved, Jews getting saved.

This is the place to be. And Paul said, well, listen, I'm going to some places. I'm going deep inside Gentile territory. Are you in or out, Silas?

I'm with you. 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 / 2023-09-23 03:37:06 / 2023-09-23 03:47:06 / 10

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