Now this happens to be one of the earliest New Testament writings. James is likely the first one.
And you can dispute these to a point, but not much. See, it's a small group of letters that we know were early writings for the Christians that have become Scripture. The letter of James, the Gospel of Mark, Galatians. And Thessalonians.
I think Galatians was first before Thessalonians. Of all Paul's letters, the Galatian letter was the first one. 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. 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, first Thessalonians, concerning the coming of Christ.
That's broad. Second 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 that, 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, Cassandra, married a stepsister 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, 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, 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. 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 and say, 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.
And that 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 light 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 are you out? Silas, I'm with you. We're going to find more out about this man Silas. But then they go out for this second trip and that's when Paul ends up getting the vision to go into Europe, Philippi, and then chased out of Philippi.
He ends up in Macedonia. Now this happens to be one of the earliest New Testament writings. James is likely the first one.
And you can dispute these to a point, but not much. It's a small group of letters that we know were early writings for the Christians that have become Scripture. The letter of James, the Gospel of Mark, Galatians, and Thessalonians. I think Galatians was first before Thessalonians.
Of all Paul's letters, the Galatian letter was the first one. Very unique, very powerful. You love that part where he says, Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh? Now you're too big for God. You got your salvation. You don't need Him anymore.
Is that the case? Put that on our mirror in the morning. Having begun in the Spirit. Don't take matters into your own hands. Leave them in God's. Find out where your responsibilities are and find out where God's responsibilities are and work within those parameters. That's not easy.
It's easy to say it. But it's harder to live in Christ without it. And so, here we are probably 20 years after the crucifixion and the ascension of Christ. Paul's writing this letter to believers. What prompted him writing it is that, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but he ends up sending Timothy back to Thessalonica after they were chased out. And Timothy gives him a word and reaches him in Corinth and says, Hey, I've just come back from Thessalonica and they are hot on fire for Christ. And he begins telling him all the things about the church and Paul says, I have got to write them, and he writes this first letter to the Corinthians to further instruct them in the gospel, yes. And there alone are going to be huge lessons for any new Christians that are here and any older Christians that are dealing with new Christians.
There's huge instructions belonging to the very idea surrounding this first letter. But he also writes to comfort them because those Christians that were in Thessalonica, before they became converts, they were steeped in idolatry. So when they stepped out, the severance was severe. It was an amputation within the society and they received persecution from the Gentiles and the Jews alike. And yet they didn't back down.
In fact, in fact, their joy was so intense that word began to spread around the Christian churches in the world about this little church in Thessalonica. Now, when Paul shows up to this city, he and Silas, Timothy with them, but he and Silas, they're still showing little spots of blood on the back of their shirts. They were caned in Philippi. They were caned in Philippi and chased out.
Those wounds were still fresh on their back. These two guys walked into Thessalonica and enter into the synagogue and start giving it to them right between the eyes. Tone it down, pastor, you can't save anybody with that kind of truth. Well, what kind of truth can I save him with? And they get chased out of the synagogue. Woo, big surprise. Paul was ready for that.
His plan B was plan A, reach the lost. Doesn't care who they were, what color they were, what background, what culture. You love Jesus, you hate idols, you're in. And it hasn't changed ever since then. Well, what were they doing with this blood bought testimony with the scars on their backs from the caning, not to mention the other beatdowns he's received over the years. They wanted to tell people how much God loved them. They wanted to tell people what God was like. His nature, his characters, person, what he expected from us, what he did not expect from us, things that they never would have learned had it not been for Paul.
Now we start getting into the deeper part of this introduction. In the book of Acts in the 17th chapter where we first read of this church in Thessalonica, Paul, again, motivated, propelled by love. The love for Jesus Christ was his hard drive.
That's what pushed him on, made him this machine of faith. Not only him, all the apostles and a great many of disciples since then until this day. And in the second verse of Acts 17 it says, Paul, as his custom was, went into them and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead and saying, this Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.
He is the Messiah. And some of them were persuaded, some of the Jews. And a great multitude of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women joined Paul and Silas. What a rounded ministry. Jew, Gentile, male, female, slave or free, whoever would come and get it. When I came to Virginia, I asked the Lord, Lord, I do not want an all, any single ethnic church. I don't want a black church. I don't want a white church.
I don't want, you know, anything but your people from everywhere. Any person from anywhere on the planet who loves your word to feel comfortable here. That was the goal, it still is the goal, and I think it has been achieved now to guard it, having begun in the Spirit, not being perfected in the flesh. Well, this reference here in Acts 17, and for those of you who don't know, the book of Acts is a book that says, here are the actions of the Holy Spirit inside the lives of those who believe Jesus Christ, right after his crucifixion and resurrection ascension. That's the book of Acts, the actions that took place after what we would call Easter. What happened after Easter? Read the book of Acts.
You'll find out. And so this reference here in Acts, where he says, for three Sabbaths, as was his custom, he went into them, that is, into the Sabbath, the synagogues of the Jews. Now, three Sabbaths does not mean that he only stayed there for three weeks, so Sabbath is a Saturday. But that's all the time he invested in the Jews as a people in their synagogue. The work carried on after that.
The Jewish emphasis began to fall to the back, and what came to the front was an emphasis on anyone, Jew or Gentile. And this, again, must still be the case with Christians. And so we find out that the Philippian church, remember the church at Philippi, not too far, not quite 100 miles from Thessalonica, they sent money to Paul while he was in Thessalonica at least twice, at least.
Well, that tells us there's more time there than three weeks. We're also told, well, let's read that, Philippians chapter 4. You Philippians, Paul writing to the Philippians, he's in a Roman jail, he's writing to the Philippians about his time in Thessalonica.
Can you follow that? You Philippians know also that in the beginning of the Gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving, but you only, for even in Thessalonica, you sent aid once and again for my necessities. You love that church in Philippi. The Macedonian churches pay for the churches of the day that set the example and are a standard to this very day. The church wants to know, how should we do business?
Look at the church at Philippi, look at the church at Thessalonica, look at the church in Philadelphia and Smyrna and Antioch, and you'll find out what a church is supposed to be. Do you see how important it is to find out about the Scriptures? Everything I'm saying to you is just a collection of the things that are in the Scriptures.
I'm not adding to any of it. Where do you get this from? The Bible. Just if I put Scripture references behind every statement, we'd never get out of here.
We still might not get out of here. There's a chance we'd get raptured before I'm done. Well, in addition to the support he received from Philippi while in Thessalonica, he worked for himself as a tent maker. And he'll talk about this, how he, to the church, how, well let's read that. 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to you, to any of you. We preached to you the gospel of God. Man, it's like, we don't want you to think we're here to, brother, you give me a hundred dollars, and God will have that as a seed sown, and you get a thousand dollars back. Now, whether they sound like that or not is irrelevant maybe to you, but that's how I hear them.
And they can be speaking Greek or Chinese or German or anything else, that's how I hear them. That is the lying prosperity movement that has destroyed countless multitudes of people who could have been great servants for Christ. Many of them are attracted by greed, others are just ignorant and they think this is the way it's done. Woe to those pastors. Woe to them when they have to stand before God.
And, well anyway, we didn't come here to talk about them, but we'll get them in whenever we can just for the, you know, because they need it. Anyway, you know, there's some person at home desperate and thinking that, you know, if I just give a hundred dollars to the church, God's going to bless me. That's their concept of Christianity. Anyway, these second Thessalonians, in the second letter he writes, For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you. He laid the example to this church and he was not ashamed of it and they enjoyed it. He continued, Nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
For even when we were with you, we commanded you this, If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. Oh, that's harsh. You need to just love them. You're just dumb, if that's your approach to life. You know, it's like throwing money at every problem. You just can't throw love, the world's definition of it, at everything. That's philo, just that human love. It has its place, but it's not supposed to be in every place. The gape love is much deeper.
It's built on something much better. It lasts forever. It's the same love that God has towards us.
We're beginning to show it towards him and each other, and that is superior love. It involves the head and the heart in that order. Fact, faith, feelings.
Satan looks to spin it around. I know that's an old lesson. Those of you who've been here a long time, you've heard that many times. It probably is a good time to bring it up.
I was reminded of it last week, and I think, you know, this would be good. Our faith is based on fact. We do not have what the world thinks is blind faith. They don't even have it.
I mean, who has that? Well, they do, actually. I'm just going to believe it because my ancestors did it. My ancestors burned incense to this.
They danced like that. They wore this, and that was made them right with God. Well, where's the evidence for this? Well, we don't have any evidence, but my ancestors, Uncle Joe used to do it.
He used to be so cute in that little hat. There's no basis for truth. The Christian comes along, so I have an unbroken witness here. We were just singing that song about God gathering, and I shall gather all those that gather.
They shall come back to their land. We're living in a time that's being fulfilled right in front of our eyes. That's biblical prophecy. No one else has got it. We have it.
Pride proceeds to fall. Just kidding. Anyway, Israel. All the Jews are coming back. More and more. It's not slowing down.
It's increasing. When we were in Israel, our tour guide was born in Boston. Red Sox fan. But, you know, he did his education. He went to college here and moved to Israel. Now he's a tour guide.
He speaks the Hebrew language and just fucks around like he's a little Jew. Flutters are short for fluttering. So, I'm going to clear that up. It's a little too close for comfort. I'll try not to use that word again. But, anyway, they're still coming back in fulfillment.
Who else has got this? Have the Italians been taken out of their land, marched around the planet for 2,000 years, then put back in Italy, and then are now coming back? No. How about the Swiss?
Watch them. Swiss watch. Anyway, nobody else can claim that. So, we've got it.
We've got the genuine article. We're supposed to live like we have it. But what happens is Satan gets us to look at ourselves. We become self-centered.
And when we're self-centered, our effectiveness is, we now fire, instead of eight cylinders, we're one and a half. I don't know if you can do any. I know nothing about cars except I want them to work.
And I appreciate those who do know. But, you know, I don't want the class. Well, your cylinder had a hidden embattement, broken, and doofy pulley was attached. I don't want to know all that.
Can you fix it for me? Same with the doctor. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. Just give me the needle and go.
All right. Well, anyway, 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, verse 9, for they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you. Now, there's the witness in how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.
When we get to that verse, that's one of the great verses of the Bible. They did not turn from idols to God. That would have been a reformation. They turned to God from idols, all of them.
They recognized, hey, they're all wrong, except this one. It was monumental. And so his impact in about, he was probably there about six months. When you start, you know, do the calculation from Acts and the letters and the hidden, not the hidden messages, but the ones that are in other letters, you come out with about six months. And in that time, he did not hold back key doctrines of the faith.
Now, I want to get to this, but first the transition about what was going on that time in the world. The truth of God, up to the time of the day of Pentecost when the church was born, the truth of God was exclusive to the Jewish people and their language. Yeah, I know in the Old Testament there's some Aramaic and there's some other language, but they're small scale. It's a Hebrew document.
And if anyone wanted to have any news about the only true God, if you wanted to hear anything about what God had to say, you had to speak to a Jew. 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.
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