Paul said, look, I'd like to have a little country church, too, but that's not reality.
Unless you're in the country, that's the way it is, and that's your reality. But to target that, that's really not the gospel. He looked for big hits. He wanted to know, where can I put myself so as many people as possible can get the word?
Well, he realized that he could do it in a city, yes, but that wasn't enough. So he'd do it in big cities and he'd go along the line to all the others as the center of his ministry, and from that center radiating out would be his converts and disciples taking it to all other little places on earth. 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 1 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. And now here's Pastor Rick as he continues introducing us to the book of 1 Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 1. 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 $100 and God will have that as a seed sown and you get $1,000 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 $100 to the church, God's going to bless me. That's their concept of Christianity. And they're, 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.
If you, 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 is much more, 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, it is a 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, 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 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. When 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. As biblical prophecy, no one else has got it. We have it.
Pride precedes the fault. 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, Al-Turghay was born in Boston, Red Sox fan. But, you know what he did?
He went to college here and moved to Israel, and as a Turghay, he speaks the Hebrew language and just fluts around like he's a little Jew. Fluts is a 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're now firing. 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 embadiment 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 and 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 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, you know, Aramaic and, you know, 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. Not only that, the Jew wouldn't tell you unless you became one of them. You converted. And that meant offering you circumcision.
Or you can be saved, but it's going to hurt. And this was, I'm not making light of it because when a Gentile heard that, you know what? I'm not, I don't think it's that.
I know. That's what happened. And Paul recognizes early and he began to put an end to this kind of stuff. You can't make converts like this. People going to hell over a ritual that's a painful ritual like that.
No, this has got to stop. And he did that. What a remarkable accomplishment. And so for centuries, the Jews had been the recipients, the custodians, the sole proprietors of what God said. That all changed the birth of the church. Not immediately, but it was rather quick when you look at the, you know, a few decades and all of a sudden the Gentiles were flooding into the church. They became the majority in the church and from that point, from Pentecost forward, scripture was no longer written in Hebrew but Greek.
The Gentile language. It was the language of the Roman Empire where all those roads that led to Rome, they led somewhere else. And on those roads traveling were those who could communicate the message of God in a common language.
God knew what he was doing to the very detail. In fact, the Thessalonian church, the Berean church, the church of Philo, all these churches were along the Via Ignatia, the Ignatian Way. It was a road going from the Aegean Sea all the way to Pontus, Cappadocia, to the area in Turkey.
It was all the way across. And these key cities, these big cities were located along this road. And Paul targeted cities so he could get the word out to so many. It says in the Proverbs, the man that isolates himself from not doing a good thing. Paul said, look, I'd like to have a little country church too, but that's not reality.
Unless you're in the country and that's the way it is and that's your reality. But to target that, that's really not the gospel. He looked for big hits. He wanted to know where can I put myself so as many people as possible can get the word. Well, he realized that he could do it in a city, yes, but that wasn't enough.
So he'd do it in big cities and he'd go along the line to all the others as the center of his ministry and from that center radiating out would be his converts and disciples taking it to all other little places on earth. The Jews did not like this. They did not want the gospel themselves, nor did they want the Gentiles to have it. Now this is not anti-Semitic.
This is how it was. The men that wrote the Bible were predominantly Jewish. It's not an ethnic thing. It's how the culture was. It's a cultural thing.
And that doesn't mean that just because it's a culture doesn't mean it's good. It speaks of what the people have done with themselves, actually. Well, they did not want the Gentiles to have this message about the Messiah coming. You see, when the Jews thought of a Messiah, they were confused.
Well, there was one that suffers and there's one that triumphs. They really weren't too interested in the suffering Messiah unless they were suffering, but they still were looking for the hero to come, to take away all their enemies. And what they failed to do is to understand there were two comings of their Messiah. Well, that's the Thessalonian letter. There's two comings of the Messiah.
There's Christ coming to earth, and then there's Christ leaving and coming back again, the second Thessalonian letter. And so these are the things that he was taking in his travels. He was so effective in Thessalonica, they didn't like this.
They chased him out of the city. He goes on to Berea. He starts to evangelize to the Jews in Berea. They were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica in that they received the Scriptures with gladness and they searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. But then those Jews from Thessalonica, who rounded up lewd men of the basal sort to chase Paul out of there, followed him to Berea to chase him.
And they don't want you preaching it here either. And so he heads on to Athens. And when he goes to Athens, he leaves Silas, who we mentioned earlier, and Timothy behind in Berea. They then catch up to him in Athens. You know, it was said the Romans were the ones that would say in Athens, you could find a god faster than you can find a man.
There are other places like that. In Tibet, you know, there are just places around the world that there are more gods than people. Well, this just declares that man is incurably religious because God's made him that way. But what sin has done to man is muddy the waters so that a man has a choice. He's either going to go with what he likes or he's going to go with what is true.
And if he can get the two to match, he's converted. Well, these two men, Paul and Silas, they come to Greece and Athens and they catch up with Paul. Paul dispatches Timothy back to Thessaloniki.
See how much activity is happening? And wherever these guys are going, they have got the Word of God. That's what they're sharing in their travels. You think Timothy didn't speak to anybody or he's traveling back and forth around the ancient world? Of course he is. So is Silas and Titus and all the rest of them preaching the Word of God.
That's what they lived for. And Silas stays in Athens. Paul goes on to Corinth alone. Timothy then catches up and Silas catches up to Paul in Corinth where Paul is starting another church, where we get out Corinthian letters from, of course.
He has this wonderful news about the church in Thessalonia, as I mentioned earlier, and then Paul writes the first letter to the Thessalonians and sends Timothy back with the letter. And so that's where we get it. Now as to the teaching. Now this is what I meant.
We'll be closing in a minute. As to the teaching of what was going on, being beneficial to new converts today and those of you who've been Christians for a while and yet you maybe not realized what works according to the Scripture and the sharing of the deeper things of the faith. You think that you have to dumb it down. There are many churches that every Sunday morning they preach the same gospel message to the same people and as a result they stay ignorant of God's Word. Where if you build up the believers, at least my understanding is from Scripture, if we build you up, you go out into the world and you make converts. That's how it goes.
Otherwise, what are you converting them to? Now I'm not saying at all that God doesn't work through that, but I'm saying that's not how I see it from the Scripture. God looks at me and says, Rick, there are things you do that aren't the way they're supposed to be done, but I'm going to work through you anyway. Well, He's doing that to other people also.
There are other churches out there that aren't doing things the way that are ideal with Christ, but He works through them anyway. That's how it is with all of us. I have to put that disclaimer on there or else I'll be getting emails. Oh, you think you're perfect?
Yes, yes, send that back and see. Anyway, the teaching and the fruit. What made these Christians so strong in the face of the persecution they got right away is information about God. They knew why they were getting the beat-downs and they felt this was better than not getting a beat-down for things that were false. I can latch onto a lie and escape the persecution or I can hold to the truth that is eternal, has everything to do with where I'm going when I leave this planet, and catch a beating. I'll take the beating. After all, remember, the two men that brought the gospel to them, they were still aching from the gospel.
That's what it cost. And so in this letter, these two letters, Paul's going to speak of salvation, okay, that's what we give to converts, sanctification, the development, what happens to you after you get converted, assurance of the faith because there were rewards. Am I still saved? How much does Jesus think of me today?
Oh, I did a bad thing. Assurance in the midst of that. He's going to teach on the Trinity. You have to know about God, how he's presented himself to us. And, as I mentioned, you have to know about yourself, the nature of man.
He teaches on this. The resurrection, critical. Listen, you go out and preach the gospel, preach the resurrection. Without the resurrection, we have no gospel. That's what it's all about. Christ died, he was dead, and he got up again and nobody could stop it.
And the record is invincible. Again, it's a short walk from Jerusalem to the empty tomb. It's empty now. If they wanted to say, we're going to show you Jesus did not rise, it was a short walk. They just took the whole crowd over there, got the little camcorders out, they were made of stone back then, and they could have recorded the whole thing. How come they didn't do it? Because he wasn't there.
That's why. Well, the day of the Lord. He gave them end-time prophecy. New believers, six months. He gives them end-times eschatological instruction. He teaches them about the return of Christ and what's going to happen on earth, all the way up to the time of the Antichrist, which Paul did not know was 2,000 years away. Well, 1930 thereabout. But it is so far.
The clock is still running. It is an amazing testimony to the teachers' thoroughness and their willingness to learn. And so we started out with, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
That's what is happening there. Let me ask you, maybe you're saying, I'm a Christian, but you're really not hungry and thirsty for these things. Can you just get to the part where I'm going to get a good job, where I'm going to be all right tomorrow? Listen, if I'm having tough times, I want to hear that too, but I understand that the foundation of everything about me must be built on God's Word, all of it. I cannot cherry-pick it. And so, to this day, there are entire denominations, over 100 years old, these denominations. And the people in their congregations are very vague, if knowledgeable at all, about end-times. And yet this church was powerful in the midst of persecution, thriving, because they had the Word of God.
And I am going to speed this up and I'm almost done. Paul said that this church was a model church. He said, how did they get that way? Well, as we've been discussing, he gave them core doctrines of the Christian faith. 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, verse 7, you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. You, this little new church, you became an example to everybody who believes. I want to be that, I want to be in that type of a church. I want a church that, again, they may not like us, but they respect us. Why do they respect us? Because we're giving it everything we have to follow the Lord in spite of our weaknesses without taking away the high standards of God. You know, in this society, increasingly, you're not free to stand up. We sent, just so that you know, you know, we do the quotes on Facebook once a month or once a week. I don't pick them.
They would be better if I picked them. Kidding. But anyway, you mentioned the word homosexuality in this society and the Christians get afraid. How are you ever going to be used by God to reach those who are caught in that if you are afraid to deal with it?
It does not mean, you know, you don't always have to say, well, you know, we hate the sin, we love the sin. Okay, that's a given. Let's get past those basic things.
Let's move to the deeper things. That there is a loving God and He wants everyone that is born on this condition, His terms. That's it.
His terms. And trying to revise Scripture. This happens to be the hot one right now, but it's the same for fornicators, for adulterers, for murderers, for those who are covetous, whoever they are. And so when the church says, listen, if you're saying you're a Christian and you are practicing those sins and you have no problem with it, we have to disfellowship you.
That's all. We've taken the believers because we expect them to be in that, but not the believer. The believer is supposed to say, I renounce those things. I have repented. I am regenerated.
Three R's there. Core doctrines of the Christian faith. When a Christian says, I'm going to put this sin down, God says I'm going to pick you up. But when the Christian says, I like that salvation thing. Savior. Lord. That's harsh. Lord?
Next to me saying, want me to call him master. That's right. That's exactly it. And so my point is that we have many Christians who are afraid to forward, electronically, things that are harsh. Because they don't want the flack. You know, each person has to be led by the Spirit. You just can't do these things because the pastor said it. So when Jason posted this on the Facebook, we both said, well, let's look for a foxhole and get ready to fire back.
Not just duck. But it didn't happen that way so far. What we got, what I think, could be the quote really isn't that good. Or it's, I ain't touching that.
Well, back to this. So what I'm saying, Christians is we are supposed to love, and we do, but we are not supposed to water down God's word. Is it not disgusting when you find somebody going to tell you about salvation and they've watered it down so that anybody can get saved?
Lenny the duck can come into the flock now because you've put together. And that's what we are approaching as a society. So if we have truth and love, never love without truth. Truth always comes first. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and life. God is love.
That's right. But truth without love is brutality. Sometimes that gets lost in our passion. Sometimes we're distracted.
It doesn't come across the way it does, but God causes all things to work together for the good. And you've got to trust and believe this. And so that's pretty much it.
Close with this. The foundation of all that was happening is that first, again, to repeat, first Thessalonians deals with the coming of Christ as it will affect the church. Christ is coming.
Wait for him. That's the first letter. The second letter dealing with his impact, the coming of Christ and his impact in the world, wait for him and work while you're waiting. That is the book of Nehemiah battling and building at the same time. Somebody here loves the Lord Jesus Christ and you've just got a sin you can't seem to get the victory over. And Satan hounds you with it. But you, you are going to fight this thing. Well, let me tell you, you continue battling while you're building. Don't just battle the sin. Build at the same time. Send a message to hell.
You may have me tied down on my left hand, but my right hand can still swing a hammer. That's the idea. The church is not saying we're perfect people. We do it all right. No, but we're perfect in our understanding of the fundamentals because God has made them clear.
That's what we're perfect in. 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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