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November 29, 2020 5:00 am
This is on Solomon and I like to welcome you to our program today. You know it's a tremendous honor that God is given us to be on stations all around the nation bringing the truth of God's word as it is uncompromising and straightforward and I'm so glad you tuned in to listen and be part of that.
Thanks again for your support and your generosity that keeps us on the radio and now let's get to the word of God are going to be studying today in Paul's first letter to the church of Thessalonica and find it in the New Testament. First Thessalonians chapter 1 will become in there just a moment. Now a little bit of background. Remember, the apostle Paul wrote his second missionary journey.
He has crossed over from Northwestern Turkey the city of Truax Avenue across the Aegean Sea to northern Greece. The city of Philippi here in Philippi for several weeks. Paul preached he started a small church there and he divided his team.
There he left Timothy and Dr. Luke to members of his team in Philippi to care for this church and he and the other member of his team. A fellow named Silas. They walked along the famous Roman road. The indignation way. They walked 100 miles to the south to the town of Thessalonica and here in Thessalonica. The Bible tells us that Paul went into the synagogue for three straight weeks sharing about Jesus as the Messiah and as a result, acts 17 for some of the Jews were persuaded and they join Paul as did a number of God-fearing Gentiles. Now we saw last week that the unbelieving Jewish population in the city finally was able to get a mob together, they formed a mob and succeeded in running call out of town and you say wow that's really sad, I mean Paul only got three weeks of this town. No know the truth is, Paul was here a lot longer than three weeks. You see, when we interpret the Bible, we have certain principles we use to get it right and one of these hermeneutical principles. It's very important we call comparing Scripture with Scripture. What this means is that we go to other passages in the Bible and bring those passages to bear on the passage that were actually looking at to make sure we get the passage were looking at right now. When we do when we compare Scripture with Scripture. What we find is that Paul was actually in Thessalonica a lot longer than just three weeks. Watch right here in first Thessalonians 1.
Where I ask you to turn look at verse nine people everywhere. Paul says, tell how you Thessalonians turned from idols to serve the living and the true God. If you remember acts 17 said that in the synagogue, a number of God hearing Gentiles came to Christ (these are not the Gentiles call talking about here. Those Gentiles mentioned in acts 17 were Gentile converts to Judaism.
They had already given up all forms of idolatry.
They were meeting in the synagogue with the Jewish people. That's where Paul ran across them. These Gentiles mentioned here in first Thessalonians are pagan Gentiles, that Paul reached in ministry outside of the Jewish synagogue in the language of first Thessalonians, clearly indicates that the apostle Paul spent much longer than three weeks among the pagan Gentiles of the city and that he had a significantly successful ministry in reaching them.
Let's compare another passage of Scripture.
Philippians 416. Here Paul says to the Philippian believers, or even when I was in Thessalonica you guys sent me financial gifts again and again when I was in need. Paul says when I was living there in Thessalonica ministering there Thessalonica and you guys heard that I needed money you took up an offering and again and again you send it 100 miles south to give to me while the language here clearly indicates that there was a time interval between each one of these offerings that they took up and sent to him and there's no way we can fit all of that in the three weeks so William Ramsey in his famous book St. Paul the traveler a Roman citizen writes this, and I quote he said Paul's writings clearly refer to a long and very successful work in Thessalonica December 50 to May 51 A.D. seems a probable estimate of his residence in Thessalonica or in other words, about six months is the actual time that Paul was in this city. The prisons ask ourselves the question we know there was a high level of opposition against Paul and Thessalonica high enough the level of hostility that they got a mob together and eventually ran them out of town so here's a question if there was this much hostility in Thessalonica against Paul if there was physical persecution and even mob action against him.
Why did Paul insist on staying in this city for six months.
Well, you may not believe it but the answer to that question is actually found by looking at a roadmap of the Roman Empire from the time of the apostle Paul here you see the road system in the entire Roman Empire at the time of Paul, according to our best calculations. The Romans had built over 50,000 miles of Roman roads at the time of Paul you so I thought that much bread he realized that the entire interstate highway system in the United States of America combined is only 42,000 miles so this is 20% more than the entire interstate system of the United States everywhere. These Romans. When they built quality roads as a matter fact when you show your picture.
This is part of the nation way right here that ran through Philippi and as you can see it's still here today. They took these huge blocks of limestone and granite dog the ground up carting these things in and laid this road base. It will why would they got all that trouble 50,000 miles. The road was very simple. When you got an empire as vast and is spread out as the Roman Empire. You have got to be able to get armies wherever you need to get him to quickly to defend and deal with crisis all over the Empire and so these roads were built to enable Roman goods and Roman armies to move to any part of the empire.
They needed to move quickly and in a facile way regardless of the time of year. However, there was a corollary that developed a benefit to develop as a result of these roads that the Romans never planned on and that is now the common people living in the Roman Empire suddenly had easy travel. They suddenly had safe roads they could move around on and so as a result of all of these roads. The people traffic moving through the Roman Empire became huge to put another way, because of their road system. The Roman Empire created the first truly mobile society in world history. Now why was this a factor in the apostle Paul staying six months in Thessalonica Willits remember the question were answering if you lived in the first century and you wanted to spread the message of Jesus Christ to every corner of the Roman Empire, but you don't have TV you don't have radio you don't have cell phone you don't have book publishing you don't have newspapers you don't have the Internet or mass communication. How you do it. The answer is found in this road system. You see, the answer is you set all shop in one of these strategic cities that these roads ran through you set up shop in a commercial center that had a lot of those people traffic moving through it on Roman roads and then what you do is you go down to the docks were people arriving and you share Christ.
You go on the roads at significant resting spot, and you share Christ you stay in the city and you hand out literature at every restaurant every bar, every bed-and-breakfast, every hotel were all of this people traffic is moving to town and the hope is that some of these people moving to town on their way someplace else will hear the message of Christ still believe the message of Christ and they will then take the message of Christ with them where ever it is, there are going on these Roman roads throughout the far-flung regions of the Empire. We like to call this the honeybee strategy and the reason we call it that, is because you know how honeybees work, they pick up pollen as they fly long and then they end up transporting that pollen with them to flowers. Miles and miles away from where they originally picked it up. Well, this is what Paul strategy was. He tried to pollinate people spiritually with the message of Jesus Christ and turn them in. The honeybees were there whenever they flew all over the Roman Empire.
They talk the pollen of the message of Christ with them back to these far-flung regions you say will so long was Thessalonica. One of these very strategic commercial cities will let me show you that so zero in on Thessalonica and what I want you to see is that all of northern Greece today. You know Macedonian Thrace. All of the Balkans. Today, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Yugoslavia, Romania. All of these countries. All of southern Europe. Today, the countries of Austria-Hungary and Czechoslovakia and even southern Russia over here and southern Ukraine. Every single one of these regions was accessed by roads that emanated and started right here in Thessalonica. This major port city and so what Paul did is by setting up and Thessalonica.
He said the way I'm going to reach the Balkans the way I'm going to reach southern Europe. The way I'm going to reach the Ukraine and southern Russia is by reaching people come into this town were heading northeast, north and northwest out of this town on these Roman roads didn't work. Look at verse eight. Right here. First Thessalonians 1.
The Lord's message rang out from you. Paul says not only to the people in Greece, but your faith in God has become known everywhere. In fact, people everywhere tell us how you turn from idols to serve the living and the true God. Paul would get somewhere, people would say you heard about what's happening in Thessalonica, and Paul would say well yeah Laura yeah I kinda know what's going on there.
The Serbian Orthodox Church of today, the Macedonian Orthodox Church of today the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Albanian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the church of Bulgaria all trace their start there beginning back to the first century A.D. and all of this can be traced back to the apostle Paul's ministry right here in Thessalonica. That's where all these churches got started with people moving to town meeting Paul and then taking the message of Christ to all these different places north of Thessalonica, you know, Paul followed this very same strategy when he spent two years in Ephesus. Ephesus was the third leading city in the Roman Empire.
Major commercial center on the western shores of Turkey, and here's what the Bible says acts 19 it says is a result of Paul's ministry all the Jews and Gentiles who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
Paul set up shop in Ephesus for two years. Smyrna, Sardis five Tyra Pergamum Philadelphia here. Opelousas, Laodicea and Colossae. Every one of these cities had major churches starting say how do you know why because there's letters to all these churches in the book of Revelation is a letter in the Bible do the church a Colossae that mentions the church in Mirabilis and yet Paul says I never went to any of these places I've never been any of them. I been two years in Ephesus, but what I did is I pollinated a bunch of honeybees coming to town and they took the message of Christ to reach his whole Roman province. We even know the name of one of these honeybees is mentioned in the book of Colossians is name is a path for us.
And Paul says I didn't bring the message to you a path for us to but I met him in Ephesus made him a honeybee in Ephesus and look what happened. Folks, this is even just an ancient strategy used in our modern world. I don't know if you know the name Adam Hiram Johnson that an arm.
Johnson was an American missionary who went to Burma and landed there in 1817, but you know he thought when he landed there. This is crazy to go tromping around in the jungles with a machete is some foreigner from America how my to reach this country.
So what he said is on the follow the strategy. The apostle Paul. He went to Rangoon right here capital along the Bay of Bengal and he began sharing Christ with all of the people traffic moving to the city Rangoon that was headed all into the hinterlands of Burma 11 years after he arrived in the year 1828.
There was a young man. The man's name was coat five you who came to Rangoon he met at an arm juts and he came to Christ at an arm. Johnson discipled him and then sending back to his people. The Terran people K a REF in eastern Burma Western Thailand Western Laos and a huge revival broke out because of coat five you taking the message back to them. Even today, almost 200 years later the Terran people have hundreds of Christian village schools Christian high schools.
They have over 850 self-supporting churches and over 150,000 believers today and add an arm juts and never left Rangoon, but he met a honeybee who did and took the message back to his people that that's as far as you want to go today because all of this leaves us with a profound question and you know what are profound question is, so everybody ready, here we go. 123 right you say Launcelot always wanted over the Terran people as I can when Trivial Pursuit God bless you, thank you very much. Now, what difference does it make for me. Well friends when it comes to Paul's philosophy of strategic cities, I want you to understand that this is still a key strategy for reaching the world today and we live in the most strategic city in the world. Washington DC change Washington.
You can change the world, and it's probably the only city lab that you can say that about, but you say longwave and stop stop stop director your contradicting your own self. I mean you said earlier today, we got all this modern technology. We've got Christian television Christian radio. We've got Christian Internet. We got Christian publications and books. We don't need this whole strategy of Paul's. This is an anachronistic strategy doesn't work anymore. We don't need it. It's superfluous know it isn't friends. He realized that there are huge segments of the world's population today for political reasons that are not open to Christian television Christian radio or Christian publications like China, like Indonesia, like the Muslim world and the communist world. Do you realize that there are other large segments of our world for economic reasons that aren't available to all of this mass Christian communication we have like countries in Africa and South America and other Third World countries where people can afford television where they can afford radio where they can afford a PC to go get on the Internet. As a matter of fact, the best way still in our world a day to reach over 50% of the worlds population is to use the exact same strategy. The apostle Paul use the honeybee strategy right here in Washington DC to set up shop and to pollinate significant members of each of these cultures as they come to this city, they come through here as diplomats. They come through here as military attaches they come through here is foreign students in his embassy workers and his employees at the World Bank and friends. If we can pollinate the people who come through this city that are then gonna go back one day to some of these countries that we can get into with modern technology that is still the best way to reach half of the world's population but this isn't just a foreign mission strategy.
It's also still a very effective strategy to reach America you realize your Washington DC we have the brightest sharpest most upscale young Americans in this country coming to this town. They graduate from Harvard and Yale and all these other places and they come to town. Here they come to work on Capitol Hill to clerk at the Supreme Court to work as an intern in the law firm arena business to be a junior officer in the Pentagon, and they want to change the world, will you know what, if we can reach them while they're in this town and pollinate them with the message of Jesus water in this town that maybe when they leave this town and spread out all over America still go change the world but don't go change the world for Jesus and not for themselves and this is an American strategy and a world strategy and it's why our mission statement is what it is that we are here to make an impact on the secular people in the city were here to rock the city for Jesus Christ where to pollinate hundreds and thousands of honeybees in town and then help dispatch them around America and around the world to reach people that we can get to any other way you save a lot that's wonderful.
They were doing. This is a church.
I'm all for this. I mean, that's great Whiteman friends were doing as an institution were doing globally as a church is not the so what here. I mean we are doing some things globally. We got the radio and we do the house down in Anacostia week we have you know Turkey outreach and we have Angel tree Christmas and we have services like this and we have outreach July 4 down the mall.
We do some of that but friends you know what that is not how you pollinate honeybees most effectively the way it's always been done most effectively and the weight stilled on most effective date is one person touching the life of one person.
That's how Paul did it in Thessalonica didn't set up big global programs. He just went out one person at a time and touch people's lives.
That's how add an arm juts and did it. Rangoon didn't have any legal programs he does went out, met people one person at a time and what I'm really saying here is, if you believe in the strategy and you say yes lawn I buy into our vision that what I'm saying to you and me is the only way were going to get this done is for you and me to become honeybees in this town for you and me to make it our personal mission to go out and pollinate people everywhere we go every day in the city. That's the only way it's going to happen and I love how Peter said it Peter said be always ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks you while you're