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September 15, 2021 7:00 am
First and second Thessalonians. There's a huge historical backdrop to these letters and I want us to see that together in acts chapter 16 the apostle Paul is on his second missionary journey eddies at Truax as ancient Troy in Asia minor the northwest corner of modern-day Turkey. When he has a vision to come over to Macedonia to come over degrees to cross the Aegean Sea into Europe and he does this he and his team which is Paul Silas Timothy and Dr. Luke and they go to Philippi and Northeastern Greece which is where they first start preaching the gospel in Europe and lots of people come to Christ and as a church. It begins there but eventually the apostle Paul is arrested and beaten with rods thrown into jail and then when they discover that he's a Roman citizen they could've gotten in a lot of trouble for doing this, they just quickly, ushering out of town and he moves on to the town of Thessalonica and that's where we pick up in acts chapter 17 verse one. Let's see what happened in Thessalonica now they call Silas Timothy where's Lou well.
Luke got left behind in Philippi. When they got ran out of town in order to work with the young church fair solution Philippi. The other three of them came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue you might be interested to know that there has always been a sizable Jewish community in Thessalonica up until 1941 in 1941.
The Nazis conquered Greece, they deported 60,000 Jewish people to concentration camps from Thessalonica and killed them all. Today, the Jewish population of Thessalonica is less than a thousand people. But at the time of the apostle Paul. It was sizable first to and according to Paul's custom he went to the Jewish people first and for three Sabbath reason with them from the Scriptures explaining and giving evidence that the Messiah had to suffer and rise again from the dead. That's all in the Old Testament and saying this Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is that Messiah and some of the Jewish people were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of God-fearing Gentiles and a number of the city's leading women, then the unbelieving Jewish people became jealous they didn't want to Gentiles and on this and taking along some wicked men from the marketplace.
They formed a mob and went to Jason's house where Paul was staying looking for Paul and Silas, and when they didn't find them.
They dragged Jason and some other believers before the city authorities now want to stop for a minute and just talk to you for a moment about this word the city authorities the city official. These are called poly tarps a single word in the Greek and up until 150 years ago there had never been found anywhere. This word outside of the Bible. And so, critics of the Bible.
Use this as a great father to claim that the Bible was unreliable on historical and in accurate.
However, over the last 150 years, archaeologists have discovered on inscriptions that they dug out of the ground, 64 references or occurrences of this word poly chart and show you let me show you an example of one hears a stone and we put in a red square. The word poly tarps and what this shows us is that at the time of the apostle Paul, the city of Thessalonica was ruled by five local officials who had the unique title of poly tarps and what that means is that for all these centuries, the Bible's been right in all of these scholars have been wrong.
You know what we love to say here. Say it with me. The more they dig out of the ground the more the Bible proves to be right. A man all right, good. Now let's move on verse six and they dragged Jason and some of the other believers before the poly tarps shouting these men.
Paul, Silas, Timothy, who have turned the world upside down have now come here to and Jason has welcome them into his home and they are acting contrary, the mob says to the laws of Caesar, saying that there is another king of name. The Jesus way at least I got the point right.
That's exactly what were saying and good for them. They got the point and they stirred up the crowd and the poly tarps and after Jason gave them a pledge they released him. Then the brethren immediately sent Paul for his own safety away and Silas by night to Berea now.
Paul's total time in Thessalonica was one month, but it doesn't end there. Diverse acts 17 goes on verse 10, when Paul and Silas arrived in the Rio. They went to the Jewish synagogue and as a matter of fact, archaeologists have unearthed the very steps marble steps that the apostle Paul stood on when he preached there in Berea there there right there in the city and whenever we go on the footsteps of Paul tour to Berea which we do I have the incredible privilege and I mean if it is it ill bring tears to your eyes to stand on those same steps were the apostle Paul himself stood and teach the word of God Mary everybody else gets to get up there stand on the steps and you know to amazing verse 11. Now these Jewish people. One is in Berea were more noble minded than the Jews in Thessalonica and they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was saying was true. Watch therefore many of them believe folks, the Bible is telling us something very important right here it's telling us that any person who will examine the Scriptures with an open mind. That person will end up believing that Jesus is the Messiah. There's no other place to go. There's no other conclusion to draw and these Jews in Berea who were not predisposed to disbelieve, but were willing to simply consider the evidence on face value.
Therefore, many of them believe, but when the unbelieving Jewish people in Thessalonica found out that the word of God was being preached nearby in Berea, they came there and began agitating and stirring up the crowds in Berea, you get the picture right these enemies of Paul in Thessalonica hated him so much that it wasn't good enough just running out of Thessalonica, so they wanted to run them out everywhere so they followed him to Berea and they ran him out of town. There as well. Look then immediately again for his safety.
The brethren in Berea sent Paul to Athens by way of the sea while Silas and Timothy remained in Berea, there to work with the young church. Paul's total time in Berea was actually less than one month. Okay so there's the historical background.
Now let's turn and talk about the actual letters that Paul wrote the Thessalonian church friends. After Paul arrived in Athens by himself. Remember he left Luke in Philippi tomorrow class and after he left Silas and Timothy in Berea and Thessalonica together right. He was alone, so he arrived in Athens stayed there several weeks got left out of town and ridiculed out of town by the philosophers on Marcio and went on to Corinth, which is nearby. Paul arrived in Corinth in the year 51 A.D. we know that for certain, because Galileo was the proconsul in Corinth when Paul arrived and we know from Roman records that he was the proconsul there 51 and 52 A.D. so were sure of that day soon afterwards.
Acts 18 five Silas and Timothy joined Paul in Corinth and Timothy told Paul that the believers back in Thessalonica were going to all horrible suffering for their faith who was causing the suffering what those same Jewish people who run Paul out of town who chased him to Berea. Now they're back home in Thessalonica persecuting the church that still there. So Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to make sure that the faith of these young believers wasn't faltering in the face of such heavy persecution, and here he refers to that in first Thessalonians. Here we go a chapter 3 verse two Paul says so I sent Timothy back to you in Thessalonica to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith that none of you should be shaken by these sufferings for indeed, when I was there with you I told you in advance that we were going to suffer persecution. Just as has happened to. As you well know. Thus Paul says I sent to find out about your faith, for I was afraid that the tempter Satan may have tempted you to abandon the faith and thus are labor among you might've been in vain. But now Timothy has returned to me in Corinth and brought us the good news about your faith and so even in our suffering we were encourage, for we really live if you use stand firm in the Lord, folks. This is why the apostle Paul wrote both of the Thessalonian letters he wrote them from Corinth in 52 A.D., number one, to command the believers in Thessalonica for their perseverance under suffering and number two, to encourage them to keep standing firm for the Lord and in second Thessalonians.
They're still standing firm. Look what Paul says. He says we thank God. Second Thessalonians 1. Three for you and we boast among God's churches about your perseverance and faith in spite of the persecutions and trials you are enduring. Therefore Paul says in second Thessalonians stand firm and hold to be true that you were taught by whether in person or by letter, what letters he referring to in second Thessalonians 1st ever baloney and very go. Good job exactly verse three of chapter 3 for the Lord is faithful and he will strengthen and protect you. So let's summarize the purpose of the two letters to the Thessalonians to encourage them to stand strong for the Lord even under intense suffering the day 52 A.D. and where was Paul when he wrote them he was in Corinth.
Everybody got it. Okay, now it's time for us to stop going through all of that and ask our most important question. So are you ready are you guys allowed in Bethesda and Prince William and edited by Ray. Okay, come on now, this is our first so what. After Easter so it's gotta be good.
I know I'm shameless but I'll do anything to get a good one are here we go. Come on Juan to prayer is a long. I mean all this is really interesting. I appreciate there is any meaning you, but by me.
What there is any of this make to my life you know today all a lot to be sure you have friends. The theme of first and second Thessalonians. Read through these two books and underline or highlight every time you find the word suffer persecution mistreatment you will find that it's all over these books. These books are all about suffering that we encounter when we decide were going to stand up for Jesus and were going to go public and were not going to back down and it wasn't just about the Thessalonians. There's a lot in these letters about the suffering that Paul himself endured.
Watch the first Thessalonians to two after we that is Paul Silas Timothy and Luke. After we had already what's the next word suffer and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know remember what we said in Philippi. They were arrested they were beaten with rods they were thrown in jail and they were run out of town. Paul says, even after that we were still hold to speak the word of God to you in Thessalonica next three words amid strong opposition where they get the opposition from all those Jewish people ran out of town.
Yeah, look Paul says for your own countrymen you, those Jewish people Thessalonica drove out of Thessalonica and tried to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved or in fact we saw this earlier. Paul says when we were there with you and Thessalonica. We kept telling you that we would be what persecuted just as it has happened to you as you well know this goes along with what Paul says in Philippians 1, verse 29 where he says, for it is been granted to us on Christ's behalf, not only to believe in him, but also to why suffer for his say now friends you know what the Lord Jesus said same thing. And the neat thing is the Lord Jesus told us why were going to suffer if we take a stand for him. Here's what Jesus said in John 15, 20, he said, remember what I said to you that a servant is not greater than his master.
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you know if you stand up for me and I watch and these things they will do to you for my sake because they do not know the one who sent me. Haven points clear if we stand up for Christ anywhere any time anyhow. We're gonna be persecuted and might be verbal persecution were people simply make fun of us or they laugh at us or they snicker at us or they criticize us. It can be physical persecution were people they know. They don't want to hang around us. They turn the other way when we walked by and it can even be violent persecution. But we're gonna pay a price, but friends listen. Jesus said, were not going to pay a price because of who we are. We are not the issue were going to pay a price because of who Jesus is and the reason people are persecuting us is because of Jesus and the reason they're persecuting him is what he say they do not know the one who sent me their blind or lost.
They don't know Christ. They don't know God and so rather than knowing they try persecuted and we need to know this is going to happen and we need to expect that nothing different is going to happen.
You walk around my neighborhood.
I walk around my neighborhood hanging out. You know the little door hangers for for Easter dinner mall had to get a second supply because I ran out. I do know that many houses in my neighborhood, but anyway did and it was interesting in my neighborhood my neighborhoods. About half Jewish, half my neighborhood says hello to me when I'm out walking Jill around the block and 1/2 problem will literally turn if I'm 6 feet from their back to me and won't even look at me if I say hello.
They won't even acknowledge it is it does not hurt your feelings know because you say because you don't care about people know because no because I understand what's going on. I expected because that is not me that they hate now with a mine but it's good but they certainly hate me because of my stand for Jesus and his voice rose in the head of Jews for Jesus once told me it's okay to be hated. If you hate it for the right reason and if somebody hate you because he is stand for Christ that is the right reason and Jesus said don't expect anything different and before you clap.
Let me just say to you if there is nobody in your life you can think of who's persecuting you rejecting you criticizing you making funny you in some way or another, ostracizing you because of your stand for Jesus. I'd like to suggest to you your stand for Jesus is just not public enough, pure and simple. So now you want to clap there okay and you know this happen to Paul. Let's look back over Paul's life, on his first missionary journey.
He was abused and per city in Antioch.
His life was threatened and I Coni him and he was stoned and left for dead in list on his second missionary journey just as far as we read he was beaten and imprisoned in Philippi was run out of town in Thessalonica and Berea by mob that wanted to kill them and he was laughed at and ridiculed out of town in Athens but you know it's going to get a lot worse for the apostle Paul. Listen to what he says.
Second Corinthians 11. He says I have been eaten times without number.
Say well that's probably a hyperbole. You know friends you he's right in the Bible you don't lie when you write the Bible understand if he says he was beaten times without number. He was beaten times without number. Frequently imprisoned, often in danger of death five times from the Jews.
I received 39 lashes. You say what's that all about. Did y'all see the passion movie and that lash that they use on the back of the Lord Jesus.
Well, the Jewish people had a rule that you couldn't hit somebody with that thing 40 times because you kill the point is you should go live with it. That's the point.
But the Jewish people and their wonderful ability to be legalistic said okay if we can hit your 40 will hit your 39 and that's exactly what Paul is talking about five time.
Can you imagine when the apostle Paul took his shirt off his back must've looked like I can even but it doesn't stop there.
Three times I was beaten with rods we know about what we just mentioned it. Where was it in Philippi right once I was thrown we know where that was where in list or three times I was shipwrecked but will in about one of those acts chapter 27 in the Bible of a night and a day I've spent in the deep floating out there in the water. We don't know where that was not mentioned in the Bible.
The point I want you to see as we read through the book of acts, and we go all my gosh that poor guy that's only some of what happened to them.
There's a lot of things that happen to him that on even recorded there, and yet he kept going. Now the question is why I always wonder why people do what they do. Why did Paul keep going. Well, the answer simple folks. It's because Paul believes something. Paul believed that apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ.
No one will ever have eternal life. No one will ever see the shores of heaven.
That's would probably and you know he had good basis for believing it because that's exactly what the Bible teaches. Look at John 336 whoever believes in the son. Jesus has eternal life, but whoever rejects the son will not see eternal life. Jesus in John 14 six I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father gets eternal life gets into heaven except through me.
First John 511 and this is the record that God is given us eternal life in this life is in his son. He who has the son has eternal life, and he who does not have the son of God will not see eternal life. You don't have. Finally, right, Sadie. Simple map in acts chapter 4 verse 12 salvation is found in no one else, for there is say the next three words no other name under heaven by which, except for Jesus's name by which we can be.
Say this is the why behind why Paul Going because he realized every single person out there, apart from Christ was going to perish. And that's what drove you to keep go pure and simple. And you know it's my heart for us here at McLean Bible church that we have this same soul winning passion that the apostle Paul habit friends as followers of Christ we will never live like the apostle Paul live until we believe what the apostle probably just that simple know in over 40 years of serving the Lord. I've learned it takes three things to make a bold witness or for Christ three number one is exactly what we've been talking about here. The absolute believe that Jesus is not just a way to heaven.
But that Jesus is the only way to heaven because otherwise were not going to be willing to pay the price to share Christ with people. I mean if you get to heaven to Buddha, then why should I take the chance on offending a friend of losing a friend by sharing Christ with them. Then get the errors in the Buddha if if my parents can get the Christ through Mohammed then why in the world. Should I risk my inheritance by making them mad about Jesus.
I just let them find another way to get there understand what I'm saying but if they can't get to heaven through Mohammed and they can't get to heaven to Buddha or anybody else then if I love these people.
I step out and I worry more about their soul and whether I lose my inheritance or lose a friend. This is what we gotta believe and this is why I teach it to you from the Bible month after month, year after year because folks the whole rest of the world is trying to convince you different movies, books, newspapers, educators are all trying to tell you that this 50 ways to get the gardener will get you there, and I'm telling you that the Bible says that is not true and we need preachers are willing to stand up and just simply say call me anything you want, but this is not true. Jesus is the only way but there's two other things that make great that the did you gotta have to be a bold soul winner at the three-legged stool.
The second thing we gotta have is that we gotta be more in love with Jesus than ourselves pure and simple. We gotta love Jesus more than our popularity more than our reputation more than our prestige more than our friends more than our families because sometimes that's the price it's going to cost for us to stand up for the Lord and we've got to be willing to say I love Jesus more. I love these other people and things that I love Jesus more how to get there will friends the Holy Spirit's gotta do that I can't make you love Jesus but I'll tell you I get to practical suggestions that can help the Holy Spirit get you there.
One is pray and ask the Holy Spirit to get you there where you love Christ more than yourself. And number two hang around with people who love Christ like this. Find a mentor find a disciple or find a friend. You know who's on fire for the Lord and loves the Lord and is like sticking a poker in the fire you'll heat up just being around them. You say well I don't have room for any more friends with the friends you got to love the Lord like this and you need to get rid of some of the friends you got gets a new friend praise Lord yeah, and finally number three in order to be a bold witness or for Christ.
We need to be trained how to do this so that we can enter in with confidence to a conversation with somebody not listen to me carefully techniques do not lead people to Christ. The Holy Spirit leads people to Christ but if you expect to be bold you gotta know and have the confidence that that what you're talking about you that you can do this I mean imagine putting me up in front of a conference full of accountants and having to give a speech. I know nothing about accounting. How can I be bold in front of them. If I don't know what I'm talking about.
And yet we ask people to go out and share their faith and friends. If we are not trained to know how to walk people down the yellow line in the middle-of-the-road. You know how to get into a conversation. The Scripture verses to use how to ask for decision how to lead them in the sinners prayer how to give them assurance of salvation when they're done, how to get them off the rabbit trails and bring them back to the yellow line in the middle-of-the-road. If we don't know how to do that or we feel we don't then it's going to hurt our boldness and being willing to step out and share and you know I'm up here all the time just exhorting your brains out that we need to share our faith, share our faith, share our faith. But you know what I realize something not too long ago and that is that we have not done a great job here at McLean of providing you with the training that you need so that you know when you go out there that you know how to share your faith and I want to apologize to you for that because that's unfair for me to exhort you to do something that we haven't provided the proper amount of training for you to do well. I'm telling you, by the grace of God will fix that I don't have time to tell you about it now but we will fix that and then I'm gonna try to press every one of us, myself included, through that training because we can all get better at sharing our faith. And I remember techniques don't lead people to Christ. The spirit does.
But when I sit down upon know my verses. I know where I'm going. I know how to lead in the sinners prayer. I know how to handle the most common objections than I have more confidence and willingness to share my faith. Does that make sense yeah what were going to give you that training. I'll tell you more about in the next few weeks, but I want you to get as excited about it as I am. I feel like I've let you down by all these years not making sure we had that in an easily accessible way about by the grace of God, fix that so sit not happy I am arriving more to say. So let's pray heavenly father, thank you for the example of the apostle Paul and and the Thessalonian believers who stood and faced the most unbelievable suffering in order to tell people about Jesus more Jesus inspire us with their example and help us become bold witness servers for Christ because we believe what Paul believed because we love you Lord more than we love ourselves because we been trained and have the confidence that we know how to do this and so I ask you to make us an army of discipling witness servers here in this city and help us achieve our mission Lord of blowing the city up with the gospel, and we pray these things in Jesus name God's people said I don't go anywhere I need 60 more seconds.
Listen to me carefully it be really easy to walk outta here and say you know what I haven't been trained yet, so I don't really know how to share my faith's are not really going to say anything, don't you do that no we are going to go out and were going to keep sharing our faith to the best of our ability. I don't care how good are you can get your good enough now that anything you say for the Lord God will use that the guy would lead me to Christ Bob Eckardt you're told and training you know when a Jewish person. Don't say Jesus say Yeshua don't say convert don't say become a Christian. He said everything wrong.
This guy was as Gentile as a pork barbecue sandwich all understand what I'm saying he didn't know nothing about witnessing the Jewish people, but look, I still came to Christ, a man, God will use anything as long as it true that you put out there for the Lord Jesus.
So all going to try to get better but let's take what we God and use what we God and the Lord Jesus will still blessed make sense. A man. God bless you have a good week