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September 17, 2020 12:00 pm
What was so glad to see they want to take a Bible with you brought one, and I'd like you to open the Bible to the letter that Paul wrote the church of Thessalonica. First Thessalonians chapter 1 will be coming there in just a few moments, but as many of you know, I leave the biblical tours to Israel, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and I don't organize goes towards myself.
I don't organize the airplanes the hotels the cruises the buses the guys I mean how would you know how to do all that I work with the tour company in Jerusalem. The does all that well. This summer I needed to get in touch with the owner of the company. So I called him up on his cell phone.
You know, Israel, country code 972 by the way the phone rang permitted to stop and rang again permitted he picked up the phone.
Hello, Salome says, and I heard this really weird music in the background so I sent him where are you is that one in St. Petersburg, Russia, and I said what are you doing there is a little vacation. He said, and you know it's really neat is that I program I got one of the cell phone that you can program so no matter where you are in the world by satellite future calls to you.
I couldn't believe it. I thought, wow, isn't technology wonderful and all of us here understand IP how modern technology has revolutionized communication in our world. In fact I look back and I wonder how people ever made it without the communication aids that we have the damning how the Civil War generals ever coordinate their armies movement without walkie-talkies and radios and cell phones and computers counted Wall Street brokers ever make it without the Internet.
How did modern business ever survive without overnight delivery to email and voicemail and beepers and how the teenagers ever survive without instant messaging I don't know, but all of that leads us to ask a very important question this morning and that's this if you lived in the first century A.D. and you have a message that you wanted to spread all over the Roman Empire and all over the world.
How would you do it you don't have television.
You don't have radio you don't have cell phones.
You don't have the Internet you don't have newspapers and you don't have a modern publishing industry. In fact, you don't have any mass communication system of any kind. How would you get that message.
That's what we want to talk about today because we want to see how the apostle Paul found the answer and and and solve this problem, but many of us a little background before we dig in and look at this.
Remember, the apostle Paul is on his second missionary journey.
He's with Timothy is with Silas and he's with Dr. Luke let me show you. He has crossed over from Northwestern latter-day Turkey across the Aegean Sea to the town in northern Greece of Philippi here in Philippi. After a few weeks he has started a church and you know we saw that he divided his team. Paul did. He left Timothy and Luke in Philippi to work with that church and he and Silas moved on that show you they walked 100 miles south along the nation way the famous Roman road to see here in yellow. They walked 100 miles south of the town of Thessalonica and hearing Thessalonica. The Bible says Paul went into the synagogue for three straight weeks preaching about Jesus as the Messiah. The result acts 17 for is that some of the Jews were persuaded and they join Paul as did a number of God-fearing Gentiles.
Then, as we saw last week among the unbelieving Jewish community and in Thessalonica put them together and succeeded in running Paul out of the town of Thessalonica. They say while Alanis really too bad, you know that Paul only got three weeks in the city that's really said well the truth is frenzy got a lot more than three weeks in the city. You know, one of the key principles of interpreting the Bible is a hermeneutical principle, weeping principle we call comparing Scripture with Scripture.
What we mean by this is that we take other passages of Scripture and we bring them to bear on the passage were looking at in order to make sure that we interpret the passage were looking at properly. Now when we do this we compare Scripture with Scripture. What we find is that actually the Bible tells us Paul was in Thessalonica a lot longer than three weeks.
Watch right here. First Thessalonians 1. Where I ask you to turn verse nine says people everywhere. Paul says tell how you turned to God. You Thessalonians did from idols to serve the living and the true God not remember we saw acts 17 for they did not sit in the synagogue for three weeks Paul reached a lot of God fearing Gentile friends. These were Gentile converts to Judaism, who had already given up every form of idolatry and came to the synagogue every single week. These are not the Gentiles. Paul talking about here in first Thessalonians 1.
The Gentiles is talking about their turn from idols to serve the living and true God. These are pagan Gentiles.
He's talking about here, whom Paul reached in ministry work completely outside of his three weeks in the Jewish synagogue. Obviously, the language of first Thessalonians 1 indicates that Paul had a much longer stay at a much more fruitful ministry in Thessalonica than just three weeks. Let's compare another verse. Philippians 416.
Paul says to the Philippian believers for even when I was in Thessalonica you guys sent me financial gifts again and again when I was in need. The Bible tells us that the believers that were left behind in Philippi when they heard Paul was in need in his ministry work in Thessalonica, they would take up an offering and they send it 100 miles south to give to it. But notice Paul's language.
He says you did it again and again when you realize I was in need. There's obviously a time interval between these gifts that they said and there's no way we can fit all that in the three weeks. So, William Ramsey, writer of the book St. Paul Travelers Roman citizens of 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 F of his residence in Thessalonica. Therefore, he was here, probably as long as six months not three weeks now all of that begs the question and the question is, we know there was a high level of hostility against Paul here in this town there was another possibility that acts 17 tells us his enemies were able to even put them together together to running out of the city. So the question is if there was this much hot loyalty against Paul in Thessalonica, physical persecution, even mob action against him. Why did Paul insist on trying to stay in this town for at least six months.
Will the answer that you may find it hard to believe but the answer to that question is found by looking at a roadmap of the Roman Empire in the days of Paul. Remember we said. Paul walked the nation way between Philippi, Thessalonica. Let's show your picture. These are all the Roman roads that existed throughout the Roman Empire and the this is only a small part of it. If you saw a wider map, you would see that these road stretch to North Africa. They stretched from Spain.
They stretch to the wonderful you say it and it happens. Britain and you can see there was over 50,000 miles of Roman road at the time of the apostle Paul is not all that much friends you how many miles interstate there are in the United States. 42,000 miles total of all the interstates in the United States. This is 20% more than the total interstate highway system put together and in fact some of these Roman roads are still here, to this day. Let me show you picture this is a picture of the nation way running through Philippi, as you can see huge blocks of stone were laid down, and these roads were made so that they worked in any weather they work at any time a year that will why in the world with the Romans go to the trouble to carry these below blocks around and build all these roads very simple. If you're trying to run an empire is because the Roman Empire you've got to have a way to get goods and even more importantly, armies anywhere in that Empire quickly that you need to get him to and so that's why the Romans built these roads so that they could facilitate the movement of their armies anywhere in the Empire in any kind of weather and any County year.
However, there was a side benefit that developed at the Romans didn't plan on and that is now common people in the Empire suddenly had an easy safe way to travel on these roads and so in the Roman Empire. As a result of these roads are huge amount of people traffic began to develop throughout all the Roman Empire. The truth is because of their road system. The Roman Empire created the first truly mobile society in all of world history that why was this a decision factor in Paul's decision to stay in Thessalonica will remember our question we ask at the beginning. Here's our question.
If you lived in the first century A.D. and you have a message that you wanted to spread to the whole Roman Empire and you had no TVs, no radios, no cell phones, no Internet, no publishing, no newspapers of any kind. How would you spread that message.
That's our question and the answer is you would use all of this people traffic moving along in the Roman Empire you would set yourself up in strategic cities commercial cities were lots of Roman roads converge and were lots of people traffic was moving through and then what you would do is you would go out and you would share Christ to your message with all of these people you go down to the docks were ships were common in and you share Christ. You stand on the road is people walking by and you share Christ you going to the hotel's a bed-and-breakfast as the restaurants and bars and you share Christ and the hope would be that people moving through this town going someplace else would pick up the message believed the message and carry the message with them as they fanned out on Roman roads all throughout the Roman Empire. We might call this the honeybee strategy and the reason we call it.
This is because you know how honeybees work, they pick up pollen is there flying around and they end up taking them pollen with them and pollinating flowers miles away from where they originally picked up the honey and what Paul did. His strategy was to pollinate people spiritually with the message of Jesus Christ and then to trust them to spread out like honeybees on all of these Roman roads taken the pollen of the message of Christ with them as they went back to their cities, their people in the far-flung regions of the Empire and that's how Paul planned on spreading the message of Christ to the whole Empire you say so long. Tell me is one of these was Thessalonica.
One of these strategic centers was one of these strategic cities will friends the Saddam Hussein. The life insurance.
I mean come on that's actually funny you get it later but anyway yeah those who Thessalonica was one of the cities.
Let me show you here on a map that's go back and look the star that you see here is where Thessalonica is and what I want you to notice is that inside the black circle is all of the roads that spread out north northeast and northwest all emanating and starting at this port city of Thessalonica, all of the Balkans countries we know today as Romania, Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Serbia. All of these countries were reached by roads that came out of Thessalonica all of southern Europe.
Today people that we think of is being living in Austria living in Hungary living in Czechoslovakia. All of those lands were reached by roads that spread out coming from Thessalonica. All of northern Greece was reached by these roads and even into the Ukraine and southern Russia were all reached by roads that converge at one point the city of Thessalonica and this is why Paul set up shop there because he knew if he could reach the people traffic moving through that city he could affect all of this area for Jesus Christ.look at verse eight. Right here in first Thessalonians 1. It says the Lord's message rang out from you not only to the people in Greece, but your faith in God has become known everywhere. In fact, Paul says people everywhere tell us how you turn from idols to serve the living and the true God folks today the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and brought the Russian Orthodox Church, the Albanian Orthodox Church.
The Romanian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the church of Bulgaria. All of these churches trace their beginnings back to the first century A.D. and all of this can be traced back to Paul's ministry here in Thessalonica, where as a result of him reaching people coming to that city. All of this area was reached for Jesus Christ that you know Paul followed the same strategy.
We spent two years in Ephesus and and listen to what the Bible says about his two-year stay acts 1910 it says. As a result of Paul's stay there all the Jews and Gentiles who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord to show you a map. This is a Roman province of Asia which is Western Turkey right here Western Turkey. Here's the city of Ephesus to support city. The third most important city in the Roman Empire at the time and Paul says that as a result of that all of these green dots and yellow and red dots that you see all the city Smyrna Sardis Pergamum Qatar Philadelphia Iraq was Legacy or Colossae all the cities heard about Jesus Christ and had churches that develop because the book of Revelation. All these churches that letters written to impact in the book of Colossians Paul says I've never even been the Colossae but a friend of mine named a Pappas who I met in Ephesus was the one who brought the message to you and now there's a wonderful church there friends.
Paul reached his entire province and never left the city of Ephesus because it was a strategic city. He just reached the honeybees move into town and the honeybees took the message all over the province that this is not just an ancient strategy you know it's been used in modern times I think of a fellow named Alan RM Johnson.
I don't know if you know that Nady was an American missionary who in 1817 landed in the country of Burma slowly looked around at the country and you realize how many thousands of people lived up in the jungles, but it didn't seem reasonable for him as a as a foreigner to go tromping through the jungle try to reach him so he said you know what I'll do is I'll use the strategy Paul use and what he did the Cholla map of Burma. He set up.
He set up in the city of Rangoon, the capital city right here on the Bay of Bengal and and he said you know there's enough people traffic moving through the city going back up into the hills of Burma.
I'll just reach them when they come to Rangoon 12 years later there was a young man.
His name was called side view who was moving to Rangoon he met at an arm. Johnson gave his life to Christ at an arm Johnson work with him and discipled them and then he left Rangoon as a honeybee and went home to his tribe. Karen tried to AAR EM living up in the eastern hills and jungles of the birth of the Western jungles of Thailand and is a honeybee.
He took the message of Christ within code 5. You did do you know today hundred and 50 years later or more today. Not only was there a great revival there in the days that an arm Johnson but today there are hundreds of Christian village schools Christian high schools over 850 self-supporting churches and over 150,000 followers of Christ that live in that Red Square you see on your screen and it all started without an arm.
Johnson never leaving Rangoon, but he met a honeybee and co-taught you be pollinated and this man took the message of Jesus back to his tribe and you see what happened today not want to stop there because everything we said so far begs a very important question and you know what, are very important question is, so let's go here we go. Come on now might see pressroom I sloughed here 123. Yet you say lawn.
What this is great always wanted over the care and try this when Trivial Pursuit now what differences make my life. Well friends, you know, this philosophy of strategic cities that Paul followed is still a T strategy for reaching our world today when it comes to strategic cities. By the way we live in the most strategic city in the world you know what we say we say change Washington change the world and that's probably the only city left in the world. You say that about disabled long wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute you just said earlier that we've got modern communication and modern technology like none of these people had about an arm. Johnson didn't have it this so strategic to anything. I mean this is an anachronism. We don't need this anymore.if it's irrelevant all know know know know friends you realize there are large segments of our world's population like China, Indonesia, the Muslim world.
The communist world that are all prohibited from access to our modern technological means of communication are not allowed to watch Christian television. They're not allowed to listen to Christian radio. They're not allowed to read Christian publications in those countries. Do you realize this is a whole another segment of the world that for economic reasons can access all of this places like India, places like the AP places in Africa and other Third World countries were people are so poor they can afford television they can't afford personal computers to access the Internet. You know, still in our world today. This strategy that Paul followed is an extremely important strategy. The honeybee strategy because there is probably 50% of the world population that are close to our modern means of communication and the best way of reaching them is using the strategy Paul used in this city, in other words, pollinating significant members from these cultures bother here in Washington. Foreign students diplomats, military attaches, people working at the World Bank pollinating them for Jesus Christ with here in Washington and then helping them to return home. Like I said you did to their own people to pollinate their own people, so this is great this is a great strategy them for world missions right law known. None of this is also Great American spread is a really hot is that why do you see that both you realize the brightest young talent in America moved to the city every single year people graduate from Harvard, Yale, some of us common people go other places. But whatever young students were graduating and coming to this town are coming to work to three years on Capitol Hill to intern at the Supreme Court to intern at at some business or some law firm here in the city to be a junior officer at the Pentagon and there off to change the world.
These people have dreams of changing the world what you know what if we can pollinate these young folks as they come to town with Jesus Christ and then let him go all still go off to change the world. Hopefully not for themselves anymore, but don't go off to change America for Jesus Christ. This is an American strategy as well as a foreign strategy and this is why our mission is what it is to make an impact on the city.
The secular people in the city to rock Washington DC with the message of Jesus Christ.
Just like Paul rock Thessalonica to pollinate hundreds and thousands of honeybees is there moving through this town just like Paul did in Thessalonica. Just like out an arm. Johnson did in Rangoon and then to dispatch these people back to their own cultures as honeybees carrying the message of Jesus Christ with them and getting the people in the cultures that we can get to any other way to wear out the pollinate American honeybees in Chinese honeybees and Israeli honeybees and Arab honeybees and Indonesian honeybees and African honeybees and Tahiti honeybees will pollinate them all. We don't care, and this is what were trying to do here in the cities that want this is great this is wonderful.
I'm so excited about what were doing here Linda postal the big so what here is not about what were doing globally is a church we are doing some things globally as a church you want the radio we have public services and we do Angel tree Christmas and we do for Turkey outreach.
We have the house yet that's wonderful. But you know what the big so what here is not about what were doing is a church institutionally. The big so what here is about you and me personally in the role we have in all of this, you see the most effective way to pollinate honeybees.
Always has been and always will be people to people not institutional church programs to people, but people to people. The way Paul pollinated people in Thessalonica was.
He did a person to person the way out an arm. Johnson pollinated people in Rangoon as he did at person-to-person and if we're going to really achieve our mission in the city. It's not going to be to church programs we run.
It's going to be to hundreds and thousands of authors.
The people of McLean Bible church, fanning out through this city and pollinating people one person at a time for Jesus Christ. First Peter chapter 3. Listen to what Peter says. He says always be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks you why you're living the way that you are to put it another way, as we move around Washington DC as followers of Christ, we have to see it as our personal mission to be honeybees and pollinate people at our office in our neighborhood at our school, everywhere we go.
If we are going to be able to achieve our mission in the city. Now we can share Christ respectfully, we can share him courteously, we can share them kindly friends really get the job done would have to share Jesus boldly and without apology in the city to get this job done and you know what I like to say is what we ashamed what are we afraid of. We have the one message in the universe that will not only alter people's eternal destiny but will transform their lives. What are we afraid of a local call said he said I am not ashamed of the message of Jesus Christ. Why Paul because it is the power of God under salvation for everyone who believes in friends, this is what I want to challenge you and me to do. Yes, we want to follow Paul's strategy in the city. Yes, we want to pollinate honeybees moving through the city. That's how we can reach our country and reach our world but you know there's a personal element here. That means you and I have to be honeybees. We gotta step out.
We've got to share our faith.
We got pollinate the people everywhere we go. Or it's not going to happen have a lot of any of you guys ever heard of John hi say is that the guy from Jekyll and Nona know this a different guy this guy was a missionary, he was an English missionary to the country of India and John Hart was about halfway through his missionary career. He woke up one morning and he was praying and he and he asked God for something very unique. He never done this before. He said not God. As I go out today in the streets of India. I would ask you give me one person today that I can share my faith with and you know what he went out and got dating somebody so is that why would not go so the next thing you know we did. He woke up in the morning before he went out, he prays that God give me one person. I'm sure my faith with God every day. He began praying God give you one person. I'm sure my faith with you know what he got up to. After a while he started saying you had gotten into people I share my faith with Delgado. Then he started praying God to be three people I can share my faith with Gollum by the end of his missionary career John hi was praying every morning for four people a day that he could share his faith with an every day God gave them to him, and sometimes more.
In fact, he acquired the nickname because of all this. His friends began calling him praying hot. Praying high now friends. Just think what would happen if every single one of us here today every single person that comes to McLean Bible church. Every teenager, every adult, every child would pray and ask God, that every day to give us one person we could share our faith just think that means we would be sharing Jesus Christ with over 8000 people a day in Washington DC and if we did this seven days a week sharing Jesus with a new person every single day. Do you know how long it would take us to share Jesus with every single individual in metropolitan Washington 6 million people. It would take us do the math 612 days. That's not even two years and we by sharing Christ. Everyone of us.
One person the day we could share Christ with every single person in the city in less than two years is a long long.
God bless you son.
You are such a preacher this kind of stuff that happened today.
The pipedream got the news is coming out I was a missionary you know God does everything for missionary that he does for normal people that he doesn't do this, so you don't think so. My middle son Justin was a senior. JM you was home this weekend was telling me the story on Friday night.
He said that you know I was reading in the in the Bible have in devotions I was reading the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in the book of acts, and how God took Philip down just for this one guy and I began thinking you know what if God took this guy Philip and had one divine appointment for him with this unit. What why couldn't God do that for me recently so I got up that morning before I went to class and I said God give me one person. The day I could share my faith with he said well went to the day and nothing seemed to happen and he said that evening. He's doing some tutoring for freshmen and some subject to these good at anything. I had to start over my house and I'm tutoring him and is part of the conversation. He turned to me says to tell me he says here JM use the new party a lot and doesn't sit well I used to do some of that but I don't I don't really much anymore and the guy said why not just that I could not believe it is Gaia's tenure asking me why I don't and I said well you if I want to be perfectly honest with you it's because of Jesus Christ and what is done in my life and the kid said what and just as if you want to hear about and I'll tell you in the kid city I love to hear about the super half an hour.
He sat there. I don't think you charging for that half hour before half an hour.
He sat there any share Christ with his young freshman anything when the guy left and shut the door. Destinies that affect out of the chair and I symbol would you look at that that unbelievably said to himself. I asked for wanting God gave me one and friends. Ultimately God doesn't do this today.
Let me tell you if you want somebody to share Jesus with all Monday and if you want somebody on Tuesday, you'll get a gotta see to that. And it'll be effortless. You watch what God does is it a lot.
I love to do this. I love to do this but you know what I don't know how I know how to share my story succinctly.
I don't know how to defend my faith. I don't know how to explain to somebody else how they can asked Jesus into their life. We got something for you. It's called Christianity.
301. It's part of our McLean University series in eight weeks will teach you how to succinctly share your story will teach you how to defend your faith will teach you how to grill build bridges with people and how to share Christ with people if you want to know will help you, but friends I want to take seriously the challenge of John hi, I want you to take seriously the challenge of John hi just think if we asked the Lord to Gary. Give everyone of us. One person a day that we could share the Lord with just think what we could do in the city. Just think how we can impact this city for Jesus Christ and all you have to do. Everyone of us to share with one person, we could blow the city apart what I want to challenge you to think about… Want to challenge you to do more.
I want to challenge it either go take this sign up for 301 in the lobby. As soon as were done. If you need help in getting prepared or if you already know, I share your faith. I want to challenge you tomorrow morning when you walk at your house to say okay God give long son can do it I can do it give me one today Lord and just help me have the courage when one comes to open my mouth and folks. If we do that 612 days from now we can blow this whole city.
I hope you'll take the challenge seriously because I sprayed Jesus. Thanks for reminding us today that we live in the most strategic city in the world and forgive us Lord for taking for granted this incredible opportunity you've given us liberty in Washington's followers of Christ, right here in this city, we have the opportunity to change the world without ever leaving town God.
My prayer is that you would inspire us today you would motivate us today you would help us to understand that we are following this very same strategy that the apostle Paul himself all in seeking to pollinate the people of the city for Jesus Christ Lord make us faithful in doing that as many of us wake up tomorrow morning and say Lord give me one anyone today. I pray you would honor that God and that you would give us the courage you would give us the graciousness to share Christ with people in a way that would make sense to them. Lord help us to go out as honeybees in this city and help us to pollinate the people of this city so that we can see the world change for Jesus and we pray these things in Jesus name, amen