Summary: In this sermon, we work through the first chapter and learn the characteristics that made the church of the Thessalonians a model church.
A. No doubt you have heard a preacher say, “If you ever find the perfect church, please don’t join it. If you do, it won’t be perfect anymore!” Right?
B. I came across a poem based on that statement. It goes like this:
“If you should find the perfect church, without one spot or sore.
For goodness sake! Don’t join that church! For it won’t be perfect anymore.
If you should find the perfect church, where all anxieties cease.
Then pass it by, lest you join it, and mar the masterpiece.
But since no perfect church exists, with perfect women and men,
Let’s stop looking for that church, and start loving the church that we’re in.”
C. That sounds like a great plan, don’t you think?
1. Let’s love the church we are in and strive to make it the best it can be.
2. Even though there are no perfect churches, some churches are closer to the New Testament ideal than others, both in doctrine and in discipleship.
3. We certainly want to strive to be as close to the ideal as possible.
D. The church at Thessalonica was not a perfect church, but they were closer to the ideal than many.
1. In this first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul praises the church for many things, and he holds them up as a model for us to follow.
2. So what can we learn from the Thessalonians about being a model church?
3. What characteristics did Paul praise that we should be striving toward?
F. Let’s work our way through the first chapter and see what lessons God would want us to learn.
G. Before we get into the body of the chapter, let’s notice something about Paul’s salutation.
1. As was typical of first century letters, including Paul’s letters, the proper form began with identifying the author – who was writing the letter, and then identifying the recipient – who was to receive the letter, and then ended with giving a simple greeting.
2. So Paul began this letter like this: 1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.
a. Paul, Silas and Timothy were well known to the Thessalonians. They had all been a part of starting the church in Thessalonica, and Paul had sent Timothy back to check on the church after they all had to abruptly leave because of persecution.
1. It is significant that Paul made no mention of his apostleship as he did in the introduction of many of his letters – perhaps he didn’t because his apostolic status was not being questioned.
2. Paul simply and humbly identified himself and his co-laborers as if they were all equals.
b. Then Paul identified the recipients as the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. We who are in the church don’t just know about God and Jesus, we are in a union with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ – What a privilege that is!
c. Paul concluded the salutation with his common greeting “Grace and peace to you.”