Summary: When the priority of people in a church focuses on the love of Jesus Christ the reputation of that church will be missions and ministry.
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
A fellowship of faith, family and friendships.
August 24, 2003
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 (KJV)
How would you describe an exemplary church? Does it have anything to do with buildings, budgets or programs?
In our study of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonican church last week (1:5-7) we noticed the apostle called them ensamples, or "example"; a "model" church. Paul had brought the gospel to Europe. He spoke words to the people who would become the church there in Macedonia. But while Paul spoke words to their minds, it was the Holy Spirit touching their hearts. This is how we are to receive God’s Word. An exemplary church receives God’s Word.
Despite severe suffering caused by their commitment, the believers at Thessalonica pressed on, becoming a model of gospel sharers. The word "ensample" (v.7) is, in the language of the New Testament, tupos, the word from which we get our word for "type" as in typewriter. The molded character on the typewriter key strikes the ribbon against the paper, and the symbol is reproduced. These people had accepted Christ, and His Holy Spirit impacted them like the key of a typewriter; it so mold them into His image that Paul called them the "prototype" for what a believing church ought to be. When the love of Jesus is first priority, ministry and missions will be the reputation of the church. This was the secret of Paul’s great love for the church at Thessalonica.
With that in mind, let’s look over the apostle’s shoulder and see the characteristics of an exemplary church. They were…
I. People who SPOKE-UP
Verse 8 is the key: "The Lord’s message rang out from you..."(NIV) These folks were living the gospel and telling the gospel. "Rang out" is exeôcheomai -- we get our word "echo". It means "THUNDERED"; it gives the sense of a late August thunderclap reverberating after the lightning hits.
A country preacher visited the mountains and went to see the famous "echo canyon". It had the reputation of being the one place on earth where you got the clearest and truest echo of any words hollered out. The preacher found he was alone, so he hollered "Hello". The canyon echoed back in clarity, "Hello". Again the preacher bellowed, "Goodbye"; the answer resounded in absolute clarity and true pitch, "Goodbye". Looking around to make certain he was alone, the preacher let it all out, "You are the greatest preacher that ever lived!" Came the answer - "Baloney!"
The message which rang out from Thessalonica was the gospel - the word of the Lord. It rang so clearly, was so evident in their lives, and constantly on their lips, that it was spread throughout the region. There is a good reason why this happened - actually two reasons: