Summary: What kind of person shares his faith in Jesus Christ with his community? Six observations on how Paul did so.
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
A fellowship of faith, family and friendships.
September 7, 2003
As we wind our way through this part of the Bible, we are tracing the personal journal and journeys of Paul. We note that he was an apostle, an itinerant preacher, church planter and statesman of the early church. One other undeniable descriptive title we must apply to the man is EXEMPLARY WITNESS!
It is important for us to learn about this from Paul. The Great Commission (1) "marching orders" of the church are to go and make disciples. We have taken for ourselves here at Cedar Lodge Baptist Church a PURPOSE STATEMENT which accepts those marching orders; namely that we will fulfill that Great Commission by pursuing missions and ministry; "pursuing" means going hard after something.
Paul did plenty of both - going…and winning folks to faith in Jesus Christ. His methodology was simple; he was a witness of all that Jesus did in changing Paul from God’s enemy to God’s friend. Paul became an exemplary witness, and we should take our example from him. In this passage I find six OBSERVATIONS about exemplary witnesses who share their faith in Jesus with our community and culture; they…
I. LIVE EFFECTIVELY
1You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure. 1 Thessalonians 2:1
People who live effectively for Jesus Christ are the heavyweights who make a difference in the Kingdom. Paul was a guy who started either a riot or a revival wherever he found himself. There were always results, never indifference to the ministry of Paul. Largely, the results depended upon the people (whether it was a riot or revival), because Paul’s message never changed.
Gordon Maxwell was a Christian worker in India. People respected him because he worked hard. His Christian character was evident to everyone. One day, Maxwell asked a Hindu man to teach him one of the local tribal languages. The Hindu man said, "No Gordon, because if I do that, you’ll convert us all to Christianity." Gordon said, "No, you don’t understand. All I want you to do is to teach me the language, so I can make more friends here." But the Hindu man said, "No, I will not, for no one can live with you and not become a Christian." (2)
Can you imagine how exciting it would be if the word got around Thomasville that if you want to avoid getting saved and having your life so radically changed that the blessings turn you into a walking-talking billboard for the God-life, then you need to stay away from Cedar Lodge? How wonderful it would be to have THAT kind of reputation! That, my friends, is living effectively!
II. LIVE BRAVELY
2You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, even though we were surrounded by many who opposed us. 1 Thessalonians 2:2
We are near the two-year anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy. In these 24 months we have come to associate the words courage and bravery with many images. Most of us know someone who has served in the war against terrorism, or has suffered because of the events. Living with bravery is not an option these days.
It has never been an option for Christians. Paul fought opposition his whole life because he was committed to Christ. Acts 16 records the beatings and humiliating public trials of Paul and Silas. In spite of it all, Paul refused to back off declaring the Gospel when he got to Thessalonica.
What about us? We have no Roman soldiers with sharp-tipped swords and spears to threaten. Living bravely hardly equates with Paul’s kind of dangers. His life was threatened often; he was beaten with a whip made of several strands of leather with metal or glass pieces tied to the ends. He was imprisoned in harsh circumstances (much worse than the "cable TV-less" Davidson county jail). Paul was shipwrecked and almost drowned, bitten by snakes, hated by his own family for the sake of living bravely for Christ. What about us?
Most of us agree that the Ten Commandments and should not be taken out of schools or Alabama courthouses; I am one who also agrees. So, we whine about it, and sign email petitions to get it corrected.
Is that living bravely? My friend, running to the Constitution to protect our rights to put up a monument, or protect a student’s right to pray is small potatoes next to the millions of Christian church members who never use the right they have to open their mouths and share Christ with a neighbor who would be glad to listen. Most of us do not live bravely when it comes to being the witness Christ has called us to be. Most of us are not pursuing (going hard after) ministry and missions when it comes to telling the Good News - not like Paul did. And we should!