Summary: Supernatural boldness in church planting validates authentic ministry when based on pure motives and proper conduct (the marks of Spirit-filled church planters).
As we reach the end of our first month of attempting to plant a church and as we study the NT model for church planting from the Book of 1 Thessalonians, we need to ask ourselves if we are too tentative. What is impressive from studying Paul and Silas and Timothy is their confidence and boldness in going about their mission. They had a very clear sense of what needed to be accomplished. They were able to focus the majority of their efforts on the proclamation of the gospel and reaching out to witness to the unsaved. They were not overly consumed with organizational details or the conduct and structure of their meetings. They wanted to establish contact with people who needed to hear the truth of God’s wonderful plan of salvation. They allowed the organizational details to develop as needed but they did not create an empty shell and then try to fill it.
They were especially characterized by a Supernatural Boldness – something that was not drummed up from their own inner courage or manufactured from some type of positive thinking mantra. But a boldness that the Holy Spirit produced within them that stood the test of whatever type of opposition and persecution came their way. Paul apparently faced attacks from false teachers who had crept into the church and were out for their own selfish gain rather than humbly serving for the glory of God. He describes here the character of his ministry and stresses his own integrity of motives (look at that this week) and conduct (look at 3 different role models of conduct next week from vv.6-10) to show that his ministry was commended by God and authentic. So this is a two week message.
SUPERNATURAL BOLDNESS IN CHURCH PLANTING VALIDATES AUTHENTIC MINISTRY WHEN BASED ON PURE MOTIVES AND PROPER CONDUCT (THE MARKS OF SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH PLANTERS)
I. (:1-2) SUPERNATURAL BOLDNESS IN CHURCH PLANTING CAN BE IDENTIFIED
Illustration: Just as you use a highlighter pen to make something important stand out, God uses persecution to highlight the true character of a godly ministry. Persecution highlights supernatural boldness instead of hindering it.
Why is Boldness so essential?
So my answer to the first question (Why is boldness necessary?) is that it keeps our lives from being in vain. It makes our lives effective and fruitful and significant. It brings change into people's lives and leads them on toward courage in Christ. And nothing is more significant than leading people toward Christ and his Kingdom.
A. Impressive Church Planting Ministry in Thessalonica --
Converts Can Recognize Supernatural Boldness in Proclaiming the Gospel (Paul appeals to the experiential knowledge of the Thess. converts)
3 Parts to Paul’s Argument here:
1. Emphasizes their first-hand knowledge of the facts
("you yourselves know")
they do not need Paul or anyone else to point out the details of what had transpired; there
should be no revisionist history; let the historical account speak for itself; can’t be disputed; they should have been able to refute Paul’s detractors without any help from Paul
2. Appeals to them as "brethren" -- equal family members – How did this come about?
They need to remember who led them into this privileged family relationship; they needed to value the bonds of fellowship created by the Holy Spirit
3. Focuses attention on the Power and Earnestness of the Church Plant
"our coming to you was not in vain") not empty or hollow or ineffective
Context is looking at the character of their ministry efforts;
They were truly Channels Only – with the Holy Spirit working through them;
Look at who had taken the initiation to minister and had borne all of the hardship –
It would not be proper for them to now entertain the attacks of false teachers – unless
something was wrong with Paul’s motives or conduct
Look at how powerfully they ministered the gospel in trying circumstances
Look at the fruit of changed lives (earlier messages) that only God could have produced
Is God actively at work in our lives and in what we are trying to accomplish as a church?
B. Perseverance Despite Persecution is the Key
1. At Philippi
“but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know”
We find it difficult if people are criticizing us or saying things that we feel are not justified; or attacking our motives or character … Paul faced these attacks constantly … and on top of that had all of the physical abuse and suffering and the constant threat of death; nothing distracted him from his mission as the Apostle to the Gentiles; nothing made him quit or think that it wasn’t worth it
Don’t be surprised by suffering and mistreatment … don’t seek to avoid it at all costs
2. At Thessalonica ("amid much opposition") – driven out of the city and pursued to Berea where the same troublemakers came after them