Summary: Serving God means more than passive compliance; it also takes proactive zeal. This zeal shows itself in many ways, but today we will look at only two.
1. Sometimes we have to create words to express concepts in the Bible, but words the Bible does not use, like The Bible, Trinity, Theology, Services, and mentoring, to name a few.
2. But, when possible, it is usually best to stick with Biblical terminology. It can make a big difference.
3. This is true with the word "zeal." Many of you know that I am not too crazy about the word "passion" when used as a synonym for zeal. The Sargento family’s "Our Family’s Passion is Cheese" or a local business "Passion for Cheesecake" demonstrates how this term can be used for the most shallow of interests.
4. But zeal, that’s a Biblical word and the word we want when it comes to God and the things of God. It is the word the Bible uses.
5. The dictionary defines zeal as, "Enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance."
6. I like cheese and cheesecake, but I am not going to engage in tireless diligence to further it. But I am willing to get tired for the Lord, to be devote to the Lord, and to try to further His Kingdom.
7. Zeal without knowledge is not a good thing:
"It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way." Prv. 19:2
Romans 10:2 speaks of zealous but unbelieving Jews, "For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge."
8. Knowledge without zeal is equally inadequate. In Revelation 3 (vs. 3-5), Jesus says this to the church at Ephesus:
"You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."
9. The Thessalonian believers seemed to have a good dose of both. Their zeal was channeled toward obtaining knowledge and then living out what they learned.
Main Idea: Serving God means more than passive compliance; it also takes proactive zeal. This zeal shows itself in many ways, but today we will look at only two.
I. EAGERNESS for the Word (13)
A. They did not confuse the Word with the MESSENGERS of the Word
1. When you share God’s Word with someone, you are far from perfect; all of God’s human leaders are sinners, except for God incarnate, Jesus Christ
2. When I share God’s Word with someone, I am far from perfect
3. But God’s Word is perfect and authoritative despite my weaknesses and despite your weaknesses…
4. Paul was thankful for this! A zealous desire to hear God’s Word is often the exception, not the rule…
5. "… which is at work in you believers" (HS uses the Word; just studying the Word can have a transforming influence)
B. They accepted it as the Word of GOD
1. Not simply "someone’s interpretation" or "what my church teaches"
2. If we cannot be sure about what the Word says -- at least in key areas -- then everything comes down to "who says?" (as cited by Dave Guzik)
3. Jimmy Carter and the role of women in the church/family
4. We believe is verbal plenary inspiration
5. Many people believe
• the Bible is an inspiring book, but not an inspired book;
• contains some truths but it also contains errors, even in the originals;
• strips the Bible of any authority; rather than the Word of God, a book of suggestions.
6. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, if Satan gets us to doubt the truth of God’s Word, he has breached the dyke and we may as well prepare for the flood…
C. Their eagerness made the Word EXCITING to them
1. They realized what many of us have perhaps forgotten: that the God of the universe has bothered to communicate with us in writing!
2. You share Christ with a buddy at work and he thinks you are looking down on him, perhaps because we have lost our enthusiasm for the Word; if we are authentically excited, others can tell. Rather than being disgusted at the lost condition of the lost, we should be more excited about what God is doing in our lives…
Serving God means more than passive compliance; it also takes proactive zeal.
II. Willingness to Endure HARDSHIP for Christ (14-16)
A. First century Christians were MARKED (14)
B. Gospel prophecies were fulfilled via PERSECUTION (15-16)
1. Christ’s death was a persecution…yet it accomplished God’s purpose
2. The believers in Acts were scattered because of persecution…their movement seeded the church like a cluster of dandelion seeds blown by the wind…