Summary: Summary: We are all called to preach the gospel, and be a witness for Christ; yet many find this difficult, I especially, so how do we proceed in this high calling. Read on!!!
This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s in Maybole,
Ayrshire, Scotland on the 2nd November 2014
(a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
Summary: We are all called to preach the gospel, and be a witness for Christ; yet many find this difficult, I especially, so how do we proceed in this high calling. Read on!!!
“Please join me in my prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord. Amen. (Ps. 19:14)
Today we continue our study into Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, where the theme of today’s service is on being a witness for Christ or Evangelism. This is a difficult teaching and open to interpretation; … and I can only give you my views of this calling … although I will be constantly referring to Paul’s letters. … I am personally rather cautious on this subject, so please don’t be offended if your views are differ, we can still respect each other.
You remember our labour and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word, which is also at work in you believers.
In my sermon two weeks ago, we looked at the church at Thessalonica in Northern Greece that was established by Paul and his disciples, and at the background of this church in a city full of greed, vice and corruption. Yet against all odds, Paul managed to preach the gospel … where many were converted to the Lord, putting behind them all their old ways.
But it wasn't all success, as the church came under great persecution from establishment, the Jews … who accused them of heresy. … In fact; it became so heated that Paul was forced to flee for his life to Athens … and it was here he sent Timothy to go and check on the Thessalonians and to report back, and this is his letter of response.
So from chapter 1 we see that Paul was delighted by this church, and despite persecution, they were still witnessing their faith to others. 1st Thessalonians 1 verse 8 says “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia … your faith in God has become known everywhere. So they really were a remarkable church.
But every church that belongs to the Lord can be a remarkable church if they strive to do the Lord's will … although we know that not every church will accomplish the same results; nor will every church grow large in numbers. In fact some of the Lord’s most successful churches in the world today are made up of just a few members; because it is not the size of the congregation that is important, but it is the development and faithfulness of its members to do what Lord wants, that bring him all the honour and glory.
This week we look at how Paul lived his life, and how that made him an example for others, to follow, that we too may become effective witnesses for the Lord.
Verses 9 & 10 says, "For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you … we preached unto you the gospel of God. … Ye are witnesses and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe”:
From this text we see a three part building plan on how to be an effective witness that others may be inspired … and I am aware the we have acquired some of these virtues … and what I am about to speak may not be your particular calling … nor mine.
1. Our lives in the community.
We start by looking at how others see “the way we live”. … Now Paul had established the church at Thessalonica some years previous to this letter … he knew the area well and he knew the type of people that lived there, some of which were con artists and charlatans … and this made things difficult for Paul … because as an apostle he had every right to request that the church support him financially.