Summary: A sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-4
Sermon for 1/4/2003
In 1972, a group of international industrial leaders and thinkers, called the Club of Rome, suggested six proposals that humanity must put into effect if we are to survive on this planet. I will only share the first, very significant proposal, with you: "The survival of this planet necessitates new forms of thinking that will lead to a fundamental revision of human behavior, and, by implication, of the entire fabric of present-day society." That simply says that if we cannot discover how to change people, there is no hope for saving the world from ultimate collapse. In the immortal words of Pogo, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." There is no way out unless society can find a means of fundamentally changing human beings.
A. Last week we talked about our mission statement: To share our lives with the gospel to saints and sinners.
B. This is based on 1 Thessalonians 2:8 and everything we do needs to focus on this. How is this going to help us in our mission? How is this going to help us share our lives with the gospel?
C. Going to start a series on 1 Thessalonians.
1. Vs. 1
a. Paul was the missionary to the Gentiles. Thessalonica was one of 4 capital cities in Macedonia.
b. Silas, Paul’s partner in planting churches, since Barnabas and Paul split up.
c. Timothy, a young evangelist whom they had recruited earlier in this journey.
d. Paul, Silas and Timothy spent at most 3 months in this city until they were forced out. Talk about this more when we get to chapter 2.
e. While they were ministering in Corinth further south, Paul sends Timothy back to encourage and strengthen the Christians in Thessalonica. Timothy has just returned and he gives his report to Paul. Inspired and concerned about things at this church, Paul writes his first letter contained in the New Testament to the Christians there.
f. Paul is the main speaker but he has input from Timothy and Silas.
2. Vs. 2
a. Paul, as all Christians should, had a daily prayer time.
b. Our prayers should not be a list of needs but should contain more praises and thanksgiving.
c. Instead of critizing our brothers and sisters in Christ, Paul thanked God for them.
d. I thank God even for Christians who have caused me grief. Two reasons: They have helped me grow in my faith and trust. They have helped me to see how not to live the Christian life.
e. However, his relationship with the Christian in Thessalonica is not one of grief as we see in vs. 3.
3. Vs. 4
a. We come to this term “Election” or NIV God has chosen you. Two extremes to be avoided:
1. God has chosen me; I had no say in it. Before I was formed, God determined whether I was saved or whether I was condemned. God doesn’t make junk. Tell the story of the first funeral I preached. We do play a part.
2. However, we also should not fall into the trap that we saved ourselves. Heaven forbid! Come on up here and save yourself. God does play a big part. We play a little part but God is the one who saves us.
b. Salvation begins with God. The entire plan of salvation was born in the heart of God long before man was created or the universe formed.
c. Salvation involves God’s grace. God’s love saves us. Not completely true. God’s love made Calvary possible, and there Jesus Christ died for my sins. But it is not God’s love that saves the sinner; it is God’s grace. God in his grace gives us what we do not deserve, and God in His mercy does not give us what we do deserve. This explains why Paul opens his letters this way. IT begins with God’s grace and when we have God’s grace we have God’s peace.
d. Salvation involves faith. Without faith on each individual’s part, salvation is not given. Paul, Silas and Timothy brought the Gospel to Thessalonica and preached in the power of God. Some people heard the message and believed. They turned from their idols to the true and living God. We are saved by grace through faith.
e. Salvation involves the Godhead. Got this from Warren Wiersbe. The trinity or the Godhead is the belief in one God existing in three Persons. All three persons are involved in our salvation. This will help us to avoid the extremes:
1. As far as God the Father is concerned, we were saved when He chose us in Christ before the world began.
2. As far as God the Son is concerned, we were saved when He died for us on the cross.