Summary: as individuals and as a church, we must always be IN Christ
Last week we noted how effective the Missionaries Paul, Silas, and Timothy were to the Thessalonians. What can we note about this church in Thessalonica?
Open your Bibles to the First Letter to the Thessalonians….
Look at Chapter 1 of 1 Thessalonians v7-8: Through the apostle Paul, God states to the Thessalonian Church, And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia--your faith in God has become known everywhere.
God loved the Thessalonian Church! As we continue as a church, how will God see us in the end?
The gospel was shared effectively and the Thessalonians became an effective church. From our passage today, what significant things can we note about the Thessalonian church? We should be encouraged to be an effective church as well, but we must not be ignorant of what should and can happen to good churches.
Before reading our passage, let us pray our commitment to God’s Word…
Read along with me now 1 Thessalonians 2:14-20………
We read in v14 that the Thessalonian church became like the first Christian Churches which started with Jesus Christ Himself in Judea, where Jerusalem is located.
What can we note about the Thessalonian Church which imitated the first Christian churches?
v14: in Christ Jesus
Again as we noted from the beginning of the letter, the Thessalonian Church truly belonged to Jesus Christ! True Christians are in Christ and so true Christian Churches are in Christ. You see, a church, even those who call themselves “Christian”, can be in something else besides in Christ; we’ll talk more about this in our applications.
So God notes that the Thessalonian church became an imitator of the first churches in Christ. Does this mean they were doing everything just like those original churches? We note that in context, (v14-16) the Thessalonian Church became imitators not because they followed everything the original churches did, but because they persevered through persecution by their community.
How did the persecution happen?
- Prophets were killed and preachers driven out!
- Obstruction to the Gospel message were made wherever possible
There will always be opposition to Christianity on earth. Good effective churches will persevere!
But what can we learn from v17-20?
Paul, Silas, and Timothy longed to be with
- the Thessalonian Church, who were growing in their faith!
You see, - there is love and encouragement in spiritual growth
But in spite of the strong faith in Jesus Christ of the missionaries and the church, what do we note in v18? It does not tell us how he did it, but The devil hates spiritual growth in Christ and will do his utmost to stop it!
What Biblical Principles can we apply to us?
The Thessalonian Church was effective because they were in Christ! And as we noted, Churches are in Christ because the people are in Christ. What about us? A church in Christ will only happen when individuals are in Christ!
1. Each one of us must commit to be in Christ! (to be a Christian, one must be in Christ!)
What does this mean? To be in Christ means to belong to Christ! We are to say to ourselves everyday “I belong to Jesus Christ!”
How important is this? As we live our lives, we can be in all sorts of other things besides Christ, can’t we?
And when we are in those other things, we are really saying we belong to those things.
Can we belong to things or persons above Jesus Christ? Can other things or persons possess us above Christ?
We must commit and recommit to Jesus Christ as our Only Creator, Savior, and Lord! We are to say often, “I belong to Christ!”
But, should we all live like monks? It is a matter of priorities isn’t it? Many of us are married. We all have jobs here on earth. We all have family and friends. We all need rest and relaxation! Most of us have to deal with snow coming our way soon!
You see, we can and we should be involved in many things in life because God gave us life to live on earth; but we are to constantly ask, “Is Jesus Christ involved in all these things I’m in and am I allowing Him to be Lord in all these wonderful things?”
And again, individuals in Christ will make a church in Christ.
2. Our church must be committed to be in Christ, belonging only to Christ! 2000 years ago many churches were still in the Jewish faith and rituals. Today, churches can be in many things (many are good; things like music, dramas, counseling, family ministry, social concerns are examples). Like churches 2000 years ago, churches today can be into rituals rather than actual worship in Christ!