Summary: In order for everyone to benefit from the church the way God intends, we must know how we should relate to each other. This includes how the congregation should relate to the pastors and how the pastors should relate to the congregation.

How Christians Grow As a Group

I Thessalonians 5:9-13

Purpose: To show believers how to act toward other believers.

Aim: I want the listener to work at encouraging the leadership.

INTRODUCTION: Too many Christians come to church to get something. For most church goers the thought of connecting to and helping others in the church family rarely crosses their minds. If you are here just for what you can get out of this service then you are missing much of God’s purpose for you being here.

In order for everyone to benefit from the church the way God intends, we must know how we should relate to each other. This includes how the congregation should relate to the pastors and how the pastors should relate to the congregation.

This afternoon, for the first time in our 109 year history, we will be commissioning three elders to co-labor with the senior pastor here at Bethel Chapel Church.

In order to help us to see how this should work let’s look at our text for guidance.

➽Vs.9-10 I. God’s Eternal Plan for Believers

➽Vs.9-10a A. Safety from judgment “salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”

The judgment of God against sin could fall at any moment. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. (NAU)

What a joy to know that I am safe from God’s judgement because God’s wrath against my sin has already been poured out on Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53:10-11 10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, … 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. (NAU)

2 Thessalonians 2:14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NAU)

➽Vs.10b B. Unbroken fellowship “live together with Him”

When we are alive we are fellowshipping with Christ, when we are dead we will continue fellowshipping with Christ.

1 John 1:3 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (NAU)

If we are going to spend eternity fellowshipping with believers, why not learn how to do it now?

➽Vs.11 II. God’s Immediate Goal for Believers

There is a tendency among Christians to think that the important work of God should be done by the professionals, the ones who are paid. Christians tend, I think, to expect the leaders of the church to be entirely responsible for the health of the church. For example, if there is no revival, church members assume that the leaders need to do something different.

Some will even go so far as to say that the problem is the music, or the order of the service, or the length of the sermon, or anything else that only the leaders can change. Instead, Paul is putting the responsibility on every believer in the church. Every church member has two very important responsibilities:

➽ A. Encourage each other “encourage one another”

Encouragement comes from each other, not just from the pastors. David Guzik writes, "When we have our first interest in building up other Christians, then God will edify us. The vision is of a church full of active participants, not passive spectators." Do you consider yourself an active participant or passive spectator?

➽ B. Edify each other “build up one another”

Edify in the New Testament means, "build up, encourage, nurture one’s faith…"

What builds up believers?

Genuine love builds us up. 1 Corinthians 8:1 …Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. (NAU) Romans 15:2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. (NAU)

Biblical preaching builds us up. 1 Corinthians 14:3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. (NAU)

Godly conversation builds up. Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (NAU)

➽Vs.12-13 III. God’s Methods for Meeting that Goal

By this, I don’t mean that this is God’s ONLY way to protect our fellowship. But these next two verses give us an important aspect of how we can encourage and edify each other.

➽Vs.12 A. Show Appreciation to your leaders “appreciate those”

APPRECIATE AV - of the household 2, of (one’s) own house 1; 3 GK - 3858 oijkei`o" 1) belonging to a house or family, domestic, intimate 1a) belonging to one’s household, related by blood, kindred 1b) belonging to the household of God 1c) belonging, devoted to, adherents of a thing. [Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible: (electronic ed.). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.]

“[APPRECIATE] does not mean simple face recognition, but that the people are to lit. know their pastors well enough to have an intimate appreciation for them and to respect them because of their value.” [MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (1 Th 5:12). Nashville: Word Pub.]

1 Corinthians 16:18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men. (NAU)

What should we appreciate about our pastors?

➽ 1. Appreciate their Labor “diligently labor”

In secular Greek koŒpos means a. “beating” or the “weariness” caused by it, and b. the “exertion” (e.g., of manual work) that brings on physical tiredness. kopiaŒo, then, means “to tire,” “to wear oneself out.” The LXX uses it for tiring in battle (2 Sam. 23:10), for exertion in work (Josh. 24:13), and for the groans of the afflicted (Ps. 6:6).[Kittel, G. (1985; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996). Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed.) (p 453). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans.]

The point is that being a pastor is hard work. Men who take the position as a pastor expecting to receive honor will fail.

Notice: 1 Thessalonians 2:9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. (NAU)

A pastor must be self-disciplined. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9 not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. (NAU)

Elders, or pastors, who labor in the preparation and delivery of the Word are worthy of extra honor. 1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. (NAU)

Why tire yourself out serving the Lord? 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (NAU)

How can we continue wearing ourselves out for God?

1 Timothy 4:10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (NAU)

Colossians 1:29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (NAU)

The only way a pastor can labor as God wants him to is through dependence on God’s grace. 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (NAU)

➽ 2. Appreciate their Leadership “have charge over you”

Overseer or leader is one of the three offices of a pastor. Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: (NAU)

1 Peter 5:2-3 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. (NAU)

H. Gordon Selfridge built up one of the world’s largest department stores in London. He achieved success by being a leader, not a boss. Here is his own comparison of the two types of executives:

The boss drives his men; the leader coaches them.

The boss depends upon authority; the leader on good will.

The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.

The boss says “I”; the leader, “we.”

The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown.

The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how.

The boss says “Go”; the leader says “Let’s go!” [Sunshine Magazine Tan, Paul Lee, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, (Garland, Texas: Bible Communications, Inc.) 1996.]

Since the leadership in our text is “in the Lord” Paul is talking about spiritual leadership.

Do you appreciate spiritual leadership? What about at home? Ladies, praise your husband for the leadership he does show (even if you don’t agree with it), don’t criticize him for showing leadership.

What about church leadership? Hebrews 13:7, 17 7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (NAU)

Leaders have to walk a fine line between a strong conviction about truth and a passion to see believers grow. I Thessalonians 2:19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? (NAU) Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. (NAU)

➽ 3. Appreciate their Instruction “give you instruction”

A Father and his small son were out walking one day when the boy asked how electricity could go through the wires stretched between the telephone poles. “I don’t know,” said his father. “I never knew much about electricity.” A few blocks farther on, the boy asked what caused lightning and thunder. “That too has puzzled me,” came the reply. The youngster continued to inquire about many things, none of which the father could explain. Finally, as they were nearing home, the boy said, “Dad, I hope you didn’t mind all those questions.” “Not at all,” replied his father. “How else are you going to learn?” [Our Daily Bread, Friday, January 9 Multiple, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations, (Dallas, Texas: Biblical Studies Press) 2000.]

INSTRUCTION 3560 noutheteo { noo-thet-eh’-o} from the same as 3559; TDNT - 4:1019,636; v AV - warn 4, admonish 4; 8 GK - 3805 { nouqetevw } 1) to admonish, warn, exhort. [Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.]

This is the same as the word ADMONISH in verse 14.

Before we can teach each other we must first have:

➽ 1) Goodness

Romans 15:14a And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness… (NAU)

➽ 2) Knowledge

Romans 15:14b filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

➽ 3) A passion for Christ

Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. (NAU)

Matthew Henry said, “They must instruct them to do well, and should reprove when they do ill. It is their duty not only to give good counsel, but also to give admonition, to give warning to the flock of the dangers they are liable to, and reprove for negligence or what else may be amiss.” [from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.]

Years ago, after a celebrated international career on the stage, the world-famous violinist Jascha Heifetz became a professor of music at UCLA. When someone asked him why he had left the glamour of performing to become a teacher, Heifetz answered, “Violin-playing is a perishable art. It must be passed on; otherwise it is lost.” Then he went on to say, “I remember my old violin professor in Russia. He said that (if I worked hard enough) someday I would be good enough to teach.” [From a speech by William Graves, editor of National Geographic magazine, Speaker’s Idea File Multiple, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations, (Dallas, Texas: Biblical Studies Press) 2000.]

Teachers must work at learning. Dr. Howard Hendricks tells of a professor who made an impact on his life. He passed his home many times, early in the morning and late at night, and often saw him pouring over his books. One day, Hendricks asked him, “Doctor, I’d like to know, what is it that keeps you studying? You never cease to learn.”

His answer: “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than from a stagnant pool.” [Tan, Paul Lee, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, (Garland, Texas: Bible Communications, Inc.) 1996.]

➽Vs.13 B. Show affection to your leaders “esteem them very highly”

ESTEEM 2233 hegeomai { hayg-eh’-om-ahee}1) to lead 1a) to go before 1b) to be a leader 1b1) to rule, command 1b 2) to have authority over 1b3) a prince, of regal power, governor, viceroy, chief, leading as respects influence, controlling in counsel, overseers or leaders of the churches 1b4) used of any kind of leader, chief, commander 1b5) the leader in speech, chief, spokesman 2) to consider, deem, account, think. [Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.]

➽ 1. The amount “very highly”

Literally: “abundantly, out of bounds, beyond all measure”

➽ 2. The attitude “in love”

Not with the attitude, “Well, I guess, if I have to...”

➽ 3. The aim “because of their works”

Not because of their personality or talents or sense of humor.

➽ 4. Our action “Live in peace with one another”

When there is peace at home there will probably be peace at the church. Peaceful church members always make it easier on the leaders. The best way to show our appreciation to leaders is when we live peacefully with each other.

Sinful people are contentious people. Proverbs 7:10-11 10 And behold, a woman comes to meet him, Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. 11 She is boisterous and rebellious, Her feet do not remain at home; (NAU)

Quiet godliness allows God to work. 1 Peter 3:1-4 1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (NAU)

Romans 12:14-21 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NAU)

Romans 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. (NAU)

CONCLUSION: What does a coach look for most in an athlete? Shari Kuchenbecker and her team of research assistants from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles interviewed 658 coaches representing 43 sports. The athletes they coached ranged in age from 3 to 22. Across the board, Kuchenbecker says, coaches picked psychological factors over physical factors when asked what makes for a successful young athlete.

Responses like "loves to play," "positive attitude" and "self-motivated" far outnumbered responses like "strong" or "naturally athletic" or "physically gifted."

Unfortunately, parents don’t always realize that they should be putting the emphasis where the coaches put it - on qualities like attitude and enthusiasm. Instead, they put a lot of effort into sending the kid to special tutors or camps to work on their physical skills, failing to foster a simple enjoyment of the game.

"The No. 1 thing coaches want is a kid who loves to play. A kid who loves to play is fun to coach," she says. "But many parents assume that coaches want physical skills."

It’s the same in every area of life. Enthusiasm--or passion--makes the difference. In Revelation, the church at Ephesus was rebuked for losing their passion. They excelled in hard work and perseverance, but they had lost their first love.

Jesus wants from us what coaches want from their players, what employers want from their employees, and what husbands and wives want from their spouses--an attitude that says "I’m here because I want to be, not because I have to be." [(c) Copyright 2001 Alderson Press Corporation. All Rights Reserved.]

➽ There is no place for any loose stones in God’s building. Joseph Hall [Thomas, I. (1996). The golden treasury of Puritan quotations. Includes index of authors. General index created by Christian Clasics Foundation. (electronic ed.). Simpsonville SC: Christian Classics Foundation.]