Summary: Paul revealed the 3 secrets of the success of the Thessalonian Church: their experiential faith, their candid lifestyles, and their focusing on the coming of Jesus. Every successful church should use them as a model.
RESCUED FROM THE WRATH TO COME
1 Thess. 1:1-10
A. HUMOR: THE SANDWICHES
1. One time Angela & I went into a pizza place in a small town to eat. They only had Pepsi, but Angela had a fountain coke in the car, so I went & got it. The manager refused to let us drink the Coke (though we were spending $20 on pizza), because they had an exclusive contract with Pepsi! 2. This happened to Boudreaux and Thibodeaux, but you know, they’re sly from their knowledge of the swamps!
3. Boudreaux and Thibodeaux walked into a Burger King and ordered a couple of drinks. They then took sandwiches from paper bags they had brought with them and began to eat.
4. Seeing this, the owner approached them and said, "Excuse me, but you can’t eat YOUR OWN sandwiches in here!"
5. So Boudreaux and Thibodeaux looked at each other, shrugged and exchanged sandwiches with each other!
Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. 2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1. The Church at Thessalonica was known to be one of the healthiest churches in the New Testament era, even though Paul and Silas were only there 3 weeks! (Acts 17:2)
2. In addition, this church experienced terrible persecution almost immediately and as a new church had to keep going without leadership.
3. Here Paul describes the reasons for their success. Let’s read and use them as a pattern for ourselves.
4. The title of this message is “Rescued from the Wrath to Come.”
I. FORMATION AS SONS/ DAUGHTERS
A. WORKING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (5-6)
Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters loved by God…he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with…[3 things]”
1. POWER. [Recently our power was out 3 days]
a. When the electricity goes out, none of the systems we depend on will work: the air conditioner, refrigerator, the stove, the lights, the television, the microwave, etc.
b. But when the power comes back on – what a difference. The dark & gloomy home becomes lit up with light and stirred with new air!
c. Just as dramatic is a dark and gloomy LIFE when the power of God comes on! Everything changes. There’s a dramatic difference between having that power and not having that power!
2. THE HOLY SPIRIT.
a. We have earthly life because we were born of our mothers, but if we wish to have God’s heavenly life, we must be born a second time – of the Holy Spirit!
b. Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” John 3:6-7.
c. Paul said that one evidence of the divine sonship of the Thessalonians was the coming of the Holy Spirit in them.
3. DEEP CONVICTION. The word “deep” means “extending far down from the top or surface.” The reality of God wasn’t just a surface thing, but went to the heart of what they were. Every aspect of their lives was penetrated by God!
B. CONFORMED TO IMAGE OF CHRIST (6-7)
1. “You became IMITATORS of us and of the Lord.” Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 2. We are GOING TO be conformed to the pattern of the world…unless we make the deliberate decision pattern ourselves after something else – the Word of God and great Christians. The Thessalonians DID this!