Summary: A discussion based study of 1 Thess. 1:1-10
The Church that Made an Impact: HOW the Thessalonian Church Made an Impact Series
Series: 1 Thessalonians
NOTE: This is the second lesson of an extended Bible study of the book of 1 Thessalonians. Each lesson includes discussion questions. Some are open ended questions which require no guidance or correction designed to just get the participants thinking. Some offer suggested possible answers to make sure they are included in the discussion, or correct answers for questions that have only right or wrong answers. Most lessons extend over more than one week; some several weeks if the discussion is good.
TEXT: Read all of 1 Thessalonians 1.
The church of Thessalonica was truly an exemplary church. This letter to the Thessalonians is one of the few letters not written to address some doctrinal error or wrong behavior in a New Testament church.
-- 1 CORINTHIANS was written to set the Corinthian church right on several sins and doctrinal fallacies that had arisen in the Corinthian church. – These included such as division over their leaders, the open immorality of one of its members, members going to court against one another, the abuse of spiritual gift, abuse of the Lord’s Table and false teaching on the doctrine of the resurrection.
-- Paul wrote to the GALATIANS to correct the doctrinal error of mixing faith with works.
COLOSSIANS was written to combat a false philosophy called Gnosticism that had crept into the church, a subject also addressed by John in his three epistles.
But 1 Thessalonians was not written to deal with any known doctrinal error or wrong conduct on the part of the Thessalonians. Note verse 7 – “So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.”
The word ensamples is the Greek word tupos, which literally means “an impression; the mark of a blow; the impress of a seal; the stamp made by a die.” Paul was not just saying that they had been GOOD EXAMPLES, though they were that. Paul was saying that they had made a GREAT IMPACT, or they had made a TREMENDOUS IMPRESSION, upon all the believers throughout all the regions of Macedonia and Achaia. This would be like our church making such an impact in Germany that churches all over the Bavaria heard about us.
Now, there are essentially two basic types of churches: The church nobody ever hears about except in a bad way, cares about, or really wants to go to. The second kind of church is the one that people have heard about in a good way; which has made a positive impression; that the lost are curious about visiting; and dedicated, zealous believers want to be a part of.
That’s the kind of church the church at Thessalonica was. That’s the kind of church I want Grace Baptist to be.
In our study, we want to look at two things. First, HOW the church of Thessalonica made an impact (this week and next). Second, we will look at WHY the Thessalonian church made an impact.
So tonight, let’s jump in and look at the characteristics of the church at Thessalonica that made such an impact on surrounding churches.
I. THE CHURCH OF THESSALONICA MADE AN IMPACT BECAUSE IT HAD A MIND TO WORK – Verses 2-3 – “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.”
Q. What does Paul point out here that tells us how they made such an impact?
I would summarize it this way: The Thessalonian church had a mind to work.
I have never seen a lazy church that made any impact for the Lord. A church that will impact its community, that leaves an indelible impact on the lives of its own members, is one that has members who say, “I want to be on the team and I want to be on the first string.”
Most churches have five types of people, or will have them eventually:
1) Some are SQUABBLERS.
They are negative and critical people—and are very destructive to a local church. They’re too busy criticizing the way things are being done than to actually do anything themselves.
2) Some are STRUGGLERS.
They have so many needs that they don’t (can’t) do much for the Lord. They’re the ones who need a lot of support to help them through their problems; and who pour out their burdens others. They need this for a time, but sometimes they can have a self-centered focus and can sap the energy of those trying to minister to them. There’s a fine balance: they NEED a ministry of compassion and care, but also they need to be taught to be victors in Christ and brought to greater maturity.