Summary: When we evaluate any church, we are actually evaluating the individuals who make up that church. We have heard it said numerous times, the local church is only as strong as its members. It is only as faithful as its members. The most revealing question fo
The Exemplary Church
Text: verse 10
“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” -1 Thessalonians 1:3-10
This epistle to the Thessalonians was written by the apostle Paul to a church that he had planted. The theme of this book is without doubt the Second Coming of Christ. For in every chapter, we find an exhortation that we ought to take heed to in light of the soon appearing of our Great God and Saviour –the Lord Jesus. The message is clear: the fact that Christ could return at any moment should have a motivating effect on God’s people. The fact that you and I could stand before the Lord before this day is finished, should have a purifying effect upon us! The book of Thessalonians highlights the impact this truth should have on every local church.
The church at Thessalonica was an extraordinary church. In Acts chapter 17, we read how this church began. It is amazing to think that this local assembly was the fruit of 30 days labour. For one month, the apostle Paul ministered in Thessalonica. But oh how effective those 30 days were! In one month, the church was started, built up and established! After one month, Paul leaves behind a church that is rooted, grounded and growing in the Lord!
This incredible demonstration of God’s mighty power might explain why this church was described as being “ensamples to all that believe” –verse 7. As we consider this passage in 1 Thessalonians, think about this thought: The Exemplary Church.
When we think of exemplary churches, the Bible gives us many great examples. We read of the Jerusalem Church and the Church at Antioch. In the epistles we find the churches of Galatia, of Corinth, Philippi, and of Rome. But there is one church in particular that the Bible specifically identifies as an exemplary church. That church is this church at Thessalonica.
Like every believer, a church is one of two things. It is either active or inactive. It is red hot or lukewarm. Paul writes to this congregation to commend them for their faithfulness. They were abounding in the work of the Lord. They were doing what they knew was right and serving God in a pure conscience.
*KEEP IN MIND* Abounding in the work of the Lord is one step away from abandoning the work in complacency. When we evaluate any church, we are actually evaluating the individuals who make up that church. We have heard it said numerous times, the local church is only as strong as its members. It is only as faithful as its members. So as we consider the exemplary church, I ask you: “What type of believer are you? Active or inactive? Red hot or lukewarm? The most revealing question for us to consider is this: If everyone in this church was just like me – what type of church would this be?
Paul writes this epistle and in essence says to them, “Stay on target! Continue doing what you are doing! Stay faithful!” They were an exemplary church. So the question then is raised, “What made them such examples?” Exactly what was it about them that qualified them to be ensamples to us all? The apostle Paul reveals three reasons in verse 3.
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.”