Summary: Changed Lives (the mark of faithful disciples) spur thanksgiving because they confirm God’s election (and our faith).
Christianity is about the power of the gospel to change lives. The death and resurrection of Christ are the keys to the gospel message and the keys to unleashing the power of God in our lives. Jesus died to deliver us from our sins and introduce us to a new life of holiness. We have been made a new creation and we are now growing to become more like Jesus Christ. The good news is that we died with Jesus Christ. And “As Christ was raised from the dead . . . so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). That is radical truth … life transforming reality. How do we know whether we are really a genuine believer or not??
Fake Christians . . . Hypocritical Christians . . . merely Professing Christians are deceived when they imagine that they have some form of personal relationship with Jesus Christ but without a Changed Life. Yet many evangelicals today teach such a powerless gospel. They expect very little in the way of the fruit of the Holy Spirit from those in their church. Sadly Christ will one day reject these satanic counterfeits and expose them as being outside of the kingdom of God. No fruit … No root / No changed life … No Union with Jesus Christ – it’s that simple.
It’s sad to see many genuine believers sit under the teaching of the bible for many years and yet grow so little in their faith and in their character. Why is that? Too much fascination with doctrinal truth and too little heart application and exercise of spiritual ministry. Christ did not produce armchair disciples. We should be here this morning because we want to be changed even more. Hopefully we can look back and see how God has been working in our life; but we are not satisfied. We have not arrived. We want to see more spiritual fruit. We want to be equipped for ministry. We find ourselves challenged as we try to live for Christ and witness to others during the week; we need to be built up and transformed.
The preaching of the gospel at Thessalonica by Paul and Silas and Timothy produced changed lives. Paul starts off this epistle of 1 Thessalonians with a Word of Commendation – assuring them that they have demonstrated themselves to be genuine believers by the fruit of their changed lives. They have responded admirably to the truth of God in a context of great pressure and persecution.
CHANGED LIVES (THE MARK OF FAITHFUL DISCIPLES) SPUR THANKSGIVING BECAUSE THEY CONFIRM GOD’S ELECTION (AND OUR FAITH)
(:1) SIMPLE GREETING
A. Author and Co-Laborers – Examples of Changed Lives and Partners in the Gospel Ministry
They have individually responded to the gospel and jointly labored in ministry to bring that same gospel message to Thessalonica
- dependence upon God
- need for one another
1. Author – “Paul”
No secret how Jesus Christ intervened in the life of Saul the persecutor to turn him around literally on the road to Damascus; calling him to be the apostle to the Gentiles; to suffer great things for the sake of the gospel; church planter expert – laid out the model for others to follow – we talked about that model last week from Acts 17:1-9 as we looked at 7 Distinctives of an Effective, Godly Church Plant – (get message from website)
Not insisting on any special status or distinction here
2. Co-Laborers – presented as partners in the gospel ministry
“Silvanus (Latinized form of Silas -- same person) and Timothy” – not quite as dramatic testimonies – but requiring the same power and grace on the part of God
a. Silas – well known in the Jerusalem church
- Paul chose him as his missionary companion for the 2nd missionary journey when he had his falling out with Barnabas over whether they should take John Mark (Acts 15:36-40) – so he was no slouch spiritually – very gifted – called a prophet
- You probably get to know one another fairly well when you share a prison cell in Philippi – Acts 16:22-25 – singing duets with Paul from prison
b. Timothy – father was a Greek and mother a devout Christian Jew (Acts 16:1)
well spoken of by the brethren
- Phil. 2:19-22 quite an endorsement from Paul
- he had just returned to Paul at Corinth after checking on the status of the believers at Thessalonica
1. Identified as to their Nature
“to the church” – refers to the people … not the building
Ekklesia – called out assembly
Addresses the epistle to all of the saints, not just the leaders
2. Identified as to their Physical Location – simpler times back then – complex today