The sermon was longer than usual on this particular Sunday morning. Little Johnny was getting more restless by the minute. Finally, in what was supposed to be a whisper, Johnny blurted out, “If we give him the money now will he let us leave?”
What is the ideal church?
Nothing will happen in your church without the special, supernatural power of God on every ministry: Preaching, teaching, worship, evangelism and missions. We exist to do things that cannot be done without God’s supernatural grace, and that glorifies Him.
The church does not exist to preach the Gospel, but to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that people are awakened from unbelief and changed beyond what any human message could possibly perform.
The church does exist to teach Bible classes, but to teach in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that God’s people, young and old are built up in faith and love beyond what any earthly writings or counselors could accomplish.
The church does not exist for evangelism, but to do evangelism in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that hard, unbelieving hearts will be supernaturally changed into soft, believing hearts.
The church does not exist for missions, but to do missions in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the Word of God can be spread to the ends of the earth.
The Church is a people alive in Christ:
Our emphasis is never on buildings, schools, programs, money, officers and committees. Our emphasis is always on God and people. Money is never raised for anything but helping hurting people. Energy is never expended except to minister to hurting people in and out of the church. The church’s emphasis is always to minister in such a way as to demonstrate the glory of God for everyone to see. –From the sermon, “Glory on His church” by John Sparks
This church in Thessalonica was an ideal church! They bore a powerful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Verse 8a: “The word of the Lord has sounded forth…”
“Having received the gospel, the Thessalonian Christians had no thought of keeping it to themselves; by word and life they made it known to others. From the beginning they functioned as a missionary church. Clearly this is a reference to the Gospel. It can be understood both as that Word of which the Lord is the Author and as the Word with the Lord as the object (e.g., "the gospel of God" and the "gospel of Jesus Christ" are both the Word about God and about Jesus, Who are both the object or focus of the message).” –F.F. Bruce
Verse 8b: “…sounded forth,” execheo in Greek, means literally to sound out (the verb is found in ancient secular Greek manuscripts describing the sound of a trumpet or the sound of rolling thunder), reverberating (continuing as if in a series of echoes) or bouncing off objects (in this case the hearts and minds of lost men and women) like an echo. The picture is that of clearly audible, unmistakable proclamation. Like the blast of a trumpet, the vibrant witness of the Thessalonians echoed through all the region. Allow me to quote Paul, when writing about speaking in tongues says, “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:7).
Verse 8c: “not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place.”
The gospel reverberated throughout the Roman Empire. The gospel rang out to the then known world. Thessalonica was a great seaport. Christians from this city went preaching the gospel throughout the world. As Paul writes First Thessalonians one year after he left the city, he hears reports from all over the world about their faith.
“Thessalonica was on the Egnatian Way (Via Egnatia) which was built beginning in 145 B.C. and at its greatest extent connected Byzantium with the Adriatic ports. This route was Rome's primary artery to the east and Philippi was an important outpost along the road. The Egnatian Way made it easier for Rome to move troops throughout the empire and it was the route that Paul traveled on from Neapolis to Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia and Thessalonica. Thessalonica was a great commercial and political center and as such would have functioned as a strategic point for disseminating the good news of salvation available to all who would believe.” F.F. Bruce
The Thessalonians became a sounding-board from which the gospel echoed across their world. The idea is, that the gospel was proclaimed like the the sound of a trumpet echoing from place to place. Thessalonica was a great model of a genuine missionary church! They were a reproducing church! Their gospel message was like ripples in a pool, spreading out in ever widening circles, Macedonia (their home base, their “Jerusalem,” Acts 1:8)...Achaia (their “Judea and Samaria”)...and in every place (their “ends of the world”).What a pattern to emulate.
Wherever you are located is strategic to reaching your sphere of reference! “And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world” (Acts 1:8 MSG). Our world is our neighborhood!
Verse 8d: “Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.”
The faith of the Thessalonians went out to such an extent that Paul did not have to say anything. Wherever Paul went, the faith of the Thessalonians preceded him. They prepared the way for his witness.
“Paul said, ‘You Thessalonian Christians are sounding forth the Word of the Lord so effectively that you are putting me out of business! We do not need to say anything!’ Paul pairs two ideas. The word of the Lord sounded forth, and their faith toward God has gone out. Those two aspects are essential if a church will spread the Gospel. First, they need a message to spread, and that message first needs to impact their own lives. Second, they need the faith to go out, so that their faith toward God goes out to all the world.’–David Guzik
In Thessalonica the city fathers described Paul and his friends by saying, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6). That is the way the good news was spread abroad.
Verse 9a: “…for they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you…”
“They themselves” refers to the people of Macedonia and Achaia (and every place their faith had gone out) who had heard the news. The faith of the Thessalonians had become a topic of common knowledge.
Acts 17 says that Paul only preached for three Sabbath days. His impact was so great that many were converted to Christ and just couldn’t keep quiet about Paul’s message of salvation. I would have loved to have been there! Next to the Lord, the greatest and most effective preacher who ever lived was the apostle Paul. He evangelized three continents and wrote two-thirds of the New Testament’s epistles, sacred documents which have revolutionized the world.
The message Paul preached was the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The subject of his preaching was the cross of Christ and the crucified Christ. He did not know anything except this.
1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 1:23, “but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness…”
1 Corinthians 9:16, “Necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”
Verse 9b: “…and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God…”
An idol is an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed or any person or thing regarded with admiration, adoration, or devotion. Practically speaking an idol is anything we put in the place of God.
“When the Thessalonians received the Word of God from Paul, they responded to it by leaving their idols, It indicates that conversion involves (1) a decisive break with idols, (2) an active service of God, and (3) a patient waiting for Christ.” –John Stott
“It is not easy to reject and eject gods which one has worshipped from the days of childhood, and which by one’s ancestors, from hoary antiquity, have always been considered very real, so that their names and individual peculiarities have become household words, for it must be borne in mind that Mt. Olympus, whose celebrated summit was considered the home of the gods, was close by, only about fifty miles to the southwest. Yet despite the opposition and the incentives not to serve God, despite the personal cost, these people did abandon dead idols for a living God! And if they gave their idols up--we can too.” –William Hendriksen
“And the more sophisticated idols (that is, God-substitutes) of modern secular cities are equally powerful. Some people are eaten up with a selfish ambition for money, power or fame. Others are obsessed with their work, or with sport or television, or are infatuated with a person, or addicted to food, alcohol, hard drugs or sex. Both immorality and greed are later pronounced by Paul to be forms of idolatry (Ephesians 5:5), because they demand an allegiance which is due to God alone.” –John Stott
Verse 10a: “…and to wait for His Son from heaven…”
“Every chapter in First Thessalonians ends with a reference to the return of Jesus Christ, and that truth is applied to daily living. An eager looking for His return is an evidence of salvation (1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10), a motivation for soul winning (1 Thessalonians 2:17,18,19, 20), and an encouragement for holy living (1 Thessalonians 3:11,12,13). This truth is a comfort in sorrow (1 Thessalonians 4:18) and a stimulus to have more confidence in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:23,24).” –W. Wiersbe
“Oh! This is a high mark of grace, when the Christian expects his Lord to come, and lives like one that expects him every moment. If you and I knew to-night that the Lord would come before this service was over, in what state of heart should we sit in these pews? In that state of heart we ought to be.” C.H. Spurgeon
“Wait” in Greek is anemeno it coveys the meaning of expectant waiting—sustained, patient, trusting waiting. It pictures an eager looking forward to the coming of one whose arrival was anticipated at any time, waiting for one whose coming is expected.
Who are you looking for today? Remember Jesus could come back today! Are you ready to meet Him in the clouds? “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, Who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11) Maranatha! Our Lord Come!
“The Greek word anemeno means more than just wait; it emphasizes an expectant and active attempt to live for His glory in the meantime. It is an attitude of faith toward the complete fulfillment of the messianic promises of the Old Testament in the second coming of Christ.” –KJV Bible Commentary
“to wait for” means to await, expect, wait up for and pictures them as people who were eagerly and expectantly looking forward to the coming of One Whose arrival was anticipated at any time; the present tense gives this as their continuing attitude.” –Paul Hiebert
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).
The Bible is God’s Word, it is absolute truth! I stand on the inspired (God breathed), infallible, inerrant, and absolutely true Word of God. “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). “Every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5-NLT). So when Jesus says, “I will come again” you can take to the bank! It will happen!
It won't be long till we'll be leavin' here
It won't be long we'll be goin' home
Count the years as months, count the months as weeks
Count the weeks as days, any day now, we'll be goin' home
Verse 10b: “…whom He raised from the dead…”
Raised in Greek is egeiro, meaning to waken, rouse from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease, from death, from inactivity, from ruins. It means to lift up, raise up, arise again, stand up. It also refers (as in the present use) to be awakened up from death and so to be raised from the dead. The Thessalonian's acceptance and belief in the resurrection as an act of God, gave them confidence in the certainty of Christ’s return in power.
The Resurrection was the guarantee of God’s power to carry out the rescue of those who are His and to judge those who are not, for as Luke recorded in Acts...”because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31).
His resurrection promises His future return! If the one promise was fulfilled literally, the other promise is just as certain. A further proof of the truth of the gospel is its ability to inspire faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that is so real that it causes the believer to predicate his life on Jesus’ return.
Verse 10c: “even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” “He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.” (NLT).
“Delivers” in greek is rhuomai, to draw, drag along the ground or snatch to oneself (drawing us to Himself!) from danger, evil or an enemy. The thought of deliverance by power is apparently always associated with rhuomai.
Since rhuomai means to draw to oneself, here we see the great picture that God drew us out of Satan’s kingdom to Himself. That event was the new birth. We are not gradually, progressively delivered from Satan’s power. When we placed our faith in Christ, we were instantly delivered. “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).
“Wrath” in Greek is orgao, it is literally rendered, the unique and specific wrath which is coming! This is not a reference to hell but to a time of hell on earth so to speak, to the specific (definite article "the" precedes "orge" indicating it is not just wrath in general but is a specific wrath) coming period of wrath on earth, which almost certainly refers to the prophetically significant time period known as the Day of the Lord which would include the time period Jesus referred to as "The Great Tribulation" (Matthew 24:21)
Later in this letter, Paul says, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). God did not appoint His people to wrath, but promises to deliver them. He may be referring here to the period just before Messiah's kingdom on earth, when God will afflict earth's inhabitants with an unparalleled series of physical torments because of their rejection of His will. (the Great tribulation)
“Whether he means the wrath of the Great Tribulation or the ultimate wrath of eternity, either must be urgently avoided. A timorous man can fancy vast and terrible fears; fire, sword, racks, scalding lead, boiling pitch, running bell-metal. Yet all this is but as a painted fire to the wrath to come, that eternity of extremity, which graceless persons shall never be able to avoid or to abide.” –Trapp
The coming wrath is the greatest wrath. It is the greatest evil which can befall a soul. “Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath?” (Psalm 90:11). The coming wrath is such wrath as no unsaved man can either avoid or abide. And yet such is most men's stupidity, that they will not believe it until they feel it!
The coming wrath is treasured-up wrath. ‘But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God…’ (Romans 2:5).
While wicked men are following their own lusts, they think that they are still adding to their own happiness. But alas, they do but add wrath to wrath! They do but heap up judgment upon judgment, and punishment upon punishment! Look! as men are daily adding to their treasure more and more, so impenitent sinners are daily increasing the treasury of wrath against their own souls.
The coming wrath is everlasting wrath. ‘And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever!’ Revelation 14:11. They shall have…punishment without pity…misery without mercy…sorrow… without support…crying without comfort…mischief without measure… torment without ease—They shall go…‘into the fire that shall never be quenched—where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” –Thomas Brooks, gracegems.org
Reader, are you ready to go when Jesus calls or will you be looking at the coming judgment? Christians, you may not have noticed it but you are closer to heaven than ever before! Each moment is a moment sooner, each step is a step closer, each breath is a page turned, each day is a mile marked, a mountain climbed. Before you know it your appointed arrival time will come. You will ascend and enter that glorious place called heaven. There will be familiar faces there waiting to embrace you. You'll hear your name spoken by loved-ones whom you haven't heard for many years. There will be friends giving you hugs, that you never thought you would ever see again.
And there is One who would rather die than to live without you! See Him as He removes His nail-pierced hand from His heavenly robe and extends it toward you and in a loving voice says, "Welcome home, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord" (Matthew 25:31).
B.J. Thomas sang:
"They say that heaven's pretty, well living here is too.
And if they told me I would have to choose between the two,
I'd go home, going home where I belong."
'Cause one night I'll be sleeping when death knocks at my door,
And I'll awake to find that I'm not homesick anymore.
I'll be home, going home, where I belong."
Let's encourage our hearts today…this life is not all there is!
1 Corinthians 15:19: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable." Titus 2:13: "Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Colossians 1:5: "…The hope that is laid up for you in heaven…”
**Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB).**