Bethel Baptist Church
21.1.17 Morning Worship
  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
  • In Christ Alone
      • 1 Chronicles 29:11–13ESV

  • Trusting Jesus
  • Rock of Ages
  • CAVEAT:
    As we begin here this morning, I want to be honest.
    If you are not a believer, this is not a sermon that is going to explain why you need the Gospel.
    Instead, it is sermon - challenging our church about how to live the Gospel we already believe.
    And I hope as you consider why you are here this morning
    - may I challenge you that there is a far more satisfying way to live … then you are right now.
    With that being said, lets jump into the text.
    INTRODUCTION:
    We live in a culture that prides itself on being original.
    We appreciate speakers who make us think about things we have never heard of.
    We appreciate comedians who have original jokes.
    Politically - we often vote for the outsider who we think has new ideas.
    We love the innovations, originality, that modern society enjoys.
    And those of us in the younger generation - have watched our peers struggle with having a unique identity.
    Many in my generation and younger … have strived to be authentic and original.
    We don’t want to follow in the footsteps of our past, but to create a new and unique identity.
    But I ask the question - is there really anything new under the sun?
    Solomon declared this in Eccl 1:9-10
    Ecclesiastes 1:9–10 ESV
    What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.
    When consider the sands of time … we discover there is really not anything truly new and original.
    And consider some of the negative aspects of this bizarre desire for originality -
    Is there anything really original about trying to do everything the opposite to the way you grew up?
    Is there anything really original about being consumed by your desires and “I wants”?
    Is there anything new and original about our attempts to be different?
    In fact, just in recent American history.
    Wasn’t that some of the struggles of 1960s and 70s.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    When I was about 25 I meet a young man who had spent 1 year at Bob Jones Univ.
    Primarily because his parents would pay for it.
    As I talked with him … it became really clear he was trying to just be the opposite of his parents.
    Now I don’t know his parents … and maybe had a reason to be hurt.
    But I do know his choices.
    Instead of being a Christian, that man choose to be anti-Christian.
    Instead of being Republican, that man choose to be staunchly Democrat.
    Instead of having a traditional marriage, that man choose to be a homosexual.
    He went on and on, about the ways he was different then his parents.
    And in a couple of hours … I learned just how bitter he was against his parents.
    Again, I don’t know his parents, and I might not even condone what they did.
    But I know his supposed attempt at originality and authenticity.
    He was driven by being opposite to his parents,
    and often in sinful ways.
    I remind us … that there is nothing new under the sun.
    Originality is a myth we have bought into.
    But I would like to give us something far better than “originality”.
    What us better than being original?
    Following an example worth following.
    Today, for my last sermon I would like to call our attention to a person worth imitating.
    Jesus Christ.
    Jesus Christ, was the perfect example of humanity.
    And as I shared last week - John 8:31-32 teaches us how abiding in the words of Christ set us free.
    Our passage today will model for us a pattern of imitating Christ in the Early New Testament Church.
    1 Thessalonians 1:4–8 ESV
    For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

    We ought to be modeling the Gospel to each other.

    And Paul gives us 4 ways the early church modeled the Gospel to each other.
    How did the early church model the Gospel to each other?
    The Early Church modeled the Gospel by giving -

    (1) The Gospel in Word. (1 Th 1:4-5)

    Observe Paul’s words in this text.
    1 Thessalonians 1:4–5 ESV
    For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
    Modeling the Gospel has to began with - giving the Gospel in Word.
    John 8:31 talked about abiding in the Words of Jesus.
    So how are to bring others to the Gospel, if we do not give them the Words of Jesus?
    Paul knew they knew the Gospel, in part, because he gave them the Words of the Gospel.
    While for many Christians this may seem obvious, let us consider how we make it not so obvious.
    In recent decades, many have emphasized lifestyle evangelism.
    But what makes the difference between a social gathering, and an evangelistic outreach?
    Both include Christians gathering with non-Christians.
    Both may be attempts to show love and care.
    Both build relationships.
    Both can be found in a variety of settings … a restaurant, park, at one’s house.
    But what makes the difference between a social gathering, and an evangelistic outreach?
    Whether they ever actually give the Gospel or not.
    The key difference between Social gatherings, the Social Gospel, … is that we have to share the actual Gospel.
    We can share the Gospel simply by living out the Gospel in our homes, our workplaces, … but at the end of the day … it is only lifestyle evangelism if we actually get to the Gospel.
    > To many times what we call evangelism is not evangelism … because we never share the Gospel.
    > Others of us think they are faithful to witness, but then we haven’t personally shared the Words of Jesus with someone in the last year or two.
    If you can go two years without actually sharing the Words of Jesus,
    then you are not actually evangelistic.
    The first way that Paul modeled the Gospel is that he gave the Words of the Gospel.
    But this text doesn’t stop there.
    He also modeled the Gospel in real life.
    Secondly, The Early Church modeled the Gospel by

    (2) The Living Out of the Gospel in Real Life. (1 Th 1:5)

    What do I mean by that?
    1 Thessalonians 1:5 ESV
    because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
    Paul’s says, he didn’t just preach the Gospel.
    He lived out the Gospel before them.
    A second ago, I challenged us that lifestyle evangelism is only evangelism if we actually give the Words of the Gospel.
    But let me take the other side of the fence now.
    We cannot simply give the Word.
    The Gospel is not mere academics.
    The Gospel is real life.
    And Paul here - demonstrated the truth of the Gospel, by living out the Gospel before them.
    HE PROVED IT.
    The Gospel was not simply given in word.
    It was lived out.
    I think of passages such as - Jn 13:35
    Jesus taught -
    John 13:35 ESV
    By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
    Jesus taught us that the Gospel - is about real life.
    And the Gospel being lived out in flesh and blood … was such that
    it authenticated the truth of Paul’s Words - he proved it.
    and the believers of Thessalonica naturally imitated it.
    We will talk more about imitation in second.
    But consider that.
    Paul’s knows they were given the Gospel because he spoke it and lived it before them.
    In fact … He says - he proved himself for their sake.
    1 Thessalonians 1:5 ESV
    because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
    There are so many people who will not come to Christ until you show them Christ with your life.
    A critic of Christianity
    Will never give you a chance to share the truth, until you first have proved yourself to be a Christian.
    EXHORTATION:
    Now let me challenge us with both sides of the fence.
    Some people are constantly hammering people with the Word of the Gospel.
    They are quick to give that track.
    They are quick to share the truth.
    But the problem is that they never live it out.
    It is a Gospel of head knowledge and not real life.
    The forgot the lifestyle of lifestyle evangelism.
    But the other error that we make - is that we are all about living out the Gospel, but we never share the Words of the Gospel.
    They show love, and care.
    They have a good reputation.
    There generous and kind.
    Their living out the lifestyle of the Gospel, but it is not evangelism because they never get to the Word.
    My challenge to us - don’t be either.
    Share the Gospel in Word and in Deed.
    Live like you have been saved by Jesus,
    but then make sure you are looking at how to get to the punch line - telling others about the Gospel.
    TRANSITION:
    But our text doesn’t end there.
    I believe this place where many of us miss the next step.
    We take time to share the Gospel in Word.
    We are careful to follow the example of the love of Christ.
    And because of that - God uses us to bring someone to the faith.
    To help someone find the hope and peace that is only found in Christ.
    And then we drop kick them.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    Many new believers feel like they have been dropped,
    because we stop once they know the Gospel.
    THAT IS A SHORT SIDED VIEW OF EVANGELISM AND DISCIPLESHIP
    But Paul didn’t just tell others about Christ.
    Paul didn’t just prove the Gospel to be true.
    The New Testament shows a deliberate, intentional passing on of the Gospel.
    The third way, The Early Church modeled the Gospel was by -

    (3) Investing In Others: The Pattern of Investment. (1 Th 1:6-8)

    Paul gives us an incredible description of how the early church operated.
    What is amazing is that Paul describes at least 3 levels in which the Gospel was invested in others.
    1 Thessalonians 1:6–8 ESV
    And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
    According to Paul,
    - Paul Invested in the Thessalonians (1).
    - The Thessalonians Invested in Macedonia and Achaia (2) .
    - Believers in Thessalonica, Macedonia, and Achaia Invested in the Nations (3).
    - Paul Invested in the Thessalonians (1).
    - The Thessalonians Invested in Macedonia and Achaia (2) .
    - Believers in Thessalonica, Macedonia, and Achaia Invested in the Nations (3).
    Some have called this the pattern of multiplication, but I find that a little number driven.
    But what I do see … is a pattern of relationships.
    Paul took time to get know the Thessalonians, to give them the Gospel in Word, and then prove that Gospel with his life.
    Then the Thessalonians took time to get to know the Macedonians, to give them the Gospel in Word, and then prove that Gospel with his life.
    And the pattern goes on until … Paul can say the Gospel has gone everywhere.
    What Paul describes is that the early church was intentionally investing in others around them.
    The Gospel was being passed on, through personal relationships, with the people around them.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    If you recall in the Bush era … he followed a trickle down economic stimulus philosophy.
    What we have here is a trickle down model of Spiritual investment.
    Paul invests in Thessalonians, who in turn invest in others, who in turn invest in others.
    My question for you - who are you investing in?
    Everyone has got a part.
    This passage teaches us we all have part in making the Gospel known.
    So who are you investing in?
    According to Paul - The early church modeled the Gospel
    By Giving the Gospel in Word.
    By Giving the Gospel in Flesh.
    By Intentionally Investing in others.
    And Finally, By

    (4) Imitating and Following the Example of Christ. (1 Th 1:6-8)

    Paul gives the Thessalonians an incredible compliment here.
    The Gospel is known everywhere because of the Thessalonians.
    What a compliment that would be to stand before the Lord, and have the testimony that the Gospel is everywhere because you invested in others.
    How was Paul able to see so many people come to Christ?
    We might give a number of answers.
    Some pragmatic wisdom.
    But Paul emphasizes -
    By Imitation and Modeling.
    1 Thessalonians 1:6–8 ESV
    And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
    The Word -
    (a) Imitation is the idea of copying.
    You are imitating an original copy.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    You probably seen comedians who make a living out of impersonating politicians.
    They sound just like them.
    The disciples were taught to imitate Christ … and that is exactly what is described here.
    The Anchor Yale Dictionary - declares that the word “Imitation” and “Discipleship” are one and the same.
    Michael J. Wilkins, “Imitate, Imitators,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 392.
    The Word -
    (b) Example is the idea of a prototype, a perfect example.
    How did Paul pass on the Gospel?
    How did Paul teach what it means to follow Christ?
    How did Paul teach what it means to live for Christ?
    He first followed Christ.
    1 Thessalonians 1:6 ESV
    And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
    1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
    Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
    And then, the Thessalonians followed his example of Christ.
    1 Thessalonians 1:6 ESV
    And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
    And then, the Macedonians followed the example of the Thessalonians.
    1 Thessalonians 1:7 ESV
    so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
    In fact, he says that not just the Word, but their faith has gone everywhere.
    1 Thessalonians 1:8 ESV
    For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
    This passage gives an incredible picture of how the early church modeled the Gospel.
    It describes the Gospel being done in close relationships.
    You can’t copy, imitate, what you haven’t seen.
    It necessitates a close relationship with each other.
    It necessitates more than just a hi before the preaching.
    And
    It describes that the Gospel is not taught just by Word, but also by living life together.
    It is literally - life touching life.
    > We must not only give the Word,
    > But we must have close enough relationships that - we began to model and imitate the Christlikeness in each other.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    Let me tell you something.
    I have learned just as much from watching others … as I ever learned from preaching.
    A Christian, who loves the Lord, and is mature in the faith, teaches as much as anybody in the pulpit every Sunday.
    I remember once being really hurt by a fellow Christian,
    and I was ready to leave that church.
    Not Christ, but just that church.
    But I had one couple - sit me down … and simply pass on some Godly wisdom.
    You know, I never left that church.
    Not because things necessarily God better, or because I didn’t have a reason to be hurt … but because that couple showed me how to follow Christ.
    We learn as much from others following Christ’s Words, as we learn from the Word itself.
    CONCLUSION:
    What do we learn from the example of the Thessalonians?
    In one way we could say - people don’t just get the Gospel from the Word, but from the Christlike faith of others.
    But another way to say this is -
    We ought to be modeling the Gospel to each other.
    And Paul gives us 4 ways the early church modeled the Gospel to each other.
    (1) The Gospel in Word. (1 Th 1:4-5)
    (2) The Living Out of the Gospel in Real Life. (1 Th 1:5)
    (3) Investing In Others: The Pattern of Investment. (1 Th 1:6-8)
    (4) Imitating and Following the Example of Christ. (1 Th 1:6-8)
    EXHORTATION:
    My final two sermons to you have focused on two areas I believe are important for the future of Bethel.
    (1) We must abide in the Words of Jesus. (Jn 8:31-32)
    And
    (2) We must learn to invest and model Christ to each other. (1 Th 1:4-8)
    If I had a final challenge to you … it would be this.
    Learn how to personally abide in the Words of Jesus,
    and then share that abiding in personal relationships.
    I said at the beginning I knew of something better than being original.
    Having a great example to follow.
    The everyday, average Christian church does something better than being original.
    We model Christ to one another.
    I challenge us to model Christlikeness to each other.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Response:
    1) What did Paul and the Thessalonians do beyond simply sharing the Word of the Gospel?
    2) How does imitation of Christ teach us? How is it connected to the Word?
    3) Why does this necessitate personal relationships and investment?
    4) Does your life, church relationships, and non-church relationships reflect the pattern of 1 Thessalonians 1:4-8?
      • Ecclesiastes 1:9–10ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:4–8ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:4–5ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:5ESV

      • John 13:35ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:5ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:6–8ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:6–8ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:6ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 11:1ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:6ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:7ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 1:8ESV

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