The Marks of a Miracle and Mighty Church! Pt. 2
Preached By Ken Humphries,
As evidenced in vv1-4 of this very powerful chapter, this is an infant church but an infant Church abounding with energy. Another very important thing we notice about this Church, it is an amazing example of real Christianity. That they are displaying signs of real salvation is without doubt, evident. They are showing by what they are doing that something had happened on the inside when Paul preached to them the gospel of the Grace of God, In v4 Paul says, I know you are the elect of God! How can he be so sure?
How can he make such a statement? Because as Dr. Vance Havner says in the ‘Havner Quote Book’ "What’s in the well comes up in the bucket"
A great danger that has always been prevalent down through the generations of Christianity is that we can put on a performance without ever having had an experience.
In other words we can talk the talk and walk the walk of Christianity because we know The language, the actions and the attitude and yet never have had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!
Paul can be sure about this people in Thessalonica because of the way they responded to the word 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" v5a.
Paul says, something wonderful happened when I preached to gospel to you folks, when I preached, it was not merely my words, there was a power attached to them, the Holy Ghost was present in that preaching and he brought to your hearts great assurance.
What a great start to this infant church, they start out with a wonderful assurance of Salvation.
It’s absolutely imperative that we understand it takes a lot more than a man standing in the Pulpit preaching for something real to happen to people on the inside.
Without the power of God the words of a man have little or no effect but when the power of God gets into that preaching what a difference it makes. I submit to you, this is an area we as preachers find it so difficult to face and come to grips with, determining in our own hearts never to enter the pulpit to preach unless we have total assurance that the Spirit of God is active within us.
Sidlow Baxter puts it like this! What we give God takes, what He takes He cleanses, what He cleanses He fills, what He fills He uses, He will never leave a filled vessel unused!
The Apostle Paul had an amazing commitment to preaching the Word of God with Power, that of course leads this infant church in Thessalonica to be infected with this same commitment. "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when you received the Word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh in you that believe." 1 Thess. Ch.2v13.
The same Word of God, which brought them to faith in Jesus Christ, is working in them effectually from the very moment they believed. The Apostle knows as he writes this teaching letter to them they will follow its instructions, whatever teaching truth on instruction, reproof, correction or exhortation he lays on them they will receive it gladly and put shoe leather to it and make it work.
What is happening here? Well I believe without doubt this is the Scriptures and the Spirit at work in a remarkable way. After all this man called ‘The Apostle Paul’ is somewhat of a total stranger to these folks in Thessalonica. He preached among them for three Sabbath’s and then remained with them a few further weeks after that until he had to flee out of the place because he was in danger of loosing his own life.
Well surely this is deep calling unto deep! It’s the deep of the Spirit of God in both Paul and the infant church through the Scriptures of God knitting them together as one unit and because both submit and yield to their Lord and Master, God can work a mighty Work of Grace and Power.
It is very evident the word of God means a great deal to both parties!
Dr. Joseph Parker, a Congregational Minister in London, a contemporary of C.H.Spurgeon said, "If we stray it is not for want of light. If we insist in obeying our own perverted instincts and impulses, we must not be surprised if we end in the bog of despair or in the wilderness of destitution. Do nothing without consulting the divine Oracle, God’s Word! Let this be our motto: ‘To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.’ Isaiah Ch.8v20. anything that cannot be confirmed by God’s Word is unworthy to be admitted into our life as a directing force." End Quote!
Paul writing to young Pastor Timothy says, 2 Tim.3v14. "You however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them;" (N.A.S.V.)
Strong spiritual parents build and grow strong spiritual children! That was Timothy’s Heritage.
Near the beginning of this letter, Paul reminded Timothy "Of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure it is in you as well" and then went on to admonish him "to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you" Ch.1v5-6. N.A.S.V. The "have learned" in v 14 is from the word "mantano", which is related to "mathetes" (disciple) and carries the connotation of intentional learning by inquiry and observation.
Timothy had not learned from his grandmother, his mother, from Paul, from Scripture, Incidentally but by intent. He had pursued and become convinced of the truths of Scripture, and fixed his heart and mind on those non-negotiable truths that are not subject To compromise or dilution. And it was those strongly held convictions that gave this young Pastor tenacity, which in turn made him a worthy prospect to follow in the foot steeps of Paul. It was the self-same attitude, action and attendance that made the Church at Thessalonica a true example of what a church ought to be.
They had understood very early on in their Christian life to work at---- Fellowship with the Saviour! 1 Cor. 1v9. "God is faithful by whom you are called unto the fellowship of his son Jesus Christ"
Fellowship with the Spirit! Phil. 2v1+2. "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassion’s, fulfill my joy, that you be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind."
Fellowship with His sufferings! Phil.3v10 "that I may Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto his death."
Fellowship with the Saints! 1 John 1v7. "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin."
Fellowship of service! 2 Cor.8v4. "Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints."
They very early on in their Christian lives realized the need for this kind of fellowship.
They quickly understood it was when the vessel was clean and the channel open that they could have this kind of fellowship, and they determined to foster it at all times.
They also quickly discovered there was a fellowship to avoid!
The fellowship of Satan! Eph. 5v11. "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
Therefore the Apostle Paul could say of this infant Church 1 Thess. 1v6. "And you became followers of us, and the Lord, having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit."
We are to pursue vigorously that heavenly fellowship, otherwise we will soon become a hindering fellowship. And there is but one way to pursue such a life, through the word of God. This Church received the Word of God with power, with much assurance and as it was, the Word of God not the word of men!
I never knew all there was in the Bible until I spent those years in jail. I was constantly finding new treasures. John Bunyan (1628-1688)