The Marks of a Miracle and Mighty Church! Pt. 3
Preached By Ken Humphries,
For a young Church they are doing very well, don’t you think? They are abounding with energy, they are an amazing example and now we discover they are active in evangelism.
In v 8 the Apostle says, "From you sounded out the Word of the Lord." This is personal evangelism! That ‘from you’ in the original text indicates a personal dedication and determination to spread the Word of God to everyone, everywhere they possibly could.
Paul put it like this, "in every place your faith towards God is spread abroad". Whoever they met, wherever they went they would tell of their faith in God through Jesus Christ the Lord. Without any hesitation whatsoever they could have sung, had they known it, I’m not ashamed to own my Lord or to defend his cause, maintain the honor of his Word the Glory of his Cross. And what incredible opportunities they had to present the Word of God. Remember,Thessalonica was a large city daily engaged in commercial enterprise.
They were situated at the tip of the Aegean Sea, the Egnatian highway ran through the center of that great city so you can imagine the movement of traffic from land and sea all converging on Thessalonica to do business. What a mixture of people those young Christians would meet and have wonderful opportunity to tell of their faith in Jesus Christ and they of course, took their ‘New Life’ very seriously indeed. They were so changed through the Gospel of Christ they could do no other than tell it. They could not keep this good news to themselves. Surely that’s the way with good news. We love to tell it, spread it around, and yet today it seems to be the hardest thing for many dear Christians to do, it’s as though we are not only ashamed but afraid to tell of Jesus and his love. It seems to me, here is an infant Church who is indeed being led by the Spirit.
They are without leadership of any great maturity at this stage in their existence and yet its evident they have given themselves up to the leading of the Spirit whom is directing their hearts and minds into all truth. I am sure we must believe that this is also pure evangelism The verb in this "sounded out" actually means to ‘make a sound like a trumpet’ They were becoming a broadcasting station for the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was not a case of the Thessalonians blowing their own trumpet as the Pharisees did in Matthew Ch.6v1-4. No! They were trumpeting forth the Good News of the Gospel, and their message had to be sound, clear, and pure. They dare not make an uncertain sound!
When the trumpet was sounded in the heat and noise of the battle for the troops, that trumpeter must at all costs give a clear pure sound otherwise he could send those troops into danger and maybe even death. His sound must be nothing but pure and clear.
There are two ways we are called upon to evangelize, by living and by speaking, by lip and by life! You see it’s our lives that make our testimony believable or unbelievable.
If we have a Church where Christ is exalted and people are living in obedience to God then we are going to establish credibility for our testimonies. The way we live in this world is important! We are called to live an evangelistic lifestyle in our communities.
We have been called out of nature’s darkness and a decaying lifestyle that we might live in this world as pure light and pure salt. We are to let our light so shine that it will penetrate this awful darkness and we are to be like salt that has a very powerful effect on the putrefying carcass of this rotting world.
Sure, we can fail, fall, falter and foul up big time where our testimony is concerned and sometimes people find it so very hard to forgive us our open sins. They would very quickly write us off and want nothing more to do with us but praise God we have a Wonderful Saviour who reminds us in 1 John Ch.1v9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Don’t you just love that little word "all"?
Secondly, we are called to evangelize through our lips, our words.
"Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you." 1 Peter 3v15. When the opportunity arises we ought to be as eager to speak about the Lord as we are to speak about other things. And it must be the pure word of the Lord, not just some double speak of our own making!
That’s why I would say this is powerful evangelism "From you sounded out the word of the Lord". There is an amazing movement among many Church leaders today to promote marketing methods in search of new techniques to bring about Church growth. But as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out, this is no new phenomenon.
The proposals that we should preach less and do various things more have been around a long time. The actual form may be new but the principle is certainly not new. The earliest modernists seemed concerned primarily with interdenominational unity. They were willing to down play doctrine and preaching for that goal because they believed these things were devisive and a fragmented Church would be irrelevant in that modern age. To heighten Christianity’s relevance, modernists sought to synthesize Christian teachings with their latest insights from science, philosophy and literary criticism.
Modernism began as a methodology to enhance Church growth but very soon became a unique theology and did nothing but divide and cause split and break up. Just like the new wave of thinking today in the name of desire for Church growth!
Christians are open, even eager, for change in the Church. They yearn for unity among the faithful, they have a desire to reach the lost and are so keen to try anything that will win folks into the church. End Quote!
If we are correct and right in our Christian life at every point, but refuse to stand for the truth at a particular point where the battle rages-then we are traitors to Christ.
If Church history teaches us anything, it is that we cannot afford to be a vacillating Church. We minister to a people who are in great need of hearing truth, we dare not make any attempt to soft pedal that glorious truth.
Plato, three hundred years before Christ, predicted that if ever the truly good man were to appear, the man who would tell the truth, he would have his eyes gouged out and in the end be crucified. That risk was once taken, in its fullest measure. The Man appeared. He told the world the truth-about itself-and even made the preposterous claim: "I am the Truth." As Plato foresaw, the Man was crucified. Elizabeth Elliot.
Their evangelism was powerful because they used only the word of God in truth as it was.
Now please do not misunderstand me. It is not innovation per-se that I oppose. I recognize that styles of worship are always changing, I also realize that if the typical seventeenth century puritan walked into our church he would be shocked by our music, he would most annoyed to see men and women sitting together. He would most certainly condemn our public address system, for they had a strong belief that if God called a man to preach He would give him a voice to carry through any crowd.
They would most definitely be upset by the shortness of our service and our sermons.
Now those things in and of themselves are not issues that even scripture addresses!
Nor do I think my own personal preferences are superior to the tastes of others, I have no desire to become a legalistic. Where I do have a problem is the desire to put the Word of God to a subordinate role in the church and in Christian life.
I believe it is unbiblical to elevate entertainment over biblical teaching and preaching and Worship in our Church services. I believe the way forward for any Church is the way the Holy Spirit led these Thessalonians, however old fashioned that may sound.
After all the Sun is old fashioned, without it we could not exist, we would shrivel up and die of hypothermia. The moon is old fashioned, without it we would not be able to grow our crops, we would die of starvation. Rain is old fashioned, without it men go mad of thirst and die. We had a power failure during last Christmas season, and here we were, thousands of us, sitting in the dark until that old fashioned daylight showed its face at the break of day. Just a few days ago, as we drove, we had to pull into the side of the road because of fog, there we sat just waiting for an old fashioned gust of wind to blow it away.
Now, most definitely, I have no desire to start a controversy but if we are to be truly evangelistic in Church and Christian life then our evangelism will be personal, pure and powerful, why? Because we are doing it God’s way! We are bringing by lip and life to men and women everywhere the living, loving, life-giving Word of God.
I believe we could call that the ‘content of their evangelism’