Year 2 Day 337
Read - 1 Thessalonians 1v1-10
Message - Scott Woodburn
Today sees us begin a new journey through the books of 1&2 Thessalonians. The city of Thessalonica was named after Alexander the Great's half-sister, it was a natural port and was situated on the main route between Rome and the Eastern provinces. The church in Thessalonica had been founded during Paul's second missionary journey with the full story recorded in Acts 17.
Paul might be forgiven for putting Thessalonica out of his memory for it was there that a crowd of jealous Jews sought to hand him over to an angry crowd. The crowd would surely would have taken the Apostles' life. Thankfully Paul and Silas managed to escape by night to Berea where their preaching was received more eagerly. Yet the Thessalonian church had not left Paul's thoughts, indeed he writes in the name of Christ to extend to them both grace and peace (v1).
Despite the actions of the angry crowd, Paul remembered the Thessalonian church with pure affection. He told them that he thanked God for them constantly in his prayers (v2). He had discovered true Christian fellowship in Thessalonica and witnessed faith, love and hope in his brothers & sisters (v3). The Thessalonicans had trusted in Christ, they had put their faith in Jesus. They had loved the Lord and loved each other, they had worked hard and laboured in this love. They stood firm in the hope that they had in Christ, He had saved them and was surely coming back.
None of these attributes were by chance - they were an outworking of the Spirit's work in the city. The Apostle had come to Thessalonica and preached the Gospel with power both in word and deed (v5a). As the Gospel was proclaimed the Spirit worked and He brought many Thessalonians to a "full conviction" of their sin and their desperate need of Christ (v5b). They had come to saving faith in Jesus and had witnessed in Paul and his companions a legitimate ministry (v5c). Paul and Silas weren't travelling hucksters attempting to deceive, instead they were travelling preachers who wanted sinners to believe.
As the church in Thessalonica was founded and grew the new concerts understood much affliction (v6). In Acts 17 we are told that a Thessalonican Christian by the name of Jason and some other brothers were dragged before the city authorities. Finally they were realesed on bond but we can imagine that this wasn't the last trouble that they faced. Regardless of their troubles, their faith caused them to have great joy in the Holy Spirit (v6). They had been called and chosen by God (v4) and as a result their earthly afflictions did not compare to their heavely hope.
Amazingly the example of the Thessalonian Christians had caused Gospel ripples in Macedonia and Achaia (v7). Paul didn't even have to say a word in these regions (v8) because they had already heard the reports from Thessalonica. The Thessalonians had turned from idols to serve the Lord (v9) and now were patiently waiting for Christ's return. They had received the Apostle with receptive hearts and now the Gospel they had believed and the faith that the Spirit had worked in them was being shared around the world. What an amazing work had taken place in Thessalonica! No wonder Paul remembered them with joy and prayed for them without ceasing.
My brothers and sisters I would urge you to pray for your own church today. Perhaps we are remembered for our disputes or our good music or the fact that we've lots of young people or the fact that we've no young people or that our minister is fair to average or that we're vacant or that our Boy's Brigade is great or for a thousand other reasons. Put all of this to one side and instead pray for your own church that she would be known and remembered for her unstinting faith in Christ which has been worked by the Gospel and the Spirit and has resulted in faith, love, hope and perseverance. Pray that our fellowships are so saturated by the Gospel that it spills out from us into the surrounding districts - not for our fame or good name but for the sake and further glory of Christ our Lord.
Q91 How do the Sacraments become effectual means of salvation? The Sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them.