Monday, June 19, 2006

Living Life with a Purpose

Today we are looking at 1 Thessalonians 1, verses 8-10 in what I believe to be the purpose of every believer in Jesus Christ. Many times Christians fumble around misunderstanding their purpose but as we will see in this text — we have one purpose. Some Christians believe that our purpose is to "moralize the unconverted."

John MacArthur, in his book, Nothing But the Truth, says, "At the beginning of 1999, a major battle in the culture war took place. The Bill Clinton impeachment hearings, conducted by the highest level of leadership in our nation, were in reality a referendum on the culture war. But what began as outrage against immorality, deception, and abuse of power ended rather abruptly without any punishment or even censure. May I suggest that the culture war, at least as we know it, is now over. The impeachment process gave us a clear indication of where our culture stands—and we have discovered that it refuses to follow a biblical morality. The culture war is over—and we’ve lost. That was the inevitable end because this world is the domain of darkness, whether it’s portrayed as moral or immoral. Our responsibility has never been to moralize the unconverted; it’s to convert the immoral. Our responsibility is redemptive, not political. We do not have a moral agenda; we have a redemptive agenda...The single divine calling of the church is to bring sinful people to salvation through Christ. If we do not lead the lost to salvation, nothing else we do for them, no matter how beneficial at the time, is of any eternal consequence" (p.10).

There are 2 simple truths that I want you to see in 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 regarding your purpose.

Evangelism Starts With You (v.8a)

"For from you"

"You" is Referring to the "church" Paul is addressing "the church of the Thessalonians" (v.1a)

The church is God’s elect (v.4) They are "followers of...the Lord" (v.6) Evangelism is the churches responsibility and purpose. Jesus indicated that to the disciples in Mat.28:19-20. He also told them when the Holy Spirit "has come upon shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Erwin Lutzer said,"Christianity spread rapidly during the first century because all Christians saw themselves as responsible for disseminating the gospel" (Draper’s Quotations).

Evangelism is a Direct Response to Our Personal Reception of God’s Word (vv.6-7)

When the people at Thessalonica "received the word" they "became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe" (v.7) Notice first they "received the word" and then they became "examples." The Greek word for example (tupos) "was used to describe a seal that marked wax or a stamp that minted coins. Paul commended the Thessalonians for being model believers leaving their mark on others" (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible). Their "example" to others was the supernatural response they had to God’s Word

When you become a follower of the Lord you will tell others about your faith — it will be a direct response. When Jesus healed people they immediately told others what happened. Mat.4:23-25 - And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then 4 His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from 5 Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

After Paul was saved it says in Acts 9:20, "Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God."

John Wesley said, "I look upon all the world as my parish" (Draper’s).

Evangelism is a Lifestyle Not a Church Program (vv.8a-10)

Every Believer in the Thessalonian Church Preached the Gospel. It was not left up to Paul and his associates. Paul said their "faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything" (v.8)

"If you live by the same values and priorities [Jesus] had, you will find evangelism happening naturally. It becomes a life-style and not a project" (REBECCA MANLEY PIPPERT, Draper’s).

The Gospel was Personally Tied to their Faith. Paul says "For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth...Your faith toward God has gone out." The "word of the Lord" and "Your faith toward God" is being used synonymously. The "word of the Lord" is their "faith toward God" — it is objective truth!

The Gospel They Had Received "Sounded Forth." It reverberated forth. "Sounded forth" Gr.execheomai, "to ring out" (UBS Grk Dic), "to proclaim" (Lou- Nida). It was heard everywhere — in "Macedonia and every place." "Wherever the Thessalonians went, the gospel given by the word of the Lord was heard. It resulted in a local outreach to Thessalonica, a national outreach to Macedonia and Achaia, and an international outreach to regions beyond" (MacArthur).

"Jesus . . . wants us to see that the neighbor next door or the people sitting next to us on a plane or in a classroom are not interruptions to our schedule. They are there by divine appointment. Jesus wants us to see their needs, their loneliness, their longings, and he wants to give us the courage to reach out to them" (REBECCA MANLEY PIPPERT, Draper’s).

Lifestyle Evangelism is Both Heard and Seen (vv.9-10). Lifestyle evangelism is not just living out the Gospel in my life. It is living and proclaiming the Gospel in my life. Those who heard the "word of the Lord" from the Thessalonian’s declared what kind of people the Thessalonian’s were (v.9). They declared they had "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come" (vv.9-10). This was the testimony of the Thessalonians believers. Jesus said in Matthew 5:16 that we are to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

God was glorified by the Thessalonians for the proclamation of their faith. He was glorified by those who heard the Gospel from the Thessalonians. He can be glorified by His church today!

We are to evangelize the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It is to be every part of our living because it is connected to our faith! When people ask us to stop proclaiming the Gospel they are also asking us to stop believing because the two are closely related. Do you understand your purpose as the body of Christ?

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