A Model Example for Modern Churches 2
Last Sunday we began looking at the characteristics of a group of believers in a community called Thessalonica. In a personal letter to them which we've come to call I Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul extols this small, newly born congregation as an example for other churches to follow. His goal is not to simply give praise, but to encourage them on in doing more of the same. Paul had become head yell-leader for the Thessalonian church.
In verse 3 we see that these believers are praised for their Christians virtues--faith, hope and love. In verses 4-8 he moves on and commends these Christians and lifts them up as examples in discipleship. Once again the emphasis is on the quality of their performance in being followers of Christ.
They were exemplary in three areas:  They were exemplary in their spiritual assurance;  They were exemplary in their spiritual appearance; and  They were exemplary in their spiritual accountability.
I. THE THESSALONIANS WERE EXAMPLES IN THEIR SPIRITUAL ASSURANCE
- vv. 4-5 "Brothers loved by God, we know that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simple with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction."
- the Thessalonian believers had received the gospel message of salvation by grace through Christ as preached by Paul
- it was a gospel not just of slick words and tantalizing philosophies
- it was a gospel that was backed by the power to change the lives of those who had received it
- Acts 17:1-3 "When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath day he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. 'This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,' he said."
- they had believed upon the name of Jesus
- they had become a community of saints
- they knew they were the children of God and they acted accordingly
- the quality of the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love were unmistakable signs of the new life apparent in them
A. VIRTUOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING LEADS TO SPIRITUAL ASSURANCE
- Paul looked at the abundant evidence in these people's lives and knew beyond a shadow-of-a-doubt that they were true believers
- accordingly he calls them "beloved brothers"
- because of their mutual faith in the risen Lord they now have a kindred spirit with Paul
- Paul seeks to assure them of their assurance in the Lord
- ". . . we know that he [God] has chosen you . . ."
- the Thessalonian believers could have assurance of their eternal security
- because the gospel had come to them in power and in the Holy Spirit v. 5
- like Paul, these believers could proclaim with confidence:
- 2 Tim. 1:12 ". . . I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
- John 15:16 "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you."
- I John 4:19 "We love him, because he first loved us."
- Paul uses a wonderful phrase in I Thess. 1:4
- it is "has chosen us"
- it is one Greek word which takes three english words to translate
- the word is verb tense we do not have in the English language
- it means a transaction, which when completed, is irreversible and irrevocable
- when Paul writes, "He has chosen us" it means God has chosen you once for all, & He will never let you down & never let you go!
- brothers and sisters; that's security!
- ILLUS. Too many Christians have the "Little Engine that Could" mentality when it comes to facing the "mountain of eternal security." They look at it and say, "I think I'm saved: I think I'm saved: I think I'm saved." God's goal for the believer's life is to boldly proclaim, "I know I'm saved: I know I'm saved: I know I'm saved."
- are you?
II. THE THESSALONIANS WERE EXAMPLES IN THEIR SPIRITUAL APPEARANCE
- now, what do I mean by their spiritual appearance
- I mean, "Just what does a Christian look like anyway?"
- Paul gives us a clue in verse 6
- "You became imitators of us and of the Lord . . ."
A. CHRISTIANS BEGIN BY MIMICKING OTHER CHRISTIANS
- that word "imitator" is the Greek word "mimetes" and is the root of our English word "mimic"
- the Thessalonian believers, though their salvation was of Christ, became mimickers of the Apostle Paul's lifestyle
- Paul's life presented the Thessalonian believers a consistent, spiritual pattern for them to model their lives after
- Paul told the Corinthian believers much the same thing
- 1 Corinthians 11:1 /"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."?
- it leads me to wonder about the impact my "pattern" of Christian living has on others
- it needs to make each of you wonder about the impact your life has one those who are watching you
- if they are dedicated, committed, loving, Christ-honoring Christians, then chances are good we will be also
- this is what the Thessalonians found in Paul and it is what they became
B. CHRISTIANS SHOULD BECOME IMITATORS OF CHRIST
- Ephesians 5:1 "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;"
- there comes a time in a Christian's life when we stop looking at others as our examples and begin looking at Christ
- people--even good Christian people--will disappoint us
- they will not always live up to our expectations
- ask those who looked to Jimmy Swaggart as their spiritual example
- ask those who looked to Sandy Patty as their pattern for Christian living (just recently filing for divorce)
- ask those who looked to the Apostle Peter as their standard for Christ-like living
- Christ will always live up to our expectations and is the perfect example for us to follow in action and thought
- how do we know when we are mimicking Christ?
- when you see the world through the eyes of Jesus--with love and compassion for those outside a relationship with the Savior you are mimicking Christ
- when their is a burden in your heart for lost you are mimicking Christ
- when you renew your mind and soul daily through prayer and Scripture reading you are mimicking our Lord
- when you are filled with the Spirit and your emotions radiate love, joy and peace you are mimicking Jesus
- when your will is daily surrendered to the Father's will you are imitating the Savior
- the Thessalonians began be mimicking Paul and ended up by imitating Christ
- they were examples in their spiritual appearance
III. THE THESSALONIANS WERE EXAMPLES IN THEIR SPIRITUAL ACCOUNTABILITY
- v. 7 "And you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia . . . For from you sounded out the word of the Lord . . . in every place your faith toward God is spread abroad, so that we need not to speak anything."
- the church at Thessalonica made themselves accountable for spreading the gospel message which they themselves had so recently received
A. THE THESSALONIANS "LEFT THEIR MARK" ON THEIR COMMUNITY
- the word "example" in verse seven is the Greek word "typto" meaning to strike
- it refers to the figure left behind by the mark of a blow
- ILLUS. Several years ago I helped a member of our church put up a hay barn. Melvin Jones had a hammer with a peculiar cross-hatched pattern on its head. You could always tell where Melvin had been hammering because there was the distinctive mark of his hammer.
- you and I are examples
- we are to "leave our mark" on everything and everyone we come into contact with
- our church must leave its mark upon this community
- the mark we leave behind is the presence and proclamation of Jesus
- that's what the word "sounded" (KJV) or "rang out" (NIV) literally means
- ". . . your faith in God has become known everywhere . . ."
- here is the dynamic power of personal influence by people filled with the Spirit and on fire for Jesus
- in just a short period of time the news of the Spirit's movement in Thessalonica was spreading rapidly
- travelers on the Roman highway that ran through town carried the news east and west
- sailors who docked in this harbor city gossiped about it in ports throughout the Mediterranean
- they felt indebted to carry the gospel of salvation in Christ to all who would listen
Conclusion. The Thessalonian congregation is an example for our modern-day church. They were exemplary in their spiritual assurance, their spiritual appearance and their spiritual accountability.
Are you? Or is their room for improvement in any or all of these areas in your life? If so, you need to make a decision this morning. Others are watching you. Can you say with sincerity of heart, that if others patterned their life after yours that they would be a model Christian?