I Thessalonians 1:1-10, Acts 16:9-10, II Corinthians 8:1-5
Introduction: The church of Thessalonica has often been referred to as the “model” church. As one of the churches of Macedonia, this church was commended for the effectiveness of its ministry. Every mention of the Macedonian churches is surrounded with a testimony of powerful results in the world around them!
There are three elements found in this church which we must also experience in order to see similar results… maximum impact!
I. Eternal Element – The Influence of God – vs. 4 – “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God”
A. God Sent a Man with a Vision – Acts 16:10 – “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.”
1. God initiated the mission to Macedonia by presenting Paul with a vision of a Macedonian man calling for help! The evangelization of Macedonia had been planned by God and through His providence all the pieces were put together to bring the message of the Gospel.
2. For our ministry to thrive, the leadership must be fully persuaded with a vision that God wants to accomplish something here for His glory!
B. God Sent a Man with a Vocation – Acts 16:10 – “And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.”
1. Immediately – Now is the time to be engaged in the work!
2. Endeavored – The term refers to someone desperately “seeking.” It carries the idea of zeal, diligence and putting forth an effort to do all one can to achieve a goal!
3. The church needs a leader who is on fire, seeking every opportunity to accomplish the mission God has sent him to fulfill! The priority of the one God calls is to preach! Preaching the Gospel is foundational. Preaching the Word is the basis of a strong, vibrant church.
II. Internal Element – The Involvement of the Church – vs. 6 – “ye became followers of us, and of the Lord”
A. The Attitude of the Church – 2 Cor 8:5 – “…but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”
1. The term “first” denotes something that is “most important, chief, a priority, before any other thing.” The Thessalonians gave themselves before they ever attempted to give their time, gifts, efforts, etc.
2. 2 Cor 8:3 reveals the attitude of the people. They were “willing of themselves.” The phrase literally means “self-chosen or voluntarily.” They had a willing heart!
B. The Actions of the Church – 1 Thess 1:6 – “became followers”
1. Followers – “to imitate” – By receiving the Word of God
a. Followed the Man of God – They had a right relationship with the
b. Followed the Master – They had a close relationship with the Lord
2. Paul commends the church in three areas
a. The Work of Faith – vs. 3 – “Your work of faith” – vs. 9 – “how ye turned to God from idols”
b. The Labor of Love – vs. 3 – “labour of love” – vs. 9 – “to serve the living and true God” – –Labor is different from work. Labor is “fatiguing work” that embodies the cost associated with the labor. Work and labor are not synonymous. Work involves any task; labor stresses the exhaustion which getting the job done often demands. The term “labour” implies the taxation of all our energies in the service of our Lord; it is mental, physical, and emotional strain.
c. Patience of Hope – vs. 10 – “to wait for his Son from heaven” – Here we see the inspiration of hope. This is not a negative, passive compliance, but an active endurance. Patience is endurance, not the resignation of the passive sufferer, so much as the fortitude of the stout-hearted soldier.
III. External Element – The Impact on the World – vs. 7 – “ye were ensamples to all that believe” vs. 8 – “from you sounded out the word of the Lord”
A. Impact on Believers – “ye were ensamples to all that believe”
1. The word ensamples refers to a die (as struck), i.e. (by implication) a stamp or scar; by analogy, a shape, i.e. a statue, (figuratively) style or resemblance; specifically, a sampler (“type”), i.e. a model (for imitation).
2. When believers looked at the Thessalonian church, they saw a replica of Jesus Christ. They exemplified Christ! They stood as a pattern to all believers of what true Christianity should look like.
3. Paul’s words to their sister church in Philippi perfectly illustrate this concept. Phil 4:9 – “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
4. Paul exhorted Titus, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” (Titus 2:7-8)
B. Impact on the World – “sounded out the word of the Lord”
1. The term “sounded” means to echo, reverberate, roar, a loud noise. The verb used here implies that the sounding out was continuing. It was no passing fancy or impulse.
2. “Spread” refers to something being issued. The message of the Thessalonians had an obvious origin. You could tell where it came from, where it originated. The text implies the news spread with gushing enthusiasm.
3. This small, poor and afflicted church was having a profound impact on the world around them. They were not limited to their location, circumstances or abilities. God bestowed grace upon them to go beyond their own power in reaching the world for Christ!
4. 2 Cor 8:3 – “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves…”Conclusion: Our ministry can have the same effect if we follow the pattern of the church of Thessalonica. We need God’s influence and the Saints’ involvement!
God has done His part. Now, let’s do ours. Get engaged and make a difference for God. We can impact the world!