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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
September 27, 2020
Evidences of God’s Choice
1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
A question that often gets asked is, “How can you tell if someone is saved?” That is a very relevant question because there are many that claim to be Christians who are doing so in a cultural sense instead of the Biblical sense of being a follower of Christ. Jesus also warns us that there are “tares among the wheat” (Matthew 13), and the epistles give many warnings about false brethren. Jesus said in Matthew 7:16-20 that we would know false teachers by their fruit whether it is good or bad, but what is the distinction between good fruit and bad fruit?
Our society has rapidly declined into ever greater depravity in which what God declares to be good, it declares to be bad, and what God declares to be bad, it declares to be good. Our local Congressman declared that recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a “moral compass” for our nation and deserved the honor of being the first woman to lie in state in the nation’s capital. I will be direct. She was a woman whose moral compass did not point to truth and she consistently voted for decisions that were ungodly and Biblically immoral. Abortion is murder of an unborn child. Homosexuality is an abomination to God, and men are men and women are women regardless of gender dysphoria, surgical procedures or hormone treatments.
We expect ungodliness in an ungodly society, but what about in the church? Tragically, most liberal churches support abortion, sexual perversion and marxism – both social and economic. In trying to prove themselves to not be racist they prove that they actually are by judging and assigning importance to people based on the color of their skin instead of the content of their character. Even more tragic, those same ideas have infiltrated many churches that are supposed to be evangelical and even “conservative.” They are calling for unity in the name of Jesus while holding to doctrines that are contrary to what Jesus taught and advocating actions contrary to God’s commands. How do you know who is a Christian?
Ultimately, the answer to who is and who is not a Christian belongs to God because only He knows the heart and actual belief of the individual. God knows who are His and who is not. We may not always be able to distinguish between the true and the false, but God does. He knows who lives a holy lifestyle because of love of Christ and those who have a similar lifestyle but it is because of family identity, traditions or societal pressures. They may do what is right, but it is with wrong motives. That was the problem of the Pharisees who were pious because they were self-righteous.
God also knows the difference between the genuine Christian who sins due to ignorance, immaturity, or stumbling and those with professions of faith that are false because they do not know and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The former sin in conflict with being a new creation in Christ while the latter sin in keeping with being by nature children of wrath walking according to the course of this world and indulging the desires of their flesh and mind (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Now in saying all of this, that does not mean there are not tale-tell signs of the reality of salvation in someone’s life. There are such evidences and we are to be discerning about them and even call into account those whose behavior calls into question their professions of faith. Paul challenged the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they were in the faith. Could they recognize Christ in them or would they fail that test? (2 Corinthians 13:5).
This morning we will be examining 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 in which Paul expresses His confidence that the Thessalonian believers were genuine Christians as He recounts the evidence of God’s choice of them for His kingdom.
Paul’s Thankfulness to God – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
Last week we examined the first two of three reasons for Paul’s thankfulness to God for them. (See: Thanksgiving & Prayer for a Model Church). He writes in verse 2, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers.” His first expression of thankfulness for them was in remembering them and bringing them before the throne of God in his prayers. Part of the reason it is more significant to thank God for someone that to just thank them is because it is an immediate prod to pray for them.
Paul’s second expression of thankfulness is in verse 3, “constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.” Three particular things Paul remembered about them that prodded his thankfulness were their Work of Faith, their Labor of Love and their Steadfastness of Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul expresses the particulars of what he meant by each of those at the end of the chapter which we will be studying today.
In brief, their work of faith refers to their conversion in which they turned from sin and self to faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ by which they received the forgiveness of sin according to His promises and were given a new purpose in life. Their labor of love was their serving the Lord and others out of the love they had developed for Christ. Such love will exhibit itself in keeping Jesus’ commandments (John 14:15), serving the Lord and loving others (Romans 12:10-11; James 2:8). Their steadfastness of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father was their patient waiting in confident assurance of Jesus returning from Heaven as He promised to receive them to Himself. That is a theme that runs throughout this epistle and upon which we will expand as we examine this letter over the next five months or so.
The third reason Paul gave God thanks for them is in verse 4, “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you.” The rest of the chapter is Paul’s description of the evidences of God’s election of them that Paul had either observed or had been told about.
God’s Choice – 1 Thessalonians 1:4
Verse 4 begins with Paul stating that he and his companions knew about them and their election. This would be from both personal observation and the reports that they received about them from various sources. That is why he uses the Greek term oi\da /oida, which has a primary meaning of “know about,” instead of ginwvskw / ginoskō, which has a primary meaning of to “know by experience.”
Next, Paul describes them as “brethren beloved by God.” Brothers (ajdelfoi; / adelphoi) is a common description Paul uses for fellow believers because in Christ we are adopted into God’s family and are therefore brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a term that also speaks of the endearment that we are to have one other.
Paul then continues to described them with a perfect passive participle translated here as beloved which is tied immediately to “of God.” This is much stronger than just saying “loved” or “loved by God” because it signifies that God’s love for His elect extends from eternity past to the present and beyond to eternity future. This is expressed in Romans 8:29-39 which ties God’s foreknowledge and predestination of the saved to be conformed to the image of His son to the fact that nothing can or ever will be able to separate us from His love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How does Paul know they are beloved of God? He specifically states, “the election of you,” with the immediate antecedent of God supplying the identification of who made that choice – His, God’s election (ejklogh;n /eklogān) or choice of you. This not a verse that is liked by those that want to emphasize the Scriptures that speak of man’s will and the calls for man to believe. There are many that fight against the doctrine of election or flat out reject it.
Years ago when my older sons were considering Bible colleges, they were appalled in visiting one in which the professor they were talking with stated that he did not believe in election. It is one thing to emphasize a particular teaching in Scripture, it is quite another to use that to reject another clear teaching in Scripture. The doctrine of God’s election of sinners unto salvation is very clear in the Bible and you reject it at the risk of your soul. Why? Because that puts you squarely in the position of claiming entrance into heaven based on your own merit of faith in Christ apart from God’s sovereign choice. That is directly contradictory to multiple declarations in God’s word. Here are a few:
Romans 3:10-12 which quotes Psalm 14:1-3 states, “there is none righteous, not even one; 11 there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for god; 12 all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” How can a person choose to have faith in Christ when they will not even seek God?
John 6:44 & 65, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:65, And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
How then can someone claim to have come to faith in Christ apart from God’s action occurring first?
Ephesians 2:1-10, with verse 1 stating, “and you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” and verse 8-9 explaining,” 8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” By definition, grace is being given unmerited favor, so it is the faith that is “not of yourselves,” and it is absolutely necessary that this faith is granted by God because the natural condition of man is being dead in his sins. The dead cannot take any action, they can only receive actions done upon them. God, by His grace, gives faith to dead sinners so that they will believe and be saved.
Romans 8:29–30 describes the distinct actions God takes in saving an individual, 29 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” The order is direct foreknew predestined called justified glorified. These are all actions of God, not man.
Ephesians 1:3–6, 3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” There is no getting around this passage that God’s election of the saved occurs at the foundation of the world before that individual was even born. The argument that God looks down the corridor of time and sees who will chose Him and so then chooses them is utter nonsense. A) God does not look down the “corridor of time” because God exists outside the boundaries of time, and more importantly, B) God’s actions occur prior to man’s actions since the order is specifically stated in 1 John 4:19 that “We love, because He first loved us,” and God’s love was extended to us while we were sinners (Romans 5:8), and finally, C) Jesus told His disciples in John 15:16, “you did not choose Me but I chose you.”
You do not have to like the doctrine of election, but you do need to believe it because it is clearly taught throughout the Scriptures. And I guarantee that the more anyone who is redeemed understands it and their own depravity, the more they will love it and will thank Him for it. There is no question that God offers a universal call – command – to believe and be saved through faith in Jesus Christ, but man will not obey that call without God’s intervention because the natural man is set on his own sinful will and does not accept the things of the Spirit of God because they are foolishness to him (1 Corinthians 2:14). Paul gave thanks to God for the Thessalonian believers “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you.”
How did Paul know they were beloved by God and chosen by Him? He explains that in the rest of chapter 1.
First Evidences of Election – 1 Thessalonians 1:5
The first evidence they were among the elect of God is the way in which the gospel came to them. 5 “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
There were many religious hucksters that would travel from place to place taking advantage of people’s ignorance and fear in order to exploit them. The same kind of people are still around today operating in both the false religions and among Christians with many of them appearing on “Christian” TV and Radio. 2 Peter 2 warns about such false teachers who will malign the way of truth and exploit their followers.
Paul and his companions came to them with a message of good news that was given to them with four characteristics which were then backed up by their own example.
First, their gospel came to them in word. That was not unusual, because the religious hawkers also came in word, and often in smooth and eloquent and persuasive speech of peddlers (Romans 16:18). Paul’s own testimony about himself in 1 Corinthians 2:1-4 was that he did not come in such a manner, but rather in weakness, fear and much trembling. His enemies claimed Paul’s “personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10). Paul and his companions proclaimed the gospel as they had been directed as simply those heralding good news (Romans 10:15), reasoning the truth of their claims from God’s word (Acts 18:28) and begging people to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Second, their gospel also came in power. While Paul did perform miracles as a sign of his apostleship at times, but there is no record of that occurring in Thessalonica. The power referred to here is the power of the message itself which held the power of God to save both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16). It is the power he describes in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” The gospel message is powerful itself.
Third, their gospel came in the Holy Spirit. Power and the Holy Spirit are often associated with each other because it takes the Holy Spirit to convict men of the message of the gospel in order to believe. In keeping with the promise in Acts 1:8, Paul also understood that it was the Holy Spirit that was empowering him to declare the gospel. Whatever response Paul was seeing among them as a result of proclaiming the gospel, whether belief in the message itself or actions in keeping with repentance, conversion and beginning to walk with Christ, Paul knew it was the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in them. Going back again to 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, Paul understood “my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
Fourth, their gospel came with full conviction. This grammatically is closely tied to the Holy Spirit. By preaching the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit Paul had full assurance that the good news he was proclaiming was true and that God would use it to accomplish His divine purposes (Isaiah 55:11). In regards to the Thessalonians themselves, Paul and his companions would be fully assured that the Holy Spirit would do His work to convict them regarding sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).
Paul then appeals to the Thessalonians themselves “just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” They were not religious charlatans peddling a message or philosophy to exploit them. They were genuine and proclaiming God’s good news to them.
Modern evangelists would do well to heed what Paul says here, for too many do use methods of exploitation to get people to respond, and when that happens, the confidence that those who do respond are indeed among God’s elect is lost. When evangelists and preachers play upon people’s emotions, use bait and switch techniques, or withhold the negative aspects of the message such as the world will hate you if you follow Christ, then they are proclaiming human wisdom instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a grave danger in being concerned about how many people respond because it quickly devolves into issues of ego and fund-raising. All you have to do is simply and faithfully proclaim the whole gospel for it is the power of salvation to all who will believe as the Holy Spirit does His work of conviction. All glory then goes to God and there can be confidence that those who do respond are among the elect of God.
Second Evidence of Election – 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8
The second evidence of their election was their imitation of the missionaries and the Lord. 6 “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.”
We get our word mimic from the word translated here as imitation (mimhthvhV / mimātās). The essence of this word when applied to people is “to do what someone else does,” but as used here this is not in any sense either to mimic as a comedian might do to get a laugh or someone might do to mock and belittle someone else. Neither is it the external imitation of trying to look and act like someone else you admire as is common in our own culture and a driving force in the fashion industry. This is far deeper than such vain externals. This is striving to have reproduced in yourself the character traits and actions you have seen or heard about in someone you admire. You want to be like them.
Paul specifically states that the Thessalonians were imitators of himself and his missionary companions and of the Lord. That is the proper order because these people would not have known the Lord directly and neither do we. That was a privilege for the few that knew Jesus personally in first century Palestine. However, they would learn of Jesus from the missionaries and what they taught. The order is expressed in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” That is still both the order and the goal.
Jesus commanded us to make disciples by going into all the nations, baptizing those that respond to the gospel in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that He had commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). When a disciple is fully trained, he will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40). In the process of making a disciple, you become the first example to a new Christian of what it means to believe and walk with the Lord. But it does not stop there, for you continually push them toward going beyond you to learn of Christ through His word and the examples of others who successfully living according to it with the goal that they become ever more like Christ. That is something the Holy Spirit is always at work doing in the life of a true Christian as stated in Romans 8:29.
Paul points out three specific ways in which the Thessalonians were imitating the missionaries. How they received the word, how they became examples to others, and how they were proclaiming the word of the Lord to others.
First was their reception of the word. The verb form here is a middle participle indicating they were both passive and active in it. They were passive in the sense that the word was being given to them, but they were active in the sense that they were paying attention to what they were being told. The Holmon Bible translates this as “welcomed the message,” which is good way to express this since they received it with joy in the Holy Spirit despite the tribulation that was occurring at that time.
I have explained in some detail in the last two messages the tribulation that was occurring at that time from Acts 17. (See: Introduction to Thessalonians). Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 that he had much opposition when he first proclaimed the gospel there, and it got worse as time went on eventually reaching the point the brethren sent Paul and his companions away for their own safety. Yet, as Paul states here, they received the gospel message with great joy in the Holy Spirit despite the tribulation they had suffered.
This was an imitation of Paul and the missionaries because their own experiences had been similar. Paul had even been a persecutor of the church, but opposition to him quickly arose after he was saved. Silas had been part of the early church in Jerusalem, and within weeks after its founding opposition to the church there arose which quickly escalated to direct persecution. Timothy was from Lystra where soon after Paul began preaching the gospel opposition arose resulting in Paul being stoned and left for dead. Yet all of them were joyful in the midst of the tribulation.
The evidence of election here is the active desire to hear the gospel and the joy in the midst of tribulation, both of which can only come from the Holy Spirit. People do not naturally want to hear a message that includes their sinfulness and condemnation without remedy except to believe and trust something that seems incredulous, for how could God become a man and a human rise from the dead? It is also contrary for human nature to rejoice in suffering.
Second, the imitators became examples. The word here, tuvpoV / tupos, referred to the mark of a blow and was used for the image struck in the minting of a coin and more generally for images, models and patterns. The image of Christ was being produced in them and that is an evidence of God’s election. The middle verb tense used here indicates that they were both passive and active in becoming such an example. That is what we would expect because it is God at work in us even while we do our part. Even as we “work out our salvation” (Phil. 2:12), and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:14), and “run the race” and “discipline your body” (1 Cor. 9:26-27), we recognize that it is “God who is at work in you, both to will and to work His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). They had quickly become enough like Paul and the missionaries that other who were also believers could then follow their example in the pursuit of becoming like Christ.
As pointed out in previous sermons, Macedonia included the areas to their east and west along the Egnation way, and Achia was the area south of them in Greece. Their example spread quickly to other areas.
Third, the word of the Lord had sounded forth from them. Our English word echo derives from this verb which refers to the resounding reverberations of a loud noise such as a trumpet blast or thunder. It is in the perfect passive tense indicating that it was an action upon them that had continuing results. The Lord’s work in them resulted in His word continuing to echo from them. Another evidence of election.
Paul again notes that the effect of this spread to Macedonia and Achaia, but here he also adds it went beyond that “also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth.” Since Thessalonica was a sea port, their example and message that had spread to the relatively close areas of Macedonia and Achaia had also gone out to distant locations too. While they were an example to other believers, their reputation and message was also carried to distant locations by travelers Christian and non-Christian that told others about them. To bring this into a modern equivalent, the news about them had gone viral on the social media of the day – travelers. How much so? Paul states that they had “no need to say anything.” The reports about the Thessalonians were preceding Paul in his own travels so that he did not need to tell others about them, instead, they were telling Paul about what had happened there as recorded in verses 9-10.
Third Evidence of Election – 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
The third evidence of their election by God is the report about their changed lives. 9 “For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”
Verse 9 continues with Paul recounting what other travelers were telling him about the Thessalonians specifically in two areas. The first is how they had been received by the Thessalonians which I have already talked about in verses 5-6 and in previous sermons and which are detailed further in later passages in this letter.
The second area is more significant and expanded on by Paul. Their lives were radically changed. They turned or were converted in three major areas: to God from idols, to serve God, and to wait for the return of Jesus.
The word turn, ejpistrevqw / epistrethō, can be used to refer to something physical, as in facing or going in one direction and turning to face or go in a different direction, or it can refer to what is immaterial such as turning away from error and to the truth (James 5:19-20), as an action of repentance in turning your attention (Acts 3:19), or conversion as in this passage (see also Acts 11:21; 15:3).
The first turning is to God from the idols. Their religious conversion became well known. Pagan idolatry was the common religion of the Romans and Greeks with a pantheon of gods and goddesses that were worshiped, and the dwelling place of their supreme god, Zeus, was not all that far away on Mt. Olympus. Idolatry was woven into the fabric of their society, but they turned away from that to God despite the negative societal consequences that would come from that. Some of you understand that to one degree or another for you have turned from the religion of your family to become a Christian, and your family has reacted negatively believing you are rejecting them, their society and traditions, and therefore you are a threat to the things that matter the most to them.
Paul is obviously referring to the many Greeks that were part of this church, and their radical conversion in rejecting the idols would be news that would travel fast. Given the strong opposition that strongly developed in Thessalonica with the accusation that Paul and his companions had upset the world (Acts 17:6), it would be safe to assume that their conversion was similar to what happened in Ephesus in which their books on witchcraft were burned and the local idol manufacturing businesses were being affected.
The conversion of Jews to Christianity was not as radical since both have the same God, revere the same writings, and share the same morals, and they were outsiders to the majority of Gentile society. The difference was in understanding of their sacred writings and whether Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecies or not. There were also not as many Jews around as those following Greek & Roman paganism, so it is not surprising that the reports Paul heard focused on the conversion of the Gentiles.
The second turning is related to the first. In turning to God from idols they also turned to serve God, the one that is living and true, which is in contrast to the dead and false idols they had been serving. The Lord is the real God and the idols were fictitious, figments of imagination empowered by demons (1 Cor. 10:19-20). The evidence of that turning was in their worship of God and in the proclamation of the word of God that was spread by them to the east, west, south and beyond. The first service to God is always worship of Him, and the particular word here (douleuvw / douleuō) strongly suggest that since it has the same root as the word for slave. God became their Lord, their master. You are either in Satan’s kingdom and a slave of sin or you are in God’s kingdom and a slave of righteousness, and the only way to become part of God’s kingdom is through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:12-23; Colossians 1:13, etc.). They had been converted and were now part of God’s kingdom and as His slaves served Him.
The third turning concerns their hope for the future. A pagan could be optimistic that after they died they would cross the river Styx and have a nice future depending on how good they were and the favor of the gods, but there was no certainty. The future of a Christian is certain, and Paul had apparently taught the Thessalonians enough about eschatology, the doctrine of last things, that they knew they were to wait with certainty. The word wait here, ajnamevnw / anamenō , is an intensified form of the word for abide, stay, wait and means “to remain in place and / or state, with expectancy concerning a future event” (Louw-Nida). It is “to await one whose coming is known or foreseen with the added notion of patience and trust” (GELNT). The root word is used in Acts 20:4 for those waiting in Troas for Paul and Luke to come. They knew he was coming, they just did not know when he would arrive.
What were they waiting for, or rather, who were they waiting for? Jesus, the Son of God, whom God had raised from the dead. He will return from the heavens. He is the one that delivers / rescues true Christians from the danger of the wrath to come.
The word heaven here is plural because Jesus will return from heaven, the dwelling place of God where He is currently preparing a place for us (John 14:2-3), a place that is often depicted as up in the celestial heaven, and He will return as He left in the clouds of the terrestrial heaven (Acts 1:9-11). Paul will explain this return in more detail in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. He will explain more about the wrath of God to come in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 and 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 2:1-12. I will get into more detail when we get to those passages, but for today, understand that an evidence of being one of God’s elect is a hope in Him that is a confident assurance and trust that the Lord keeps His promises. He will return for His elect, and we will not be subject to His wrath. There is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), so we have nothing to fear about God’s future wrath that will be poured out on this sinful world.
Who is and who is not a genuine Christian is ultimately in God’s hands since Christians can and do sin (1 John 1:8,10), and the tares can be difficult to tell from the wheat until the full fruit develops (Matthew 13:26). However, the evidence of being one of God’s elect is known, and Paul had confidence that the Thessalonians were among God’s elect, those chosen for salvation because 1) The nature of the gospel preached to them which came not as wisdom from men, but in word, in power, in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. It was the good news from God concerning salvation from sin through faith in Jesus Christ. 2). They became imitators of the missionaries and the Lord. The elect want to be like the godly and like Christ. They followed the missionaries’ examples in receiving the word of God with joy though persecuted, they themselves became examples to other believers, and they were proclaiming the word of the Lord to others. 3) Their election was confirmed by the reports about them in receiving the word of God resulting in radically changed lives demonstrated in their conversion to God from idols, turning to serve God for they had been transferred out of Satan’s realm and into God’s kingdom so that they slaves of righteous instead of sin, and they turned to wait for Jesus’ return with confident assurance of their eternal future. They knew they would be with Him forever and not under God’s wrath.
What evidence is there that you are one of God’s elect and part of His kingdom? If the evidence is lacking, then why? What needs to change? The offer of salvation is given to all, in fact, it is God’s command for all men everywhere to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30; 1 John 3:23). He calls on all people to seek Him with a promise that He can be found (Isaiah 55:6). The evidence of election will be on your response to His call and commands. The elect will come to believe. The wicked will by their own choice continue in their disbelief and remain under His wrath and destined to His eternal condemnation unless they repent and are converted as were the Thessalonians.
Talk with me or any of our church leaders if you have any questions, doubts, desire to know more or want to repent. We will be glad to help you and show you the way of truth from God’s word.
Sermon Notes – 9/27/2020
Evidence of God’s Choice – 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
“How can you tell if someone is saved?”
Ungodliness in the Church
Difficulty in distinguishing the true and the false: Tares that appear pious and Christians who sin
Paul’s Thankfulness to God – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
Demonstrated in praying for them
Demonstrated in remembering their Work of Faith, Labor of Love, and Steadfastness of Hope in Jesus
Demonstrated in knowing God’s choice of them
God’s Choice – 1 Thessalonians 1:4
He knew (oi\da /oida) about them by experience and reports
Brethren beloved by God
[God’s] election of them
Romans 3:10-12 (Psalm 14:1-3)
John 6:44 & 65
- A) God Exists outside of time. B) He Loved first. C) He choose, not us.
Man’s depravity & rejection of God’s call and command to believe
First Evidences of Election – 1 Thessalonians 1:5
The Gospel came in word
The Gospel came in power
The Gospel came in the Holy Spirit
The Gospel came with full confidence
Proclaim God’s Gospel, not man’s wisdom
Second Evidences of Election – 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8
Mimic / Imitate
Imitators of the missionaries and Christ – 1 Cor. 11:1
Making disciples – Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 6:40
Their reception of the word
The tribulation they encountered
Paul, Silas & Timothy
The also became examples to other believers
The word of the Lord sounded forth from them
Third Evidences of Election – 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
Turning / conversion (ejpistrevqw / epistrephō )
Conversion to God from idols
Turning to serve God, who is living and true, from idols that are dead and fictitious
Turning to wait for an assured future hope from uncertainty
Waiting for Jesus
– Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following:1) Count how many times the word “evidence” is used. 2) Talk with your parents about the evidence that would demonstrate someone is a Christian.
THINK ABOUT IT
– Questions to consider in understanding the sermon and its application. Why can it be difficult to tell if someone is a true Christian or not? In what three ways did Paul express His thankfulness to God for the Thessalonians? In 1:3, what three things does Paul cite that he remembers about them? What do they refer to? In what way does Paul “know” God’s choice of them? What is the significance of Paul calling them “brethren beloved by God”? What is election / choice (ejklogh;n /eklogān)? Why would a professing Christian reject this doctrine? What do the following verses teach about election: Romans 3:10-12 (Psalm 14:1-3), John 6:44 & 65, Ephesians 2:1-10, Romans 8:29–30, Ephesians 1:3–6. Why would a mature Christian love the doctrine of election? What are the evidences of election in 1 Thess. 1:5? How did the gospel come to them? Why is it dangerous to us marketing techniques in evangelism? What is the evidence of election in 1 Thess. 1:6-8? In what three ways were they imitators of the missionaries? Explain each one. What evidences of election in does Paul point out in 1 Thess. 1:9-10? Who were those giving these reports to Paul? What kind of reception did the Thessalonians give to the missionaries? What does it mean to turn (ejpistrevqw / epistrephō)? Why did turning to God from idols require God’s election? How do you think the other pagans would react to such a conversions? Why does turning to serve God require God’s election? Who / what were they serving previously? What did the pagans expect after death? Describe the nature of their waiting for Jesus return? Where did they expect Him to come from? What did they expect would happen upon His return? What evidence is there that you are one of the elect, a genuine Christian? If the evidence is lacking, why? And what needs to change? What have you done / will you do regarding God’s call to repent and believe?
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