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Marks of a genuine Christians 1 Thessalonians
Marks of a genuine Christian
1 Thessalonians

Scripture reading: Acts 17:1-15

This morning we are going to take a look at 1 Thessalonians

-Thessalonica was a capital city in the Roman Empire (It was wealthy. It had a large military base, it had a great harbor and the super highway of the day (the Egnatian Way) went right through the middle of the city. The Romans used this to quickly transport supplies and troops through that end of their empire
-200,000 people lived in Thessalonica (the city still exists today in Greece)
-Church founded by Paul and Silas around A.D 50
-Paul and Silas were only in town for 2-4 weeks. Jews, jealous of the fruit of how many became followers of Jesus, came and drove Paul and Silas out of town
-Letter written about A.D 52
-This is a very tender letter. Paul was full of love for the Thessalonians and considered himself a father to them. Further, any aspects of corrective teaching are delivered in the gentlest of ways
-One of Paul's chief reasons for writing to the Thessalonian believers was to encourage them in their faith (a faith he was worried they would abandon because of the intense persecution that they were facing for becoming followers of Jesus)
-Woven through the book of 1 Thessalonians is the theme of FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE and what that means lived out
-Every chapter ends with a reference to the second coming of Christ. The return of Christ and the judgment to come is a big theme in both 1 and 2 Thessalonians

While the theme of Christ's return and the judgment to come runs through 1 Thessalonians, alongside is the theme of genuine faith. In the time that remains I want to explore with you what 1 Thessalonians says about being a true follower of Jesus

READ 1 Thessalonians 1

Marks of a Genuine follower of Jesus

In 2 Corinthians 13:5 it says; "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves"

Besides confessing that "Jesus is Lord" and "Believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead" what is required of us as Christians?

1. Spiritual fruit v.3

Note the appearance of faith, hope, and love, familiar to us from the ending of Paul's love chapter (1 Cor. 13). These qualities, born of the Spirit of God working in a person's heart, produce tangible fruit in a persons life-- work, labor, endurance.

Work produced by Faith (in Jesus as Savior, in His promises)

Labor prompted by Love (for the saints and God)

Endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ (He coming back, to judge and to rescue)


A closer examination of 1 Thessalonians reveals that Faith, Hope, and love weave there way through the entirety of Thessalonians. Check it out!

As it regards SPIRITUAL FRUIT in our lives, in James 2:14 James writes; "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" Three verses later James says "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." ----Faith and works go hand in hand!

The fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23


2. Deep conviction over ones sin, accompanied by a radical change in ones life 1:4-5

In 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 Paul writes "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction."

The conversion of the Thessalonian believers had been dramatic.

Note 1:9 "They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God"


Before one becomes a follower of Jesus, they might be anything: A thief, a liar, a homosexual, guilty of abortion, filled with pride, living together with someone they are not married to, a blasphemer, an idol worshipper, etc.
In coming to Jesus, one confesses these things for what they are: SIN. One confesses it and then one repents of it and says "I'm leaving that behind" I'm going to follow Jesus. I am going to live no longer for myself but Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says; "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Further: In coming to Christ there is the conviction of sin and a work of repentance accompanied by faith- such is about being born again. In continuing with Christ, we have tender hearts that respond to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin-- the result being our growth in being like Christ and in holiness.


3. A desire to imitate Christ 1:6

The character of Christ is our goal. The imitation of Christ is what following Jesus is about. Followers of Jesus want to be like him

What does it mean to imitate Jesus? Being like Christ in prayer, service, forgiveness, gentleness, love, patience, the way we respond to persecutors, being sacrificial, being generous, etc

In ch 4-5 Paul goes into detail about what imitating Christ is about. While giving many instructions about how a follower of Jesus is supposed to live, Paul touches on 3 key things

a. Living sexually pure lives 1 Thess 4.:3-8
b. Loving one another 1 Thess. 4:9
c. Leading productive and quiet lives- not being "idle" 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 5:14

The subject of idleness is also raised twice by Paul in 2 Thessalonians. One can only conclude that some folks had a tendency towards laziness

The goal: To live lives that please Christ --1 Thessalonians 4:1


4. A willingness to endure suffering and persecution for Christ 1:6

In John 15:20 Jesus says; "'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also"

In 2 Timothy 3:12 Paul writes "Everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted".

In 1:6 and at numerous other locations in 1 Thessalonians Paul talks about how he knew that the Thessalonians had experienced many incidents of persecution for their commitment to Jesus.

As is recorded in 1 Thessalonians 3 Paul acknowledges that he had been quite concerned for the Thessalonians-- hoping and praying that the persecutions they faced had not destroyed their faith. However, as Paul tells us in chapter 3, after sending Timothy to them, he had discovered that they were of people of perseverance and that they had counted the cost of following Jesus and had not shrunk back. (Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-7)**


Related verse: Philippians 3:10-11 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."

5. Telling others about Jesus and the way of salvation 1:8

"The Lord's message rang out from you..."

A follower of Jesus is not ashamed of Christ or the Gospel message. Followers of Jesus look for opportunities to talk to others about Jesus, sin, righteousness, the judgment to come (which is mentioned 3 times in 1 Thessalonians (1:10, 2:15-16, 5:9), the way of Christ. (I Peter 3:15; Romans 1:16)

Keep looking for and praying for opportunities to present the Word of Christ and Christ clearly and with boldness. God will open doors when we pray this and have this as our desire.

Our message

-We are sinners
-There is a day of accounting coming, a day of judgment for sin
-In love, God the Father sent Jesus to Earth (God became a man) to live a perfect life and then to die on the cross as a once for all sacrifice for our sins-- that we might escape the judgement to come and have peace with God
-For all who confess their sins and repent of them, believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord and committing to follow Him, there is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life


6. A longing for the return of Christ 4:13-5:11

In 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19; 3:13 and through most of chapters 4-5, Paul talks about the return of Christ and the resurrection to come.

Sometimes we forget that the Scriptures teach us that Jesus is coming back. There is a constant danger to us- that we will get engrossed in the things of this life, forgetting that this world is passing away, that a day of judgment is coming, that our citizenship is not here but in Heaven.

A quick summary of what Paul teaches about the return of Christ in 1 Thessalonians

-Jesus rescues us (his followers) from the coming wrath. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)
-On the day of Christ- other believers, who we have had a hand in leading to Christ- are our 'crown' 2:19-20
-Our goal is to be found blameless, pure, and holy when Jesus comes with all his holy ones (seems that his holy ones include those who have died in Christ) 3:13
-When Jesus returns he will bring with him all who have died in Christ (such rests upon Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Since Jesus rose, we will rise. Hence we are not to grieve like those who have no hope. 4:13
-When Jesus comes it will be a visible and glorious coming. The trumpet of the Lord will be heard and the dead in Christ will be resurrected to life, then we will be caught up to meet Christ in the air and shall be with him forever. 4:13-18
-Date setting for Jesus' return is no no
-Judgment Day and the return of Christ - being The Day of the Lord- is going to take people by surprise 5:1-3
-We are to live in a state of readiness for Christ's return. Jesus' return should not surprise us 5:4
-As we wait for Christ's return we are not to live like the people of this world. We are to live self controlled lives, living in faith, hope, and love 5:8 (interesting. Paul began with faith hope and love, and here in finishes with it)

A comment on the theme of Judgment in the 1 Thessalonians--

Not only is Paul reminding us that Judgment Day is coming, his words would have served as a comfort to the Thessalonians to hear that there persecutors would be punished for their wickedness. "True and just are your judgments O God" Revelation 16:7; 19:2

CONCLUSION

Major themes in the Book of 1 Thessalonians include: The return of Christ and the judgment to come, Persecution that comes for being a follower of Jesus, Faith hope and love and what the fruit of that looks like, Encouragement (for Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians to encourage the believers in their faith), what genuine faith looks like.

This morning, while touching upon some of the other great themes in 1 Thessalonians, we have focused on what genuine faith looks like. I trust that today's study has encouraged you in your walk with Christ-- and if you are not right with Christ, what's holding you back from putting your faith in Christ and becoming his follower?