Thursday, August 5, 2010

Continue with Chapter 1:4-10

1 Thessalonians 1:4-10

4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

“We KNOW that you are chosen of God.” How comforting that must have sounded to these people! These are the people who were going through some hard times of deep persecution and suffering. Once, they were outcast—outside of the knowledge of God and out of touch with His Mercy and Love—now brought into the Family of God as joint heirs of His Kingdom. (see 2 Peter 1:3-9) All that He is, is theirs in Christ Jesus. The fact that you are loved by God and that you are chosen by God to be His! WOW!

He has chosen you. To do what? First to be in His Family. Picked out of the many people in that city, this group of followers of Christ KNOWS that He has selected them to Know Him. 2. He placed THE knowledge of God in their hearts. He had called them to believe even before the world was formed. It tells us in the Bible that all that is true. And THIS truth was now re-expressed by Paul to those he had left behind to find and understand the Gospel of God. That is Good News.

We also know something. It is found a creed, a teaching, a statement of belief as in a formal summary of the principles of the Christian faith.

The Nicene Creed 325 AD in the city in Turkey was set up to combat false teachings. In that same year, Constantine the Great, who had converted to Christianity ten years earlier and replaced official persecution of Christianity with official support, called for the great Council of Nicea. The Council of Nicea was the first ecumenical (worldwide) council of the church and the first of Seven Ecumenical Councils recognized by most Christian denominations as having doctrinal authority. Around 300 bishops or church leaders from across the Christian world attended.

The main reason for the council was the dispute over this heresy that first surfaced early in the 4th century by a teacher from the Egyptian city of the Alexandria, Arius by name. He stated that Christ is not truly divine but a created being. The basic idea of Arius was the uniqueness of God, who is alone self-existent and unchangeable. But the Son, who is not self-existent, cannot be God.

Although this council ended the heresy in the empire, this false teaching continued among some of the Germanic tribes to the end of the 7th century. In modern times some Unitarians are virtually followers on this heresy in that they reduce Christ to a mere human being and deny him a divine nature identical with that of the Father. The Christology of the Jehovah's Witnesses is also a form of Arianism; they regard Arius as a forerunner of Charles Taze Russell, the founder of their movement.

The Nicene Creed

• I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

• And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

• Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

• And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

This Message: THE Message, came to you with Power and deep conviction with the Holy Spirit. Here Paul offers us a glimpse of how they first heard and believed the teachings of Paul. This Message came with the Power of the Holy Spirit—not with the convincing arguments of man. It was not just some nice teaching. Some principles to follow to find inner happiness. It was not a self-help seminar. Not some feel-good talk on some fuzzy ideas made up by some loose nut.

It was THE MESSAGE that has been told since Man could hear. This Message was the Message that God loves Mankind. The Message that God knew that Man needed Him because Man had fallen into sin. This sin would separate Man from God—this God, who is Holy and Righteous. The Message is the Gospel that Jesus shared while He ministered for three years. He was the Message, as He is the Gospel. One of the same.

This Message was not just words. It had something strong behind it! The transformed life of men and women.

Tell me, Friends, when you think of how the Lord God has changed you, have you not come along way? Once you were self-seeking. Once you were far from loving God. Far from any love at all. Your heart was cold to the things of God. You had no care, no compassion. You were only concerned for one thing and that thing was you. Oh, you might have been a good person. You might have done good works but your soul was lost. You were not a lover of God and the Love of God was not in you.

But then, the Word came on you with Power with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction and you were found to be a new creature in Christ. You were born anew. Born again. Born of the Spirit. You were once dead but now you really live. Isn’t that the way it went for you?

Have you been transformed? Are you a different person than who you were before Christ came into your life? Then share it with others. Be like those people in the Thessalonian Church.

In the middle of verse five, we find that YOU KNOW SOMETHING too. The people in that church knew how the teachers of the Message lived among them. Their teachers had integrity. That is missing from some leaders today—even from within the Church. As a result of that open lifestyle of Paul and Co., they had become imitators of their teachers. They walked in Faith like the teachers. They approached issues in the family like the teachers. They faced the hardships just like the teachers did. And the teachers followed the Walk of Jesus. It was how He would have walked.

Who follows you? Who imitates your life? Who acts like you? In some circles, imitation is a sign of respect and love. Is it a sign of love and respect in your walk?

In spite of severe suffering. That is the real test, isn’t it? Everyone can handle life when it is going well. But when the fire gets hot, when the issues of life pile up, when there is pain in our spirit, when our soul is taxed, that is the time the Lord is to be depended upon. You can only really make it in life with Him by your side. He is the One who gives His Grace to us. In spite of severe suffering, His presence is always there. How could we face life’s hardships without Him?

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves just Whom we belong to! He is mine and I am His. I am His Child. He is my Lord. I can depend upon His Word that He will always be with us and that He has called us to follow Him. We are loved & chosen of God (V 4).

And our walk of Faith needs to be a model of Faith for others to follow. Why? Why not? Why be just followers? Take the lead in loving your family. Take the lead in sharing His Love to the family. Take the lead because that is where He has called us to be! In the front! Being the model. Not waiting for others to do the work of Faith. Get busy doing His Work in your community. Be active.

Proof is that the others are telling others that they turned TO God FROM idols to serve the living and true God!

That is how people knew of their transformed lives. There was a definite change of allegiance. Once, a worshiper of idols NOW and worshiper of the Living God. The way of idols is the way of darkness. It holds no truth. It is a dead end. Both for those in the West and for those in the East. Everyone, at one time, worshipped at an idol. I can say that because the Word tells us that we all have fallen away ~ exchanged the truth of God for a lie. (Romans 1). Each of us has turned to his or her own way. We turned our backs on the One who made us. Each of us! But now that the Gospel has come to our hearing, it is time for us to turn to the Living God and find His Grace. And find His forgiveness. Just like these people. It rang out into the whole area and beyond! It became known everywhere! Not as a matter of pride but as a matter of fact!

Not only did they turn from idols to the living God, they also wait for His return. Not as a lazy way, up on a hill, stopping work, practicing the rapture jump. They were active in their walk. Active in their social conduct. Not just on Sunday mornings, but on the way home from Church. (Non-believers told a friend of mine that when they see ‘Christians’ at the eki, they see sad faces… unfriendly faces. Cold and not caring. Called them a cult.) When people see us in public, what do they see? Depressed, sad, soiled, unkempt, sorrowful people or do they see People of the Light! People of the Book. People who care. Who show compassion. What say ye? Are you such a person?

These people also identifies with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And they lived their lives out in such a way that they walk in thankfulness of heart for the saving of their souls from the coming wrath. And it is coming but those who are saved will not taken part in the wrath, but in the joy of knowing His forgiveness.

Many old saints are now with the Lord. Grace Hanson, Reuben Brooks, and others are now gone. People who knew how to pray. They knew their Lord well and spoke to Him regularly. Who will take their place? Such a man is one who wrote in my Father-in-law’s Blog. Reuben had prayed for him each week from the day they met years before. He had not known of dad’s prayers but later learned of it. He asked; “Who will be praying for me now?” Faith wisely answered, “It is your turn to do the same of others!” Be the example. There is no retirement in the Faith. Make a difference in other people’s walk of Faith. Hold them up before the father and keep your life from evil.