“Standing Strong Against the Tide”
We are just as much in dispersion in America today as Daniel and his friends in Babylon, 2600 years ago. Today I want us to look at the reality that Christian ministry is enfolded in conflict. We will travel through time to 1st Century AD.
Thessalonians 1 600 years after Daniel, not much has changed.
A cast of characters, namely, who is bringing this message. Paul is writing and his greeting includes Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy.
He is writing to the Church in Thessalonica which he founded in 49 AD while Silas and Timothy were with him. The occasion is recorded in Acts 17:1-11, and it reveals that this church was founded in dispute___________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________ The key component of the teaching: vs. 3, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”
The result is a mixture of reactions: (vs. 4) “Some were persuaded”. _____________________
______________________________________________________________________________The problem lies in the “Jews who were not persuaded”. (vs. 5) _________________________
So one of the new converts (Jason) becomes the focus of the mob and they are taken before the “rulers of the city” and charged with disorderly conduct. ____________________________ Basically, according to verse 9, Jason pays a fine and the authorities let him go.
This community decided it was best to get Paul and Silas and Timothy out of town and they did so by cover of darkness. Verse 11 illuminatess the different heart and mind that the missionaries encountered when they move on to Berea where it says, “these were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica”. In Berea that found a group with a teachable spirit but in Thessalonica they started with a divided group.
This background helps us digest this 1st chapter of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.
1. Paul repeats this phrase twice in the first verse: “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. _____________________________________________________________________________
2. Verse 6 speaks to the turmoil that occurred at the foundation of this church: “And you became followers of us and the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.” ______________________________________________________________
3. Paul then speaks of the witness of faithfulness of this group: “you have become examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.” In the midst of their conflict, starting with great division, they have been faithful to share the good news. They did not shirk the responsibility of ministry in the context of conflict. “Your faith toward God has gone out”.
4. Paul summarizes the change that they have made:
a. They turned to God and left their idols.
b. They now serve the living and true God.
c. They are waiting for the return of the Lord, just as we are because their hope is in the resurrection, “saved from the wrath to come.”
The key issue in the Christian worldview is the absolute belief that God is our Creator and that we are His creation, in His image, male and female; made by Him and for Him and distinctly separate from the animal kingdom. This view keeps us in constant conflict with our world.
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