Ministry Momentum

Christ Covenant Church
Rev. Marq Toombs
28 April 2019
Second Sunday of Easter

Series on 1 Thessalonians — The Future Shapes the Present

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Sermon Text: 1 Thessalonians 1

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

[ sketch notes ]

Easter season — Christ is Risen!

Note: Every chapter of 1 Thessalonians ends with a reference to the second and final coming of Jesus Christ.

This is why we call the series The Future Shapes the Present. Put a fancy way,  eschatology shapes ethics — and experience. The promise of his coming reshapes the practice of our going. The end shapes the now.

As we move towards the end of all things, the end moves towards the now in all things.

+ Memories vv 2-3

In Greek, the idea behind remember is memorialize. Paul “memorializes” the faith, hope, and love of the Thessalonian church before the Triune God. (Notice that he mentions the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) Pastors and elders in 21stcentury ought to do the same. Instead of criticizing and complaining about our congregations, we ought to memorialize them in our prayers.

+ Message vv 4-6

The Book of Acts (Acts 17:1-4) tells us how the gospel came to Thessalonica. To the Jews first, then the Greeks. For the most part, the Jews rejected it and raged against Paul. But the Greeks received it by grace through faith and rejoiced in the Lord.

The message Paul and his companions preached was the gospel that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. This clashed and collided with the (false) gospel of Rome that Caesar is Lord.

On the basis of their receiving God’s word as God’s very word, Paul concluded that God chose and loved them.

+ Models vv 6-7

They imitated Paul who imitated the Lord Jesus and they became types/patterns for other Christian churches (including us) to imitate. In the midst of their affliction, they rejoice in the Lord. (They received the word in spite of dire conditions and difficult circumstances. External circumstances did not determine their spiritual condition. This text reminds us of Early Rain Covenant Church in China and other persecuted churches in other parts of the world.

+ Mission vv 8-9

Paul was amazed at the missional work of this church. The message of Christ “roared like thundered” across their corner of the world roll despite intense pressure from the Jews (and Greeks). Acts 17:5-7 tells how critics and enemies threatened members of the church because “they turned the whole world upside down” by preaching there is a rival king – Jesus Christ is Lord. Vs 10 says they turned from idols to God. Idolatry takes many shapes and forms. In Thessalonica, the Caesar and the State (Rome) were idolized. The people had to choose between Christ and Caesar, between the cross and the flag (so-to-speak).

+ Maranatha! vs 10

Come Lord Jesus!

Easter – Christ is Risen is old news to most people – if news at all. This week the whole world is buzzing about Avengers: Endgame. That’s the cultural event of the year (so far this week). Still, for us, the most epic story of all is the story of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected.

But, wait! There’s more.

According to the apostle Paul: the gospel of Jesus Christ comes with an endgame of its own. As we confess together with the historic orthodox Church, he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

We wait (look forward with eager anticipation) for Jesus, not as escapism from troubles, but for the experience and enjoyment of deliverance from God’s wrath.

The promise of his coming reshapes the practice of our going.