Please listen to this audio if you get a chance, it is 3 minutes 21 seconds long:
- Devotions at Middle Schools
- Kirsten Preaching at Fireproof
- Abbie's Wrist Injury
Do Animals Go to Heaven? Maybe~Maybe Not http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/pets.shtml
Why do people in the Bible have their names changed? To show an outward sign of inward change. We take on a new name after we're saved, we become Christians and thus have the duty to represent Christ rightly. To get back into last weeks lesson, one way is not to misrepresent the nature of our will and God's will.
The Bible says that God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18); he is bound to righteousness and goodness, where-as we learned last week that we are bound to unrighteousness and badness. If God doesn't have a free-will, why should we assume that we do? I want to show you another reason why it is so important to read everything in context, one of the favorite proof texts of the free-will believer, who wants to have something to do with his or her salvation.
Joshua 24:15-19 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods, for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God." But Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.
Two terms you should know are Monergism and Synergism.
Synergism - The Free-Will view, men are sick in their sins and initiate salvation by believing.
Monergism - The Biblical view, men are dead in their sins (Eph 2:1) and cannot do anything to revive themselves, salvation comes by the work of God as initiated by the preaching of his word.
So to jump off of last week, we know that God chose the church at Thessalonica and is still choosing the church today. This class is both in a very privileged position and a VERY dangerous position. It is privileged because you get to hear the word of God from a young age, it is dangerous because you might not realize that you have to repent and believe for yourself. It is both our job as a church to be godly and preach the whole counsel of God and be obedient, and your job to make your calling and election sure.
It is one thing if you go to Hell because I, Jenny, or Dave tell you wrong things; but is another if you hear the Word of God, refuse to forsake your sins, and then are rightly thrown into Hell. All we can do is give you an appreciation for the holiness of God, the sinfulness of sin, a love of the Bible, and a hatred of sin, but we can't go to the cross with you, you have to do that on your own.
It took a whole class period, but now we're on verse 5.
v5 "...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."
Remember that faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
The church at Thessalonica was saved because the Gospel was preached to them, but not just the words, but because the Holy Spirit was actively convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment. (John 16:8) I can preach until I’m blue in the face and it do nothing, if the Holy Spirit doesn’t move, because I am nothing but a vessel and without cooperation of the Holy Spirit, my ministry is nothing but the vain ramblings of a sinner.
There is nothing we can do to manipulate God. He isn’t a machine that if you push the right button or give the right command or pray the right prayer, he will do anything for you. Don’t send someone a dollar so that they will pray for you so that God will give you ten dollars. It doesn’t work that way, God’s ways are above our ways, and he will not be bribed or manipulated. However, if we are obedient to his commands to strive for holiness, to preach the Gospel, and continue to pray, we can be confident that he will work through us for his glory, and through this we will be blessed because our goal should be the glory of God.
Paul continues on this thought by saying, “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” (v5) Their godliness facilitated the movement of the Holy Spirit to convert the Thessalonians. Personal responsibility follows, for James says that you see that a person is saved by their works, not by their (profession of) faith.(James 2:24)
If these workings of God have occurred in you, you will instantly start following Christ and be an imitator of him and godly Christians. Check out verses six, seven, and eight, what a compliment!
v6-8 "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.”
This area is roughly the sprawl of Georgia and South Carolina put together. Imagine how incredible it would be if someone told us, “Summit has become an example to all the believers in Georgia and South Carolina!” We should strive for that, we should be known as an evangelistic church, a ministering church, a steadfast church, especially a loving church, but it can only be this way if each member takes part in the responsibility of telling people about Christ and volunteering time for ministry, as well as striving for holiness and purity.
Not to mention that Thessalonica had earned this reputation in less than a year! One of the reasons they were so well known is because they were outright pagans before they got saved, and they forsook all of their gods in order to follow Christ.
v9 "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,"
In America people don't realize they are worshipping false idols because we rarely see little statues that represent gods, but that doesn't mean that they aren't worshipping them. Four major gods that we still see worshipped today under different names are:
Mammon - Money
Dionysius - Alchohol
Diana - Nature
Aphrodite - Sex
Paul ends the chapter with the Gospel; we should never talk to someone about God or faith or anything without including that Christ died for their sins, was raised from the dead, and requires obedience and faith as the response in order to be saved.
Don’t be shy about mentioning the wrath of God; that God hates sin, is angry with the sinner everyday, and that the only salvation from the wrath to come is seeking refuge in the Son of God.
For next week please read 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and meditate on what the Gospel is; two good places to see the Gospel clearly are Galatians 1 and Romans 5, and the entire next class will be spent looking at Gospel presentations, and what the Gospel is and isn't.