Wednesday 1 May 2024


  1 Thessalonians Chapter 1


    This Letter is thought to be the first of Paul’s thirteen New Testament Letters, and one which is very relevant to us to-day.  We can learn from this Letter what the Bible teaches us is a successful Church, and what it means to be a Christian in the purest sense.

.Paul had been on a mission with Silas and Timothy, and chose to visit Thessalonica.  This was a proud capital city of Macedonia, with a large population, a fine harbour, and was a busy trade centre, strategically situated on the main highway between East and West across Europe.  What happened there, tended to happen along the way. 

1 Thessalonians is one of the oldest books in the New Testament, and I am coming to be quite fond of it. Scholars date it at approximately 50-51 A.D., meaning that it was written only 18 years after Jesus’ life and death. As such, it is one of the earliest pictures we have of the Christian church in the very beginning.  This, together with other Scripture, tells us why Christianity spread so far and fast, without all the modern means of communication we have, and why the Church was so successful.

Paul begins this Letter in a different manner from others, in that he writes to show he recognises they are truly Christians, who have fully accepted God and Jesus Christ. They had listened to Paul, their minds were engaged. They were the church in God. They knew the Lord Jesus Christ. They had experienced the grace and peace of God. Paul prayed for them. He thanked God for them always. 

Most people consider a Church to be successful when it has a large congregation, is well financed, in a big building, preferably with car park; but such is a misconception and reveals mankind’s ideals as compared with that of God. Such an image is not in the line of the thinking of Jesus.

here are so many people who think if a person is not of another faith, or is an atheist, and if living in this nation, they must be a Christian; this is more so if they watch Songs of Praise on television.  This is a total myth, for a lot of nice and good living people are Muslims, or even atheists, and would be understandably offended to think they may be Christians

A successful Church is one with ordinary people, rich or poor, in a building big or small, where there is a lot of faith, a lot of hope, a lot of Christian love, sincerity, commitment, faithful preaching and total acceptance of the authority of the Bible.      

There is a big difference between a religious person and a Christian. There are so many people who think if a person is not of another faith, or is an atheist, and if living in this nation, they must be a Christian; this is more so if they watch Songs of Praise on television.  This is a total myth, for a lot of nice and good living people are Muslims, or even atheists, and would be understandably offended to think they may be Christians

There is a story about a man who attended one of the Billy Graham Crusades, and after the service was approached by a counsellor and asked, ‘are you a Christian sir?’  The man replied, ‘ I have been an Anglican all my life and I am not about to change now’

I was once asked by a lady, to explain that she had heard a man on television say he had attended a Church for years, but had only just become a Christian.  What did he mean?

Turn with me to Paul’s first Letter to the Thessalonian Church, This was a Church which Paul had founded, and he was very fond of it. I have come to like this Letter as it is so relevant and helpful, especially to new Christians. Most of the believers had come to Christ from idol worshipping, and they had made a huge impact as new Christian members.

Most of the believers at Thessalonica had come to Christ from idol-worshiping.   Paul’s brief ministry, resulted in a congregation made up mostly of converted Greeks, along with a few believing Jews and some leading women of the city.   These former idol-worshipers had a huge impact as brand-new Christ-followers.     

 Here was a Church, which started off with new people coming into our faith, and such was the commitment and enthusiasm, it made others wanting to join. This is typical human nature, of people seeing others having something  which they hadn’t, so didn’t want to be left out. Such was the vibrancy of their faith, that it spread widely, and the people were speaking of their devotion, their past practices left behind them.  The believers shared their good news, through the area, telling what a difference God had made on their lives.  Their friends and families began to ask questions about what happened to make such a change.     

Research has shown that the most successful form of evangelism, is that of ordinary men and women Christians, telling others of how Christianity has changed their lives, perhaps just mentioning they attend Church, and we are as proud of our faith, just as much as the other faiths are.

aul commended them for the main element of a Christian life, faith and love.  For a faith which works, love which labours, and a hope which endures.  Faith is not merely belief, it is something that changes your thinking, making you turn from something that is wrong to something which is right; love which causes you to work for the gospel; and hope which makes you steadfast in the faith and enable you to endure.  This is the whole Christiam life, beginning in faith, continuing in love, and culminating in the hope of eternal life.

Paul tells the believers they had been chosen by God.  The Bible tells us that God knows the secret working of our hearts, and knows when we are ready to acknowledge Him through Christ, by whom alone we can come to God. He, by His amazing grace, chooses and calls us into His family  God finds us before we find Him.

Two things must happen in order for a person to become a Christian; first from God’s side and then from the human side; but God side must always be the first. A Christian then is then one who responds to the gospel message.

Have you ever wondered why two people can hear the same message yet respond in different ways? It happens because one hears words, while the other man hears a message.  It is the Holy Spirit who takes human preaching, and makes it alive inside the human heart.

These Thessalonian Christians we are told, accepted the Word of God and received it into their hearts.  It is like someone sending you a present, you receive it when delivered to you, and you accept and use it for the purpose given. So the early Christians accepted the Word of God to improve their lives.

The last words of our Lord to His Apostles were, to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them. to observe all that I have commanded.  Here in the words of our Lord, is the purpose for which founded the Church.

The Apostles taught the truth about Jesus Christ, they taught the way in which He fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures in order to bring people to salvation through His sacrificial death on the Cross, and His resurrection.  They also taught how salvation in Jesus was to be worked out in the life of a believer.  They did not teach something  that they made up in their own minds, only things revealed to them by Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Jesus had already made clear to them that their teaching was to be consistent with His. Our whole gospel message is based on the Apostles teaching, now enshrined in the New Testament.

As the years went by, the Apostles went all over the world teaching the truth. The Bible tells us people were cut to the heart, in other words, deeply convicted. The people devoted to the teaching, there was no coercion.  Throughout he ages, God has opened the hearts of people, to call them to Jesus.

This is Christianity in its purest form, stripped of all human influences and addition of false doctrines and ritual, which transformed the ancient world  This is how it was in the beginning, and what makes a successful Church, as opposed to a religious club. United by common interest; it is a people chosen by God, receiving power through Jesus Christ, who demonstrate this in faith.  All Christians should consider how deep our commitment is to Jesus Christ.

So, we may think of a successful Church as one where there is commitment, enthusiasm, and the teaching is that of that given by the Apostles, passed down to us in the New Testament, all of which leads to growth. 

God does not choose large Cathedrals to perform His plans, nor pick rich influential people.  Abraham Lincoln stated  that God must have loved ordinary people, he made so many of them.  He chose a humble Jewish village girl to bear the Saviour of the world.  None of the Apostles had a degree between them, they were ordinary working men.  They would never have passed a selection board here today, their strong Bible teaching would have disqualified them right off.

God acts when people respond to His Son.  It can be in the smallest of Churches; God acts when people turn to Him.  

What should occupy our minds is, if the Church is still preaching the message of the Apostles, and is it fit, for the purpose Christ and the Apostles built it? If we are going to be honest, only by Independent Evangelical Churches, for we have seen how leaders in main denominations have wandered into creating false doctrines to meet society’s calling.

The Church has cast aside the Bible, and in so doing caused the country to lose its Influence, Guidance and moral standards, with the consequence the young people are not able to distinguish between good and bad. Church has become disconnected from the Word of God. With no firm statement of belief, so is unable to fulfil our Lord’s command to teach the Bible.

Martin Luther wrote, the true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God. This is what the Church should be preaching, but too many people are concerned to follow an equality and diversity agenda, which puts forward childish and silly remarks. This has become now an obsession.

Jesus gave strict commands on spiritual, moral. Ethical, and social matters, and all clergy vowed at ordination to honour the words of Scripture, and banish false doctrine.

We live in an evil world, and when you read newspapers, it is hard to believe how barbaric humans can be to fellow humans. There is ill concealed lying by politicians, corruption, deceit, cheating and lusting to such an extent that women are at constant peril from all manner of sexual attacks.

We have to accept, that the Church exists primarily to proclaim the gospel. If we restrict that, then we have no claim to be here.  Today there are many attacks on Christianity. The liberal lobby have lost all sense of reality with their spurious devotion to a woke agenda.

All Christians, at this perilous time need to think what we can offer to God. Above all, we must not be ashamed of the gospel, nor reluctant to preach it without fear or favour. Come to Church prepared to feast on sound teaching. Do not listen to anyone tell you that you don’t matter or count, you count tremendously.  Glory in what you do for God, He expects us to be His ambassadors.


 I close with the words of John Wesley

I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came down from heaven. He hath written down in a book. Give me that book. At any price give me the Book of God


    May God nspire our hearts by His Holy Word and may His Holy Name be glorified

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