The Church of Christ Expanding
1 Thessalonians 1:8
The Bible is ever reminding us of the progress of the Gospel and the Spiritual and numerical expansion of the Church. We see it expressed in the activities of this Church. "They sounded out the Word." As the Word of God increased the number of the disciples multiplied.
The Church is called upon in these verses to grow up and increase as the Spirit works. We see here the enlarged ministry of the Church.
In our day we sing "Like a mighty army moves the Church of God", and we notice that the average Church is so static that she doesn't know where she came from, where she now is, and has no idea or vision of where she is going. Don't say, "We are marching to Zion" if we are at ease in Zion. Here in this Book of First Thessalonians we observe the actions of a Model Church. See some matters related to that Church.
I. The Commencement of a Model Church
Its beginning was associated with—
- Divinely Sent Messengers—Acts 17:1a
- They were Converted Men
- They were Concerned Men
- They were Consecrated Men
- They were Courageous Men
- They had a Distinctive Message—1:5a, "Our Gospel"
- It was the Gospel of the Grace of God
- It was the Message of a Scriptural Christ
- It was the Story of a Suffering Christ
- It was the Record of a Saving Christ
- It was the Evidence of a Sovereign Christ
- They had a Dynamic Ministry— 1:5b
- They served in the energy of the Spirit
- They knew the Spirit's Ability
- They knew the Spirit's Possibility
II. The Character of a Model Church
- We have seen how this Church started—
- By an Obedient Servant—Paul
- By an Overpowering Spirit
- By an Opposing Society
- Now look at the Character of this Church
- It had a Converted Membership
- This is an IMPORTANT Matter—A Major Matter
- That Church was made up of Saved People
- This is an INDIVIDUAL Matter
- Examine yourself—Am I in the Faith?
- This is an IMPRESSIVE Matter
- The world is attracted to radiant Christians
- This is an IMPERATIVE Matter
- It had a Consecrated Ministry
- See the Activity of their Faith—"Work of faith"— 1:3
- Faith Induced Conversion
- Faith Increased their ability
- Faith Incited them to work
- Faith Inflamed all their service
- See the Ardor of their Love—1:3
It was seen—
- In their Decision to stand with Paul, v. 6
- In their Dedication to the Lord, v. 6
- In their Delight in the Word, v. 6
- See the Abundance of their Hope—v. 3
- Was Sustaining—"Patience of Hope"
- Was Sure—"In the Lord Jesus Christ"
- Was Sincere—"In the sight of God"
- They had a Compassionate Missionary Zeal, v. 8
They saw men lost—In their Departure from God
- In their Depraved Natures
- In their Destiny in Hell
- In their Despair—without a shepherd
III. The Compelling Influence of a Model Church
The Record of this Church should do something in the lives of God's people.
God is surely speaking to us. What should we do?
- We Must Recognise the Definite Statements
This is the Bible record of a "Real" Church. It is not a fable or a fairy tale. A Church with real people who were saved and aflame for the Lord. This record is Inspired.
- We Must Review the Declared Standard
See the standard of a Model Church—
- They were Converted People—"turned to God"
- They were Concerned People—"sounded out the Word"
- They were Consecrated People—"loved the Word"
- They had a zeal for God
- We Must Respond to the Divine Scriptures
- God is speaking to us.
- Will we Reexamine our lives?
- Will we Review our conduct?
- How about our faith, love and hope?
- Will we Regulate our concerns?
- Does Christ have priority in our lives?
- Are we sending out the Word?
- Will we say personally, "I want my life to count God?"