1 Thessalonians 1:6-8
Last time we looked at verse 4 and 5 of 1 Thessalonians 1. Paul said that it was obvious that the people that made up this church belonged to God, because of their life proved it. Paul also spoke about how he delivered the Gospel to them and how the Holy Spirit was involved. He also spoke about how Paul, Silas and Timothy didn’t just preach, but lived out what they said they believed. This church began to change the society around them, by living out their faith to the point of exhaustion.
6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.
7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
Paul starts off by saying the people at Thessalonica were followers of whom?
Paul, Timothy and Silas and the Lord. Does that sound braggadocios of Paul?
Why would they follow these men?
Maybe there was something about these men that was worth following. Of course it also implies that these men discipled others. As Christians we are to follow Christ and our desire should be to be more like him each day. I think it is easier to follow someone or learn from someone when it is obvious that they are following the Lord.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul kind of supports this idea that we should follow or learn from others who are following after Christ or imitating Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
In this case Paul is an example of what these new Christians should be. Keep in mind the entire Bible is not available during this time.
Find people to imitate. If someone studies the word very well, then imitate her. If someone shows love to others, imitate him. If someone teaches well, imitate them.
Paul then says that these people received the word in much affliction, in other words against much pressure and adversity. Not only did Paul get chased out of town, but others suffered because of their beliefs and because of the work they did.
Yet, they had joy. Why? Because of the Holy Ghost. Jesus said that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to comfort the believer. Paul is saying this is evidence that they are truly saved, because even during the hard times, they have joy, and the joy comes from the Holy Spirit who lives within the believer.
Paul and Silas know something about affliction. Before they went to Thessalonica they were imprisoned in Philippi. Did they mope and get down? No, they were singing.
As believers we can still have joy in our lives even though things look dark around us.
In verse 7 Paul now explains the result of his work and God’s work in the lives of these people.
Paul said that they now were examples to all that believe in the large area around them.
Wow. In a very short time these new Christians, were changing the world around them. How?
Well verse 7 and 8 tells us.
Verse 8 tells us that they began to tell others the Gospel. Not quietly but like a trumpet blast. They didn’t just tell people nearby, but throughout the region.
Not only did they tell people the Gospel, but they lived it out in front of others. They had now become examples to others, like Paul was to them. They now discipled new believers like Paul did with them. They now preached with power, authority and assurance. They carried on the work where Paul left off to the point that Paul, Silas and Timothy didn’t need to do anything.
This is how Christianity should work. We hear the word and receive Christ. We learn from others who are good examples of what Christ wants us to be. We then tell others and teach them, and become the good examples to them.
Some people think this method doesn’t work anymore. We try all kinds of ways to get people into church or involved in some ministry. But the truth is this method still works today. We must tell others the Gospel and live it out in front of them. We must be people who others want to follow. Unfortunately most Christians act like everyone else. There is nothing different about our example. There is nothing in our lives worth following, or we look like a bunch of hypocrites.
Someone truly saved, should be the greatest advertisement and evidence to others of what God can do with us and for us. When we start being the right example and following Christ as we should, people will follow.
Are you like a trumpet sounding out or are you like a kazoo?