Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Comfort of a Steadfast Church

Temple Baptist Church - 9-6-2015
1 Thessalonians 3:5-9

A.  Last week, we looked at the dangers of a drifting church.  Though we often believe that this is only a sign of the last days and the Laodicean Church Age, we find it in the days of the apostles. 
2 Timothy 1:15  This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
B.  After all that Paul had gone through to bring the gospel to Macedonia, we see his fear in verses 1 and 5 of not finding them as he had hoped.  I have seen a lot of churches started by church planters thrive while the missionary was there but fall off to nothing after a new pastor came to take over the work.  Satan is good at what he does! 
C.  Also, Paul’s fear that the people of Thessalonica not continuing in the Old Paths after the persecution and afflictions that they age suffered for the gospel’s sake.  They were a solid, mission hearted church.
1 Thessalonians 1:8  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.
D.  I can only imagine the sadness of missionaries who come home on furlough after 4-6 years on a foreign field and seeing the decay and decline of so many local churches.  To see the loss of so many men who once pastored these churches.  To see the worldliness that now permeates so many churches that once had a glowing testimony for Christ.
“In time those who stand for everything will give in to those who stand for something and then those who stand for something will give in to those who stand for little and then those who stand for little will give in to those who stand for nothing. And when you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.”
E.  Paul sends Timothy to establish and comfort the church and a glowing report comes back to him from Thessalonica.  In our verses, we find his reaction and joy.
F.  Before I get into Paul’s reaction to the good news, I want to thank the Lord for men of God and local churches that still stand in the Old Paths in both doctrine and separation.  Too often, I fear that we get the Elijah Syndrome in fearing that we are alone.  We are not alone!
1 Kings 19:12-18  And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  (13)  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?  (14)  And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.  (15)  And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:  (16)  And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.  (17)  And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.  (18)  Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
G.  I want to look at the results of this local church standing with the Lord and the Apostle Paul.
1.  They maintained their missions outreach to the lost.  1 Thessalonians 1:8a  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, (Most liberal churches have little or no mission outreach.  It is still the small local churches who maintain these men of God and their families.)
2.  They maintained a sparkling testimony for Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 1:8b  But also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.  (Liberal churches have no testimony of lives change as they conform to the world.)
Philippians 1:27  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
3.  They were an encouragement to the men of God who paid a price to bring to them the gospel.  1 Thessalonians 3:6  But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:  (Liberal churches are an affront to Almighty God and a shame to those who continue in the Old Paths.)
a.  They were steadfast in their faith.  1 Corinthians 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
b.  They were steadfast in their charity.  Colossians 3:14  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
c.  They never forgot where they came from or who had brought them the gospel.  1 Corinthians 11:1-2  Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.  (2)  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
d.  They welcomed the return of their missionaries and brethren in arms.  2 Corinthians 8:4-5  Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.  (5)  And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
4.  They were a source of thanksgiving and joy to both the Lord and His people.  1 Thessalonians 1:2-3  We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;  (3)  Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;  (Again, let me say, “Thank you Lord” for men of God, people of God, and local churches that are standing right and sending the gospel out right.  Your labor is not in vain in the Lord!)
3 John 3-4  For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.  (4)  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

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