church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord. This we know, this we sing,
this we believe. But have you ever considered some of the building blocks
Christ uses in his church?
For you yourselves know, brethren, that our
coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been
mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to
you the gospel of God amid much opposition. For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit;
but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we
speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came
with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is
witness-- nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even
though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. But we
proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother
tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we
were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own
lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our
labor and hardship, how working night
and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel
of God. You are witnesses, and so is
God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you
believers; just as you know how we were
exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in
a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
(1Th 2:1-12 NASB)
kind of men does God use to build his church?
is the chief characteristic of those who plant new churches: boldness. It
takes a fair amount of courage to go door to door, inviting others to hear the
Word. The reason most of us don’t have this boldness is fairly simple: we
know we’re going to be met with opposition. What, then, is the Christian to do
about this opposition?
- Expect it.
We are clearly taught that anyone who loves Christ wholeheartedly will
face opposition and even persecution. This should not be a surprise to
- Prepare for it. Since you know you’re going to be opposed, you
should be prepared. Prayer and meditation for the soul, worship and
praise for the spirit, studying the Scriptures for the mind – all these
prepare all of you.
- Don’t give in to it. You know who has won the
battle. Sometimes you will be stubbornly refused. When (not if) that
happens, shake dust and move on.
message is pure
by example, gives us the characteristics of anyone who wants to spread the Good
News. The key to the evangelical personality is purity. If you keep yourself
pure, you make yourself the willing instrument of God.
must be no error in what you say. Linus to the contrary
notwithstanding, it does matter what you believe. If you don’t know what
you believe, how can you teach others? If your beliefs are inconsistent,
how will you convince others? Therefore, study the Scriptures diligently
must be no deceit in your words. There are plenty of swindlers out
there, leading others astray for profit. The world expects such; make it
clear you are not one.
must have no desire for self-glorification. The example is set before
us: Paul, though an Apostle of God, specially called to teach the
Gentiles, does not use this authority for his own personal pomp. Rather,
he humbled himself (as his Lord did) – and so became an example to them.
their very lives
the world of the computer geek there is an acronym: WYSIWYG. It’s pronounced
“whizzy wig”; it stands for “what you see is what you get.” It is important
that we live that way; the Christian term for it is “integrity.” If you are
living behind the mask, it’s time you discarded it. God’s work is done by the
honest, for God’s word is truth.
this is not sufficient; you must reach out with your whole heart. You may be
an honest miser, for example – but that’s not going to help those in need.
Your Lord commands both honesty and charity. Money collected in the plate will
do some good. Sharing your life with someone is a much greater charity – and a
much greater joy.
tells us as much here. He had such an affection for these Christians that he
not only shared the Gospel with them, but his whole life. He “walked the
talk,” as we might say.
the last half of the nineteenth century many churches had no paid minister on
staff. It was considered by many to be an admission that not one of the people
in that church was capable of handling the truth. The view is somewhat extreme
today, but it carries a germ of truth in it. Let’s look at an example:
A and Minister B come to town to establish a church. Minister A immediately
rounds up several believers, forms a committee and draws a salary so that he
might continue the work of evangelism.
B starts by finding a place to work, to support himself. His church starts
slowly, for he has less time to reach others. But those whom he does reach are
impressed by the example he sets.
think you can see that Minister A may look good, but his concern for his
paycheck handicaps him; people can see his first priority. Minister B’s
congregation can see his priorities too. Of course, the resolution of this
problem is simple (and Paul used it): the evangelist is sent (and paid) from
another church elsewhere.
a father pities his children
man of God should not be a blind guide. Paul gives us three ways in which the
man of God should guide his flock:
- Encouragement. Every one has troubles; the man of God should be
there to provide the comfort of one who speaks on God’s behalf.
- Exhortation. Interestingly, this word in the Greek carries the
idea of one who is beseeching – not commanding. The man of God should not
hesitate to bring the truth of Christ.
The word in the original means “to bear witness.” The man of God should
use his experience – good or bad – as evidence to convince the sinner.
Word of God
For this reason we also constantly thank God
that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as
the word of men, but for what it really
is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. For you,
brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in
Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own
countrymen, even as they did from the
Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They
are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to
the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill
up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.
(1Th 2:13-16 NASB)
is no getting past it: the word of God is a two-edged sword. We see in our
own time various denominations splitting over the use of Scripture. We cannot
in this lesson take the time to go through all the details of this, but we
should note these two details:
that the Scripture is inspired by God. Opinion varies on what “inspired”
means – but it certainly implies that this book is like no other. In it
can be found the words of life eternal.
we are clearly warned that it is complete – not to be tampered with or
imitation of Christ
word of God is powerful in human lives:
provokes us to repentance – and so saves us from the wrath to come.
guides us by showing examples.
provides for us the right words in time of trouble (see Psalm 23).
of the surest tests of the authenticity of the Scriptures is this: the world
opposes the word.
world will oppose anyone who tells the Good News. Restrictions on the
preaching of the word are commonplace now. Around the world there are
countries that make it a capital offense. But even here we feel the
social pressure to shut up – and the onslaught of lawsuits designed to
prevent the spread of the Good News.
the church is rejected by the powers of this world – and with good
reason. The Lord of the church, Jesus the Christ, intends that we should
have no other gods before him. The governments are sure that they have a
better way, and it would be so convenient if Christians would just go
the word is only opposed here; it is opposed everywhere. Even the
missionary who would go to where the Gospel needs to be heard is now
condemned as someone “who is robbing science of the opportunity to study
this ancient culture.” The world’s view is that all religions are equally
true (i.e., equally false). Therefore, you shouldn’t evangelize people –
it will upset their culture.
the word of God, the Bible, stands as the measure God will use at Christ’s
return. Those who oppose the word will be judged by the Word.
Hope of the Soon Return
But we, brethren, having been taken away from
you for a short while--in person, not in spirit--were all the more eager with
great desire to see your face. For we wanted to come to you--I, Paul, more than
once--and yet Satan hindered us. For who
is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence
of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.
(1Th 2:17-20 NASB)
third building block we shall see is this: hope. Since the days of the
Apostles the church has hoped for, believed in and looked forward to the “soon
return” of the Lord, Jesus the Christ. We can understand this on two levels:
you’ve been to the funeral of a Christian, you know that the hope of the
resurrection is a central part of the faith. We are commanded to comfort
each other with the thought that at the return, this one we loved so much
will be raised from the dead, just as Christ was.
than just those we love, we see in this event the coming of the Lord we
love. It will be a day of wrath for many; old injustices will finally be
judged. It is the day when righteousness and mercy will meet and kiss.
this life, however, the hope of Christ is attacked. Paul puts his finger on
the villain: Satan.
attacks that hope when we are in physical pain. When you are suffering
right now, it’s hard to look ahead to glory.
attacks in times of emotional turmoil. When you are reacting instead of
thinking, it’s difficult to see the joy to come.
attacks in your seasons of doubt. When things don’t go as you planned,
and you begin to ask God, “Why me?”, the resurrection looks to be far away
and long in coming.
answer to all these attacks is the same: press on. You have a goal set before
you, a crown of life. On that day your hope will become sight. All your
labors for Christ will be rewarded. It will be a day of joy as we greet each
other again; it will be a day of glory for our Lord.