1Thessalonians 1: 1-10.
If you would look at verse 1 again. Notice in verse 1 that Paul is writing to “the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the Greek the word “church” (ek klesia) literally means “to call out.”
In the New Testament the word “church” always refers to people and since the word literally means “to call out” the word “church” is referring to a “called out people.”
And if you will notice here in vs. 1 the “church” consists of those who are “IN God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” and we know from Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:26 that an individual is “baptized into Christ”; so the “church” consists of those who have been “baptized into Christ.” They are “IN Christ.”
Now, the question this morning is “what is the church supposed to do.” “What is the church to be about?” “As God’s “called out people” what are we supposed to be doing?” What is our function?”
Many people, including some who claim to be “IN the church” do not understand what “the church” is supposed to do…and they don’t understand what they, as a member of “the church” are supposed to do.
Many have the idea that the church is simply a group of people that you meet with…that you pray with, that you praise God with, that you take the Lord’s Supper with, and hear a sermon with…and then go home with no “church” responsibilities again until the next Sunday.
Now you might ask, “How do I know that is what most people think?”
Is that what “the church” is about? Is “the church’s” only function to organize and hold a worship service? Is “the church’s” function confined to the walls of this building…and are we only responsible for those who come to this building? Are we only responsible on Sundays?
Let’s look at what Paul says in this passage and let’s learn some vital things about “the church” and what “the church” is supposed to do…and what we “as members of His church are supposed to do.”
Let’s begin by looking at verses 2-3 again.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,
From these words, do you get the idea that this group of Christians simply met on Sunday, worshipped God, and then went home doing nothing until the next week?
These people were consistently busy. They were working and laboring!
See the word “labor” where it says “labor of love.”
When Paul speaks of their “labor of love” he is speaking of the way they worked…they exhausted themselves.
And look at what motivated them to work…and what motivated them to labor!
When a man/woman labors because they have love, it makes a difference.
And a Christian who has faith cannot remain inactive either.
Brethren, this “body of the Lord’s church” didn’t just organize a worship service each week.
And look what Paul says they did. Look at verse 8.
8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
See the phrase “sounded forth?”
I love to go camping in the mountains…and a storm comes up…and there is a big old clap of thunder…and it just echoes down through the canyons and everything shakes.
That is what Paul says they were doing.
And notice where they were “sounding forth” the word to. He says, “Not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place…”
It is easy to confine our teaching and preaching of the word just to the inside of these walls.
But that is not what they did.
And look at the end of verse 8. This church had become so well known for their faith…and the work of their faith…that no one had to tell others what they were doing.
What about us?
Let me ask you this.
Shouldn’t it be us? Why can’t it be us?
Look at what else this “body of the church” did. Look at verse 6.
You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
Paul says that they “received the word in much tribulation…so that they became an example to all the believers.”
This is a church that held in high regard the word of God.
And that is what the Lord’s church is supposed to do.
Today, in some gatherings the word is just ignored.
In some gatherings the word of God is not the only authority of the church.
That is not what this “body of the Lord’s church” did.
The church consists of “turned” or “converted” people.
These people had their idols.
What about us?
An idol is anything that competes with God for your devotion and allegiance.
If you and I are “turned” individuals; if we are “turned” people then “no one” or “no thing” will compete with God for our devotion and allegiance.
And then finally, look at the end of verse 9 and all of verse 10. “The church” consists of those who “are serving and waiting for the Son.”
We live like Jesus could come again at any moment and the way we do that is by serving God.
When I read this…I get a completely different impression of “the church” and what “the church” is to do and be, than what most people think “the church” is to do and be.
The church is supposed to be busy working…and laboring…and it is supposed to be “sounding forth” the gospel to places near and far.
Now, with that in mind…here is the critical question.
That is important…very important…because those who “truly belong to “the church” are those who will be saved.