August 23, 2020

Online Worship for Trinity Eleven, Sunday August 23, 2020

Preacher:
Passage: 1 Thessalonians 2:13
Service Type:

Bible Text: 1 Thessalonians 2:13 | Preacher: Andrew Schaller | Series: The Apostle’s Creed #1 | Sermon for Trinity Eleven – Sunday August 23, 2020
Apostle’s Creed #1
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

God’s undeserved love and peace are yours, a gift from God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV)
13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

In the name of Jesus, the Christ,
In whom we believe by God’s Grace,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –

They are called “Fails” and they are incredibly popular on internet websites like YouTube. If you don’t spend time on YouTube, then think of them like the old TV program called, “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” “Fails” are generally short videos showing people ‘failing’ in different ways. Very often, these videos leave us all wondering –

Why would you do that?
Why would you eat the world’s hottest pepper and allow someone to video-tape it? Why would you allow someone to wax and pull out all your nose hairs?

Why? Why would you do that?

When people look at the history of persecution against the Christian Church since Jesus’ death, some ask:

Why would you believe that…
if it gets you mocked, persecuted and even killed?

It’s a long and ugly history that began, ironically, in a city whose name means, “City of Peace.”

The City of Jerusalem was known for persecuting God’s Prophets. Old Testament Prophets like Jeremiah and Zechariah were persecuted and even put to death. When the Promised Savior, the Christ, whom they proclaimed appeared…they rejected and killed Him. It didn’t stop then either…they also threatened, arrested and imprisoned Jesus disciples (Acts 4:1-3). They had them beaten (Acts 5:40) and even put to death (Acts 7:54-60).
They tried to destroy the followers of Jesus – not only in Jerusalem, but also in nearby countries. They employed Saul of Tarsus to imprison the followers of Jesus and when Saul was converted…they plotted to kill their former employee (9:23)!

Does any of this seem like incentive to become a Christian?

It was the same in other ancient cities, like Philippi and Thessalonica.

After Paul was arrested, beaten and imprisoned in the city of Philippi (not for breaking the law, but for casting a demon out of a slave girl) Paul and Silas travelled west 100 miles up the Roman road to Thessalonica.

For three weeks Paul entered the Jewish synagogue and explained to them from the Scriptures that the Promised Savior had to suffer and rise from the dead. He also declared that Jesus of Nazareth was the Promised Savior. A few displaced Israelites were persuaded and a few locals.

The rest of the Jews became envious and gathering a mob set the whole city in an uproar. They accused Paul and Silas of ‘turning the world upside down.’ They accused them of opposing the roman emperor. The mob laid hands on a man named Jason, who was housing Paul and Silas, and extracted bail from them.

Does any of this seem like incentive to become or remain a Christian?

But…there still were Christians in Thessalonica after Paul and Silas left those cities. They continued to believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Son of God and Promised Savior. They continued to gather for worship. They began to go out and tell others that they trusted in the Savior Jesus! Christians in adjacent cities heard about and were encouraged!

Why? Why would you do that?

Were they gluttons for punishment? It sounds like a massive fail. It wasn’t stupidity or ignorance; it was evidence of the working of God through His Word.

Each and every Sunday we confess and profess what we believe. We use the words of the Apostle’s Creed Sunday after Sunday, like Christians have been doing for more than 2,000 years!

Why do we believe?
Why do we confess our faith?

There are some Christians today who say it’s unnecessary and empty to ‘confess our faith.’ They say, “Deeds, not Creeds!” They insist that it doesn’t matter what you say, what matters is what you do! It sounds good, until we search the Scriptures and find that the Holy Spirit actually urges us to confess our faith.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and quoting the 116th Psalm, urged them to confess what they believed (2 Corinthians 4:13):

“…since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written,
“I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak…”

The Holy Spirit also directed Paul to write to the Roman Christians (and to us) (Romans 10:9-10):

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

In the Word of God given to Paul to write to the Thessalonians, we learn why they believed…and are reminded why we believe…and why we still publicly declare individually and together – “I Believe.” We also begin today a series whose purpose it is to look at the phrases in the Apostles Creed in order to see how they reflect the truths of God’s Word.

Why do we speak these words?
Why do ‘I Believe’?

May God the Holy Spirit bless our study of the Word of God, the source of our teaching and the origin of our faith. Amen.

+++++++

How did the Thessalonians come to hear about Jesus, the Christ? Well, we could ‘google’ it, ask our smart phones the question…that seems to be how nearly everyone else gets their answers today. What’s worse, is that what they hear they believe…without doing any investigating or searching. It’s why there is so much confusion in our day, people who should know better don’t take the time to search out reliable sources and verify the answers they are given.

We don’t have to google or guess. We are told in the 17th Chapter of the book of Acts how the Apostle first came to the city of Thessalonica.
The Book of Acts was written by one of Paul’s travel companions as directed by the Holy Spirit. He tells us what Paul told the people of Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4, NKJV):

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

When He came to Thessalonica, Paul didn’t try and impress anyone with his charisma or wisdom. He didn’t set out to ingratiate himself to them (1 Thessalonians 2:4) or flatter them (2:5). He didn’t seek to be glorified by them (2:6). He treated them with loving care like a nursing mother her child (2:7). He acted with integrity (2:10-11) and proclaimed the Good News of what Jesus did for them. He didn’t come with personal opinion, but with the Word of the Cross given to Him by the Lord Jesus.

What happened? The message came with power and the Holy Spirit blessed them with faith to believe in Jesus (1:5). They didn’t just say that they believed, they turned from their false gods and went out and told others the same message. They became examples that encouraged others in spite of persecution!

The Apostle wrote to encourage them (1 Thessalonians 1:6-10):

6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. 8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. 9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

I guess that Paul was a convincing guy, right? He must have said all the right things, right?
Some today would say that He pulled the wool over their eyes, right? I suppose that might be the answer you get if you ‘google’ it. The truth had little to do with Paul and a lot to do with God who works through His Word, especially the Good News of what Jesus has done.

13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

We tend to rank our ‘favorite’ pastors and downgrade those that ‘didn’t measure up to our standards.’ In other words, we tend to give the man more credit and more blame than he deserves. That’s not to say that we aren’t deserving of criticism. The thing is that God gives to each man certain gifts and abilities. God didn’t give Pastor Fleischer or Reim or Sweet or Albrecht spiritual gifts and abilities so that he is praised. The Spirit of God calls and sends men to proclaim Christ so that He is glorified.

We also tend to want to give ourselves credit for our knowledge of Scripture and growth in faith. Let’s face it, answering questions in Bible Class can boost our ego. We may think that the reason we are believers is because we’ve worked hard to understand and read a lot of devotions. Doing those things is good, but it’s the Holy Spirit that creates, maintains and builds up faith through the Word.

So, notice that Paul didn’t boast that the Thessalonians believed because of his presentation. He didn’t tell the Thessalonians that they owed him for their faith. He thanked God. He thanked God continually because they received the message of Jesus’ cross as a message from God, not merely an opinion of a man named Paul.

Moreover, this wasn’t a credit to them, but to God.

Notice the word ‘receive’… it is insightful. If the word ‘accept’ were used we might be tempted to credit the Thessalonians for ‘accepting God’s gift.’ But it says that God gave the gift and they merely received it. He laid it in their hands.

It’s the same with us, faith in Christ, the ability to say ‘I believe’ isn’t something we’ve done or helped to build. It’s a gift, something given by God. We first received it when we were unable to walk or talk or do much of anything, when our parents carried us to the baptismal font and God the Holy Spirit blessed us through the water and the word.

God was to be credited when the Thessalonians continued – despite persecution – to say “I Believe.” It didn’t happen because of their ‘persistence’ but because – as it says here – the Word of God worked effectively in them through the message of the Cross.

If Paul had come to Thessalonica offering his personal opinions, it would have accomplished nothing of lasting value. It would have gone in one ear and out the other. It would have been lost to the sands of time. The Word was effective and still is because it is a message from the same God who spoke and the universe came into being.

God’s Word is a power, living and active (Hebrews 4:2) and works deep conviction in the heart (1 Thessalonians 1:5). If it were merely man’s word, it would have faded away long ago…probably with the Thessalonians. But it didn’t and it doesn’t and it won’t.

So, nearly every Sunday of the year we confess what we believe by reciting one of the three ‘ecumenical’ creeds. They are called ‘ecumenical’ or ‘church creeds’ because they were first accepted by the entire Christian Church on earth. Each of these confessions begins with the words, “I Believe.”

They all express truths that are not human opinions but things taken directly from God’s Word.

We say, “I Believe” and not “We Believe” because we speak as individuals whose hearts have been converted and convinced by God’s Word. We are individual believers who by faith are part of something much bigger – the Holy Christian Church.

Still, from time to time we may say, ‘I Believe’ but not really think about what we are saying…perhaps because we are distracted or because the words are so familiar. It’s important that we remember why it is ‘I Believe.’

Why do “I Believe”? I believe because these things are taken from God’s Word. I believe because it is written. I confess because it is written.

May God bless our study of the phrases of the Apostles Creed so that our faith is built up and our gracious God glorified. Amen.

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