Tuesday, May 24, 2016

1 THESSALONIANS - BEREAN BIBLE CHURCH MIDWEEK STUDY

                       1 THESSALONIANS

This is a study that I am leading at Berean Bible Church in Knoxville TN.  I will be posting our expository study here, each week.  If you are in Knoxville, feel free to join us.  Hope this study is a blessing to all who read it.  Feel free to ask questions or comment below.  Thanks for reading

Paul



Introduction:


I. The church was established by Paul and Silas on Paul's second missionary journey. Act 17:1-10 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ." And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus." And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things. And when they had taken money as security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.

A. Though it would appear by this passage that Paul spent only 3-4 weeks here, passages of 1 Thessalonians would indicate that he spent a bit more time, establishing a thriving church, as we will see as we look further into the book

B. Once Paul established a church made up of both Jew and Gentile believers, Jews from the Synagogue raised up a rabble and accused Paul and Jason, his Thessalonian host, with sedition against Rome, a very serious charge at the time.

  1. After the events in Acts 17, Paul fled to Berea with Silas and Timothy. Paul then went to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy in Berea. Later, Paul went to Corinth and was joined by Silas and Timothy. This letter was in response to issues and questions that came up in Thessalonica after Paul left

    D. The date of this letter is somewhere between 50 and 62 AD, making it Paul's oldest known writing with the possible exception of the Epistle to the Galatians.

E. The letter is written primarily to the Gentile believers in Thessalonica.

  1. History of Thessalonica

A. City was most likely founded by Cassander, the brother-in-law of Alexander the Great, and named for Thessalonike of Macedon, Cassander's wife and Alexander's half sister.

B. The city was so commercially important that during the Roman era it was, for a short time, the capitol of all the Greek providences.

    1. Once the Roman Empire split in two – east and west, Thessaloniki, as it became known, was second in importance only to Constantinople, the Eastern capitol of Rome

  1. Around 1519, the city became 54% Jewish as many persecuted Jews from Spain fled there. The city was made up of Jews, Greek Orthodox and Muslims, with a Jewish plurality. For the next 200 years, Thessaloniki had the largest Jewish population of any other city in the world. Apparently New York City and Miami Beach did not yet exist.

E. Sadly, Thessaloniki fell to Nazi Germany in 1941 and all but 1000 Jews were exterminated

F. Today, Thessaloniki is a thriving port city in Greece and home to the largest Greek university The Aristotle Universtiy of Thessaloniki.

Chapter 1 – Though Paul started his ministry in Thessalonica in the Jewish synagogues, a large portion of the church was made up of Gentiles who were formerly idol worshipers, as indicated by verse 9. Paul uses his introductory paragraph to establish his authority in spiritual matters, the inclusion of former idol worshiping Gentiles into faith and how healthy spiritual growth has resulted in growing the church and missions.

  1. V. 1-2 – Paul, Silas and Timothy established this church, and are now following up as concerned spiritual parents. These missionary disciple makers are in constant prayer for the converts.

Prayer is a key component. We are to be praying for one another, concerned for each other's well being. When we pray for one another, we grow closer to each other in fellowship. Petty disagreements or differences will evaporate as we begin to see each other as Christ does.

Prayer for each other as a group and as individuals will bring cohesion like no other thing. The best way to overcome personality conflicts is to pray for the person you are conflicted with. Being too busy is no excuse. Paul was busy establishing churches all over the Near East and still found time to pray for those he was ministering with and to. If you find that you do not have time to pray for the people in your life, you are probably wasting time in worthless pursuits. If you spend more time per week watching TV than you do in spiritual pursuits, you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to grow.


Pray for one another, pray for each other, pray for those God has placed in your life, whether you like them or not. You will be blessed!


WEEK 2 
Chapter 1:3-10 – Last time we looked at prayer and the fact that Paul and his partners in the Gospel continued to pray for this fledgling church and the people in it and how important is is for us to continue to pray for one another. Now we will look a little more at Paul's prayers and his encouragement to the Gentile believers.

  1. V. 2-3 – the prayers are specific. Paul took the time to know what these people were dealing with and then he prayed about those things. As the church, we have to have enough care for one another to be able to pray specifically. That is why we need to have, in addition to corporate worship we do on Sunday, small groups like this and the care groups. Lone Ranger Christianity is a flawed model and we cannot function properly without community and accountability.
  1. V.4-5 – This speaks to the fact that the validity of the faith of the Gentile believers was being called into question by the Jews in the synagogue. This was a church that was persecuted from the very beginning. Paul and his companions were attacked and driven out of the city and Jason, their host was accused of sedition.
The Jews had the sacred writings of scripture and were far more familiar with them than the new Gentile converts who had no previous contact with God's word. It would be relatively easy for the non-believing Jews to convince the new believers that they were not chosen by God. The first New Testament writing these people were ever introduced to was this letter.

Paul reminds them of the miracles they saw and the evidence of the Holy Spirit indwelling them after conversion. The Gentile believers had the evidence of supernatural confirmation of their born again status.

Along with that, they also had the character of Paul, Silas and Timothy as further evidence of the truth. Character counts! Our behavior is far greater testimony of our faith than our words. Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the “religious” Jews: Matthew 15:8 - “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
The character of those persecuting the believers must have contrasted greatly from the example shown by Paul and company.
As believers, it is imperative that we live out our faith. Unbelievers need to see something different and new believers need the example. Theologian Brennan Manning said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."


  1. V. 6 – The example Paul and his companions gave was something to be emulated.
    What kind of example are we? Are we to be emulated?
    These new believers did follow the good example given to them by Paul and it had great results
  1. V. 7-8 – the fruit of their faith and obedience is reproduction. Larry Taylor wrote in Things I Learned From My Pastor: “Healthy sheep beget sheep.” What this means is that when we live according to the Word and live out our faith in devotion and obedience to God, evangelism is the natural by product. These new believers were living out their faith properly and the result was evangelism well beyond their own borders.
    As we live in faith and obedience, we affect others around us and we gain the opportunity to share our faith and we gain the opportunity to model a better way for those who are struggling.
  2. V. 9-10 – This passage reveals that the church is largely made up of Gentile believers and these non-Jewish believers are the main audience of this letter. Jews would not have turned away from idols because they would not have been involved with idol worship. The book of Ezekiel details Israel's sin of idolatry leading to national destruction. Ezekiel 20:31"When you offer your gifts, when you cause your sons to pass through the fire, you are defiling yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "I will not be inquired of by you.
    Ezekiel 23:30'These things will be done to you because you have played the harlot with the nations, because you have defiled yourself with their idols.
    We find in the book of Nehemiah Israel understanding that idol worship led to their destruction and as the nation was restored, the people were taught the damage idolatry led to and the people promised to flee from idolatry. The nation never had a problem with idolatry again. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Jewish converts to Christianity were not included in this passage.

Paul also takes the time to remind these persecuted Christians that Jesus will return for them and they will not endure the wrath that is coming on the world and on those who persecute God's people.


The bottom line for us, is we need to be mindful of out lifestyle and public witness. Our words are meaningless if our lives do not match our professed faith.


WEEK 3
JUNE 8


CHAPTER 2 – Last week, we looked at the fact that the Gospel came to the Gentiles in Thessalonica and that the church there was primarily Gentile as the Jews in the synagogue mostly and violently rejected the truth. We also spoke about the necessity of living our lives compatibly with our professed faith. Now we will look at Paul expressing encouragement to the young church reminding them of the manner in which he and his companions shared the Gospel with pure motive. We find in these passages the blueprints for being a servant of the Lord.

  1. V. 1 –The servant of the Lord does not serve in vain. Even if we do not get the results we expect or desire, the success is in obedience.
    Even just proclaiming the word is never in vain. Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
  2. V. 2 – The servant of God cannot allow adversity to interfere with service. In Acts 16, we find the account of Paul's exploits in Philippi. Three major events marked Paul's time in Philippi: First- the conversion of Lydia- Act 16:13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.
Next Paul casts an evil spirit out of a girl who happens to be a slave used to earn money through divination. Because of the loss of income, the slave girl's owners brought Paul and Silas before the city officials and had them beaten and imprisoned - Act 16:22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Next, one of the most well known conversions in the Bible, the Philippian jailer. After having been beaten and jailed, Paul and Silas, rather than sit and sulk, questioning God's love, they began to sing praises unto God. Miraculously, the jail is opened and their chains are broken. The jailer, about to kill himself due to the loss of prisoners, is led to the Lord and ultimately, so is his family - Act 16:30 Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God

The bottom line here is that no matter how adverse circumstances may be, if you are in God's will and continue to trust and give Him the glory, God's purpose will be accomplished through you.

  1. V. 3-8 – The servant of the Lord does not seek his own good but the good of others. Paul and his companions had one goal in mind, the salvation of lost souls. These men were not interested in any benefits of notoriety or prestige. They made themselves of no account, following the model of Christ Himself, who came as a suffering servant to save mankind. Philippians 2:5-7 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
To be an effective minister of Christ, we have to forget about our own comfort, our own desires and put ourselves in a position where we are willing to suffer if needed. This does not mean we purposely bring harm to ourselves in order to feel holy or seem spiritual, but willing to be led wherever God leads and do without what we consider our rights.

  1. V. 9-10 – The servant of the Lord carries his own load. When we serve God, the last thing we should be concerned about is financial gain. If our concern is financial gain, our hearts will not be right and we will be ineffective in service. Jesus told us this in Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. If finances are our concern, we will not be able to go all out for Christ because we will be thinking about the bottom line. If God has clearly directed us in a certain way, we have to trust that He will provide what we need to accomplish His goal. Paul was a tentmaker, as we see in Acts Acts 18:1-3 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. We get the impression that Paul was working as an evangelist by day and a tentmaker by night, or possibly vice versa. Either way, Paul used the ability God gave him to earn his keep and still remained diligent in serving in his spiritual gift and calling. Sometimes, god calls us to trust in His provision from the support of other believers: Luke 10:3-7 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.
    Sometimes we are expected to earn our keep and still do ministry, as Paul demonstrated in his travels. This is all part of the personal nature of our relationship with Christ. We must abide in Him in order to discern His plan for our provision in any given circumstance.  


Chapter 2:11

Last time we looked at some key aspects of being a servant of the Lord:
  1. The servant of the Lord does not serve in vain
  2. The servant of the Lord does not allow adversity to interfere with service
  3. The servant of the Lord does not seek his own good
  4. The servant of the Lord carries his own load
Continuing on this theme, we will look at a couple of more aspects and characteristics of being a servant of the Lord

  1. V11-12 – The servant of the Lord sees potential in others and tries to draw it out of them
    Part of Paul's ministry to the Thessalonians was to encourage them to holiness. Paul not only encourages them but charges them to live lives worthy of God

this should lead to deep contemplation – What does it mean for us to live lives worthy of God?

How do we, without self righteousness or pride, bring this message to others?

  1. V. 13 – The servant of the Lord is grateful for the fruit of his labor.
Paul is giving thanks to God for the harvest of souls. We should expend great effort in seeking God's blessing on our service, but we also must give thanks when our efforts bear visible fruit.

As we look at Paul's gratitude, we see three important elements at work in his ministry

  1. the will of the messenger
  2. the will of God
  3. the will of the believer to believe – 1 John 2:2, 2 Peter 3:9
Paul is grateful to God that the message he presented was received as he meant it to be received.


  • The Thessalonians accept the word as God's not man's and Paul recognizes that God was at work in the believers. We see a beautiful view of God's power and sovereignty coupled with human responsibility, working together for salvation

  • WEEK 4 
  • JULY 26
  • V. 14 – The servant of the Lord follows godly examples
    This is discipleship. Learning from those who have gone before us and teaching those who come after
    Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

  • Our faith should be self replicating as we learn from the believers past, we pass our faith on to others
  • V. 14-16 – The servant of the Lord stands firm against persecution

  • Ephesians 6:13 - Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
  • Revelation 2:25-27 Only hold fast what you have until I come.The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.

  • We see throughout scripture that we are called to stand firm and that we are give the ability to stand firm.

  • Matthew 10:19 - When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 

  • V. 17-18 – Paul was hindered by Satan, so we cannot be discouraged when we pray for something or yearn to do something and find we cannot. Even though Satan may be hindering us, God is ultimately in charge and Satan is thwarted in his intentions.
    Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
    Ultimately, Romans 8:28 comes into play – All things work together for good to them that love the Lord and to those who are called according to His purpose.
  • Even Satan's attacks can and will be used against him for God's purposes 
Sometimes as our plans or expectations fail, we may experience anger toward God.  This is not something we want to allow to grow and cause bitterness and rebellion.  We must face this head on and be honest with our loving Father, in order to heal from our hurt and in order to see things from a more heavenly perspective.  For more on this, CLICK HERE

  • V. 19-20 – Paul sees the fruit of his labor as his glory and for boasting. When we bear fruit in ministry, whatever we are called to do, that is investing in our eternal bank for future glory. We think of the parable of the talents, the man who earned 10 was given not only charge over 10 cities, but the talent of the man who earned no extra talents. We should not serve for the reward but rest assured, anything you lose in this life for the cause of Christ will be more than compensated for in eternity.

  • Matthew 19:28-29 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life    

WEEK 5
AUGUST 3

1 Thessalonians 3

  1. V. 1-2 – Church growth does not happen without some being called out. A group that works well together and enjoys good fellowship can become very comfortable and stagnant, striving for status quo. Paul had use of Timothy in Athens. Paul was in a hostile environment and enjoyed the comfort of a fellow worker. Paul also recognized that in order for the Gospel to be strengthened in Thessalonica, he would have to sacrifice his comfort for the sake of ministry.
We see this having taken place in Jerusalem at the death of Steven, Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. As the church experienced persecution, the believers were driven from their homes and into other countries where they could worship in safety. I am sure it was not with joy that these believers were driven into strange lands but, as God dispersed them into other lands, the the Gospel spread. Peter's epistles were directed to these displaced believers specifically.

We may find ourselves driven out of our comfort zones for God's greater purpose, or we may have to say goodbye to those whom we love and find companionship with for the spread of the Gospel. In our comfort and complacency, we can grow weak in faith and begin to be distracted from the mission.

  1. V. 3 – Paul sent Timothy to comfort and strengthen the church that was being persecuted and attacked. We can expect opposition when we endeavor to serve God. We are living in Satan's realm and this world system is set up to prosper those who serve Satan's agenda. We may see some who are abusing the Gospel for personal gain and wonder why they are allowed to prosper or even how their ministry can seem to be blessed by God, but is it really? Is it possible it is being blessed by Satan to pervert the truth of scripture and lead others astray according to their own lusts and desires?
WEEK 6
AUGUST 10
  1. V. 4-5 – Paul recognized the fact that believers who are actively pursuing faith will suffer. We will be ostracized, we will be outcast, we will be mocked or vilified or even shunned. The message of the Gospel is contrary to the mindset of the carnal man and is in opposition to the world system we live in. Those successful in entertainment often pay homage to dark spiritual forces in order to attain or maintain success. The love of money has derailed many a minister and ministry. Jim Bakker is a perfect example of this as he started out in sincerity and quickly fell from grace because of the allure of money and fame. As he sat in prison cleaning toilets, he realized just how far he had fallen and even wrote a book entitled I Was Wrong.

Paul knew that many in the fledgling church were struggling with the temptation to abandon their faith, if for no other reason but to regain their public standing. Satan works at us, discovering our weaknesses exploiting them to destroy our faith and testimony. This is why personal accountability is so important, accountability to the spiritual authority God has placed over us and accountability to one another.

Luke 8:13-14 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Paul feared, that the new converts would fall victim to Satan's temptation to fall away due to the cares and troubles they were experiencing. We see from the example of these persecuted believers that it is possible to stand firm and not fall away. It gets very tempting to walk away from the Christian life, life seems to like it might be easier if we give up and go back to our old life. We have to remember that we are not living for this life, but for the life to come and once we go all in for Christ, life is not about us anymore. It's about Him and others.


  1. V.6-7 – When we are obedient to God, our fruit can be a source of comfort during bad times.
    If we are going through a rough spot in our spiritual life, recounting past victories, past fruit and answered prayer can become a source of inspiration. As we remember what God has done for us in the past, it is easier to go through struggles.
Psalm 23:4 - Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. How is it that we can know that God is with us, we recall the things He has done and we hold fast to the promises He has given us in scripture.

  1. V. 8-11 – As we grow in our faith, our focus should beincreasingly outward, toward others. It is very dangerous for us to get caught up looking inwardly and after our own interests and desires. Part of our spiritual maturity is seeking after the welfare of others. Here Paul says he can live, knowing the believers in Thessalonica are standing firm in the faith.
Paul's desire is to see others impacted by the Gospel, knowing that as new believers mature, they will lead others to Christ and the Gospel will continue to spread. Paul desires to see those he has led to Christ. We too, ought to desire fellowship with other believers. This faith is not about us, but completely God and others centered.

  1. V. 12-13 – Loving one another is a true measure of our commitment to God. We naturally love ourselves. No one has to tell us to look out for our own interests, we are all about taking care of ourselves. But notice the focus Paul emphasizes - looking to the coming of Christ. We obey and love now, with eternity in sight. This is why we study revelation and get excited when we talk of end times and prophecy, because we know that one day all we do here will have meaning and purpose n eternity.
Have you ever asked yourself, “what's the difference?” or “why bother, what's going to happen is what's going to happen?” Well, there is a difference that we make, there is a difference we make in the lives of others and there is a difference in what we are investing in in eternity.

One of my favorite quotes of Bill Yoder (one of our Bible Study members) is something he may not even remember saying: “What is a soul worth?” is it worth our discomfort or inconvenience to love someone into the kingdom, is it worth sacrificing my leisure time or pursuit of my hobbies to show someone that they matter to me and more importantly, to God? Loving others with eternity in mind can and should revolutionize your outlook on life.


WEEK 7
August 24


THESSALONIANS 4

We continue to look at the book of Thessalonians, a letter written to a fledgling church established by the Apostle Paul before he was driven out by persecution. As he traveled about, Paul's concern for the church grew as he was aware of the great persecution the new believers were experiencing. He also heard good reports from the surrounding region, of how the faithfulness of the Thessalonians was an inspiration to others. Paul sent Timothy, his protege, to check on the church and bring back a report. This letter is a response to the report Timothy brought back to Paul

  1. V. 1 – a call to continued spiritual growth. We cannot ever come to a place where we think we have arrived, spiritually speaking. A true disciple must continue to learn, grow and transform. This is what we call sanctification. The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believe is to transform us into the image of Christ. Christ was perfect, we will never be perfect, so we can never stop growing. Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. There are no degrees of perfection, either. Almost perfect is like saying almost infinite or almost omnipotent. We cannot logically be almost something that has no limit.
Our spiritual growth and sanctification is a lifetime pursuit, always striving to learn more and to be better. So even though we can come to a place where we may be commended for obedience or change, we cannot be satisfied with a little change, or even a lot of change, for that matter.

  1. V. 2-8 – Here is a serious call to sexual purity. The culture these new believers were coming from was one of very little sexual restraint. Sexual licentiousness was part of religious practice and just an accepted part of life.

Today, we are living in a society that has always been less then chaste, but is, especially in the last generation, become more and more sexually sinful. Recently, I read an article about a young man who was reunited with his birth mother and the two found themselves in a sexual relationship. They are now petitioning the court to allow them to be together without breaking incest laws. They call this GSA – Genetic Sexual Attraction. So, as if the whole gender neutral phenomenon is not enough, now we have parents and children fighting for the right to be sexually active together.

I remember watching an episode of an 80's sitcom with my kids a couple of years ago and being refreshed at how co habitation by non married couples was still pretty taboo. Today, it has become the norm. Dating seems to equal sexual behavior and is almost expected by the second date. I have a single friend in his 40's who lamented to me that it is getting harder and harder to meet a girl who has not have relations with another girl. There seems to be little or no boundaries when it comes to sexual immorality.

DISCUSSION: So, as the culture changes and promiscuity becomes the norm, as a younger demographic comes to church, with that world view and perspective, how do we as a church remain true to scripture and remain culturally relevant?

DISCUSSION: Do we pick and choose which sexual sin we attack? Do we condemn homosexuality but ignore co-habitation of the unmarried? Do we condemn adultery but turn a blind eye to an unmarried who “plays the field”?

DISCUSSION: How do we balance welcoming sinners unto salvation with dealing with sexual sin in the congregation? At what point do we demand purity, or how long do we allow sexual sin in the camp with new believers?


WEEK 8
AUGUST 31


1 Thessalonians 4:9-18

Last week, we took a deep look at sexual impurity in the church and discussed the problem of being a sexually pure church in a sexually “liberated” society. The world equates love with sex. We are called to love but to abstain from sexual impurity. As we look at tonight's passage, we will discuss Biblical love that we are to have for one another.

  1. 9-12 – this passage is loaded with application
9 – the Thessalonians were taught by God to love one another – they had the OT and the Holy Spirit, we have the whole counsel of God, both OT and NT and the Holy Spirit indwelling, how much more are we responsible to love one another? 1John 4:20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
WHAT KIND OF THINGS HINDER US FROM LOVING OTHERS? THINK, QUIETLY TO YOURSELF, WHAT THINGS IN YOUR LIFE ARE KEEPING YOU FORM LOVING OTHERS AS YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO? THE POINT OF US STUDYING THE WORD IS WE ARE USING SCRIPTURE AS A MIRROR IN WHICH WE SEE A TRUE IMAGE OF OURSELVES. IF WE ARE NOT CHALLENGED OR CONVICTED AT SOME POINT, THEN OUR STUDY IS POINTLESS. WE SHOULD NOT BE STUDYING TOGETHER FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF REINFORCING OUR POSITION, BUT FOR CONTINUED SANCTIFICATION

One of the most destructive things in a believer's life is pride. Pride leads to jealousy, animosity and disdain for others. Loving others is so basic and foundational, we sometimes pass over passages like this without any real self examination.

10 – Even here, Paul is commending them for loving but at the same time exhorting them to do so more and more. As we saw last week, there are no degrees of perfection, our spiritual growth is limited only by the number of years we are given.

11-12 – This little passage seems like it should be common sense, yet may be one of the hardest things in the world for some people. Jesus addressed this speaking of motes and beams: Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

I was listening to a guy on the radio today, Matt Maher, who, while in prison began a ministry. He was put in a cell with a guy that hated Christians. The man that hated Christians was a former enforcer for the mob in New York. The enforcer eventually came to Christ because he watched and waited for Maher to slip up, to curse, or fight or do something dishonest, proving to be a hypocrite like “every other” Christian he had come in contact with. Maher lived as he professed and made an incredible impact on the mob enforcer.

Even those who are opposed to us or our message can be impacted by our lives lived out in quiet submission to Christ. When we whine and complain about everything, when we ask others to do for us what we are capable of doing for ourselves we repel people from ourselves and ultimately our message.

WEEK 9
SEPTEMBER 7
  1. 13-18 – Here, Paul shifts major gears as he moves from exhortation to holy living to encouragement of why we are living in holiness. Paul describes the event that we should all be longing for, the resurrection and rapture of the church. This is great hope for those of us who have lost believing loved ones, this is great hope for us who are awaiting the return of our Lord.
There is no debate that this passage refers to a resurrection and rapture, the debate is as to when this takes place on the prophetic timeline. We can have this debate, and we can disagree on timing, what we cannot disagree on is that there is a resurrection. 1Corinthians 15:12-20 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.


Foundational to our faith is the resurrection of Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the gathering of the Church to Christ. Paul, himself, told us that without that hope, we have nothing. When things get tough, we can find comfort in the knowledge that one day we will be united together with our Lord and all things will be made new. 


Chapter 5

  1. V. 1-2 – This passage leads us to the million dollar question: WHEN WILL CHRIST RETURN?
Countless books and documentaries have been produced claiming to know the time of Christ's return. The exact time is not for us to know, but we are to be prepared.

If you knew your house was going to be broken into on September 23, you would make sure you were home, maybe armed, or having the police there waiting on that night. If you knew you were going to be broken into on some night, you would make preparations, maybe you would get a good guard dog or a security system. Assuredly, you would be diligent each night each night to check your locks and other security measures. That is how God wants us to be awaiting His return, diligent, ready and waiting – prepared.

10 VIRGINS

Mat 25:1-13 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.'And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Jesus seems to be indicating that only ½ of those who call themselves the church have the Spirit of God and the other ½ are not true believers. Before you start looking around the room trying to figure out which half of us are going to hell, that this is speaking of half the Church in all the world, at His coming. Some congregations are filled with unbelievers, like for instance a universalist church or kingdom hall. Other churches, like Berean, are Gospel intensive and would have a high percentage of true believers. Likewise, some nations will have a higher percentage of believers than others. It is estimated that no more than 5% of China is Christian, which is about 68 million, according to Pew Research. 37% of American Christians identify themselves as born again. That is about about 101 million Americans, just over ¼ of the population. Think about that number, almost 75% of America is going to hell.

The reason Jesus gave us this parable is so that we are diligent in our faith. There are people in our lives who think they are Christians and yet have no clue about what God requires for salvation. Simply sharing the facts of the Gospel in our culture is not enough. We have to be intentionally discipling people. We have to invest our lives in the lives of others. Some will see the requirements of true salvation and turn away and some will come to Christ in a real way. Jesus had 5000 turn away from Him in one day. They were not willingly to truly trust in Christ.

Easy believeism, benefits oriented Gospel, works based theology, and the health wealth and prosperity Gospel are just some examples of things that cause people to call themselves Christians with out truly being born again. True salvation should be life changing and fruit bearing.


The bottom line is that we are to be ready for an imminent return of Christ and not trying to figure out dates and times. It is ok to look at prophecy and to get excited as we see things taking place, but we cannot get caught up on date setting because so far, every date setter has been 100% wrong. 



WEEK 10 
SEPTEMBER 14


1 Thessalonians 5:3-8

Last week we looked at the second coming of Christ as it relates to believers. This week we will look at how Christ's return will affect unbelievers.

I. V. 3 – this passage is speaking of unbelievers, those who do not care about God or Jesus. These will be taken by surprise at His coming. This passage is one that leads me to the belief in a pre-tribulation rapture. The description in Revelation of the Tribulation is anything but peace and security. Regardless – the world we live in continues to slide further and further into immorality and government control and oversight. I can imagine the godless would view these things very favorably, flaunting their liberation from God's laws and standards. Recently, the Burning Man Festival was held in the Nevada desert. Burning Man is a microcosmic view of what a world given over to the flesh would look like. Illicit drug use, spirituality without accountability, sexual freedom, and no real responsibility. This is the Utopian goal where the government takes care of basic needs and life is one big party. Lennon and McCartney outlined the Utopian dream in the song Imagine:
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... You...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... You...
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
Notice how the first thing eliminated is consequences, no heaven, no hell, so guess what, if there is no heaven or hell, there is no God, or at least not the God of the Bible. The discarding of religion is viewed as necessary for mankind to live in peace.

As society creeps towards this ideal, a false sense of safety and security will prevail and then, suddenly, because of continued ignored warnings, all hell will break loose on earth.

I love the analogy of sudden labor pains. Think of a pregnant woman who will not admit, even to herself, that she is pregnant. The obvious signs are present, others point out the need to prepare for birth, yet she refuses to listen to reason. Then, one day, labor hits, and it is too late to prepare, here comes a baby!

We can warn people, we can point to signs of the end, we can do all we can, yet most people will continue in unbelief. These who continue in unbelief will be very surprised when Christ returns and they are not prepared.

  1. v. 4-8 – though we cannot know the day or hour, we should be anticipating Christ's return as immanent. We prepare by being diligent in our relationship with God, by sharing our faith with those God places in our path and by living in the light. WHAT DOES LIVING IN THE LIGHT MEAN TO YOU?
Think of when most crime and mischief takes place, at night.
Living in the light means we are without duplicity, we are open, available to others, alert to the needs of others, alert to dangers of temptation.


WEEK 11

SEPTEMBER 21

1 Thessalonians 5:9-13

I. V. 9-11 – what we know is that as believers, we are not destined for wrath, but destined for salvation and eternal life with God. This should affect our lives in as much as we are living for eternity, not the moment. If we have eternity in sight, we can endure life here better. If we live for the here and now, we will never be satisfied. We will always be looking for the next cool thing, “whatever that may be for you as an individual. Living for the here and now, we worry about getting a fair shake, we worry about our “rights” and what we think we are owed. With eternity in sight, material possessions, hurt feelings over petty slights, watching the wicked prosper and the honest suffer suddenly does not seem so important. As we saw, last week, in the lyrics to Imagine the Utopian ideal is to be able to live without eternal consequences, we understand eternal consequences and rewards.

As we live for eternal reward, we must keep in mind that, as we looked at 2 weeks ago, about 75% of America is going to hell. That is motivation for out eternal perspective.

Notice verse 10 says “whether awake or asleep, we shall live with Him.” This brings us right back to verse 13, speaking of th day of the Lord – all in Christ shall be with Christ on the day of the Lord. Wherever you place that day on the end times time line. This is what we are to encourage one another with – our hope in the resurrection.

II. V. 12-13 – This is always a difficult passage to expound upon with humility, so I will allow it to speak for itself and take any questions.

The second part of 13 is important for us to keep on mind. We are to be at peace among ourselves. That means overlooking minor affronts, and treating others with respect. We remain at peace with one another when we are open and honest, not holding grudges or bad mouthing someone. If you have a problem with someone, go to them and say so. I would much rather you come to me with a problem you have with me rather than harbor a grudge or ill feelings. Generally, when we hurt one another it is not because we set out to hurt others, we are doing or saying something that benefits ourselves and not thinking about the ramifications or consequences. If you have hurt people inadvertently, then chances are, the person who hurt you did so ignorantly as well. This is when we need to have grace. As we have been talking about walking in the light, part of that is being real with someone when they hurt your feelings.

WEEK 12

SEPTEMBER 28

III.V. 14 – There are those among us, in the church, who are inactive. Are they inactive because they are lazy or idle, are they afraid, are they weak in their faith? HOW CAN WE TELL? We tell by spending time with them. We actually have to step out of our comfort zone and spend time with people. Then, we have to carefully and prayerfully determine why someone is inactive. We have specific instructions on how to motivate them

The idle, or as I like to call them, the lazy are to be admonished. This is more than encouragement because this is people who know better and ought to be serving in some capacity. This is someone who has been a believer for awhile, knows the Word and probably once actively served.
The faint hearted: these lack confidence or possibly are afraid to step out. We handle this group more gently as they need to be encouraged and built up.

The weak: for this group, we must go beyond words and put our faith into action. We do what we can to help them.

This is discipleship. This is what we are all called to do. This is not a command for pastors or church leaders, this is a general epistle written to the church, not the church leadership.

Challenge: find someone who is inactive that you have a relationship with and find out why they are inactive and employ one of these three methods to get them moving.


II. V. This is far easier said than done. Our natural inclination is to retaliate, defend, or hit back harder. Romans_12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
What do we want to accomplish with with comeuppance? Do we want our offender to receive retribution that is punitive or restorative? We should want that person's restoration, with us if possible, but certainly with God. God knows a person's weak spot and how to deal with them in such a way as to afford them the greatest opportunity to repent and change. So, we are called to do good to, not just one another but EVERYONE. This means we do good to those in and out of the church

  1. V.16 – The importance of worship: David was a shepherd boy with plenty of time and solitude on his hands. He did not sit around thinking about getting rich or having power or what kind of mischief he could get into, he used his solitude to worship God. The 23rd Psalm is a prime example. We get bored too easily and want constant entertainment. We have radios in our cars and games on our phones so we never have a quiet moment. Use the quiet times of solitude to spend time in worship.
    Rejoicing, thanksgiving, praise and worship are all necessary components of our spiritual lives. Doing this helps us keep things in proper perspective. We focus on God's love, faithfulness, provision, His magnitude, and our own inability and power in comparison. Rejoicing helps us stay humble and productive.


WEEK 13
OCTOBER 5

    I. V.17 – Prayer: I just got done reading the biography of the evangelist Charles Finney. What an amazing story of a man who committed himself to prayer and saw God perform amazing. wonders of salvation. Finney's prayers were answered with amazing outpourings of the Holy Spirit which led to huge revivals and moves of God in numerous communities. If you are wondering why God is not moving in your life or why you are not getting opportunities to serve, you may very well be neglecting prayer. Even Jesus, on numerous occasions, went off to pray in solitude. Luke 5:16 - But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Prayer is how we plug into the power of God.

    II. V. 18 – this verse goes along with verse 1

  1. V. 19 – To quench the Spirit is to ignore or hinder the prompting of God in your life and the life of others. When God is doing a work or we see a great victory over something in our lives, we run the risk thinking we have arrived somewhere and can take a break from holiness. Have you ever been focused on doing something that you knew you needed God's help with that you denied yourself indulgences or you abstained from certain things that you deemed sinful, only to accomplish your goal and go back business as usual? That is quenching the work of the Spirit. Rather than build on your spiritual success or accomplishment, we might feel a sense of relief and let down our guard or indulge in some sin as a reward to ourselves for a job well done. This is immature and dangerous behavior. Isaiah 28:9-10 "To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little." It is as we grow and graduate from spiritual meat that we build upon the things that God shows us and teaches us. We cannot “take a break” from holiness or a vacation from devotion, this will quench the work of the Spirit and we will regress and fail to ever grow past a certain level of maturity.

IV. V. 20-21 – We have to be careful not to believe every nonsense we hear from those who purport to speak for God, but, we must also be careful not to discount everything that is spoken as prophecy as well. 1Corinthians 14:1-3 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
Here, Paul is clearly encouraging us to prophesy. Prophecy, is basically, proclaiming God's word, whether it is quoting scripture or a “thus saith the Lord” statement. We have seen numerous, too many to count, false prophets proclaim many great but false things and we understandably get a little gun shy. We can and must test things by scripture. If some gut writes a book claiming to know the date of the rapture, don't waste your money, we know the Bible says no one knows the day or hour. This guy fails the test.
If a messianic Rabbi writes books touting a connection between 9-11 and judgment on America to ancient Israel and what he writes seems to make sense but he uses his connections to prophecy an economic collapse in September of 2013, he fails the test and we should not buy any more of his books.

More practically, if you are struggling and someone shares a scripture with you that seems appropriate to your situation, make sure the passage is being used in context and if it checks out, stand on it as a promise from God. If you are having trouble with your neighbor and someone quotes Deuteronomy 20:17, for instance, this is taken out of context and obviously not a word from God for you in that situation. “you shall utterly destroy them...” this is why Paul tells us we must test the Spirits. - remember, Satan misquotes scripture.


V. V. 22 – this really goes without saying and puts much of the onus on us. The best way to accomplish this is to stay focused on Christ. Matthew_6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Ultimately, it is all about abiding in Christ

  1. V. 22 – It is God who sanctifies us and holds us and secures our salvation – HE WILL SURELY DO IT!


VII. V. 25-28 – As Paul wraps this up, he reminds us that we are to keep each other in prayer, we are to be welcoming to one another and we are to share God's word with one another. It is about community. We meet in community and hold each other accountable and love each other and reach out to the lost. 

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