When Paul and the team brought the message of the gospel to this great city on the Egnatian Road, which was a strong military highway, the message was heard and received with joy by a small group who became the base for the church at Thessalonica (1:6). It was a dangerous time in history for anyone to profess Christ as Lord and Savior. Rome was torturing and killing devout Christ-followers and the old-line devout Jews who rejected Jesus were serving as bounty hunters, exposing Christians so they could be arrested. In the midst of this persecution a group of 20 to 30 believers fell in love with the message of grace that resonates from the cross of Jesus Christ. Having trusted Christ's sacrifice to be only means of their salvation, they wasted no time starting an effective ministry.
PROCLAIMING THE MESSAGE
What kind of ministry can a spiritually young, small, new church start? According to Paul's letter to the church they "proclaimed the word of God throughout the region." Paul says the word has "sounded forth". This means it literally trumpeted out from the little church. How effective was their trumpeting proclamation of the gospel? Paul says he has no need to go into the surrounding cities. The great church planter and missionary says, “You guys have done such a great job of proclaiming the message of Christ to the neighbors I am not needed here.” I wonder if Paul could say that about you and your church family? What message did they proclaim? This is a good question. I'm sure that no one taught "Evangelism Explosion" or "Contagious Christianity" or the "Walk Across the Room" curriculum to these believers. Their faith and enthusiasm meant they just shared what they knew. They knew they were sinners and that Jesus loved them enough to die for them and pay for their sins. They knew Jesus rose from the grave to conquer sin and death. They knew the freedom that they experienced in their heart. They knew the peace they had found in a relationship with Jesus. Could they quote five Bible verses? I would think not! Could they explain the theological issues of Calvinism, Armenianism, or the reformed teachings? They could not! But they could testify! They could testify and proclaim the message effectively.
SAVED TO SERVE
The sincere Christ-followers in Thessalonica did four important things that made their ministry effective.
First, they turned to the one true God as their source of help and life.
Secondly, they turned from idolatry. They left their past sinful life choices behind. Life change was evident to all who met this group. They did not try to live with one foot in the faith life and one foot in their sinful past.
Thirdly, they believed Jesus was coming back and lived with a hope and zeal that let everyone know they were waiting for Him to come and rescue them from the wrath to come.
Fourthly, the turned to God and served God. How they served him was to proclaim Him. They trumpeted the truth and message of Jesus to all the neighbors. This is exactly the Great Commandment and Great Commission lived out by this small but mighty church.
"…how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come." — 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Are you proclaiming the message of grace to your neighbors? Are you telling those whom you can influence about what Jesus did for you? Sadly, in our American culture, we often sit quietly, even as Christ-followers, and hope that someone else will tell the Good News. What can you do to fire up your church to share the message? The best thing to do is start sharing your testimony and then let those in your church hear of your adventures. Reaching the lost with the message of grace is exhilarating. It is contagious. Once you get the ball rolling, the excitement will grow. But someone has to start. Pray now for God to give you divine appointments this week so you can share your testimony. Start the fire in your church so that it can be like the Thessalonian church. Small groups of believers can be very effective and mighty witnesses in the community.
6.14 Ministries is designed to help small churches — and all churches — become more effective at reaching the lost and raising up a biblical community for the glory of God. We want to come alongside churches and encourage the leadership and core members to serve with joy.
If you're in need of such encouragement, renewal, or revitalization, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website and we can support or visit your ministry at no charge. You can also follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/614rebuild and on Twitter at Twitter.com/614rebuild.