Two pastors were standing by the side of a road holding up a sign that read, “The end is near! Turn around now before it’s too late!” The plan was to lift the sign up high and point to the words as cars came down the road.
The first driver slowed down enough to read the sign and then yelled at the two men, “Leave us alone you religious fruitcakes!” He then sped back up and took off down the road. From around the bend, the two pastors heard screeching tyres and a big splash. One pastor looked at his friend and said, “Do you think we should just make a sign that says, ‘The Bridge is Out of Order?’”
As we begin a new series ‘Looking at Thessalonians’, I wonder if some of us are just speeding down the road of life, uncertain about what lies around the corner.
Many people are worried by, the world as we know it coming to an end. A few months ago, Time magazine ran a story called, ‘The Bible and the Apocalypse.’ Why more people are reading and talking about the end of the world. A poll taken at the time discovered that more than one third of people polled say they are paying more attention now to how news headlines might relate to the end of the world as we know it.
As we come to look at 1 and 2 Thessalonians, it’s first of all important to understand why these letters were written.
1. Firstly it was to give specifics about the return of Christ. Each New Testament book has a special theme or message, that is uniquely its own. The message of these letters written to the church at Thessalonica is the return of Jesus Christ and how this truth should affect our lives and our churches. Every chapter of 1 Thessalonians concludes with a reference to the end being near. In chapter one it finishes like this.
1:10: and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
As we look through these books we’ll see that Paul didn’t look upon the doctrine of Christs return as a theory to be discussed but as a truth to be lived.
2. Secondly - To instruct new Christians. The church at Thessalonica was filled with brand new believers. The apostle Paul started the church but was not able to spend much time teaching and discipling them. These letters provide very practical instruction on how to live the Christian life. Some of the topics include conversion, integrity, compassion, the Bible, heavenly rewards, suffering, prayer, moral purity, the second coming, the role of spiritual leaders, and dealing with difficult people.
3. And thirdly - To provide hope in the midst of uncertainty. This young church was situated in a very dangerous world. The believers were facing persecution and wondered how much more they could take. The parallel to our world at this present moment is striking. These two letters were written to help believers avoid both withdrawal and hysteria.
Here’s a couple of facts about 1 Thessalonians.
It’s one of the oldest books in the New Testament. It was written less than 20 years after the Resurrection. It is one of the earliest pictures we have of the Christian church.
It’s one of the shortest books in the New Testament. It contains only 79 verse and can be read easily within 15 minutes. Try and read it each week over the next months.
And it’s one of the easiest books to understand. There is no complicated theology to think over. Everything is simple, clear and direct. If you want to know Pauls doctrine read Romans, if you want to know Pauls heart read 1 Thessalonians.
I am excited that God will bless us over the coming months as we spend time ‘Looking at Thessalonians.
God Bless You
Monday 30th of April 2018
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