CHANGED LIVES EARN THE REPUTATION OF BEING A MODEL WORTH IMITATING
What types of role models have you chosen to follow in your life? We all have been impacted by a wide range of different people. Some of the examples have been good and helpful; others have been dangerous and harmful. We know that “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33) and yet sometimes we are not all that careful about who we hang with. The value of our college fellowship group – excellent role models to challenge us to live for Christ.
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Prov. 13:20
Note that the Pharisees – despite all of the “truth” that they set forth from the OT Scriptures were explicitly identified as the type of role model we should reject: Matt. 23:1-5
“therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds”
Some public figures shy away from the responsibility of being regarded as a role model. They don’t want any accountability in their lives; but the fact is people are watching and people are imitating. (Arena of sports, music, entertainment, politics, etc.)
A good reputation is a valuable asset. “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth” (Prov. 22:1). Not easy to earn … very easy to have destroyed; that is why the Lord speaks so strongly against bearing false witness; against making false accusations; against slandering our brother. Our reputation should gain us a hearing to proclaim the gospel to others.
– our reputation in the work force
When we are laid off, we respond very differently from the world
– our reputation in the community – Where do people turn for help?
– our reputation in our family – our kids should be our greatest evangelistic asset
This good reputation that the believers from Thessalonica had earned was sufficient evidence that they were truly the elect of God. They weren’t phonies … they were realies (like we talked about last week).
CHANGED LIVES EARN THE REPUTATION OF BEING A MODEL WORTH IMITATING
3 ACTIVITIES RELATED TO BECOMING A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR OTHER BELIEVERS:
I. (:6) Imitation of Christ and of Christlike leaders
II. (:7-8) Reputation – securing it and making it known
III. (:9-10) Devotion to God – separation from the world to be consecrated to God
I. (:6) IMITATION — GODLY IMITATION PRODUCES CHANGED LIVES
A. The Process of Godly Imitation – What is involved in imitating someone?
“You also became imitators”
Not just a bunch of monkeys – “monkey see, monkey do” in some type of rote fashion
Keathley: Our word imitate may lead to the wrong impression. Christian imitation has nothing to do with outward conformity where someone merely copies the actions, mannerisms, or speech of another. The Greek word is mimetes from mimeomai, “to imitate, emulate, use as a model.” The main idea here is to follow someone as an ideal model or example, but, as the New Testament context makes clear, this is not merely a matter of external conformity, but change from the inside out through receiving and following the spiritual truths of the faith as seen in the life of the model.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
More is caught than taught
You must pursue the spiritual disciplines that over time will help you to grow and mature; understanding that ultimately inward transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit by God’s grace – but not apart from our efforts and dedication
Look at how many people want to take some type of shortcut to spiritual maturity
B. The People Worthy of Godly Imitation
1. Visibly = Apostolic church planting team – Paul, Silas, Timothy – “of us”
Their spiritual parents in the Lord
These were not some spiritual big shots that you could never get close to; they were intimately involved in both public preaching and teaching and one-on-one discipleship (2 Thess. 3:7; Heb. 13:7)
2. Ultimately = Lord Jesus Christ – “and of the Lord”
Study the process by which Christ trained His disciples – not just some type of academic course of study; not just reading books and writing papers; but following Christ around; seeing how He ministered to people; on the job training for spiritual ministry
C. The Particulars of Godly Imitation – must be interpreted through the grid of the Word of God – that divine revelation that instructs us regarding how to live
“having received the word” (John 1:12 – the Word Incarnate as well)
— must go to the only authoritative source for our rule of conduct – defines for us the parameter of what is worth imitating and what is not
— must not only listen but respond and apply the Word so that we live it out
– back to the 4 types of soil – we must be that good soil where the seed takes root and produces godly fruit that remains even when the pressure comes
— trying to understand some of my Catholic friends; they receive the writings of the church fathers on a par with the Word of God in terms of informing them of the particulars worthy of imitation; interesting argument: the church established the canon (which books are viewed as Scripture), therefore the church is a higher authority in some sense … very dangerous
D. The Pressure Cooker Environment in which Godly Imitation Flourishes
“in much tribulation” – affliction, intense pressure, confining pressure
That squeezing pressure that builds up in your chest
Not talking here so much about just the normal hardships of life – health problems, financial pressures, dealing with job changes, etc.
Talking more about blatant persecution for their identification with Jesus Christ; the missionary team had come under fire in Thessalonica and been forced to leave the city; but the believers who remained faced some tough times
The Lord loves to turn the heat up on His disciples to purify them and intensify the rate and quality of their development. Satan grossly miscalculates when he imagines that attacking believers will ruin them or distract them from a walk of faith. Hard times drive us closer to a walk of dependence upon the Lord.
When we have to pray for the provision of our daily bread like Jesus and His disciples did, we will be much more focused in our prayers.
Phil. 3:10 – fellowship in His sufferings
E. The Persevering Power of Godly Imitation – very different from self effort or relying on any worldly resources or human strength
“with the joy of the Holy Spirit”
Cf. joy of Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Prov. 17:22
A little different than the Reader’s Digest rendition: “Laughter is the best medicine
Zeisler: There are few things that are clearer evidence of God at work in a thorough and heartfelt way than for people to be joyful in the midst of being hassled, hurt, set upon and denied their rights.
Should be seen on our countenance – Jon Williams is a tremendous inspiration in this regard
If you imitate well . . . others will imitate you – cycle of imitation, reproduction, discipleship
TRANSITION: “so that you became an example”
II. (:7-8) REPUTATION — CHANGED LIVES PRODUCE THE REPUTATION OF A MODEL WORTH FOLLOWING
A. The Scope of the Reputation
“so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonian and in Achaia”
“not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place”
Hyperbole used here – but the point is that their reputation was very widespread – Paul was seeking to introduce the gospel throughout this whole geographic area; what an encouragement to the other believers to hear such a good report of this band of Christian disciples
B. The Securing of the Reputation
You could be the best model in the world for people to follow – but if no one even knows you exist, you won’t have much impact; there must be some visibility to your testimony
1. Proclamation of the Truth – Preaching the word of the Lord
“the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you”
Trumpet blast; roar of thunder – very loud and impressive; gets your attention
Keathley: The term “sounded forth” or “echoed” is the Greek execheo, “to cause to resound, sound or ring forth.” It seems that the Apostle saw the Thessalonians as amplifiers who first received the gospel message but then sent it reverberating on its way with increased power and scope much like an echo in the mountains. . . The meaning is, that their conversion and its circumstances were so noted, that they carried the gospel through the province as if by the ringing peal of a trumpet.
Cf. internet ministry – far-reaching; who knows the ultimate results; 500 unique people a day; most of these are bible teachers of some form who are preparing to teach others – in far outlying areas
2. Practice of the Truth – Personal Relationship with the Living God
“your faith toward God has gone forth”
When people get to know us, do our lives back up our proclamation of the truth? Are we characterized by faith and love and hope? By holiness and gentleness and self control? By joy and thanksgiving? By prayer and dependence upon God and waiting for His soon return?
C. The Sufficiency of the Reputation
“so that we have no need to say anything”
Paul’s work was done in the sense that he did not need to convince the believers about the reality of the Spirit’s work in this assembly at Thessalonica – still he did commend them in very specific ways – such as for their example of sacrificial giving
(2 Cor. 8:1-8) – the way you manage your money is good test of maturity
III. (:9-10) DEVOTION — CHANGED LIVES EXHIBIT THREE KEY DISTINCTIVES
Context: A Good Report — Their Initial Dramatic Conversion and Response to the Apostolic Proclamation
“For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you”
It’s nice when people give a good report about the changed lives of other believers
A. “work of faith” – Dramatic Conversion – Repentance + Faith
“how you turned to God from idols” – Background = pagan Gentiles largely
Nobody drifts into God’s family; nobody just does a slight course alteration and ends up in glory; God must do a decisive work of conversion to turn us completely around so that we head down the narrow path instead of the broad way
We must be transformed from being enemies to being friends
We must recognize our sinfulness for what it is and hate it like God hates it and turn our back on it
Roper: men are obliged to have faith in something. They must depend upon something or somebody. Man is never really independent. The option is never faith or nonfaith.
The question is: what is the object of faith? We are either trusting in idols or we are trusting in God. These are the only two options. . .
the problem with an idol is that it always tends to disappoint us. If it becomes the sole source of our support it tends to break down. It cannot bear our full weight. This is
why we get so frustrated and bitter and resentful at times. The things in which we trusted most have let us down
Are there any idols that we have been allowing to hang around and distract us from our devotion to God?
Opposite: Don’t shrink back into apostasy – Book of Hebrews
B. “labor of love” – Dedication to Ministry – whole-hearted service to God
“to serve a living and true God” Present Tense – ongoing action
Every other religion is about dead idols and false gods
Truth trumps everything; truth floats my boat
Joshua 3:10 “By this you shall know that the living God is among you”
Zeisler: That is a strong word. It is not love that occasionally does partial and insignificant work, love that occasionally ventures out of its shell and paints a building or fixes a tire or does something easy and inexpensive. Love that labors is love that puts itself in the harness; love that is committed to seeing people served even when it is expensive, even when it hurts. Laboring love remains, continues to serve, continues to bear the brunt, and works hard at loving.
What are you doing with your life?
Do we truly enjoy serving God and serving others?
Transition: that is why the Resurrection of Christ is so key
C. “steadfastness of hope” – Desire for the Return of Our Savior
“and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Pres. Tense – ongoing action
Don’t give up or become discouraged or disillusioned
Keathley: the word “wait,” the Greek anameno, which comes from ana, “up, upward,” and meno, “to remain, abide.” It means “to remain in a place and/or a state of mind, with expectancy concerning a future event—to await, to wait for.” Our phrase, “wait up for” catches the meaning nicely. Think of a parent who, in anticipation of a son or daughter’s arrival, waits up eagerly and expectantly. Anameno means to expect, with the added notion of waiting patiently and confidently, but not necessarily in a passive way.
Paul is going to need to correct these believers regarding how they are to wait for the Lord’s return. Even though it is imminent – could come at any time – that does not mean we should quit our jobs, forget our earthly responsibilities and sit on top of some mountain gazing upwards.
Others attack me … but Jesus is coming
The world is so unfair … but Jesus is coming
“Yes, I am coming quickly” – Rev. 22:20
Zeisler: Hope in our lives has a lot to do with what our final priorities are. What we hope for is the bottom line commitment.
Rich Christology in this verse
Focus is on the Object of our Hope = Jesus Christ – 5 Truths about Christ
1. Divine — Deity of Christ – “His Son”
Understanding of the Trinity – relationship among the 3 persons of Godhead
2. Transcendant — Location of Christ – “from heaven” – in control; at peace
Where is Jesus now? In heaven, at right hand of God the Father
Acts 1:9-11 – Ascension into heaven from which He will return; but we are not to sit around waiting
as you read through the gospel of John – Jesus constantly identifies Himself as the one who came down from heaven to reveal the Father and who was then going to return to heaven
3. Living, Victorious Savior – “whom He raised from the dead”
Testimony of the empty tomb – Easter fast approaching
All people are accountable to the risen Lord; judgment committed to Him
4. Fully Man – “that is Jesus” – Historical person
5. Future Rescuer – “who delivers us from the wrath to come”
Return of Christ is certain
What is this “wrath to come”? [advisor in seminary – thesis]
a) Eternal wrath and separation from God in hell (John 3:36; Rom. 1:18)
b) Temporal wrath of Tribulation Period (Jer. 30:4-7; Rev. 7:14)
Difficult to say which is in view here – definitely (a); maybe (b)
2 Thess 1:5-12 is important context here
Every chapter in 1 Thess ends with a reference to the return of Jesus Christ
Hiebert: “In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 the Thessalonian believers are pictured as waiting for the return of Christ. The clear implication is that they had a hope of His imminent return. If they had been taught that the great tribulation, in whole or in part, must first run its course, it is difficult to see how they could be described as expectantly awaiting Christ’s return. Then they should rather have been described as bracing themselves for the great tribulation and the painful events connected with it.”
Bible Knowledge Commentary:
The wrath of God will be poured out on unrighteous people because of their failure to trust in Christ (John 3:36; Rom. 1:18). This happens at many times and in many ways, the great white throne judgment being the most awful occasion (Rev. 20:11-15). But the “time of trouble for Jacob” (Jer. 30:4-7), also called “the Great Tribulation” (Rev. 7:14), will be a period in history during which God’s wrath will be poured out on the earth as never before (cf. Rev. 6-19).
Was Paul thinking of a specific time in which God’s wrath would be poured out (1 Thes. 1:10), or was he referring to the outpouring of God’s wrath on unbelievers in a more general sense? Paul, the Thessalonian believers, and Christians today will escape all aspects of God’s wrath, general and specific, including the Tribulation period. The clear implication of this verse is that Paul hoped in the Lord’s imminent return. Otherwise Paul would have told his readers to prepare for the Tribulation.
These believers took on the distinctives we talked about from Acts 17 about the founding of the church
– plurality partnership
– missionary mindset
– opportunistic orientation
– biblically based
– Christ centered
– divinely diverse
– persevering through persecution – steadfast in their hope
– IMITATION – Imitate good models
– REPUTATION – Earn a good reputation / be a good role model to others
– DEVOTION – Devote yourselves completely to God