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As we reach the end of our first month of attempting to plant a church and as we study the NT model for church planting from the Book of 1 Thessalonians, we need to ask ourselves if we are too tentative. What is impressive from studying Paul and Silas and Timothy is their confidence and boldness in going about their mission. They had a very clear sense of what needed to be accomplished. They were able to focus the majority of their efforts on the proclamation of the gospel and reaching out to witness to the unsaved. They were not overly consumed with organizational details or the conduct and structure of their meetings. They wanted to establish contact with people who needed to hear the truth of God’s wonderful plan of salvation. They allowed the organizational details to develop as needed but they did not create an empty shell and then try to fill it.

They were especially characterized by a Supernatural Boldness – something that was not drummed up from their own inner courage or manufactured from some type of positive thinking mantra. But a boldness that the Holy Spirit produced within them that stood the test of whatever type of opposition and persecution came their way. Paul apparently faced attacks from false teachers who had crept into the church and were out for their own selfish gain rather than humbly serving for the glory of God. He describes here the character of his ministry and stresses his own integrity of motives (look at that this week) and conduct (look at 3 different role models of conduct next week from vv.6-10) to show that his ministry was commended by God and authentic. So this is a two week message.



Illustration: Just as you use a highlighter pen to make something important stand out, God uses persecution to highlight the true character of a godly ministry. Persecution highlights supernatural boldness instead of hindering it.

Why is Boldness so essential?

Piper: It was Paul’s boldness in evangelizing that kept his life from being in vain. And it will be our boldness that keeps our lives from being bland and tasteless and empty and weak and insignificant in the end . . .

So my answer to the first question (Why is boldness necessary?) is that it keeps our lives from being in vain. It makes our lives effective and fruitful and significant. It brings change into people’s lives and leads them on toward courage in Christ. And nothing is more significant than leading people toward Christ and his Kingdom.

A. Impressive Church Planting Ministry in Thessalonica —

Converts Can Recognize Supernatural Boldness in Proclaiming the Gospel (Paul appeals to the experiential knowledge of the Thess. converts)

3 Parts to Paul’s Argument here:

1. Emphasizes their first-hand knowledge of the facts

(“you yourselves know”)

they do not need Paul or anyone else to point out the details of what had transpired; there should be no revisionist history; let the historical account speak for itself; can’t be disputed; they should have been able to refute Paul’s detractors without any help from Paul

2. Appeals to them as “brethren” — equal family members – How did this come about?

They need to remember who led them into this privileged family relationship; they

needed to value the bonds of fellowship created by the Holy Spirit

3. Focuses attention on the Power and Earnestness of the Church Plant

(“our coming to you was not in vain”) not empty or hollow or ineffective

Context is looking at the character of their ministry efforts;

They were truly Channels Only – with the Holy Spirit working through them;

Look at who had taken the initiation to minister and had borne all of the hardship –

It would not be proper for them to now entertain the attacks of false teachers – unless something was wrong with Paul’s motives or conduct

Look at how powerfully they ministered the gospel in trying circumstances

Look at the fruit of changed lives (earlier messages) that only God could have produced

Is God actively at work in our lives and in what we are trying to accomplish as a church?

B. Perseverance Despite Persecution is the Key

1. At Philippi

“but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know”

We find it difficult if people are criticizing us or saying things that we feel are not justified; or attacking our motives or character … Paul faced these attacks constantly … and on top of that had all of the physical abuse and suffering and the constant threat of death; nothing distracted him from his mission as the Apostle to the Gentiles; nothing made him quit or think that it wasn’t worth it

Don’t be surprised by suffering and mistreatment … don’t seek to avoid it at all costs

2. At Thessalonica (“amid much opposition”) – driven out of the city and pursued to Berea where the same troublemakers came after them

MacArthur: Suffered refers primarily to the physical abuse, whereas mistreated refers to public disgrace, or even legal abuse – they were unjustly judged and made prisoners when they had committed no crime. In the first century, hubrizo (mistreated) meant to treat shamefully, insultingly, or outrageously in public – all with intent to humiliate.

MacArthur: The Greek word translated opposition is agon (“struggle,” “conflict,” “fight”), from which the English word agonize derives. It referred to an agonizing life and death struggle. In the ministry, there is always pressure to mitigate the message, to be inoffensive to sinners, to make the gospel acceptable to them. But such a compromise had no place in Paul’s strategy. Instead, he had full confidence in God’s power to overcome all opposition and achieve His redemptive purpose. The servant of God preaches the true, unmitigated message God has laid out in His Word, not some other message. He does so for the sake of truth, not for personal popularity. And when opposition comes, he trusts in the power of God and stays obedient to his calling.

C. Aggressive Proclamation Despite Continued Opposition

Study Paul’s missionary activities throughout the Book of Acts – you see the consistent thread of one major activity dominating his time and energy – the proclamation of the gospel

Doesn’t mean that he was unconcerned with the social ills and injustices of his day . . .

Doesn’t mean that he didn’t have any family members or relatives that he loved . . .

But he remained focused on proclaiming the gospel message

1. Supernatural Boldness (not just natural courage)

“we had the boldness in our God…”

What does Supernatural Boldness look like? Naturally we might be cowards …

We need to learn how to rely on the Lord; strengthen ourselves in the Lord

Consciousness of the presence and favor of God

Paul wanted others to pray for him in this area of boldness – Eph 6:19-20

2. Verbal Proclamation to the Unsaved (not just unspoken example)

“to speak to you”

3. Stewardship of the True Gospel (not adulterated)

“the gospel of God”

Maybe we need some training to improve our skill in this …

But don’t wait until you know everything … step out and testify to what you know; God can use what you say … we have been given a stewardship;

We will be held accountable


Transition: “For” (beginning of vs. 3) — Used here to introduce explanatory confirmation. It is important to see how verses 3-12 relate to the main idea of supernatural boldness introduced in vs.1-2.


Someone might argue that we can never judge someone’s motives – that is true … yet Paul constantly argues that from his speech and his conduct and his approach to ministry and how he treats people you should be able to make some level of determination that his motives are pure – Good fruit cannot come from a rotten source – yet this must be balanced with the truth that still it is God that examines our hearts; we can even deceive ourselves

How about the opposite case: can someone do or say something that is bad and yet still have good motives? I think yes – they can have a blind-spot … but then someone needs to come alongside and help the person see that blind-spot so they can change their conduct. They will have to examine their own motives on the issue; but the conduct still needs to be addressed.

Just because someone says their motives are pure … that does not mean that we cannot address wrong behavior.

In Paul’s case, he has a good conscience that he has pursued the ministry from pure motives.




A. #1 – Motivated by Ministry Integrity – Transparency — 3 Negatives — Not:

1. “from error” – root = “wandering, roaming”

source of Paul’s message was not the product of deception or illusion

Look at all of the cults that have sprung up with very sincerely motivated leaders.

The problem is that they have a zeal that is not in accordance with knowledge (Rom. 10:2)

The first boundary for Ministry Integrity must be the Truth – the church is called to be the pillar and foundation of the truth; we must stand for truth

2. “from impurity” — not associated with sexual impurity

(many of the religions of the day had sexual rituals);

Very easy for women to put emotional dependence upon a male leader in a way that leads to inappropriate conduct. Very easy for spiritual leaders to take advantage of the emotions of people who are in stressful situations.

possibly a reference to integrity of motivation as well

3. “by way of deceit” — not using tricky or crafty methods – I hate this tactic –

Catching fish with bait; deliberate attempt to mislead; all types of schemes and rackets;

Call it playing politics or packaging things up to manipulate people and accomplish your agenda; not being honest and open to tell everyone the whole story; Satan is a master of using this tactic of deceit to his advantage; you find out that you have been tricked in one area – you should question whether you are being told the whole truth in other areas

B. #2 – Motivated by Divine Commissioning –

“but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak”

perf pass — test, examine, interpret, discern, discover, approve, prove, demonstrate

genuine, pass the test

they realized God had taken the initiative to equip them and send them out to minister and proclaim the gospel

Certainly all believers have been entrusted with the gospel to some degree and have been authorized by Jesus Christ to give the highest priority to participation in the Great Commission;

But what additional type of approval should be involved in the recognition of spiritual leaders?

Key: it is the Holy Spirit who makes someone a leader; church was only recognizing what the Holy Spirit had already done – Need to be approved by God – regardless of any human laying on of hands, etc.

2 Cor. 10:17-18 “But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.”

2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”

Paul’s case – commissioning prophecied at the time of his conversion! Acts 9:15 Lord speaking to Ananias

“he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles … for I will show him how much hemust suffer for My name’s sake.”

Don’t know exactly how the Lord communicated this calling to Paul

Look at split with Barnabas – Acts 15:39-40

We do not have an ideal situation – not sent out by our former church —

How can we tell today that we have been “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel”?

Best way is to be examined in light of the qualifications for elders – but who should conduct this examination? Examined in past circumstances … what value does that still have?

Important to be serving in the area where God has sovereignly gifted you

Luke 10:2 – not a spirit of just volunteerism – but pray that the Lord of the Harvest would send out the laborers that He has approved into His harvest

Human ordination councils – cf. illustration of Episcopal Church –

If we were to leave we would come under the traditional authority of the Anglican Community; what about for independent, autonomous churches??

Difficulty if you are doing something of a reformation nature — for example, a group of senior pastors are not likely to give their blessing to someone who wants to teach and model that the NT does not want us to make such a distinction among the elders

Ordination: gives you confidence and helps your perseverance

Key: we must have a good conscience about God wanting us to lead this ministry

But this commissioning is not just some one time event that you can point back to and say “Don’t question me or what I do … I was ordained by God and called to this ministry” …

No … there is an ongoing process of accountability to God that is equally important

C. #3 – Motivated by Divine Accountability — One Main Contrast — Our Primary Orientation

“not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts”

Not just doing what is pleasing to God … but doing it from a motivation that you want to please God

Problems with ministers who are “man-pleasers”:

– wrongly influenced by others

– show favoritism

– compromise in various areas – your message, your methods

Prov. 29:25 “the fear of man brings a snare”

Prov. 28:21 “To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.”

James 2:1 “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.”

Matt. 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”

Are we allowing God to examine our hearts and our motives?

How does God do this? Accountability among the leadership team

D. #4 – Motivated by Personal Unselfishness – Three more Negatives:

Not all about ME

1. not with “flattering speech” — manipulating people; telling them what they want to hear; making them feel good rather than providing the conviction of sin that will point them to the Savior for forgiveness and deliverance

You can use flattering speech towards others … you can also use it towards yourself – not facing the harsh reality of who you really are

Proverbs warns against Flattery:

26:28 “A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

Equivalent to lying – not just some small offense

28:23 “He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor then he who flatters with the tongue.”

Contrasted with giving rebuke where necessary – Who likes to deliver that message?

29:5 “A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps.”

You are not helping someone; you are setting them up for a harder fall

Flattery really is nothing more than a bribe to try to get someone on your side or try to get favorable treatment from them

The false promises of a politician to marshal support and votes

17:23 “A wicked man receives a bribe from the bosom to pervert the ways of justice.”

Jude 16 “These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”

2. not with a “pretext for greed”

giving a reason which is plausible in itself, but which is not the real reason in order to disguise your own covetousness

“Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many”

Not: What am I going to get out of this? How will I benefit?

Sometimes in ministry there can be a lot of money floating around; the potential for greed and covetousness. That is why financial accountability is so important for Christian organizations. Leaders can structure things to feather their own nests and pursue financial gain rather than sacrificially ministering to the flock. That is not to say that those who labor hard in preaching and teaching are not worthy of double honor … they are. But the motive of those ministering must not be to accumulate wealth for themselves. That is why one of the requirements for elders is he must be “free from the love of money.” It should sicken us to see the extravagant lifestyle of some of the more famous TV personalities. If questioned, they have all sorts of excuses and rationalizations … but there conduct is nothing more than “a pretext for greed.” When leaders make decisions they must be careful to examine their motives and make sure that they are not being influenced by greed. Certainly no one could charge Paul with being in the ministry for the money. That is why in some contexts – like when he was at Thessalonica – he thought it important to support himself and set a superior example for the believers … even though he had the right to be paid full time in the gospel ministry.

“God is witness” — where it is impossible for men to discern, Paul appeals to the judgment of God regarding our inner motives

3. not “seeking glory from men”

a) not from you Thessalonians

b) not from others elsewhere who would be observing me

This last warning is very broad and targets the pride of powerful leaders who have a strong desire to build up a loyal base of personal recognition and honor that will feed their egos and bolster their insecurities.

There are many ways in which this tendency can evidence itself:

– they are very concerned with receiving the recognition and honor they feel is due them

– we talked about money and greed just above – they want to make sure they are being adequately compensated for their ministry – it is not enough to rely on how the Lord will reward them in eternity

– they are concerned with titles that show proper respect

– they flaunt their academic credentials and want recognition on that basis

– they want the chief seats in the banquet hall and the preeminence on every occasion

– they want to make sure they get credit for all that they have accomplished

This selfish ambition is nothing more than “the boastful pride of life” that John condemns as worldliness in 1 John 2:16. This is the empire building that takes place all of the time in the Gentile world of leadership – whether in business or in politics. It is all about Status and Recognition.

CONCLUSION: Gentle, Nurturing Approach to Ministry – Not Overly Authoritative

“even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority”

Paul had unique apostolic authority – but did not overuse it – constantly took the tone of appeal and encouragement; not afraid to use his authority when necessary; cf. church discipline against stubborn rebellion

Were Silas and Timothy viewed as apostles of the church at Antioch??

Cannot function as a Diotrephes – 3 John 9

Cannot lord it over the flock – as the form of Gentile leadership in business or politics

Insecurity — makes you unapproachable, defensive, unable to take constructive criticism

Model for plurality of elder leadership … the authority resides in the corporate exercise of the elders; not one elder exercising authority over other elders