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The Power of an Example

The Power of an Example

Introduction:

All of us, at some time in our lives, have learned by example. You learned to write and ride a bike by example. Often for the first few weeks on a job, you learn by watching and following others. The Bible discusses the power of example throughout its pages and describes its importance in the life of a Christian. In our text, I Thessalonians 1:6-10, Paul writes to the young Christians at Thessalonica about how their lives, which were imitations of Christ, were examples to others. He finishes this section by reminding them why they were living as they were.

Text: I Thessalonians 1:6-10 - 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Body:

I. Imitate the Lord (verse 6)

"Followers" -- [Literally, mimickers or imitators] In I Corinthians 11:1, Paul wrote to another group of Christians, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." A Christian then is to strive to imitate Christ.

I Peter 2:21-23 - 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.

23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Notice they became imitators when they 'received the word.'

"Embraced the gospel" -- I Thessalonians 2:13 Notice what James told his readers, "Receive with meekness the implanted word."

James1:21 - Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

One does not learn to imitate Christ from visions, better-felt-than-told experiences, human philosophy, traditions, . . .

"In much affliction" -- They were imitating Paul and Christ in this respect. This began immediately after the church was started. Acts 17:5 Paul (at Thessalonica) -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.

II Corinthians 1:8-10 - 8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.

9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Their world changed drastically upon becoming Christians. Life without problems and suffering is not worth pursuing. The gospel is not primarily a way to emotional well-being and material success. Suffering and joy go together. Family, friends, and co-workers would now have nothing to do with them. In many cases, they were abased and beaten. Yet, in spite of this, they were filled with joy. James 1:2-3, Romans 5:3-5

II. Be An Example to Others (verses 7-8) - 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

As a result of following Christ and other ones of faith, now the Thessalonian Christians were examples to others. The good report of their endurance and steadfastness had spread far and wide. They had an outstanding reputation from Macedonia in northern Greece to Achaia in southern Greece. The word of their courage under fire had sounded forth, trumpeted, rang out clearly to such an extent that it was not necessary for Paul to tell people about them. They already knew! How? Ones who came to Thessalonica heard the story and then left. Or they heard by Jews through the synagogue. Recall that this city was a seaport and on a major trade route, thus it had many visitors.

There is great power in a positive example. James describes this in James 5:10-11 - 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Reading about their faith motivates us to live as we should. The liberal giving of the poor saints of Macedonia was an example to saints of Achaia.

II Corinthians 8:1-7- 1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia,

2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord,

4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints-

5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.

7 But as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you-see that you excel in this act of grace also.

By us enduring through trials and sufferings, we are an example to other Christians to do the same. Timothy was told, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." I Timothy 4:12 It doesn't make any difference if you are a relatively new Christian -- so were the Thessalonians!

An impact is also made on unbelievers by our good example. I Peter 2:11-12 - 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

III. The Motivation Behind It All (verses 9-10) 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

The report, which sounded forth, told of how Thessalonian Christians had turned from idols to God. They had renounced their allegiance to gods they had previously served. They turned their backs on dead, lifeless, pagan idols and stopped worshipping the false gods they had formerly loved. They had adopted true worship and had become slaves of the only real God, the living and one true God. I Corinthians 8:4-6 Here is an example of the power of the gospel! Today we can serve idols of money, power, prestige, looks, or sex. Don't just talk about religion, but we must live lives that follow God.

Their decision to change centered around two key elements of the gospel message. They were absolutely convinced of these facts.

Jesus was raised from the dead. I Corinthians 15:20-22 We can experience life because of this.

Jesus' second coming -- This great event would mark when He brings wrath on the disobedient and delivers the obedient from the wrath.

John 5:28-29 "God's love and wrath are two sides of the same coin".

28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice

29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Invitation:

While in these mortal bodies, we have an opportunity to turn from idols to God, as the Thessalonians did. Christ said that if we do not turn, we will perish. Why not experience the same joy the Thessalonians did?

If we follow the Lord, He will lead us to the Father in Heaven.




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