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Message Text

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 ESV

2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 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.

Message Notes

1. Receive the pattern.

4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.

1 Corinthians 13:3-4 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

You have to receive first. This is not a cookie-cutter pattern that you can complete by sheer will. It is a pattern that we are able to follow only after we have been empowered to do so. The Thessalonians did not just hear a story to repeat but experienced the resurrection power of Christ. Paul was not trying to just convince them; he wanted them to be changed through the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

This is a transformation that can only happen through Christ. Our behavior change is a result of the power of Christ. The pattern starts with receiving.

2. Be the pattern.

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,

Paul mentions two patterns: people and Christ. Christ is the pure example of holiness. Emanuel, God himself, came and lived with us.

1 Peter 1:15-16 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Matthew 5:43-48 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Thessalonians had become imitators of God - the origin of perfection. Paul and others were also a living pattern. Paul encouraged people to follow him as he followed the example of Christ. Paul was not advocating that he was the ultimate example but a pattern that would point to Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Jesus is the ultimate pattern, but you can live the pattern out to help others see him. I always need someone to help me figure things out. Paul wasn’t proclaiming he was the perfect pattern; he always pointed to Christ. We do not have to be perfect to be a pattern people can follow.

The pattern of repentance is always something people can follow and find Christ. I can be a pattern of humility, hope, joy, forgiveness, perseverance, and generosity for others.

3. The pattern reproduces.

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.

The Gospel message, when lived out, is perpetually reproducing. Paul says he received and lived it out, then the Thessalonians received and lived it out and then others, through the Thessalonians’ pattern, heard without the help of Paul.

Our legacy is that we imitated the pattern in such a way that people we never knew received and followed the pattern. You are not only following for those around you but also for those you don’t know.

1. Receive the pattern.

2. Be the pattern.

3. The pattern reproduces.