First and Second Thessalonians are some of the most important books in the New Testament, and one of the things that stands out about these books the most is that they deal a lot with bible prophecy. In fact just about every single chapter in both First and Second Thessalonians, talks about the second coming of Jesus Christ and makes some reference to either his second coming, the tribulation, the wrath of God being poured out upon the unsaved, over and over again these things come up. Now of course everyone knows the famous passage in First Thessalonians chapter 4, that is the most famous passage regarding what is commonly known as the rapture where Christ comes in the clouds, the trumpet sounds, and those which are alive and remain are caught up together in the clouds to be with him, to meet the Lord in the air.
Unfortunately that seems to be pretty much the only passage from First Thessalonians that ever gets quoted in regard to bible prophecy when there is so much more in these books that clarifies and explains the events of the end times. In fact if you study First Thessalonians and Second Thessalonians, you'll find that the teachings lined up exactly with what Jesus taught in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Unfortunately many people take chapter 4 out of context, twist it, give it a different meaning to teach the lie of the pre-tribulation rapture which is a fraud and I am not afraid to say that even though it's unpopular to say that.
Now, as we go through these chapters verse by verse, we get the context and we can understand First and Second Thessalonians on a deeper level than just a superficial cherry picking of one tiny part of it. I'm going to go through these chapters in the next few weeks verse by verse and leave no stone unturned and understand all the things leading up to chapter 4 and all the things following chapter 4 that explain everything and put everything in the proper context. Before I get in chapter 1 tonight, because chapter 1 is a shorter chapter, I just want to give you an overview of some of the themes that are discussed in the books of First and Second Thessalonians.
First of all, regarding bible prophecy, regarding the end times, right away we have a mention of it in verse 10 of chapter 1 where the bible reads, "And the wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come." In this scripture, we have a reference too, waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ and deliverance from the wrath to come. Now, a little bit later in chapter 3, the bible talks about in verse number 3, "That no man should be moved by these afflictions for yourselves know that we are appointed there unto. For verily when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation, even as it came to pass and ye know."
What we have here in chapter 3 is the mention that we are appointed to tribulation in this life. If you are saved, if you are a child of God, and if you have any interest in serving God, you have an appointment with tribulation. That's what the bible says here. He says, "Don't be moved by these afflictions." He doesn't want us to be shaken or moved. He says, "You know that you are appointed to these afflictions, for verily when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation, even as it came to pass and ye know." Then in chapter 5, there is the oft quoted verse in verse number 9 where it says, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ."
Consistently, what we see in First Thessalonians are mentions of us being delivered from the wrath of God, not suffering wrath at God's hand but that we will go through tribulation and affliction. Go back to chapter 1, I want you to understand that the words tribulation and affliction are used interchangeably in the New Testament, that's one of the most important things to understand. You don't have to turn there but back in Mark 13 when Jesus taught on the tribulation. He says in Mark 13 verse number 19, "For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be." Of course if you know Matthew 24, that verse is pretty much exactly the same. Except instead of affliction, it says, "Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." Here it says, there shall be affliction.
Jumping down to verse 24, it says, "But in those days, after that tribulation." It's referring back to the affliction mentioned in verse number 19. The words affliction and tribulation both used interchangeably that's why in First Thessalonians 3, it said that "That no man should be moved by these afflictions for yourselves know that we are appointed there unto. For verily when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation, even as it came to pass and ye know." Even in chapter 1, the idea of us going through affliction and tribulation for our faith is brought up even in verse 6 there where it says, "You became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost."
Go to Second Thessalonians, I'm just trying to give you an overview of some of the themes here in regard to bible prophecy. First of all we have this idea that God has delivered us from the wrath to come, we're not appointed to wrath but then we also have this theme of the appointment that we have with tribulation, with affliction. We are going to suffer at the hands of man, the bible says, "Yeah, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," but God is not going to pour out his wrath on us, okay.
Look down if you would at Second Thessalonians chapter 1 verse 8 it says, "In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." In this scripture, he talks about God pouring out his wrath on the unsaved, those who don't know the gospel or obey the gospel, he's going to pour out flaming fire on them. The verse before that says, "To you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God." Again, we're spared from the wrath but if you just back up a few pages, look what the bible says or I'm sorry, a few verses.
It says in verse 4, "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith and all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure." Right there, he says you're going to go tribulation but you're going to be spared the vengeance and wrath of God. It's just over and over again in this book, the same thing is being taught but yet people aren't really interested in this. They just want to go to the passage on the rapture and say, "Well there you have it folks." They just say it's a pre-tribulation rapture even though there's nothing like that and either First or Second Thessalonians. What you see over and over again is you're going through the tribulation but you're spared from the wrath of God. We'll get into more of that as we go forward in these series.
One of the main things I have to point out is chapter 2 verse 1 where in Second Thessalonians 2:1, where the bible reads "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind," remember he said, "Don't be moved by these afflictions." He says, "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." He says, "Look, don't let anybody deceive you into thinking that the day of Christ is at hand."
That is the biggest deception out there today with this teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture is that "Hey, Jesus Christ is can come at any moment. He is coming today. He could come before the end of this sermon. Put your hand on the screen, send your check now." The bottom line is that "That day shall not come, except there come of falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
Now let me ask you something, has that happened yet? No, we don't see the anti-Christ sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. We don't see that abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet where Jesus said, "Hey, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of," he says, "Then you'll know that these things are now even at the doors, you know it's coming." We haven't seen that. Why are so many people today deceived into thinking that the day of Christ is at hand? That it could happen at any moment that that day is going to come before the anti-Christ and the abomination, well simply because they don't know the books of First and Second Thessalonians. That's why we're here tonight to actually go through verse by verse because he said, "Let no man deceive you."
In First Thessalonians 4 and that great rapture passage, he said, "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." He says that he doesn't want us to be ignorant. He doesn't want us to be shaken by people who put these ideas into our heads that the day of Christ is at hand or this other things. Try to tell us, "Hey, you're not going to go through tribulation. You're not going to go through affliction because you're not going to be ready for it." Because you haven't been warned. Well, Paul warned us, the Lord warned us through Paul and First and Second Thessalonians. I just wanted to point out some of those key famous verses and First and Second Thessalonians but I want to go through each chapter, verse by verse and leave no stone unturned so that we can have not just a superficial understanding but actually a deep understanding of what is being taught in these great books.
Let's start out in chapter 1 verse number 1, the bible read "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ." The first thing I want to point out here, is that this is not a letter just from Paul, it's actually from 3 people. He says that it's Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus writing under the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why often in the books of First and Second Thessalonians, he'll use words like we, he says "Don't be deceived by a letter as from us, a letter that seems like it came from us maybe somebody writing a fraudulent letter pretending to be them." This is written not just by Paul but by Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus. Silvanus is also known as Silas and you could read about him in the Book of Acts with the stories of Paul and Silas going to jail et cetera.
They're writing unto the church of the Thessalonians. Now, who is in the church of the Thessalonians? Well first of all he is writing to people that are in a Greek speaking area. Thessalonica is in Greece, so he's writing unto what we would know as Gentiles, Greek believers. He's writing to a church in a Greek speaking area obviously the book was written in the Greek language as the whole rest of the New Testament was written and he says unto them, "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you, making mention of you in our prayers. Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father. Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God."
Now I want to stop and talk about that word election. I want to back up and hit some of the other points but first I want to talk about this term of election because a lot of people just get confused when used the word election, but the word elect simply means chosen. If we would use it as a verb, it would mean to choose. For example, if we're electing a president, what are we doing? We're choosing a president. When we talk about their election of God, we are talking about the fact that they are chosen of God. Now, when you're discussing the subject of end times bible prophecy, the one thing that is always used to muddy the waters is this teaching that the chosen of God, is referring to the physical nation of Israel, physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
They will say the Jews are the chosen of God, they are the elect, so that when you show them the crystal clear passage in Matthew 24, that talks about the fact that Christ will come in the clouds and the trumpet will sound and he will gather his elect, they'll say, "Wait a minute, that's not talking about the saved. That's talking about the Jews." He's gathering the Jews. Let me ask you this, is First Thessalonians chapter 1 verse 4 teaching teaching that the elect is referring to the physical nation of Israel or Jews or anybody like that? No, in fact this scripture is making it very clear that the election are those who are saved. When we say that the election are those who are saved, you know what we are saying? That God's chosen are the saved. Those who are chosen are saved.
How did they know? How did Paul, Silas and Timothy know that the Thessalonians were elect because they said knowing you're election of God. They are talking to who? A bunch of Greek speaking Gentiles in Thessalonica. This is how they knew verse 5, because we noticed your funny hat. That's when we knew. I mean when we saw you wearing a funny hat, when we saw you at the wailing log going like this, that's when we knew you're election of God. I mean when I saw you order that Kosher meal on the airplane, I knew you're election of God. Is that what they said? No. What they say in verse 5 is "For our gospel," okay. This has to do with the gospel. What makes you elect? What makes you God's chosen people? It's how you receive the gospel because the bible says, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia."
See, the elect are examples of people that believe. There are people who received the gospel that was preached unto them, in the power of the Holy Ghost and the bible says, "But as many as received him," talking about Jesus, to them gave ye power to become the sons of God even to them that believe on his name which were born not of blood. It's not a blood birth where you're born into a certain family because of certain blood lines. He says, "No, it's not the blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of men, but of God, born of God, born again, saved." Who are the chosen? Who are the election? Who are the elect? According to God, well it's those who are saved. Now truly, Abraham was chosen of God many of thousands of years before Christ. We know that Abraham was chosen of God and God chose Abraham, and then God chose Isaac, and then God chose Jacob. Now why did he choose them?
He chose them to be a great nation that he would bring forth and that nation which was later called Israel was set to be a light unto the Gentiles. Okay, they failed to hold up their end of the bargain, that covenant that was made with Abraham and later covenants that were made with Moses et cetera. They failed to live up to their end of the bargain. They failed to be the light unto the Gentiles. The Lord came and brought a new covenant, a new testament. Now you say, "What's the difference between the New Testament and the Old Testament?" Well in the Old Testament, God had a certain physical nation that he chose which was the nation of Israel and they were his people and over and over again, the Old Testament will talk about the nation of Israel as being the people of God and he was using that physical nation.
In the New Testament, he chose that all of those who believed in Christ would make up a holy nation. Now go to First Peter chapter 2, I don't want to spend the whole sermon on this but I do want to touch on this because it's so important. It's a theme that comes up over and over again in First and Second Thessalonians. Go to First Peter chapter number 2. The bible says in verse 9 of First Peter 2, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."
Now what does he mean by that when he says, "Hey, in time past you were not a people." He's talking about the Old Testament but he says, "Now you are the people of God." See, in the New Testament, all believers make up what the bible calls a holy nation, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. Okay, that is a nation made up of believers, not of a certain ethnicity so red and yellow, black and white, if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, is we've received the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are God's chosen people. Now I don't want you to misunderstand and think that God chooses who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, that's not what's being taught here. Some people will try to say that when it calls you the chosen people, it means that God chose who would go to heaven and who would go to hell. That's not it at all, this is what God chose.
God chose to take the kingdom from the Israelites because he told them he said, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits there of." Which nation is that? The nation we just read about in First Peter 2, that's made up of all believer. God took that kingdom of God from the nation of Israel and he chose a different group to be his chosen people in the New Testament. He chose that instead of being Israel, after the flesh, he chose that in the New Testament, the chosen people would be those who receive the gospel, those who are saved, those who believe on Jesus Christ. It's not that he chose which ones would be saved but instead he chose the saved to be his people.
Look at Ephesians quickly. We'll come back to First Thessalonians 1 and leave no stone unturned but these are important subjects right out of the gate to just lay down some principles here. Ephesians chapter 1 is a scripture that people will often use to try to say that God chooses who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. This teaching is known as Calvinism but look what the bible says in verse number 4 of Ephesians chapter number 1. It says, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world," so they would look at that and say, "See right there? God chose us in him before the foundation." That means he chose that Steve Anderson will be saved and he chose for other people to be damned and they don't really have any choice about it. No, keep breathing.
It says in verse 4, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." What did he choose? That we should be holy. It's not that he chose which ones would be saved but he chose us as the saved that we would be holy and blame us before him. That's what it actually says. Then in the next verse it says, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." Now that we're predestinated is interesting. Go to Romans 8, this is the most famous verse that mentions the word predestinated and often Calvinism or this teaching that God chooses who goes to heaven and who goes to hell is often referred to as the doctrine of predestination. It's a false doctrine the way that they teach it, where they say, "Hey, God chooses which ones will be saved." That's not what scripture teaches.
Look at Romans 8:28 and you will see this crystal clear and scripture for yourself, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Watch this, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." What's the predestination here? Is it predestined which ones will be saved and which ones won't? No. He predestined those whom he foreknew that they will be conformed to the image of his son. He foreknew which people would believe, he foreknew who would receive the gospel and those which he foreknew because he knows all things from the beginning. Those which he foreknew, those people he predestined them to be conformed the image of his son. He chose that they would have a certain destiny to be conformed to the image of his son. He chose them that they would be blameless and holy before him, that's the choice he made. He didn't make a choice of which ones would be saved.
See, the bible says, "God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repent." The bible says that God will have all men to be saved in the coming, to the knowledge and the truth. God wants everybody to be saved and the bible says, "That he by the grace of God should taste death for every men." Jesus died for everybody. He died not for our sins only but also for the sins of the whole world so this false teaching that he only died for certain people that are the elect or predestined, that's false. He died for everybody and then he says, whosoever will may come. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. The destiny of those who believe is to be conformed to the image of his son. That's our destiny. Someday we will be in his image. The bible says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." That's our destiny. Nothing can change that.
We've been sealed unto the day of redemption. Nothing can change the fact that at Christ coming, we will be in his image. We will be like him for we shall see him as he is. Go back to First Thessalonians chapter number 1. This thing of the elect, the chosen people, it sort of reminds me of the in the Old Testament when the bible would talk about certain choice men or certain chosen men in different armies, certain elite groups. Okay, that's what it's referring to. We are chosen for service. Why did God choose Israel in the Old Testament? Just to in trying them, just so everybody could look up to them and say, "You are the chosen ones." I mean is that why he chose Israel? Is that why he chose Abraham? Just so people could just look at him as better than everyone else? Is that why he chose Isaac? Is that why he chose Jacob? No.
He chose them to carry out a certain mission, to carry out works, to be the ones that would bring forth the word of God to the whole world. The bible says, "Unto them were committed the oracles of God." God's oracles, God's word and teachings were committed or trusted to the Israelites and they were given to them so that they could preach it and so that they could be an example nation to all the heathen around them. Why are we chosen in the New Testament? Just chose them to go to heaven and other people are chosen to go to hell. No, we're chosen to do good works for the Lord. That's what we're going to get into here in First Thessalonians chapter 1. It says in verse number 2, "We give thanks to God always for you, making mention of you in our prayers. Remembering without ceasing," and I want you to notice these next few words, "Your work of faith."
He says, "We remember without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father." Now that statement, the work of faith is a pretty interesting statement if you think about it. What does it mean the work of faith? Well the of there is referring to the source of their work. Just like the labor of love. He says, your work of faith and your labor of love. What does it mean when something is a labor of love? It means that you're doing those labors, you're doing those works out of love, right? If something is a labor of love, what's motivating you to do that work? Love is motivating you and constraining you to work. When he says the work of faith, he's talking about work that is the result of their faith that springs out of their faith, faith leading to work which makes perfect sense when you think about it because if someone believes that God is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, then that could lead someone to want to work for God and earn those rewards.
Now if you didn't believe that there is a reward, if you don't believe that there is a God or that there is a heaven, then why would you want to work for God? The thing that leads us to work for God is the faith that the bible says that our labor is not in vain because you'd hate to spend your life working on something that's vain, that's worthless right? That's why the bible says, "Be therefore steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." We're talking about the work of faith. Work that comes from the belief that God has work for us to do and that we will be rewarded if we do those works and that our work is not in vain, we're not wasting our time. I mean when we go out and preach the gospel and people get saved, that's not a waste of our time because those people are going to be in heaven. Praise God.
Now, a lot of people will try to mix works and faith in regard to salvation and that's a false doctrine because the bible very clearly says, in Ephesians 2, "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." The bible is real clear that our salvation is by faith and that it is not of works. Again, what is that word of mean? It's talking about the source right. Just like the work of faith and the labor of love. When he says our salvation is not of works, he's saying it's not a result of works. Basically we're not saved because of our works. We're saved because of our faith and it's by grace.
Okay, go to Romans 11, Romans chapter 11. See, the word grace simply means getting something that you don't deserve. When someone extends grace unto you, they are giving you that which you have not earned and do not deserve. The bible says, you're saved by grace. Grace is what saves you through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. Look down on your bible at Romans 11:6, watch this, "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." I mean how much clearer could God get in this passage to say that if works have anything to do with it, it's not grace. How can you work for something and then say, "Oh, it's by grace." If it's grace, then it's not works and if it's works, it's not grace. There is no mixing that can take place here.
What's the context? Look at verse 5, "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." It's not election by race. Isn't that what they say? "Oh, the Jews, they're the elect." No, it's not election by race. It's election by grace. He says, "Look if it's by grace, it's not works, otherwise work would be work anymore and grace wouldn't be grace anymore." Flip back if you would to Romans chapter 4 verse 5, one of the clearest verses on this subject. "But to him that worketh not," now is this guy working or what? "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
Now you say, "Pastor, why are you showing us all this?" Because there's a false teaching out there that says, well if you don't do works, you're not saved. Even though there are all this scripture that say salvations by faith, it's not of works, if it's by grace, it's not of works and the bible says right here, that to him that worketh not but believeth his faith is counted for righteousness." They'll say, "No, no, no, if you don't have the works, you're not saved." Here's what they'll try to say, "Well faith and works are inseparable." Well the bible separating them here. I mean if he says, "Look, you're saved by faith, not by works." That just got separated. If you say, "But to him that worketh not but believeth," this proves right here that it's possible to believe and not do the works. You say, "Well how could you believe and not do the works?"
Here's the key, Jesus said, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." That's what it all comes down to. The spirit is willing but he flesh is weak. I was out knocking doors so recently actually in Dearborn, Michigan and I talk to this guy and he said, "Well but if you believe, you're going to do the works." I mean if you really believe, you're going to do the works. I said, "Let me ask you this," I said, "When you were a kid growing up, did you love your parents?" He said, "Yeah, I loved my parents." Did you always do what they said? No. You always obey your parents? No. Well, but wait a minute, if you loved them. See, here's the thing. When I was growing up, I love my parents. Does that mean that I always did right by my parents? Did you always do right by your parents? No, because the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak.
Just because we believe on Jesus Christ or even love Jesus Christ, that doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to go out and do all these great works for him because honestly, many people believe but they work not and that's what the bible says right here. Okay. Now, if you would flip over to First Corinthians chapter 3, First Corinthians chapter 3. First Corinthians chapter number 3 talks about this, it says in verse 11, "For other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble. Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss but he himself shall be saved."
Look at that. He's saying, if you do work, that's unworthy of the Lord, wood, hay, stubble, he said your works are going to be burned up. You're going to lose the reward. He says if you have the gold, silver and precious stones, you get a reward, if it's wood, hay and stubble, you suffer loss. Watch this, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. Yet, people will say this, "Oh well, if you don't have the works, you're not saved." Well here's a guy whose works are burned up but he had the foundation of Jesus. He had the foundation of Jesus Christ but he didn't have the works. All of his works were wood, hay and stubble, so he suffered loss, no reward but he himself shall be saved. You know what? That's a lot better than not being saved. It's by faith that we're saved.
Even in the famous verse, go back to First Thessalonians 1 where it said, "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast." The next verse says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." That we should walk in them. What must we do to be saved? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved. What should we do? Good works, that God has before ordained that we should walk in them. Should faith produce works? It should of course it should, but is faith always going to produce works? No. These people are poster child of a great Christian because of the fact that they had a work of faith and a labor of love. This is not a dead church. This is a church that's doing great works for God.
Now, what does the bible say in James 2? Faith without works is dead. If you have a church where the people believe in Jesus Christ and have all the doctrine and the faith and the beliefs, but if they're not a working church, that's a dead church. Let me tell you, there are a lot of dead churches out there. Now, does that mean those people aren't saved? Does that mean that they're going to hell? No, because they're going to lose rewards yet, they themselves shall be saved if they have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ their savior. How many church are so dead? They're not going out and winning people to Christ. They're not seeing people saved and baptized, they're not growing, they're not doing anything, why? Because of the fact that they don't have the works. They're sitting around, they're lazy because either if people aren't being saved, either the gospel is not being preached or the gospel lost its power and we know that the gospel will never lose its power.
We know that when people are not being saved, it means that gospel is not being preached and it means that the works are not being carried out but notice in James 2, what he says is that as the body, listen now, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." Let's stop and think about that. The body without the spirit is dead. If we looked at a dead body, was it ever alive? I mean is there any such thing as a dead body where you could say, well this was never alive. This thing never lived. No. If you looked at a body and say, "This is a dead body." Basically it's something that used to be alive and is now dead. What that shows us is that for example, let's say that I, Steven Anderson, in 2015 I'm doing a lot of work for God but then let's say in 2016 I become back slide and I stop working for God and in 2016 I'm not doing anything for God. Let me ask you something, is my faith alive or dead in 2016?
Because I don't have works, okay. Does that mean that God is going to come and take away my salvation? You didn't do works? Let me come take away your salvation. I know I said it was by grace, I know I said it was a free gift, I know I said it was eternal life, I know I said that it would last forever. I know that I told you that I promised you before the world begin that you'd have eternal life, if you believe on me but I don't see you doing works. I mean I know I said salvation wasn't of works but I mean you're not doing works, so your faith is dead, so I'm going to take it away from you.
You'd have to believe that you could lose your salvation to believe that not doing works somehow just voids your faith. It just makes your faith void. In fact the very statement faith without works is dead, you know what that proves? It proves that it's possible to have faith without works. Think about it, people will try tell you, "Oh, if you have faith, you'll always have works." Then why did he say faith without works if that's impossible. If you're saying faith always have works, why didn't he just say, "There is not such thing as faith without works." I mean he could have said that right? There is no such thing as faith without works but what did he say? It's out there. There are people who have faith without works and their faith is dead. It doesn't mean that they're not going to heaven, it doesn't mean they're not saved. It means that their faith is dead. That's why he is talking to the brethren in James 2 saying, brethren. He's talking to people that are saved and he's telling them look, get some works with your faith.
It's great that you believe on Jesus, it's great that you believed the bible, but why don't you get out there and do some work for God? Not just say "Oh, I believe, I believe, I believe." Hey, it's great that you believe, that's great for you. What about for everybody else? What does a prophet, your neighbor, what if the prophet your friends, your loved ones, everyone else. I'm so glad that you're going to heaven but there's a world out there that's going to hell and God wants us to roll up our sleeves and do some work for God, so that the gospel could be preached to every creature. Paul said, you have work that is a result of your faith. He's saying you're a church of great faith, and you're a church that put that faith to work and he says because of that in verse 3, he said "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you." I'm sorry. I'm in the wrong book.
First Thessalonians chapter 1 verse 2, it says, "We give thanks to God always for you, making mention of you in our prayers. Remembering without ceasing your work of faith." There's it. Man, I just thank God for you when I remember the work that you're doing. When I think about the work of faith and I think about the labor of love. The fact that you loved God, and the fact that you love people, has actually translated into you getting out and doing the work. He said, I thank God for that. I thank God for the church in Thessalonica because of the great works that you are doing in the side of God and the bible. I mean it's great. It's exciting to hear about the work that you're getting done. It reminds me of Revelation chapters 2 and 3 when he's greeting the 7 churches and all 7 of them, the firs thing he greets them with is I know your works.
God cares whether we work for him or not. The apostle Paul when he wanted to spend time praying for a church, I said I'm going to pray for the working church. I'm going to remember them in my prayers because I love the fact that they do great work. He goes on in his passage to say, patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God and our Father, knowing brethren beloved your election of God. How does he know their election of God? Because he says, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. As ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." You see, the power of the gospel saves. The bible talks over and over about the fact that it's not the wisdom of man that saves people. It's not explaining to people through cunning logic and illustrations that gets them saved.
The bible says, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. When Paul was preaching the gospel to the Thessalonians, the power of the Holy Ghost was upon him. When he preached the word of God, the power of the Holy Ghost was upon the listener and that's what got the people saved. That's what made them elect in the side of God. It's not our skill or cunning or logic or rational or science that's going to get someone saved. It's the power of the gospel that's going to get someone saved. We have to keep that in mind. If we want to go out and be an effective witness for the Lord Jesus Christ, an effective soul winner, then we need to remember that we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to use the word of God because the word of God is powerful and we need to preach with boldness and then rely on the Holy Ghost to convert the soul.
Okay, that's where the power is in the gospel. That person that hears the word of God preached with power, they have that decision whether they're going to get saved or not but it's the power of the Holy Ghost that's going to move upon them. If that power isn't there, then nobody's going to be saved. That's why unsaved people. They can't get other people saved. A saved person can get someone saved through the power of the Holy Spirit. Everything brings forth after its own kind and so on and so forth. The reason I bring that up is because people are always trying to come up with different ways of getting people saved, in cute ways of presenting the gospel without using the bible. Hey, I'm going to prove to you that God exists in 60 seconds. Giving you some kind of logic or a scientific thing, that's not what gets people saved. Just preach the gospel, gospel the word of God, preach Jesus Christ in him crucified and you'll get people saved.
Let's keep going this passage. It says, "Ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost." When the bible says that they received the word in much affliction, he's talking about the fact that they had been persecuted for their faith. They didn't received the word of God in a peaceful circumstance where they just had the total freedom and liberty to believe on Jesus Christ without any kind of repercussions. No, this people when they received the word of the Lord, they received in much affliction. Now think about this, all throughout the world, there are places where if you receive the word of Jesus Christ, that's going to cost you something and there's going to be affliction.
Think about if you were living in the Islamic world today and you receive the word of God, it would be in much affliction. Why? Because if a Muslim converts on to Christianity, they're going to be persecuted and many times they will even be killed. Don't let anyone fool you that Islam is a peaceful religion. It's a lie. All you have to do is open the Koran itself and read about all the violent passages and all you have to do is look at places where the Muslims are running things and you will see that there are laws against converting people to Christianity and there are laws against Muslims converting to Christianity. If you're a Christian, they'll let you exist in their country but if you try to convert others, you could be hanged or if you are a Muslim who says, "Hey, I want to convert to Christianity." You can easily be killed.
Even in India, there have been people who have converted to Christianity from Hinduism, and a lot of the radical Hindus will get violent and actually injure or kill people who will convert to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, thank God in America, we have freedom of religion and we don't have to worry about this. We don't have to worry about violent reprisals if we confess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we went somebody to the Lord, they don't have to worry about violent and reprisals but in other parts of the world, they do. In Thessalonica, we don't know what the exact level of persecution was but we know that they received the word of God in much affliction. Basically people who got saved, paid the price for it. They were either persecuted by family, friends, maybe they lost their job, maybe there was violence, maybe there were beatings, maybe people were even slain because we see other places in the New Testament where those things happened where people were murdered, where people were killed, where people were beaten.
They paid the price to not only receive the Lord Jesus Christ into their hearts but to confess them openly and to face the affliction that came with it. That's what he's thanking them for, that's what he's praising God for. You see there were a lot of people when Jesus came into Judea and preached the gospel, there were a lot of people who believed on them in their heart but the bible says that they would not confess them openly for fear of the Jews because they love the praise of men more than the praise of God. They didn't want to face the persecution. Even though they believed in him, they did not publicly shout that from the house cops because they did not want to be persecuted but God calls us to confess them openly. The bible says, let the redeemed of the Lord, say so.
We should open our mouths boldly to proclaim the gospel and sometimes we're going to pay the price for it but that's what God wants us to do. That's what the Thessalonians did and because of that the bible says in verse 7, "So that they were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia." Macedonia being Northern Greece and Achaia being Southern Greece. From you sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but also in every place. Your faith to God were to spread abroad so that we need not to speak anything for they themselves show of us what man are entering in, we had unto you. What's he saying? Everywhere we go, we are hearing testimony of the Thessalonian Christians. He said, "We don't even have to tell them anything about you, they tell us. We go to tell them oh, let me tell you great testimony about the work that God did in Thessalonica." They're like "Oh, we already about it. Let us tell you what we've heard."
He said, not even in Macedonia and Achaia, not even in their country but beyond their country worldwide. Now you know what that tells me, is that if we have faith and if we put our faith to work and if we make it a labor of love, and if we endure the persecution and we endure the suffering, and we endure the afflictions and we endure the tribulations, you know what? We can be a testimony that will inspire Christians all over the world. When they see our work of faith, when they see our labor of love, when they see our patience of hope, when they see that we endure afflictions, when they see the mighty power of God at work amongst us. We're an example and the other believers and they can be inspired.
Look, even today we're being inspired by the Thessalonians. Thousands of years later we're reading this and being inspired to do great works for God but even in their lifetime, they were inspiring people all over the world. This is why it's so silly for people to say, well, everybody who believes has works. Remember we talked about just a little while ago? Oh, if you have faith, you automatically have works. Well yeah, I mean faith and works are inseparable. No, they're very separable because let me tell you something, the vast majority of people today who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are not doing the works. That's why when somebody does the work, you know what happens? People hear about it all over the world. Why? Because it's not that common because it's uncommon and let us at Faithful Word Baptist Church, let us be a Thessalonian Baptist Church.
A church that will be renowned worldwide because of the work that we're doing. I mean isn't that something to strive for? Isn't that a goal to have? Be like Thessalonica, be a church whose works are spoken out throughout the whole world. He says, they themselves, he's talking about people outside of their nation. "They themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God. And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
Now let me just stop and mention this part where it says, "How ye turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God." Now when the bible says that they turn from God to idols, obviously what he's referring to there is that they turned from false gods to the true God. That's why it says that they turned from God to idols to serve the living and true God. See the living and true God is being contrasted with what? The idols because the idols are not living and they're not the true God. How many times throughout the Old Testament did God rebuke the people for worshiping idols for having graving images, molten images and he said, "They have eyes but they see not, they have ears but they hear not, they have feet but they cannot go. They must need to be born. Somebody has to carry them around because they can't walk." Somebody else has to make them and fashion them and set them up.
He says they were all laid over with gold and silver and there is no breath at all in the midst of them. He said these are the dumb idols that the Gentiles have been carried away with but he says to them, "You turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God," as opposed to what? A dead idol, a false god, a god that is not a real God because there only one true God. Now what's funny is that a lot of people will try to point to this verse and say, "See this verse is a verse that says that you have to turn from your sins to be saved." Here is people that turn from their sins to be saved but wait a minute, that's not what this verse is about. This is a verse talking about people worshiping a false god in the form of an idol to the true God, the living God. They'll try to take a very loose interpretation of idols here. Well you know your car could be an idol, your bank account could be an idol and look, truly covetousness is idolatry in a metaphorical sense and a very symbolic sense.
Here, we're not talking symbolically. We're talking about literal idols here. When he says you turn to God from idols, he's talking about a literal idol, false God, a little statue that somebody's going like this. I mean think about it. In India today, it's filled with idolatry. Over a billion people are worshiping little statues, little idols and they're burning incense and they're offering sacrifices and so forth, and doing rituals and prayers before idols. We have a huge demographic of people right near here that are worshiping an idol of a woman. They have this goddess, this female idol that they build little shrines to, and pray to, and burn incense to and her name is Mary and she can't save you. They need to turn from that idol and stop trusting that idol to save them or they'll have an idol of some blonde hair, blue-eyed white dude right. They'll bow down to that idol and they think that that idol will save them if they do enough works.
No, they need to turn to the true and living God and no one's ever seen the true and living God. No man has seen God at any time but they're worshiping idols. Hey, this is God. Now we know that God was manifest in the flesh and when God was manifest in the flesh, he was in bodily form as the Lord Jesus Christ, but he wasn't just this random white dude that they have pictures of. There's no evidence of that Jesus, because it is the picture of Jesus. How in the world do you know what Jesus looks like in all those pictures are from the last several hundred years. Those pictures are from more than a thousand years after the fact and you know why he has blonde hair and blue eyes? Because he was made by Europeans. You ever go to a black person's house who's a Christian? You know what they have pictures on the wall? Black Jesus and he's got 12 black disciples.
You know what? You can go to an Asian person, I've seen Asian Jesus with all his Asian disciples. Seriously, who's seen it? It's out there why? Because people are just making up an image that looks like somebody that they can picture as Jesus but wait a minute, God doesn't give us a physical description of Jesus. He doesn't tell us, hey he was black. Hey, he's white. God doesn't give a physical description you know why? Because he commanded us not to make any graving images. He commanded us not to make an image and if he gave a physical description, then people are tempted to make that image. Even without that description, they just randomly make up a picture of a ... I mean just imagine just drawing a random person and saying, "This is Steve Anderson." Insert your name here.
How would you like if somebody just draw a random picture or a random guy and he said, "Hey, you know this is Dominic Davis, some white guy, some Chinese guy or whatever." It's ridiculous really, isn't it? Recently I preached a sermon called Sikhism in Light of the Bible where I talked about the false religion of Sikhism. If you go to the home of the Sikh which is what the followers of Sikhism is known at, if you go to the house of a Sikh, they will have often pictures in their home of the 10 gurus of Sikhism. Here's the thing, the first guru, there was no picture of him from his lifetime. Therefore an image has just been made up out of thin air of here is the first guru, Guru Nanak and it's just a made up image. That doesn't make any sense folks, but why is that people just want to have some physical object that they can look at and say "Hey, faith is the substance of things. Hope for the evidence of things not seen." We don't need to see Jesus to believe in him.
We hear the word of God and that makes him believe in Jesus. I don't have to see a picture of Jesus to believe in him. I need to read or hear the word of God that's how I'm going to get an image of who Jesus is. I believe in Jesus because I've heard God's word. I don't have to see it to believe it. That's what faith is but people want some physical object to look at or worship or bow down to. Let me just finish up with the last verse. It says, "Ye turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God. And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
Now we're going to get in to all the bible prophecy in the coming weeks as we go through First and Second Thessalonians, but let me just say this, yes, Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come. Someday God will pour out his wrath in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and then obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ whom he shall place with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power. One day, there will be 7 vials full of the wrath of God who live with forever and ever that will be poured out upon this earth, and water will turn to blood and fire and brimstone from the sky. All the things we read about in revelation and we will be spared to God's wrath. We will not be there to be participating in having God's wrath poured upon us. Let me tell you something, we will not be rapture before the tribulation. That is a false teaching.
We are going to get into that in the coming weeks. There's tons of evidence in First and Second Thessalonians, Matthew 24 spells it out in verses 29 through 31. We will be spared from the wrath to come, God did deliver us from the wrath to come but the tribulation in God's wrath are not the same thing. They're 2 very different that's why he says in chapter 3, you're appointed to tribulation, then in chapter 4 he describes the rapture and then in chapter 5 he says you're not appointed to wrath because that's the order tribulation then the rapture then God's wrath is poured out. I'm going to prove that in the coming weeks. People will say, "Well the wait for his son, that means he's coming at any moment." No, because the bible says that we are waiting for and looking for new heavens and new earth.
The bible says, "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat." He said, "We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Yeah, we are waiting for the second coming of Christ, even so come Lord Jesus. It doesn't mean he's coming tonight. Let no man deceive you by any means. There must come a falling away first. The man of sin must be revealed, the anti-Christ who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. We, who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ are waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ. That's a theme in First and Second Thessalonians.
Paul is trying to teach them about end times events and I don't know of a time when this was more relevant than 2015. This teaching on the second coming of Christ that we're going to find in First and Second Thessalonians is more relevant this year than it was last year. Why? Because we see the day approaching. This is not the time to be ignorant, so I hope you'll keep coming on Wednesday nights. Get the reach of the teaching because of the fact that we don't want these things to come upon us unaware and we're confused and we don't know what's happening. He said I would not that you would be ignorant. I want you to know the truth. The truth shall make you free. The word of God Firs and Second Thessalonians and the rest of the bible is going to teach us the truth and we need to know what's coming, so that we can prepared spiritually.
Let's bow our head and have word of prayer. Father we thank you so much for the Book of First Thessalonians. Lord, we thank you for chapter 1 and this great example of of a church that had great faith, they received the gospel with the power of the Holy Spirit and they put their faith in Jesus, and then they went out and did great works for you that were heard all over the world and even today we're talking about them. Lord, help us to be a church that would do great works for you Lord and thank you for delivering us from the wrath to come and in Jesus name we pray, amen.