"Ring It Out!"
As we look at verses 4 to 10, we see the power of God at work in changing the hearts of those who hear and believe. As we study this passage, we will focus on how the message "rings out" today.
Ring It Out!
(1 Thes. 1:4-10)
A. John Wesley said, “Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven.”
B. There is nothing scarier than a Christian who is passionate about their faith, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and willing to do whatever it takes to live like one who is chosen by God. Such a Christian, whether male or female, often makes us uncomfortable because we see in them something we want to see in ourselves, but are reluctant to become. To live out what I believe would be automatically cause people to see me differently than I am right now.
C. When I think about the church recorded in the book of Acts and see these congregations that Paul starts and leaves without much deep training, I am amazed to read letters like we have here with 1 Thessalonians. These people have been saved for such a short period of time, yet their reputation has gone out all around the area. What has been said about them is they are transformed people. People who once followed idols and worship of many type of god, to now standing up for the one true and only God.
D. So what causes people to live such changed lives back then and today and how can we as people who have been in fellowship with Christ for years, have such a passion and reputation?
I. Marked By God
A. READ 1 Thes. 1:4-5a. I do not believe the doctrine of predestination as taught my many churches. I believe God has called, chosen, or “marked” out those who believe and has marked them with His Holy Spirit. Not that God only saves some and desires to eternally punish the majority. I do believe, that according the fullness of God’s written word, that God draws people through their faith.
B. The idea of being chosen by God, or marked by God for something special – in this case showing the world the saving message – is more accurately helping us to see the fullness of the salvation story that Paul is referring to.
C. Explore for just a moment the idea of being chosen and marked by God. Ask yourself what has God called you to and are you living up to that calling? No Christian is called by God to simply be a taker of salvation and not a giver of God’s good works. For too long we want to wear only the helmet of salvation and not put on the rest of the armor of God. God has marked you, called you, just as he did these Christians.
D. Living the calling of God not only identifies you as someone different than the world, but it allows God’s message to come to live a world that rarely seeks to understand God’s will, but instead desires to only live after their own fleshly desires. We are the called, the chosen, the beacon through which God continues to touch lives.
E. I love how Paul writes to Christians in Ephesus and says to them (READ Eph. 2:4-7). Look at the wording in verse 7. Paul is saying that God wants to show off Christians to show His own surpassing grace. God wants the world to see chosen people so that they understand what it’s like to be chosen by God.
II. How Do We Do That?
A. All this begs the question, “How do we become the type of Christians that God likes to show off?” Paul tells about these Christians (READ 1 Thes. 1:5b-7).
B. They say, “Imitation is greatest form of flattery.” But imitation is also one the greatest tools of education. When I want to learn to do something I have not done before, I turn to YouTube. I look up a video on how to do whatever it is I want learn. I then watch it several times, and then slowly follow the steps that someone else has taken so that my end result looks like theirs.
C. The Hebrew writer puts it this way (Heb. 13:7) and John says (3 John 11). Who are your examples of faith? What are you doing to emulate the godly character you see?
III. The Result
A. Paul tells them, and us, that they were chosen by God and that was seen in how they lived. They lived the way they did because they imitated those spiritual leaders like Paul, Silas, and Timothy, and they imitated God even though they faced much affliction because of their new way of living. But Paul tells them the result of such transformed lives. (READ 1 Thes. 1:8-10).
B. I want to be the type of person who receives the word of God and lets it change me. I want to have a life that is open to God’s hand molding me and making me after His will. I want to be the person that is willing to change when I see my own sinfulness and turn to the true and living God.
C. Making a change is one the most difficult things we are called to do. Many of us have been raised with values and ideals that are good, but may not be godly. Some have been taught things that are human wisdom but not divine. The most difficult thing to do is admit the need to change the way you think and act. These Christians did and it rang out.
A. The very message of God rang out, not only in area where they live, but their story of faith and perseverance, was being told by Christians everywhere. In one the leading cities of that day, along one of the greatest highways of that day, was a community of Christians who show the world what it’s like to display a faith that changes. It is a faith that is marked by the Holy Spirit for such a change comes from God.
B. The sound of a cell phone ringing can be annoying at the movie theater. The sound of the alarm clock ringing you out of a deep sleep is unpleasant. But the sound of good news of Jesus ringing out from the people of God is glorious.
C. I saw this meme last week. “We will never change the world by going to church. We will only change the world by being the church.”
D. There’s a message true and glad for the sinful and the said – ring it out! Ring it out! It will give THEM courage new, it will help THEM to be true – right it out! Ring it out!