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"The Evidence of the Elect"
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Wednesday AM Bible Study
January 14, 2004
The background for this letter is found Acts 17:1-15. God established
this church through Paul's and Silas' ministry during Paul's second missionary
journey. It was a church of believers who suffered for their faith (Acts
17:5-10; also 1 Thess. 2:13-16; 2:3-4; 2 Thess. 1:4-10). Even though Paul
had been with them for only three Sabbaths (Acts 17:2), he had clearly
seen them remarkably established in solid biblical doctrine (see 2 Thessalonians
Paul deeply loved these believers. In fact, he often gushed about them.
He considered them his "crown of rejoicing" (1 Thess. 2:19-20). One of
the things that stood out to him was the marvelous way they received the
gospel of Jesus Christ and were so profoundly transformed by it. He was
able to testify of his certainty that they were among the elect of God
(1:4; see also 2 Thess. 2:13-14). Paul's greeting to them in his first
letter (vv. 1-2), show how thankful he was for them, and how he prayed
with joy for them often, and how he remembered them continually with joy
- not at all hesitating to call them "the church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ". They were a great encouragement
to him of just how powerful the gospel is to transform lives. He was,
without a doubt, proud to be able to point to them as proofs of the gospel's
The manner in which the Thessalonian believers had received Paul's gospel
message is a lesson to us as well. It gives us an example of how the gospel
message should be heard and received - particularly in such a way as to
give evidence of God's elect.
I. EVIDENCE OF CURRENT BEHAVIOR (vv. 3-4).
A. Paul continually remembered the current manner of their
living; which he encouraged that they continue in (1 Thess. 4:9-10;
2 Thess. 2:15). He remembered:
1. Their work of faith.
2. Their labor of love (4:9-10).
3. Their patience of hope (1:9-10).
a. Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. Hope in the sight of our God and Father.
B. The remembering of these things confirmed to him their election
by God (v. 4).
II. EVIDENCE OF GOSPEL RECEPTION (v. 5-7).
A. Paul recalled also how the gospel "came" to them (that
is, its impact on them when they received it). It showed itself to have
come to them, not just in words, but . . .
1. In power.
2. In the Holy Spirit.
3. In much assurance.
a. Not just in the message, but also in the character
of the messengers.
b. Paul and company were careful, in that three-week's time,
to live the kind of lives that adorned the gospel and made it
possible for the Thessalonians to hear and believe it.
B. Paul also recalled how the Thessalonians, as a result of the
gospel so coming to them . . .
1. Became followers of the messengers.
2. But not just followers of the messengers, but more importantly
of the One to whom the message was intended to point them.
3. They endured affliction in the receiving of the message.
4. They were not embittered by the things they suffered, but received
it with much joy in the Holy Spirit.
5. They became examples to other churches of the power of the
III. EVIDENCE OF WITNESS IN THE WORLD (vv. 8-10).
A. This gospel transformation resulted in the Thessalonians
expressing a missionary spirit; "sounding forth" the word of the Lord
to other regions.
B. This was so much so, that Paul and company didn't even need to
go into lengthy defenses of the power of the gospel, but simply needed
to point to the Thessalonians as proof:
1. Others confirming what manner of entry Paul's gospel had in
2. Others testifying of the Thessalonian repentance from idolatry.
3. Others testifying to the hope in Christ that now characterized