Monday, November 17, 2008

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 (Mission's Natural Outcome)

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father…” –1 Thessalonians 1:2,3

When you read 1 Thessalonians chapter one in the context of when and to whom it was written, you can’t help but be amazed, especially reading it from the context of contemporary missions. Who today would think of planting a church in a city where you were only going to be for a couple of months? Even more amazing, who would believe that such a church plant would, in a matter of months, have spread the Gospel through the entire region? In reality, it should not seem unusual at all.

First, this is the power of the Gospel. It is made effective through the very Power of God, not through some methodology. In fact, Paul’s methods would not be effective today. However, the principles that he used in his time are important to missions today, and of course the message that he brought is the same that should be shared today. When that message is shared in such a way that people understand and accept it and see the results of faith, love, and hope in their lives nothing can stand against it.

Two other evidences of an effective transmission of the Gospel are: things happen that only God can make happen, and those that receive it experience persecution accompanied by inexplicable joy. Time and time again history shows that true believers living lives devoted to God experience hardships. If a church is not facing hard times, the thing they should be asking themselves is: “What are we doing wrong?”

Finally, when the Gospel is truly made known and accepted, church happens. Church is not something that requires a degree to initiate. Simple study of scripture and a group of believers should suffice. For followers of Christ, church is a natural state of being. If our mission’s efforts fail to create anything other than church, then something is missing.

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