The Gospel vs Lust – 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 & 1 Thessalonians 4:1-10 – Sermon Notes

God calls us back to him through Jesus. We live with the same misunderstandings that this church had. The gospel offers us solutions. It’s about God who took on a human body.

Bodies: made for God

The body isn’t meant for sexual immorality. They were made for God to use, not to satisfy physical urges. There’s something unique about human bodies. It’s a generous gift from God. Lust is like greed. The desire for sexual excitement grows the more you feed it. It consumes and controls. Christians aren’t meant to let their bodies master them. Every person is there to serve. We can speak in a way that affects their eternity. Sex is spiritual. Paul quotes Genesis. Sex unites you to someone. It’s a picture of how Jesus loves his people. A united oneness. It does change something forever. Marriage doesn’t solve lust. Sex in marriage is about expressing in a physical way now Christ’s relationship with the church.

Paul says our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is always full of grace. It’s his spirit that lives in our bodies. We are bought with a price. We’ve all messed up. We are all guilty of not seeing people as image bearers of God. Jesus lives in your life. Fight for control by asking for help. You’re not in the dark.

Bodies: made for others

Our bodies are made to love. We have in Jesus a model for how to use our bodies. The only experience you have of this world now comes through your body. Self control of your body can be learned. The Lord stands with anyone who is taken advantage of. You only have your body to love others. However long you have it, you have it to love. The place where God lives should show what God is like.

Because of Jesus, nothing is too bad. You are his. Fight against lust alongside him. We all stand the same way. We are all right with God because of Jesus giving himself. We are choosing to worship the God who chose a physical body so he could give.

Grief – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – Sermon Notes

We can have great hope when facing grief because of the good news of Jesus. We don’t talk about death very much. The consequences of not anticipating death are far greater. We mustn’t allow something as inevitable as death to shake our confidence in God.

The people here were expecting Jesus to return in their lifetime. The way Christians grieve is different from the way non-Christians grieve. The difference is that Jesus rose from the dead and will come again. How should the hope we have influence how we grieve?

Death is normal but it’s not natural. Death is a curse. It’s a sign of our eternal separation from God. Jesus has conquered death. For the Christian, to die is gain. Christians look forward to a new heaven and earth. God is sovereign; death is never early. Christians have hope in grief but it’s still a great sorrow. Grief is a long, hard journey. God cares deeply too. No one is more saddened by death than God. He cares individually about those who die. He created them.

Crying out to our Father is good and right. Why wouldn’t we come to him? His love is far greater than any relative can give. God comforts us in our sorrows. He works for the good of those who love him. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Suffering produces hope. God makes us hold on less tightly to this world. Grief for a Christian losing faith should be greater for when a Christian dies.

Grieving Christians should avoid:

  • the temptation to think life is not worth living
  • dwelling on ‘what ifs’
  • excessive longing for the deceased to be back with us
  • excessive hope that the dying person will be healed
  • shunning all enjoyment
  • holding on to false comforts that are inferior to our true hope
  • becoming bitter, complaining and angry
  • persistently aggravating the wounds of sorrow
  • using grief as an excuse for sin, or as a right to make selfish choices
  • begrudging the life we have on earth

Many people stop running from God and embrace him just before they meet him. God loves people more than we do.

Death is normal and it is tragic, but it needn’t be feared.

Belonging to the Day – 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11 – Sermon Notes

What’s the most powerful tool in the universe to help you make decisions?

There isn’t one inevitable end. There are two. It’s not death but destiny that can change the way we live.

Two destinies: wrath or salvation

God didn’t appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation. Our destiny depends on our response to Jesus. The death that the world anticipates is part of the circle of life. Paul talks about destruction and being judged. Our desire is to be like Jesus and Paul and not like religious people. Jesus says there is no way to know God other than to know Jesus. Salvation doesn’t come any other way. Either we face wrath or we face salvation.

Salvation is used to mean the total opposite of judgment. All of us will be dead soon but none of us will simply be dead soon.

Two responses: asleep in denial or awake as sons

Sleep and drunkenness are states of being unaware. They’re pictures of what it means to ignore the judgment that’s coming. A Christian is a child of the light. If God is your father what are you going to be like? We are a son or daughter of light. God has made us like this. God has given us a destiny and because of that we do certain things. Christian ethics is about fulfilling your destiny and living out the identity that God has given you. Paul teaches that our behaviour comes from our identity.

Christians aren’t going to die soon. We’re going to be saved soon. Surely that’s the most important tool we have for making decisions.

The Profit of Pain – 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 – Sermon Notes

The reality of persecution makes Christians question their spiritual experiences. How can God allow it? For Paul, the pain of suffering isn’t a problem for Christians but a profit. He sees it as a ground for confidence.

Opposed Christian: be encouraged

Some people think the Christian faith is evil. Some people think Christians are brainwashed. Some signal disapproval. If you’re being opposed you are imitating the first churches. Paul says we should be reassured. Our willingness to follow Jesus proves we’ve accepted the message as a message from God. We need to accept it in its entirety. The test is how we respond when we’re suffering.

Opponents of Christ: be warned

The Jewish and pagan leaders would stop at nothing to prevent people from believing in Jesus. It’s in the nature of all powerful people to stop the spread of the gospel. The gospel takes away people’s power as it says Jesus is Lord. Paul says it’s like they’re filling up a vat of sin that will come down on them. Trying to silence the gospel is the worst thing anybody can do. We need to keep speaking about Jesus no matter what happens. The wrath of God is too terrible to contemplate.

Comfortable Christian: be convinced

The thing that makes us avoid opposition is when we treat the message as a word of man. Awkwardness is a big deal in our society. We don’t like awkward situations. Is it the word of people? Yes. We allow a word of people to be more authoritative than a word of God. We need to believe what God says through Paul. There is no social convention that can overrule the gospel. We will face more opposition as we tell more people. Being opposed is a blessing. God does say we have to talk about Jesus. If we get into trouble, so be it.

Happy Headlines – 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 – Sermon Notes

What makes us happy? Paul shows it’s possible for a normal sinful person to undergo radical change. It won’t lead to the peaceful inner life you might imagine. The difference between us and Paul is that we direct our sorrow and joy to the wrong things.

Real life is…

Finding joy in the faith and love of others

Paul is so excited that their going on as Christians, that news, is the gospel. It brings him comfort in the middle of distress and persecution. Before he had this news, Paul wasn’t really living. He couldn’t stand not knowing about them. He was worried about them. Does the spiritual progress of other Christians shape your emotional life? If it doesn’t, you’re an immature Christian. Lots of things impact our thoughts. They’re just not the right things. We need to learn to appreciate the people who value our spiritual growth. All of us invest too much time in the friendships that do us the least good. Paul longs to see them so he can supply what is lacking in their faith.

Seeking growth in the holiness of others

Paul isn’t happy for them to stay where they are. He wants more. He also gives his energy and prayer in seeing the progress increase. He exerts himself in prayer for them. The relationship between activity and desire isn’t a one way street. It’s true that we find joy and pleasure in the things that we choose to spend time doing. We should start praying for people’s spiritual growth. If you’re seeking the growth of others because it’s the right thing to do, your heart will change.

Your growth in Christian maturity won’t lead to greater peace. Our experience of life in many ways will become less serene.

World Ends Today – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 – Sermon Notes

This passage and every other passage in the NT concerned with the timing of the second coming teaches that predicting a date, or even reading certain events in the world as signs of the second coming, is not only foolish but wicked.

There are no signs of when Jesus is coming back

The ‘day of the Lord’ is a fairly common phrase throughout the Bible. It always refers to a time when God will judge and defeat his enemies. Zephaniah uses the words ‘darkness’, ‘battle’ and ‘trumpet’ to describe the day of the Lord – all words used in 1 Thessalonians. It’s the day of judgment. The second advent. The end of the world. It’s the day when dead Christians are raised and living Christians given their resurrection bodies.

When will this day be? It’s a question that God’s people have always asked. There is a huge interest. Christians should never put dates or approximate periods on the return of Christ. At every point in history God’s people have looked around them at the state of the world and concluded that everything is in such a mess that Jesus must be about to come back. We tend to overestimate our own importance and the events going on around us.

When Jesus talked about famines, wars and earthquakes, he explicitly taught that these are not the sign of his immediate return but just the beginning of the birth. The phrase ‘times and dates’ refers to an indefinite time in the future in Greek literature.

The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. Paul is echoing the words of Jesus himself in Matthew 24. You can’t know. Not even approximately. When is the ‘night’ in which the thief will come? When is the time at which Jesus could come suddenly? It is the whole of history since these words were written.

There is every sign that Jesus is coming back

At first sight it looks as if Paul is simply saying that the destruction, the day of the Lord is sudden. Why does Paul choose this example? Unlike most of the other sudden pains we can suffer from, pregnant women know that childbirth is going to happen. You can’t be certain about the time.

Perhaps because we have seen the unbalanced Christian life of people who are wrongly certain the day of the Lord will happen in our lifetimes, some of us live as if we’re certain it won’t happen in our lifetimes. But that is equally wrong. If we live as if Christ’s eventual return is just something for a long time in the future we will tend to fit in with the world around us. We will value the things it values. We will love the things the world loves.

Every time you hear about an earthquake it tells you nothing about when Jesus is returning but it should remind you that he IS returning.

There are no signs that tell us when he is coming – he will be like a thief in the night. But there is every sign that he is coming – like labour pains for a pregnant woman.

Some of us need to stop trying read the signs to predict when Jesus will return. It’s a futile exercise that distracts you from what really matters. Others of us need to start looking at those signs and realise they teach us that the return of Christ is inevitable and could happen today.

Boom! – 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 – Sermon Notes

There were riots in Thessalonica. It’s tempting to believe that we are morally superior to the rioters. The reason is much more profound and more disturbing.

The world without faith, hope and love is explosive

It’s part of the philosophy of the people that condemn the rioters. A society like this is going to be full of inequality. Christians are different.

Christians, who have faith, hope and love, are sorted

This could sound arrogant. We need to follow Paul’s train of thought. The reason Paul thanks God so much for the people is because he knows that God loves them and God has chosen them. He says only some people believed what he said. Paul’s agenda isn’t that church is loved by God and should be exclusive but the transformation wasn’t anything to do with them. The reason for God’s choice was nothing to do with them at all. The reason they and we are sorted is because of God’s grace. For Christians those words are powerful and convicting. The gospel is a message that works on us. It creates faith, hope and love in people.

Churches of Christians are noisy

The kind of noise Paul is talking about is from the whole congregation. Christians demonstrate the effect that grace has on them in their lives. Paul’s aim is to encourage people. There is no credit for us but there is comfort for us. People both inside and outside of church recognise the power of the gospel. The noisier we are, the more assured we will be.

Are you ready for the coming wrath?

It’s only Jesus who can rescue us from the wrath. Paul was confident that this church was ready. He says they rejected the idols of their culture, they are now serving Jesus and they were waiting for the day of judgement. As much as Paul’s letter is a warning we should take encouragement.

Chill Out – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 – Sermon Notes

Being a Christian in 21st century Britain is difficult. It’s always been difficult in almost every place in the world. We need armour. Paul doesn’t just tell us what spiritual armour is but also how to put it on.

God’s called people put on armour when we have:

Love – for leaders, each other and the world (v12-15)

This is a love in submission. Authority and love aren’t incompatible things. You’ll value the work of the church for the gospel. Loving them means listening to them. People who are idle need to be warned. We should encourage the timid. Paul uses the word ‘weak’ to refer to people who have a problem with their conscience. He says we should help the weak. Putting on the armour of love takes patience. Wait for the right time. Paul refers to everyone else too. We are called to be kind to everyone.

Faith – which doesn’t quit when times are hard (v16-22)

In each verse there’s a time reference (v16-18). ‘Always’ doesn’t mean 24-7. Our attitude to him should remain the same. Paul isn’t saying give thanks for all circumstances. None of them can take away what really matters. We should thank God for his character. The opposite of quenching the spirit is testing it. Prophecy is words that encourage. Test everything. Listen to what they say and compare it with the Bible. Paul says to avoid false prophets.

Hope – which looks for future blamelessness (v23-24)

Paul teaches it’s God who dresses us. Nobody grows as a Christian by their own efforts. It’s God who brings it about. To believe that God doesn’t intend to bring about sanctification is to ignore the power of Jesus. Our hope is that until he returns, his grace will be with us.

The Real Deal – 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 – Sermon Notes

The only way to be a Christian is to take it seriously. After their initial excitement, the Thessalonians began to wonder if the message can really be trusted, which is understandable. Paul gives us two reasons that we can believe with confidence to give our lives to Jesus.

You can rest yourself on the gospel of Jesus Christ because:

Paul and his friends lived as messengers approved by God

We should believe the message because we can trust the messenger. Paul didn’t change his message to suit everyone else. He was only concerned with God who entrusted the message to him. The fact that the message was hard was a sign itself that it could be trusted. Paul worked a second job while he was in their town. He arrived in the midst of conflict. Nothing about the way he behaved while he was there contradicted what he said.

Your church leaders look after you with parental care

Paul was like a mother to them. We can’t have confidence unless the people who teach us follow Paul’s example. Leaders are to parent the church with the message of the bible.

Three implications:

  • Watch the glory. Paul didn’t seek glory from his converts but some leaders do. Elders should be like mums and dads.
  • Don’t be a ‘teenager’. As an elder it’s hard to comfort someone who makes it difficult for leaders to parent them.
  • Be encouraged, even when we rebuke you. Elders care about us. They are ready to share with us not only the gospel, but their lives as well.

We can wholeheartedly believe the message of Jesus because it transformed Paul and our church leaders.

The Victorious Christian Life – 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:5 – Sermon Notes

Do we not long for everything that he has won for us? Paul tells the inhabitants the ingredients of such a life.

Its feeling – intense longing

Paul seems to be emotionally involved with these people after only spending three weeks with them. It’s like being orphaned. These bonds can be formed very quickly. Paul says the Thessalonians are his hope, his joy. Do other Christians have the same impact on us?

Its focus – future glory

Why should we view meeting together as so important that we long for it? Paul believed that his divine mission was to see people from all nations come to know Jesus. Paul was thrilled as the Thessalonians were proof of the power of the message he had brought. The commission wasn’t totally unique. Every Christian is called to ring out the good news and to strengthen other Christians. The other people in the church family are our crown. The future focus means that life now is full of challenges.

Its teaching – its suffering

For Paul, the main message was trials and persecution. He writes to remind them that this shouldn’t be a shock. The pattern of the Christian life is the same as that of Jesus’ life. We must know that life in this world is characterised by suffering. There is no good reason for persecution. It is irrational but that’s how it is in a messed up world. Trials are a reminder that the message about Jesus is true.

The cost – its sacrifice

Paul gave everything he could to them. He understood that his glory would be seen in them growing in their faith. We need to believe that other people becoming Christians is our glory and our crown. Paul is asking us to start believing. We will find glory before Christ in their faith on the last day.