The Gospel should go out into the world with two confirmations: 1) It should be preached with the power of the Holy Spirit, and 2) The world should see people whose character has been changed by God. In 1 Thessalonians 1:5 Paul says, “our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.” The first assurance the Thessalonians had that the Gospel was true was the signs done by the power of the Holy Spirit, then they saw that the lives of Paul and Silas were motivated by love and not selfishness.
We see a good example of what discipleship should be in the first chapter. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 Paul says to them, “You became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” By following Paul’s example of enduring persecution, they followed the Lord’s example left to us. Also, because the church endured persecution, they “became examples” to the other churches in the region. What a powerful example of being an example! The example went from Paul to the church of Thessalonica, then to other churches.
Paul reminds the church in 1 Thessalonians 3:3 that they are “appointed” to afflictions. Don’t let difficult times and persecution cause you to grow faint; let difficulties cause your faith to grow stronger.
Paul talks about the rapture in chapter 4; he says those that are alive at the return of Jesus will be “caught up …to meet the Lord in the air.” I don’t know why people would infer that the rapture is a secret event to the rest of the world; verse 16 says, “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” It sounds like the rapture will be most not secretive event ever. Jesus does not take us back to heaven at the rapture; if He did, why would He bring with Him the saints that have died (“sleep in Jesus”). The scripture says we are gathered to Jesus in the air, but it doesn't say He is taking us away to heaven.
Feel free to post questions or comments on this subject or anything else!
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan