Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Discipleship = Imitators = Building the Church


 This  is a summary of a message that was preached by Terry Virgo at the HUB Conference in Dubai in Nov 2012.  
To listen to this message please click here

 TEXT :1 Thess. 1:2-8
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.4 For we know, brothers and sisters[b] loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

This is a key church that Paul caries in his heart. Jesus said “go and make disciples “The apostles instinctively planted churches i.e they built communities. This is God’s way. This has sadly been forgotten but there is a restoration of this movement.

V7. You received the word – Luke records “the word multiplies” in Acts. How do they record it? – Becoming imitator of ‘us’- (v.6) receiving the word that was preached. The word was accompanied by power and when their life style changed, he knew they were transformed.

Jesus washed the feet the disciples and then tells them to do the same. Discipleship was the key – so that they could see him. God changes life in this way, as people see, they imitate and are transformed (1Jn1:2)
John who was the son of thunder becomes an apostle of love- how? Because he encountered a life, and became an imitator.

Disciples are imitators, apprentices. Imitate in the Bible is never negative. A disciple needs a demonstration of how to live as a son. You know that people are following when they imitate the life style.

Children learn by imitation. Our view of a father is so wrecked that our whole world view is spoiled. (Rom1:26) Their minds are futile but when they get saved they have to be delivered from a whole world view and learn a new life style- they get born again in the church and then they imitate the life style. Who are elders? They are exemplary Christians who are worthy of imitation.

Then there is the joy in the Holy Spirit that comes upon them as well. So there is a model and an energy force too. The early church looked like a group of drunks – it was the joy of the Holy Spirit that made them very happy – but it did not free them from the storms. It’s heaven coming down into us to empower us. Eph 5:15- therefore we have to be careful, be wise because the days are evil – therefore he says be filled with the Holy Spirit. Is that the answer? Yes it’s the way you do it and cope and more than just cope!

That’s why Paul in Philippians could praise God in the prison He knew it’s the way you win the battle. People get drunk because they can’t handle life – either its tough or its boring. Drunkenness – escaping reality.
Filled with the spirit – empowering – the love of God is poured out in your heart. Discipleship takes place in a church context not in a school.

Verse 9 They become spontaneous – there was a change in life as a result of repentance. Paul lives in a generation clogged up with idolatry. Israel was delivered from Egypt. At Mt. Sinai God declared a covenant with two million people and they all heard God speak! God called them His special treasure and he sets out the deal – he gives them the 10 Commandments. He tells them not to have idols or any other Gods.  Exodus 34:14 God calls himself Jealous! We think its an ugly word. This jealousy has nothing to do with the ugly things we associate it with. Jealousy – its focused. He is for us and desires our love.
Tragically that was not the case. Israel went after other Gods. Many people have many idols in their lives.

If not for the joy of the Holy Spirit, being a disciple of Jesus can become full of compulsions. The man who found the pearl of great price – he did it out of joy not because he had to. He gave up everything with joy.
You turn from idols to serve the living God and to wait for the Son from heaven. Therefore we are serving and waiting.

Serving – we can accomplish much while waiting for the perfect to come. We do both. Jesus gave himself up for a people with a burning desire to do good works. Paul worked hard. Every Epistle ends with the return of Jesus. That is the ‘waiting’. “Working and waiting belong together”- Stott
Our over realized eschatology says we have it now. No! We are working and waiting. In the waiting – there is hostility, persecution etc. So have the joy of the Holy Spirit to keep you going.

Verse 8 – From you has sounded out the word in every place. This is beginning to happen to us as a movement. God is gathering a people from everywhere!