Big Question: What are some evidences of a living, healthy church of Jesus Christ today?
Answer: A living, healthy church of is a place where the members honor the Word of God, they turn away from idols and to God, and they begin to place their hope and desires on Jesus Christ alone.
I. THE BIBLE: A healthy church is exclusively focused on the Word of God 5-8
5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
Restated: When Christ is at work in His church, there is an unwavering, singular loyalty to the Bible, the very Word of God.
a. The preaching and teaching is treated as more than “word only” but is marked by supernatural power, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and overwhelming confidence as it is preached and taught. 5
b. There is a joyful willingness on the part of the members to endure suffering and mistreatment for their obedient adherence to the Word of God. 6-7
c. There is a deliberate, resounding proclamation of the Word of God out into the surrounding culture. 8
II. IDOLS: A healthy, living church constantly turns away from the empty, dead idols, and instead turns to serve our living, true God. 9
9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
Restated: A life-long struggle is begun to expose and reject the faulty goals and desires we’ve served, and to instead embrace a true, living God.
What is an idol? (Bible Background Commentary) = Among major cults in Thessalonica were the Egyptian cults of Serapis and Isis, as well as those of the more traditional Greek gods like Dionysus; some of the upper class sponsored the cult of Cabirus from the Aegean island of Samothrace.
Dr. Timothy Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods, gives this definition: “[An idol] is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” Keller makes a powerful and repeated point that idols cannot be simply removed from one’s life—they must be replaced by a better object of worship (one that accomplishes what your soul cries out for!): Jesus Christ. Which naturally leads to the final mark of a healthy church…
III. JESUS: A healthy church places all her longing and trust in the Lord Jesus. 10
10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
A. Raised from the dead = validated as righteous, confirmed as the sin-bearer
Acts 17 30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
B. Rescues from the wrath to come = (cf. 1 Thess 5:1-11)
God’s wrath towards His enemies: Nahum 1:2 A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies 3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet.
God’s wrath is Jesus’ wrath, and will one day overwhelm all on earth = Rev 6 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
C. How does Jesus rescue from this coming wrath?
a. in the past, He rescued from sin’s power, when He died on the Cross for sin.
b. in the present He rescues us from sin’s power by granting us His Holy Spirit to empower us and assure us of our adoption into God’s family.
c. in the future He will rescue us from the horrors of the Day when God the Father unleashes he fury against sin, and from the very presence of sin forever.
Application: For us today… Believe in Jesus; escape the coming wrath of God!
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”