2. Concern for Conversion
The Thessalonian believers model a genuine profession of faith accompanied by a desire for that faith to be passed on to others.
“4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, 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 not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” – I Thessalonians 1:1-4-10
- Describe the purpose of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians:
i) What was Paul’s relationship to the church?
ii) Why did Paul write to them?
iii) What are the major themes of the letter?
- In verses 1-3, we considered four concerns Paul had for the church in Thessalonica. Can you name these concerns?
- How did last week’s text affect your thinking and or behavior as a follower of Jesus Christ?
I. Chosen for Conversion (v 4)
II. Cause for Conversion (v 5)
III. Character of Conversion (vv 9-10)
IV. Cost of Conversion (v 6)
V. Consequence of Conversion (vv 7-8)
Quick Thought: “Chosen But not Frozen, the Election & Evangelism Dilemma”
It is sometimes said that God’s election (“chosen by God”) negates fervor for evangelism. However, as we see in our text, for the Thessalonians, it did not negate, but enhanced fervor for evangelism. How does this work? Well, the reality is we do not know who the elect are, but we do know the way they will come to Jesus. It is in our pursuit of unbelievers, being in a real relationship with them, introducing them to the Christian community, and speaking to them about the hope of Jesus and salvation that they will come to know him. What a privilege it is to be part of God bringing his children home. Indeed the church is “chosen by God” but it is also God’s only missionary agent, and thus we take the call to evangelism seriously. Indeed our entire lives as God’s loved and chosen are centered on that mission. For more on this, and on the topic of salvation, consider joining the “Our Great Salvation” growth class beginning next Sunday evening at UCC. (See, Announcement for sign-up info)
Life Group Questions
Quick Review of the Text
- What are the important features described by Paul about how the Gospel came to the Thessalonians? (vv 4-5)
- How is their response to the Gospel described and is there anything striking about it? (v 6)
- What happened to the Thessalonians after they became Christians? (vv-7-9a)
- How is repentance described in v 9? What might it have looked like in practice?
- What is surprising about the description of the churches faith in v 10?
- The dictionary defines a hallmark as “a mark or device placed or stamped on an article of trade to indicate origin, purity, or genuineness”. What are the hallmarks or signs of genuine conversion to Jesus Christ? Is it wrong to look for these in our own lives and in the lives of fellow believers?
Apply the Text
- How can knowing you are “chosen” by God as a believer (v 4) comfort you in trials?
- Read verses 5-6. In what ways are you tempted to separate ministries of Spirit (power) and Word? Why is that a mistake?
- In contrast to verses 5-6, in what ways are you tempted to separate Word and behaviour? Why is that a mistake?
- In what ways should evangelistic witness be a natural outworking of genuine conversion as in v 7-9a? Why do you think it is often not the case?
- Do you think the return of Christ should be part of our outlook as Christians? Are there any reasons it is not particularly evident? (v 10)
- Are there any areas in your life where turning from idols to serve the living God is required? (v 9)