Thessalonica in Paul's Day

Thessalonica in Paul's Day

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:19
Date: 07/21/2012  Lesson: 3
"A short study of the context of ancient Thessalonica deomonstrates that Paul's approach to the citizens of Thessalonica was unique and carefully crafted."

Lessons from Job (5 Part Series)

Lessons from Job (5 Part Series)
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. We have an extended Sabbath school family that join us every week from across the country and around the world - listening on the radio, watching live on our website at 'saccentral.org', or on the various television networks, dvd - however you are joining us. Welcome and I hope that you are ready to open up God's Word and study together because we sure are here at Sacramento central. And, of course, before we do that we're going to sing your favorite hymns. Pull out your hymnals - those of you at home - #92 - 'this is my father's world' - and I have something really exciting for you to see.

We have a map of where The Song requests are coming from. This is a popular song. Can you guys here see this? Can you put that up? We have a request for this song from afghanistan, from matias, argentina - maxi, clara and german, we have ArKansas, australia, brazil - eric in brazil, grigor in bulgaria, I'm not - we have such a long list I'm not going to read all the names this morning - the cayman islands, van and tammy, columbia is carlos, cuba, mario in cuba, jerleema in dominica, Daniel in equador - let's see - franz and vanessa in France, Hawaii, india - ramay in india - let's see - norway, mikael in norway, the russian federation - we have mihail, losif, nikita, and hikhail, in singapore we have symon, spain, David and rafael, aldo and roger in switzerland, in thailand we have carol, uganda akiiki and abbo, and then miguel and yudy in Washington. We have a whole bunch of other names and I'm sorry - but it was such a long list. But you can see - this is just this one song request that has come from all over the world.

That is really exciting. So our extended Sabbath school family - one day in heaven, when we all meet together we can just sing hymns for thousands of years. It will be very exciting to see just where everybody came from. So #92 is the request - 'this is my father's world' - how fitting is that? My father's world - #92. We will sing all three stanzas.

Thank you for sending in your request. Of course, if you have never sent in your favorite hymn request, I encourage you to do that. Go to our website - 'saccentral.org' - and click on the 'contact us' link and you can send any of your favorite songs. And we are learning the new ones right along with you. #3 Is our new song for today - 'God himself is with us'.

This is from jeanine in florida, Daniel in ghana, and agar in Maryland. #3 - We're going to sing all three stanzas. I thought that was beautiful and I listened to it a couple of different ways on the internet this week and then handerson, who we haven't seen for a long time - it's nice to have back - shows up and he has his own arrangement to this song. So it was very nice handerson, thank you. At this time, let's bow our heads for prayer.

Father in Heaven, thank you for bringing us here to your house of worship - that we can open up Your Word, we can study together, and we can worship you. May our hearts be right with you. May they be pure so that you can speak to us and may we just put away the things of this world. May we always look to you. There are so many things that try to distract us and to suck up our time - and father you are coming soon and I pray that we will put things into perspective so that you don't have to do it for us because we know if you do that it would just be so much better if we could just learn what you have for us without having to be drastic.

But sometimes, father, that's what it takes and I just pray that each of us will want to be ready for heaven no matter what. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our senior pastor, Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you to our singers and yes, it's good to have handerson back. Good morning everybody.

Welcome if you're visiting here at Sacramento central. We're very thankful to have you here. It's kind of fun looking at that map of songs that are coming - and that was just one song - from all over the world and that's a small sampling of people who study with us. And so I want to welcome our class of Sabbath school viewers - some on the internet and some on satellite - or whatever the means might be - we're very thankful you're watching with us and, of course, we have some of our Sacramento central online members that are watching from different parts of the world - welcome to you too. In a moment we'll get to our study in 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

We have a free offer today. If you've not done this lesson before it really will touch your heart. We'll send it to you for free. It's called 'a love that transforms' - 'a love that transforms' - and it's offer #710. Just call 866-study-more.

That's 866-788-3966 - and say you've been watching central Sabbath school and you'd like the free offer #710. We'll send you 'a love that transforms'. Now we are in lesson #3 in the new quarterly and we still are not really opening the book of Thessalonians yet. There's a lot of introduction to these two books. I'm chomping at the bit to get right into the verses in 1 and 2 Thessalonians - but we're dealing a little bit, today, with some more background foundation to understand what's happening in the culture during that time.

The lesson title is 'thessalonica in Paul's day' and they're going to be covering a little kaleidoscope of verses but we have a memory verse and the memory verse is from Corinthians 9, verse 19 - Corinthians 9:19 and hopefully you'll say the memory verse with me. All you're - you're ready - and I'm doing it from the new king James version. Corinthians 9:19. "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;" and that comes up again later. We'll read some verses around that in our study.

Now, one of the things that we're fairly certain of is 2 - I'm sorry, 1 Thessalonians is probably the first letter that Paul wrote. It's amazing how he planted this church in such a short time. I want to look there with you again. Go with me in your Bibles to the book of acts chapter 17 - acts gives us the background to help understand what's happening here in thessalonica and it tells us that they came to the synagogue - in verse 1 - of the jews in thessalonica. Again, the jews - and this is before - remember, this is before the destruction of Jerusalem when the temple was destroyed in 70 a.

d. - This letter was probably written in 51, 52 a.d. - The temple was destroyed in about 70 a.d. The jews were then really scattered throughout the roman empire - many as slaves at that time - but even prior to that, for reasons of trade and for reasons of mission work - you remember when Jesus said to the scribes and pharisees - he said, 'you cover land and sea to make one proselyte' - to make a convert - and then he went on to say, 'and you make him two-fold the child of hell that you are yourself.' But they were covering land and sea then, both for business purposes and for missionary purposes and so wherever they went they established synagogues. And so, all over the roman empire they had synagogues in every major city.

Thessalonica was a great place to have a - and by the way, if you lived back in the time of Jesus, you'd be very thankful, if you were a Christian, for the work that the jews were doing because there was nobody in the roman empire that would be closer to you in their beliefs than the jews. And so they were doing a good mission work and you'd be thankful that, where all these polytheistic temples were and all the idolatry was, if you could find a Jewish synagogue you'd feel more at home there than just about anywhere you could go. And so, they would go to these synagogues and they would begin sharing about Jesus - the Messiah has come - in these places and so, that's what Paul did. 'And Paul, as his custom was, he went in there and for three Sabbaths he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.' They saw that he was a guest. They knew that he had sat at the feet of gamaliel - a very respected Jewish rabbi from Jerusalem - that he was a pharisee - Paul says, 'I was a pharisee of the pharisees' and so he showed up, he had credentials so to speak.

They said, 'what word do you have?' He said, 'oh boy, I'm glad you asked. I've got some really exciting news. The Messiah has come and believe it or not it was Jesus of nazareth and I can show you from the Scriptures that everything he went through is exactly as it said. He was first to come and to die and then he's coming as a king.' That's why Thessalonians talks so much about Jesus coming again because, keep in mind, the jews believed the Messiah was coming, but they thought he was coming first time as a king. They didn't realize he was coming first as a lamb - as a sacrifice.

And so Paul had to remind the Jewish believers there in thessalonica, 'yes, he is coming as a king, but he had to first come as a sacrifice.' Because that, for them, was a pretty big pill to swallow - that they killed the Messiah, The Son of David, who had come. So he proved this to them from the Scriptures. Paul - boy, I wish we had more evangelists like Paul today. Three weeks in a major city. There were 200,000 people approximately in thessalonica at that time.

That was a major city. He raises up a church in three weeks. You know we're so excited because central has been involved in planting a church in Granite Bay - it's not too far off interstate 80 and we now have over 300 people gathering after four years now, I think, and we're thrilled. That's four years. Paul raised up a church in three weeks and - wow, that's some evangelist.

And, of course, they nearly killed him. They wanted to, you know - when some of the jews who were in the synagogue saw how some of their converts to judaism were believing what Paul was saying, they became very angry. They thought, 'here you are, you're coming into our church and you're stealing our converts to judaism. And not all - some of the jews believed - but most of them as an official church group rejected it and they finally got so upset they said, 'look, we've got to drive him out of town - some of our own church are believing it.' They had to get some of the local ruffians to incite a mob to chase Paul out. Now that's where we come to now.

"As his custom was" - I'm still in acts 17 - he's in thessalonica, he's reasoning with them from the Scriptures for three Sabbaths. He may have stayed a little longer, but there's three Sabbaths - "explaining and demonstrating that Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead, saying, 'this Jesus who I preach you is the Christ.'" Now, what kind of proof text do you think that Paul used? What did Paul say in his sermon? How many of you remember reading in Luke chapter 24 about the two on the road to emmaus that Jesus met and he spoke to? And it says he expounded unto them from the old testament and David - and Moses that he was the Christ - that Christ had to suffer. This - 'old fools and slow of heart to believe all the prophets that said, 'ought not Christ to have suffered as the Scriptures said?'' He said, 'this is exactly what the Scriptures said would happen.' And so he went all the way through Moses and the Psalms - all those messianic Psalms about the Messiah suffering and about being betrayed by a friend, thirty pieces of silver, he'd come from Bethlehem, he'd be crucified outside the city - all those verses that you hear Matthew allude to when he talks about Jesus being the King - Paul goes through all that because he's got to convince them 'no, the Messiah's not coming as a king to overthrow the Romans first, he's coming first as a sacrifice but he'll come as a king later.' To give you a context of what he's saying. And they get excited and they start believing it. But - oh by the way, verse 4 - "and some of them were persuaded;" - now notice, when it says 'some of them' it means some of the jews who were part of regular jews from the synagogue - "and a great multitude of the devout Greeks," - the devout Greeks are Greeks who had converted to judaism - "and not a few of the leading women" - from the community - "who joined Paul and silas.

But the jews who were not persuaded, became envious," - 'you're tearing our church apart.' Now what would we think? What would we think if all of a sudden we had some visitors that showed up at our church - or you who are watching, if you're watching in your church, maybe you've had this before - and you've got some new converts, you've had some - you've been working for years and you've got some new converts and all of a sudden these visitors come up and they've got some strange doctrines. 'Yeah, we believe like you in many respects but...' And they start teaching something very different from what you expected. And all of a sudden you find a group that's beginning to believe. You go, 'no, no, no, no, don't do that.' You'd feel a little threatened, wouldn't you? And they just felt like their church was being - their synagogue was being torn apart. And so, in desperation it says they "took some of the evil men from the Marketplace" - now, well if you've got to go to the - they're not members of the church.

They basically get hired guns. These are thugs. This is some of the thessalonica mafiosa that they bribe or - I don't know how they get them but these are just - they call them sons of belial in the old testament - that could just be hired thugs or whatever you want to call them - barroom bouncers or - they don't have a lot of ethics but if you give them money they'll start a mob - they'll get a riot going. That tells you it's unethical, right away. "And gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of jason," - this is where Paul was staying, evidently - "and sought to bring them out to the people.

" But Paul and silas weren't there at the time. "When they did not find them they" - said, 'well, you'll do.' - "They dragged jason and some of the brethren to the rulers" - it's not the rulers of the synagogue, this is the rulers of the city. Now thessalonica was what they called a 'free city'. Back in about 168 b.c. When the area of macedonia was going through a civil war, whether or not to side with the Romans, thessalonica sided with the Romans - to reward them the Romans said, 'well, then we'll let your city be a free city.

' And so they kind of had their own government but they were still subservient to the Romans. We'll get to that in just a minute. "And they set the city in an uproar and they brought them to the magistrates" - I'm in verse - "and they said, these who have turned the world upside down" - is that an exaggeration? This is the - one of the first places where Paul raised up a church and he says, 'they've turned the world upside down.' "They have come here also and jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of caesar saying 'there is another king - Jesus.'" Now, does that sound familiar? First of all, who was caesar at this time? There was a caesar who was sort of an odd caesar - you don't hear a lot about him. His name was - well we call him claudius but it was officially tiberius claudius caesar Augustus germanicus. How'd you like to have to sign that whenever you checked out of the store? Tiberius claudius caesar Augustus - they all sort of took the name 'Augustus' after Augustus caesar - Augustus caesar's name was really octavian.

He was adopted by julius caesar - he followed julius caesar in about 44 b.c. And he lived until about 15 and - anyway, there was a series of caesars. Caligula had an uncle named claudius and when they did a bunch of sweeping assassinations in rome to sort of purge any threat to the power of caligula, they let claudius, his uncle live because he was fairly deaf - he was older - and he limped and they thought, 'he'll be no threat at all.' Well, when caligula died they had no one else from the family except this uncle who had survived named claudius. He turned out to be a pretty good leader except he was really hard of hearing so they had to always yell at him and he wasn't very imposing, but he was caesar during the time of this riot in thessalonica. From about 41 .

A.d to 54 a.d. He was caesar. He was followed by his adopted son - who was a real problem - named nero. Does that sound familiar? And things didn't go well with the church and nero. But they were basically saying, 'look, we've got a lot of freedom because of the Romans.

Here these Christians are saying there's another king besides caesar. Isn't that what they said when they crucified Jesus? He - they said to pontius pilate, 'he makes himself a king instead of caesar. You need to kill him. He's a threat to our stability.' There were about 200 years that was called 'pax romana' - not 'pox' like plague - pax like peace - and it began with Augustus caesar. After Augustus caesar consolidated his power, he reigned for about 40 years.

Believe it or not there were about 200 years of relative peace in the roman empire in the mediterranean - they still had some skirmishes on the outskirts of their kingdom - this was the extent of the roman empire. You'll see a red outline there and it really extended a little more even after the time of Augustus. They had an interstate system. You know where we get the interstate system in North America? Is because there was a captain who went across - I think it was like 1918 - he went across north America with a caravan before there were any roads, and when he finally became president - his name was eisenhower - he said one of the first things we've got to do is we've got to fix the roads in America because the roads were non-existent or impassable in much of the interior of our country. And one of the reasons America exploded into a great world nation is because of the interstate system.

The Romans had thousands and thousands of miles of roads and their interstate - their east and west - in North America we've got a couple of east and west interstates. Does everyone know that if it's an even number it goes from east to west. If it's an odd number it goes from north to south. Did you know that? Interstate 5 - odd number - north to south. Highway 35 - north to south.

- Even number - east to west. - Even number - east to west. And so some of you maybe - I saw you - you just had that look of 'oh, I didn't know that.' But - and another thing is when eisenhower made the roads, he had stretches of them so in time of war airplanes could land - there were a lot of straight stretches that were built in deliberately for aircraft to land on in times of emergency. But one of our big east to west is 80 - right? It goes from san francisco to New York city through chicago - very important road. Well, thessalonica was located on the main east to west roman highway and so a lot of tribute came through there and so they thought 'if we say that this religion is a threat to our stability then, you know, we can get them chased out of town.

' But that's another reason to do mission work there. One of the best places to do mission work is at the crossroads. So you plant a church out in podunk - anyone know where podunk is? It's next to nowhere. You've probably been there before. You know, it's one of those one-horse towns and the horse doesn't have a saddle - it's called podunk.

So you plant a church in podunk - and the Lord loves people in podunk, he wants churches there too - but it usually doesn't spread very fast because it's not at the crossroads. But if you plant a church - if you're going to put a billboard up, you want the billboard in podunk or interstate 80? Where's it going to get more viewing. Did some of you notice that our parking lot's dug up a little bit? It's because we're finally putting our new sign - you know I've been here 18 years - we took down our lit sign one time and we haven't replaced it yet. We're finally replacing our lit sign out front so we're real excited about that. And someone measured - you know how much traffic goes down that road? This is - the bridge - this is some of the main traffic going to work for the capital - coming back out again.

We thought, 'you know, we need to capitalize on that.' So we got a sign - a lit sign - it's going to change and tell what services, what programs are going on and everything - we're real excited about that. It's because you want people to know at the crossroads what's happening. Great place to plant a church, thessalonica, so Paul was very smart to do this. the Lord poured out his spirit but they wanted them out of town. And so when they played the government card - the peace - 'we're going to lose our peace.

We're going to lose our protection. We're going to lose our independence and our freedom we have because of the Romans because of these Christians.' Well, that's all it took and they used fear to scare them away. Was any of it true? Were the Christians threatening freedom? Well you listen, I was reading some history this week, in preparing for the lesson, and tacticus - one of the roman historians - he's writing about the Christians and he - he sides with the idea that maybe they were the cause of rome burning. They had nothing to do with burning rome - that they were inciting an overthrow of the empire. So rumors were spreading that Christians had another king.

But Jesus said, 'my kingdom is not of this world.' He told pontius pilate, 'you don't need to worry about me. My kingdom is not of this world. If it was my servants would fight. But my kingdom is not now of this world.' Notice he said, 'not now of this world.' Someday his kingdom will come to this world, right? The literal kingdom. So anyway, they incited a riot - and this is just giving you some of the background of what's going on.

You know one other interesting thing regarding the letter that is written to the Thessalonians - in quoting from - some of you have heard of the codex alexandrinus - it's one of the oldest Bibles that there is. It's from the 5th century - and in looking at the septuagint and the Greek new testament there - and there's even some latin, they even give additional information - speaking of this verse here from acts 17 - that there were some jews that believed and a great number acknowledged the true religion from the heathen - meaning converts - also some of the chief women that believed. Something interesting also about the letter that is written to the Thessalonians, it must have been a really loving church because in a lot of the letters that Paul writes - this is the first letter - in a lot of the letters - first of all Paul introduces himself as 'the slave of Jesus Christ and, you know, he writes from prison, but the letter to the Thessalonians he just says, 'Paul and silvanus' - that's silas - it's a long way of saying silas - it's like jonathan or John - 'and Timothy' - and he's writing to the Thessalonians - he has no reproof for them. This was a loving church. They had just been raised up during a time of persecution.

The apostle writes he is full of a spirit of love. "The church at thessalonica was pure and upright, faithful - scarcely any reprehension" - and I'm quoting adam clark's commentary right now - "the thessalonian converts had faith that worked, love that labored, hope that induced them to bear afflictions, and patiently wait for the coming of the Lord." And this is sort of a summary of what the theme is. Now, under the next section - I talked a little bit about the Romans arrive in thessalonica - I haven't given you a chance to read a verse. Somebody read for me acts 16:20 - who got that? Hold your hand up. We gave that to someone - right up front here - let's bring a microphone.

Acts 16:20 and while you do I'm going to read John 11, verses 48 to 50. And this is, of course, what they're saying during the time of discussing what - the religious leaders are saying, 'what do we do with Jesus?' John 11:48-50, "'if we let him alone like this everybody will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.' And one of them, caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, 'you know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people and not that the whole nation should perish.'" I wonder how many times that argument has been used to get rid of somebody who might be innocent saying, 'our national security is at risk. They may be innocent but it could disrupt our national security so better to lose one person than that the whole nation perish.' And that's been used a lot - well, that's the same concerns they had as the Gospel was spreading through thessalonica and through asia minor. Go ahead, read that for us. Acts 16, verse 20.

Acts 16, verse 20, "and they brought them to the magistrates and said, 'these men, being jews, exceedingly trouble our city and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe." Now that actually backfired for the ruffians and the mob that brought jason to the city council, they said, 'these being jews.' There were principally two religions - well there were multiple religions, but there were two primary religions in asia minor and even in thessalonica. You could have the monotheistic religion or the polytheistic religion. You could have the religion that had the one true God or you could have the multiple Gods. The greco-roman religions were polytheistic. They had all these different Gods that were kind of like cartoon characters - they were all fighting with each other and they had these different ideas and they had these different battles and it was really kind of sad.

And, you know, it was really hard for thinking people - the Greeks and the Romans were fairly educated - it was really hard for them to believe that God was that way - that there were all these different Gods battling over each other's wives and their territories and their domains and one for the sea and one for the thunder and one for this and that. And when the jews came along - in spite of the problems that the jews had with not always understanding the will of God - their religion was so much superior and their laws - laws regarding health and laws regarding justice and laws regarding sanitation and - I mean they just had a lot of really valuable laws. It's like Moses said after God gave him the law - he said, 'what nation is this that has God so close to them? That has such just laws?' And so the thinking people there in thessalonica, when they heard about polytheism and how the different governors would play on this and all the weird sacrifices, and then they heard about the consistent God of the Bible - the jews - they said, 'you know, we kind of like that one God.' It simplified things. They couldn't keep up with all the different Gods. You know, I went to india - and without wanting to be derogatory, the hindus have got thousands of Gods.

You can't remember all their names and what they're doing - it's just so hard to track. 'What is God like?' 'Which one?' 'What's his character?' 'Which one?' 'How's he going to treat me?' 'Depends on which one.' If you want to be treated this way, you better be nice to this God. This God might have more power than that God and if you want appease this God you better do this sacrifice in this temple - and you couldn't keep up with it. You never knew what to think or what God was thinking. But the God of the jews was a consistent God.

And so when it said, 'these men being jews' - some of the people thought, 'well, they're not so bad.' And that's one reason the church grew so quickly is because what the Jewish religion was missing - when Paul showed up, it all made sense to them. And these people flowed into the church and that's why that church grew so quickly. And, by the way, you know, I'm reading some of the commentaries that are a hundred years old, a hundred and fifty years old, two hundred years old - from the methodists and the early baptists - on thessalonica - and at the time of their writing they say, 'Christianity has not stopped - the church that Paul planted there is still in continuance - even though at the time of their writing the turks occupied ancient thessalonica. They said, 'there has been a church here, because it was started so well, it has not been interrupted from the time of Paul until at least the 17th and th century.' Now, I don't know what's happening over there right now. A lot of things have changed but it was well established.

Okay, let's go on here. 'The pagan response to rome'. Now keep in mind I told you - who followed emperor claudius? I gave you that a minute ago - what emperor? You've caligula, claudius - nero. Was nero a man of moral worth and self-control? Or was he pretty well understood to be just a party animal? And he kind of was - you know, I read up a little more on nero - he was sort of nauseating. You know, you hear about the time when they were having the orgies in rome? That wasn't going on during the time of Augustus, Augustus was big on the family.

Augustus was down on divorce. There were times in rome where they actually had some good laws, but by the time you get to nero, the debauchery was pretty bad and the parties in the coliseums - and he thought that he was talented and he would sing for everybody - and what do you do if the emperor sings? They all 'oh, isn't that nice?' He might have been awful but they had to clap anyway or die. And so, matter of fact, one of the last things nero said before he basically committed suicide - he asked one of his servants to kill him - he said, 'what a great talent the world is losing.' He was so into himself - but claudius made it to 63 - nero died at 30 because he was so bad the people were disgusted with him. Now, the reason I say that is rome, morally, at this time, was pretty bad. It was starting to go downhill even during the time of claudius - but they were unhappy - it left them empty.

And so that's why you hear people say - like 1 John 2:15, here John is writing, "do not love the world or the things that are in the world. For if any man loves the world, the love of The Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of The Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust thereof; but he who does the will of God abides forever." Those kind of teachings - and I know this was written by John, but that simple principle was also taught by Paul - that was very appealing to folks that had become dissatisfied with just the carnal life of what was going on there in rome. Also, Augustus caesar never made himself a God, but after he died they made him a God.

And they sort of said - the local Gods that cared about the poor there in thessalonica - they said every emperor that came along 'they are the incarnation of this God that you like.' And so the people began to think we really don't have a representative because the emperor says that he's it but they don't really care about us. And so when they heard about Jesus and how he healed the poor and he cared for the poor, and he taught and he fed the poor, that was very attractive to them. It's another reason that the Christian religion began to explode - they felt like they really had no representative. They tried everything the world offers and, for instance, the jews were teaching in thessalonica, the writings of the old testament. They taught about Solomon who tried everything in the world and was left empty.

Ecclesiastes 2, verses 1 to 11 - here the ancient king says, "I said in my heart, 'come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure'; but surely, this was also vanity. I said of laughter - 'madness!'; And of mirth, 'what does it accomplish?' I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly," - 'how can I plan to get the most out of just living a hedonistic life?' Is what Solomon is saying - "till I might see what was good for The Sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives." - Should we live for pleasure? - "I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them." - 'I bought a ferrari' - just wondered if you were listening - "I made myself" - he would have but they didn't have them back then - "I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired female and male servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me.

I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of Kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers," - he had the best sound system in the world - "the delights of The Sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom reMained with me." - At least in his youth - "whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor.

Then I looked" - he finally sat down, looked, and considered - "all the works that my hands had done and all the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun." He knew he was just going to die and what profit was it? That's kind of what was going on there in the roman empire at that time. Rome had had peace. They had built like no one had ever built before. They had sports arenas and entertainment and coliseums and aqueducts and all kinds of public works and they did have hot and cold running water in some of these cities.

I mean, there's more sophisticated than many believe. And when they had all of this - and thessalonica was a rich city right on the interstate - trade for silk - anyone coming through town had to pay a tax. They were a very prosperous city. Boy I tell you - I thought I'd seen everything until I went to dubai last year. Wow - lot of money there.

Someone took me to the most expensive - actually a seventh day adventist worked in - the most expensive hotel in the world is in dubai - it's a seven-star hotel. You've probably heard about a hotel with gold fixtures and toilet seats - it's true, I saw it. And you know what? It doesn't matter how much money you have, it won't buy you a night's sleep. If you've got a restless heart you don't sleep any better. And so they had all this and they realized the poor were still poor, the rich were getting richer, there's still unhappiness.

So Christianity gave the answer. All right, next section: 'the Gospel as a point of contact'. Thessalonians 4:11 - now I didn't give this to anybody but maybe I'll get somebody to read it for me. Thessalonians 4:11 - who wants to just volunteer? You got that? Can you find it real quick? And while you're finding that I'm going to read acts 18:3 - acts 18:3, "so, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked; for by occupation they were tentmakers." Now we read in acts 17 about when Paul first goes to thessalonica and now we find, in acts 18, what was his method of work? His method of work was that they would - he was a tentmaker. He was a self-employed evangelist.

You know, that works. I did that once. I went to Texas and there was no church there and I was doing mechanic work and construction work during the day and at night I was doing Bible studies until finally I got a tent from the conference and we did an evangelistic meeting. But they didn't pay me a penny. I just had to be self-supporting.

I sometimes think that if every member saw themselves as a missionary and we all did evangelism, that church would explode again. But I think we depend on pastors and evangelists to do it. That's why we think these programs like afcoe are so important because it gets the members involved. Paul was a self-supporting lay evangelist when he went into these towns. All right, go ahead and read for us - what did I say? Thessalonians 4:11.

"And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands as we commanded you." Paul is saying, 'look, I set an example for you when I came.' He's writing, of course, to the Thessalonians. 'Be busy with your work witness through your work style. Let people see that you've got peace.' When he says quiet life he doesn't mean don't open your mouth and share, he means live a peaceful life and let your neighbor see there's peace in these families. These people are hard workers. And you witness through your regular life.

I think that, sometimes, is the best way to do it. In other words, it was on a day-to-day basis. We can do evangelism in the church - and we do - and you can preach the truth, but you know where the rubber really meets the road is when people see that you are a Christian in your home, in your work. We - this week we've had two different kids have come and stayed with us and we've invited them over for meals in our home. They're not believers - from other families - and they see us pray.

We have evening worship and they see us pray for our meals, they see how we talk to each other, and at one point I had to speak sternly to one of our boys while they were there and I thought - 'especially since they've got company, doug, do it in a Christian way. You can yell after the friends are gone but when their friends are here' - to be Christian about it, right? So you want to be Christians in your everyday business and in your life. All right. Someone look up acts 17:17 - we've been looking a little - I gave that to somebody. Hand over here.

Acts 17:17 and while we get ready for that I'm going to read acts 19:9 - talking about Paul the street preacher - we're under the section 'Paul the street preacher'. "But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of tyrannus." Now that was not a theological school, there was just a public school there and Paul said, 'look, if I can't do it here in the synagogue, I'm going to go out on the streets and do it. All right, read for us acts 17:17. "Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the jews and with the gentile worshipers, and in the Marketplace daily with those who happened to be there." Well thank you. He's reasoning in the Marketplace.

Now, we know that Paul, as his custom was, wherever he was he would typically go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day - Paul was a Sabbath keeper. You can find that over and over again through the book of acts. But that's not the only time he preached. He would be sewing tents, preaching in the Marketplace. Are we sharing Christ in the Marketplace? Are we being witnesses? We've got to look for opportunities.

We try to keep some literature near our door and periodically - it happened twice this week - someone came by and wanted to talk us into changing our telephone service and they knocked on the door. And they visited with us for awhile and they haven't made a sale yet, but I said, 'look, we've got something for you. Do you guys like to read?' There's a young man, young lady that represented - oh, I guess I can tell you - at&t. And I said, 'well here, let us get you a book.' And so we reach around - I gave them each a book. And, you know, I think we ought to be armed as Christians.

You keep literature with you? It doesn't hurt - I mean, what's a person going to do? They're not going to, you know, stab you because you offer them a piece of literature - you're really not at risk. And just - people, sometimes they won't read it. You know, let's suppose one out of ten will at least look it over. That's good fishing if you catch one out of ten times you put your line down. And so, I think we need to just be willing to share Christ in the Marketplace.

There's a lot of different ways - and that engages a person in a conversation. Paul did this. He didn't, you know, necessarily set up a pulpit. I had some pictures here - yeah, here's a street preacher. You know, I wasn't sure - this was either london or New York - I'm really not sure, but you ever seen street preachers in cities? They - we do it - here at central - we used to go downtown - we'd feed the homeless and then we'd share a sermon and they were usually gathered around and they'd listen.

Then we started having permit problems for the feeding because we had such big crowds, actually. The city had problems with that and they pulled the permit. But I've been in New York city before - I've never done it there - and you'll see street preachers. They're not all preaching the Gospel - some of them are preaching some pretty strange things. And some of them are dressed up in some pretty interesting garb.

But I've seen them on 42nd street, you know where they've got some scandalous places of entertainment - and they'll stand right up there and they'll talk about repenting of your sins and Jesus is coming again and - I think, 'boy they're brave.' I've never done that - I mean, I've talked to people on the street but I've never got up on a soap box with a loud speaker and just started preaching. But - and Paul didn't do it exactly like that. If he had an audience he would, but he would kind of do it one on one and as the audience surrounded him maybe he got a soapbox out, I don't know. But this is really about the early church took off not because they were meeting in synagogues, where were they meeting? They were meeting in homes. And you can read also here in Philippians 4:16 where it says, "for even in thessalonica you sent once and again to my need.

" While Paul - he came down from Philippi to thessalonica - he was self-supporting - evidently the believers in Philippi - remember he and silas had been in jail there, they'd been whipped? When he went down to thessalonica they'd been kicked out of jail and they started preaching, they probably didn't have too much - they also gave him some support. So he was a self-supporting missionary and sometimes he got some outside support from the people in Philippi. But they worked out of homes. Someone look up for me acts 18, verse 7 - I'm in that section - hand right over here. Let's bring a microphone.

Acts 18, verse 7 and I'll read Romans 16, verses 3 to 5. Romans 16:3-5, he says, "greet priscilla and aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house." Do you have a church in your house? You know, all the early churches were house churches and that's why the Bible tells us that the early church leaders - it said, 'when you ordain elders they're to be the husband of one wife and if they do not rule their own family well, how can they rule the church of God?' Because their family often was hosting the church in their house so they needed to be an example. Does that make sense? And so these early churches - you know the city churches that do well they often have home groups that are also meeting during the week. If we're only meeting together once a week here, we're not going to be as healthy as when we meet together in smaller groups during the week.

So a healthy big church is only healthy because there are a lot of little churches in a big church. You know what I'm saying? You've got to almost have a lot of little home churches in a big church for the big church to be healthy. That's how it worked in Jerusalem. There were little synagogues in all the outlying communities then they'd get together at the temple on Sabbath. But often they'd gather together in the synagogues.

All right we had - I forget what verse I gave you - acts 18:7. "And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue." You know what happens here? Paul is booted out of the synagogue - you know he went there first and they said, 'no, no, no, you're going to tear our church apart. We don't want to hear these things. You don't - we don't want to hear' - you know there's one of a couple ways they reacted in the synagogue. When they went to berea their reaction was they studied the things that Paul said to see whether they were so.

They searched the Scriptures to see whether what Paul was saying was true. But then there's the reaction - who remembers what did the church leaders do when stephen preached to them? They plugged their ears and then, of course, they took him out of the city and they stoned him. Why did they plug their ears? Because stephen said, 'your Messiah came and you crucified him.' Can you imagine waiting for ,000 years for your Messiah - from the time of Abraham until Jesus it's about 2,000 years - and then to hear, 'yep, he finally came. That's the one you crucified.' Can you imagine, nationally, what devastation that would cause? So some reacted - nobody was ambivalent. Nobody was indifferent.

There was no middle ground reaction when Paul preached. Did you notice that? As he went from town to town there was either an explosion of believers and evangelism or opposition or both. And so when they kicked him out of the synagogue it says, "they went next door" - I wonder how they felt about that - "to the house of one named justus, who worshiped God." And they said, 'well, if you're not going to let us meet in the synagogue and there's some from the synagogue that believe, we'll just go next door and we'll meet there. So they were meeting in the houses. All right, someone read Corinthians 16:19 - I think I gave that to somebody.

Hand right here - gene. And while we're getting ready for that I'm going to read Colossians 4:15 - Colossians :15, "greet the brethren that are in laodicea, and nymphas and the church that is in his house." Did they have buildings on the street? Or were they gathering in people's homes? And, you know what we do in our community now? A lot of public schools - have you noticed that on Sunday a lot of public schools are also a church? Do you know why? In a lot of American cities, because of zoning restrictions, you are not allowed to have a church in your home. Did you know that? Now, if you have a Bible study in your home you might get away with that, but if you're doing it and you get too many cars, neighbors have complaints if all of a sudden people are gathering. :00 They start a prayer meeting, you've got 20 cars parked out on the street and everybody's singing and making noise and so some of the citizens started to complain. I can tell you case after case of churches that have been closed down because the zoning said you cannot meet in a house in certain communities and so a number of churches have lost that freedom.

So, they've got a big group they say, 'where do we go?' They say, 'look, we pay taxes, you're not using that public school on Sunday, we want to rent it.' So they pay a nominal fee and they use the school. All right, you're going to read for us 1 Corinthians 16:19. "The churches of asia greet you. Aquila and priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house." Is it pretty clear? Did Jesus meet in houses? Can you name some? All right, Peter's house. The Bible tells us he met at Peter's house in capurnaum - I'll repeat after you.

Who - Martha and Lazarus' house. Who else? Jesus I'm talking about particularly - yeah, they did go to the house of cornelius, that was Peter. Zaccheus' house - he said, 'today I must abide at your house.' What about Matthew? Did Jesus - after Matthew accepted Christ did he offer him a feast? There was a feast not only at Matthew's house - he goes to the house of a publican and then you find him at Simon's house who was a pharisee. So Jesus went to all kinds of homes and I think that's pretty strong evidence for meeting in church homes. We've run out of time friends.

I hope we've learned something along the way. We're still - now we're going to get into Thessalonians next time - really. We'll get like into the books of Thessalonians but boy, we've got good foundation now. Want to remind you we have a free offer - it's called 'a love that transforms' - we'll send it to you just for asking. Offer #710 - this study is really about the Gospel and you'll enjoy that.

You might want to get one and then give it to somebody. Offer #710 - call the number on the screen - 866-788-3966. God bless you till we study together again.

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