Third, Their Presentation to All Believers
A third sign of their election of God is their example to all believers. “ You became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1 Thess. 1:7). Paul cites two ways that they became examples. First, they were models of mission. “The word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia” (v. 8). They “sounded forth” God’s Word in Macedonia and Achaia. The verb “sound forth” [execheo] literally means “to make a loud noise from out of” something. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, 2278) They made a loud noise about the gospel. In A. Lopez, there is an annual village fiesta. But the fiesta music there is so loud that Rj and Dian cannot sleep. The sound system is right outside the house. The noise robs them of sleep.
The Thessalonians made such a loud noise of the gospel that it reached many places throughout Macedonia and Achaia. They were a missionary church, spreading the gospel in many places. The problem with some churches today is that they make a loud noise inside the church only; but they don’t make a loud noise outside of it. Some churches are so good in making loud music in church; but they are silent about the gospel outside of their church.
GGCF has sounded forth the gospel in Mactan, Bohol, Bacolod, and Toledo; we have planted about six churches in our history. Next year, we will make a loud noise in two more places in Cebu. We are not that good in making a loud noise of the gospel but we try. There’s a mega church in Cebu City—Bible Baptist Church. That church has planted more than 800 churches in its 70 year history. If only many churches will evangelize more and plant more churches, more people will come to hear the gospel and be saved.
Second, they were models of faith. “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, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (vv. 9-10). Their faith in God is their trust in a trustworthy God.
What is the substance of their faith in God? One, they turned toward God. It is a faith that turns to the true God from false gods and to the living God from dead idols. What kind of faith do you have today? Is it a faith that is God-centered?
In 1972, a young Egyptian businessman named Farahat lost an $11,000 watch. He was stunned when a garbage man dressed in filthy rags found it and returned it to him. Farahat asked him why he didn’t just keep the watch. The garbage man said, “My Christ told me to be honest until death.”
Farahat later told a reporter: ‘I didn’t know Christ at the time, but I told [the garbage man] that I saw Christ in him. I told [him], ’Because of what you have done and your great example, I will worship the Christ you are worshiping.’” Soon afterward, Farahat studied the Bible and trusted Christ as his Savior. He turned toward God and turned away from his idols of money and power. Later, he became an evangelist and church planter in Egypt.
Two, they turned away from idols. It is a faith that forsakes idolatry. Is your faith today a faith that rejects idols and images?
Three, they served the true and living God. It is a faith that serves the true, living God and not false, dead idols. Are you serving God today or false idols in your life?
Four, they waited for the coming of Christ. It is a faith that waits for the Son from heaven. Are you waiting and working for the Son today?
These four things—turning to God, turning from idols, serving God, and waiting for the Son—signify conversion. When I became a Baptist, they asked me why I converted to Baptist. But in the NT, conversion is a turning from spiritual adulthood to spiritual childhood in Christ in order to enter the kingdom (Matt. 18:3). It is a turning from Christless-ness to Christ such as Epaenetus, “who was the first convert to Christ in Asia” (Rom. 16:5). Conversion for the Thessalonian is the act of turning to God, turning from idols, serving God, and waiting for the Son.
I hope and pray that GGCF Toledo will be a model of faith in God. I pray that we will bring in converts to Christ—people who turn to God, who turn from idols, who serve God, and who wait for the Son.
In summary, the signs of their election are their reception of the gospel, their imitation of Christ, and their presentation to the believers.
Have you responded to the gospel? Have you believed in Christ as your savior? have you turned to God from idols to serve him and wait for his Son? Are you imitating Christ now? Are you an example to other believers?
If you say yes to these questions, then I say with Paul that you are one of those chosen by God. You are a member of the elect of God.