Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” (Acts 17:2-3 NKJV)
I intended to begin writing about 1 Thessalonians today, but realized that to do so I needed to begin in Acts, Chapter 17, where the contentious planting of the church in Thessalonica is fully described. Google “church planting” and you’ll find more resources, ideas and information than you can possibly sift through in a lifetime. Paul had three resources when he entered the capital city of Macedonia, and the effect of these resources remains today.
Verse 1 says — Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica… In any work we begin for God, it is critical to remain sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. God often pre-softens stony hearts to be receptive to the Gospel as He did for Paul’s work here. Paul’s discernment carried him through many places before he arrived at the specific place where God had a plan in place. It is easy to convince ourselves we can decide what God wants done and where He wants it done without ever asking Him for input, and thereby miss the blessing He has planned. When we do this we end up with our ministry to which we attach His name. Paul wisely kept walking until the Lord revealed the spot where He wanted to establish a new church.
Paul reasoned with them from the scriptures. Paul’s scriptures weren’t like ours. He had only what we call the Old Testament. For him it was the Only Testament. Could you sit and reason with someone, could you make reasonable representations that Jesus was the Messiah from the Old Testament alone? Many quasi churched people we encounter have no idea that the Old Testament is about Jesus. From shadows and types like Boaz in the Book of Ruth who was Ruth’s kinsman redeemer as a type for Christ, our Kinsman redeemer. to the specific details of the birth, life, death and resurrection found in the Psalms and Isaiah, the Old Testament points to Jesus. We are equipped with Paul’s scriptures, plus so much more. Have you equipped yourself to reason with others from the scriptures?
In Philippians 4:16 we read — For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Paul didn’t just go, He was sent, both by God and by the church in Philippi. The success of any missionary is greatly increased with sufficient funding and prayer support from sending believers. Many are called to Christ’s Gospel mission, but more are called to support with prayers and funding. Do you support missionaries with prayers and funding? Ask God to reveal a missionary for you to support and begin sending a monthly check. Even small support can produce huge Gospel results in the distant reaches of the Gospel. If you can’t be a go-er, become a sender.
If you are following the leading of the Holy Spirit, you have been strategically placed by God in a Gospel opportunity. Paul got busy in Thessalonica — explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” Today, to whom are you explaining and demonstrating that Jesus is the Christ? Have you abandoned God’s mission for one of your own liking?