And The Gospel Rings Out #1
By Bobby Blakey on October 29, 2023
1 Thessalonians 1:8-10
And The Gospel Rings Out #1
By Bobby Blakey on October 29, 2023
1 Thessalonians 1:8-10
I invite you to open the Bible and turn with me to the book of 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10. And we opened up to this passage back at Marina high school when this church began. Who was at a service at Marina High School? Raise your hand if you were. Okay. Who was never at Marina High School for church? All right, and that was it. So, the overwhelming majority have not heard what to some of us was a very like foundational and life changing study of First Thessalonians. If you look at how many people would gather in the bowl at Marina High School, versus how many people gather together now, to hear one of our servants, it is over 1000 more people, who are hearing the word now, then back then. And so we want to make sure we all understand. What do we expect the word to be doing at our church? And I took a little stroll down memory lane this last week, because I knew this was going to be our last time opening the Word here together in this box, and I counted up that I have done this over 381 different services, different sermons in this room. And that doesn't count what all the other pastors here have preached. But I've preached over 381 sermons. And if you add up how many services that is, because most of those weeks it was three services. I've done this personally over 1000 times where we've opened up the Bible here, and out… No, no, we're not clapping for that. Because that means this is the last one, right? So, when you've done it 1000 times, and then it comes down to one time. It's like, well, what can I say that would really be like, whoa, this is the last thing we want to say. I mean, there are people who have gotten saved. In this room, there are people, this is where they found their church family was when they started coming in here. God has been doing something, how do we think about that when we think about it here in 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10. And out of respect for God's word, I'm going to ask if everybody would stand up for the public reading of Scripture. And I want you to give this your full and undivided attention. If you've heard this before. I'm hoping this will be a refreshing reminder, and if this is a new text for you, I mean, this is really what our church is all about right here. First Thessalonians chapter one, verses eight to ten.
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. 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.
That's the reading of God's Word, please go ahead and have your seat. And you can see there the phrase, the word of the Lord sounded forth. And that's what we have been asking Jesus to do here in Huntington Beach, before we even had a church here in Huntington Beach, we have been praying that the word of the Lord would sound forth. And so, there is if you’ve got the bulletin, there is a handout there if you want to take some notes. And the first thing that you could write down is the Word of the Lord equals the gospel. That's what we want to define it as here. That's why you can see there on your bulletin, we've got the title, And the Gospel Rings Out. And the gospel rings out is just another way to say the Word of the Lord sounds forth. So, this isn't just the entire Word of Scripture, although all of scripture is profitable for teaching, and all of Scripture does point to Jesus Christ, but specifically the Word of the Lord, the Word of Jesus. That's what we want to sound forth. This is the good news. This is the message of the gospel. And so, from the very first day of this church until this day, we are asking everyone who will listen to us a question, what is the gospel? Is that a question that you can answer? We have found it to be very common where we live, that someone will tell you I'm a Christian. I'm a believer in Jesus. Well, that's exciting. Well, let me ask you a question. What is the gospel? And then they cannot tell you what the gospel is. How can you believe in something that you cannot even clearly articulate what you believe? And so, what is the gospel? That's the question we want you to be able to answer if there was there in the handout, the question what is the gospel? Could you write down and answer what the gospel is? I know what I believ in, I believe, and what would you say then? Every single person at this church needs to have an answer to the question, what is the gospel .
Turn with me to Acts 17. And let's go to how this church began in Thessalonica. Acts 17 gives us the backstory, it says, “The word of the Lord sounded forth from you, from the people in this church.” What does Paul mean by that? He's writing them this letter to follow up with them. What is he referring to? Well, if you go to Acts chapter 17, you we get the account of what happened when Paul went to Thessalonica and started preaching the gospel there. So, this is Acts 17:1-2, “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” So, if some of us got to go through the book of Acts together, and we saw what Paul's custom was, he knows they would be opening the Hebrew Scriptures in the Jewish synagogue, so he would join them. And then from those scriptures, he would start with what those scriptures say, and the prophecies that would point to who Jesus is and what Jesus is going to do. And so, here's a great definition of the gospel here in Acts 17:3, this defines what Paul's teaching was, he's “explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And so, he's got here the three essential elements of the gospel, if you're taking notes, you should definitely put this down. The gospel is, first of all, Jesus is the Christ, he is the Messiah is another way to say, Christ, it means God's Anointed One, God's Chosen One, he is the one that all the prophecies have been about. And what is he coming to do? Well, he's coming to suffer, he's coming to die on the cross, to take the penalty of our sin, and then he's going to rise from the dead and offer everyone who believes in him a new, abundant, eternal life. And here's Paul, he's letting these Thessalonians know, I'm telling you, I know who he is. It's Jesus. He's the savior, Jesus is the Christ, He died and rose again.
So, the Gospel must include that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and he did die to pay for our sins. And then when he rose from the grave, see, that's what gives us hope of eternal life and being with him for evermore. And so, did you know that that's what the gospel was? I'm not asking do you know it now that we say what the gospel is? Did you know that when we originally asked it, what we found out is that a lot of people, they haven't really put their faith in the Gospel, they're believing in God. They're believing the Bible's true. They're trying to be a good person, but they're not trusting specifically, that my sin was paid for when Jesus died in my place. And the reason I have a new life today is because Jesus did not stay dead on the third day. Up from the grave, he arose with a mighty triumph, or his foes. And so, because of Jesus, I now consider myself dead to my old life of sin. And I now walk in newness of life because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Can I get an amen from the congregation on that? This is what we have to all believe. Everybody's got to know the gospel. And so that's what happened when Paul came into Thessalonica. And he preached that word of the Lord, this message about Jesus being the Christ who suffered and rose, and then look what happened. Acts 17:4, there was a lot that happened in this city, verse four, “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.” So, some of the Jews were persuaded to believe that Jesus is the Christ. A whole bunch of the Greeks believed that Jesus and it wasn't just Jew or Greek. It wasn't just male or female. There was a profound response of people's lives to this message of Jesus Christ. People believed in Jesus, and they changed how they were living to now live by faith in Jesus.
And then look, there was some opposition. But the Jews, it said, we're jealous. The Jews don't like all these people turning to believe in Jesus, and taking some wicked men of the rabble they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason in. Some of the brothers, some of these believers before the city authorities shouting. And look what they're shouting, these men who have turned the world upside down have come here also. So, this is what we mean by the Word of the Lord sounded fourth. Paul came and he gave the good news of who Jesus is, how he died, how he rose, a lot of people believed and other people they were upset that so many were believing, and they started a mob, they started a riot. And they said, these guys, they're flipping the script, they're turning it all around. They're flipping the world upside down. We can't let them do this. That's what happened, that Paul is referring to when he says the Word of the Lord sounded forth. There is a power when the gospel of Jesus, this is what we believe here at this church. When you drop the rock of Jesus, there's going to be ripple effects, there's going to be a big effect of the cause of the gospel going out.
And so, let's get this down for point number one: “Everyone here needs to hear the Word.” Every single individual soul in this room, anybody who's maybe traveling or home sick watching online this morning, anybody who can hear this sermon right now, you need to know that you know the gospel, you need to know that you have put your faith in Jesus. And when we say hear it, we don't just mean like you hear it with your ears as you're sitting here. We mean that you take it to heart, and you make it your own.
Go with me to Luke chapter 8. And let's talk about hearing for a minute. Because many people have heard the gospel preached even at our little church in Huntington Beach. I mean, when you do 1000s, over 1000 services, that means 1000s of people now have heard the gospel and we've seen some different responses to the gospel being preached here in Huntington Beach. And Jesus, he told us the kind of responses we would see in the parable of the sower, who sows the seed that is being thrown out. Here is this message of the gospel that hey, Jesus, he's the one he's the Christ. Hey, Jesus loves you so much. He laid down His life for you that sin that's been defining you, Jesus, he already paid for that, he's ransoming you from that, and that life, that new life that you want. Yeah, Jesus, he has that for you believe in him, and you will have eternal life. And so, that message of the gospel, the word of the Lord, that's the seed here and it says in Luke 8, “For when a great crowd was gathering people from town after town came to him. He said in a parable, A sower went out to sow his seed.” That's what happened. We're going to go preach the gospel in North Orange County. And here's what happened is the sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it, and some fell on the rock. And as it grew up, it withered away because it had no moisture, and some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it, and some fell into good soil and grew and yielded 100-fold. As he said, these things he called out, you can imagine Jesus proclaiming with a loud voice, He who has ears to hear, let him hear. See, here's Jesus saying, just because you can hear me doesn't mean you hear me say, are you the good soil? That the gospel has taken root in your heart, and is bearing fruit in your life? Can you say that along with Jesus, I too have died to who I used to be, and I too have a new life, I'm a new creation in Christ, the old is gone and be all the new has come. See, we've seen people and it's become no secret that I'm not a big fan of the crows that fly around this church. Maybe some of you know this about me. These macabre looking crows right with their cawing sound. Every time I see the crows, I think of what it says here where these birds come, and they snatch away the seed. I've seen people walk in here, hear the Gospel, and by the time they get in their car to drive out of here, they forgot what even happened here. It's like they didn't hear it, but it didn't really get to the soil of their soul. That's definitely happened here. And then I've seen a lot of people over the years respond very positively to the good news. Respond with joy. Like yes, this is hope this is peace. This is what I need, I would like this.
But see, sometimes when you say I'm going to live for Jesus, see the world these days, they don't really like that very much. And so, you want to go shine a light. Well, the darkness, it might not like that. And so there can be a lot of trials, when you want to turn around and follow Jesus with your life, there can actually be some persecution that can happen. There are definitely tribulations that tried to knock us down and get us to abandon the faith. And so that could be this, this rocky soil where it's hard, it's just gotten tougher than I thought. And then there's the thorny ground here where the thorns grow up. And that could be other relationships pulling us away from Jesus are all the pleasures of this world, all the material possessions of this life. Yeah, I'd like to live for Jesus. But there's so much I could be doing right now. So many other things I could get into, and it just chokes the faith. I've seen people think the world is better than Jesus. I've seen people think it's too hard to keep living as a Christian, not everybody who heard the gospel and said they want it to believe it has really stuck with it. But then there's the good soil, which is some of you that are here this morning, which is many people who have heard the gospel, and their lives have been changed. And now you won't even recognize them like I've been out to.
I remember I was doing our Partners, one-on-one discipleship program with this guy, this guy who used to frequent the rehabs here in Orange County, and then he started coming to our church, and this guy repented, this guy heard the Gospel, and something happened with him. And he was this on fire about Christian. I remember one day he and I, we were having some Chinese food at this restaurant. And I guess he used to work at this restaurant. And when we were going to talk and we're just doing our Bible study, one of the workers there comes and does a full 360 around our table. Just looking at the guy like, wait a minute, no, it can't be. No, is it? And he's just like, hey, hey, so and so? Is that you? And he's like, in the flesh brother. Right? It's like, yeah, it's the guy, and he's like, he can just tell, hey, something happened to you. It was almost like he wanted to start giving him a round of applause. Like, wow, you made it, man. We were all worried. But look at you now? It was like he could tell from the outside, that this guy had a new life on the inside, because he was no longer who he used to be. He was new in Christ. That's the power of the gospel message. It transforms lives.
And so, go back to 1 Thessalonians chapter 1. See, that's what we believe. We don't believe you can come to Huntington Beach, or Long Beach, or anywhere that you're going to go and preach the gospel, and then nothing would happen. That's not how the gospel works. The Word of the Lord sounds forth, it resounds, it echoes. That's the idea here when you get back to it. And Paul, he is not writing so much even here about specifically the power of the gospel, but he's writing specifically about the effect that gospel had on the people in Thessalonica, who heard the gospel. Look at how he describes it in 1 Thessalonians 1, go back to verse 5. He says, “because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” Like when I preached to you, I could tell it wasn't just me talking, there was a power to you guys, you were convicted of your sin. The Spirit was working in you. Look at what he says in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, he says, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” See, he's like, I'm so glad that you guys saw, it wasn't just some man speaking. It wasn't Paul up there telling jokes and stories or his personal opinion. No, this was Paul just telling you a message not from him, but a message from God himself, the good news of heaven, that needs to spread all over the earth, that Jesus is the Son of God, and he loved you to die for you. And he rose to give you a new life. And then when you heard that, you heard it for how it really is God's Word. See, and God's Word is doing a powerful work in you.
So, I mean, we've answered the question, what is the gospel? What were maybe the question is, what is our church really about? If somebody asked you Hey, that church you know, the one over there by the bounce house place what is that church? It's, oh, yeah, the one on Argosy if they said what is that you are all about? Oh, let me tell you. This is a place where they believe it's God's word. And they believe that the word of God will cut straight to the thoughts and intents of our heart that the Word of God will speak to our souls. That's all we're trying to do is let the Word of God go in a straight line through every person here in this church, and that you would see, oh, that's not the pastor's word. That's not that preachers word. That is God's Word.
And so, look back at 1 Thessalonians 1:8, because when the Word of the Lord sounded forth, notice what it says here, the word of the Lord sounded forth from you. So, when he says, the word of the Lord sounded forth from you, he's not even talking about when he came to town, and he gave the gospel, he's talking about the echo that came from the people who heard the gospel. So, we’ve got the Greek word here, we can throw it up here on the screen, it's execheo you can hear how ex is kind of a prefix that means out of or from, and then echeo is you can hear the word echo in that. So this word means the Word of the Lord echoed from you, or rang out, or it resounded. That's where we got this idea of the ever-widening concentric circles. That's where we get the idea here of the ripple effects, like, hey, you heard it, and then it did something in you. God's word, it's working in your life. And then from you now, there's this echo of the gospel.
That's what was remarkable about the Thessalonian church. That's why Paul is saying that this church is an example to all churches, that these people when they heard the Word, it had such a profound effect upon them, it changed the way they lived. It changed the way they talked, that it's not just like they heard the word. It's like there was this echo effect that rang out from them. And you can see here, the echo effect is powerful. It goes throughout Macedonia and Achaea, their faith is being talked about everywhere. Paul goes, people are telling him about what happened at that church, he is not even given the praise report to other people, people are reporting to him about how they responded to the Gospel message. And I'm so thankful that I can say not only have I been here, preaching for over 1000 times in this room, but people in this room have not only heard the Word of the Lord, it has echoed in your life. And if anybody asks, well, why is that church getting a bigger building? What are they? Are they selling out? Are they becoming a mega church? What's going on over there? Let's just make it very clear who's responsible? I blame you guys for this whole problem, okay? Because what has happened is you have been changed, you have been transformed. There are many people at this church that are not who they were. The first time we talked about First Thessalonians, many of you, I mean, this gospel message, it's radically redirected the trajectory of your entire life. And people who know you, they know that you heard the gospel.
And so, notice the Word of the Lord sounded forth from what from you! And then look at 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Here's something specific that people are telling Paul, about this church, here's what other people know about the Thessalonians. “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.” So, you used to be worshipping idols, but you've turned around from that. And now you're going in a different direction. Now you're serving the living and true God. So, people know like, the entire kind of identity of who you used to be about you used to be into these idols, well, now you're about God. And people know that about you, because they've seen a 180 degree turn around in your life.
And So point number two here is” “The word of the Lord doesn't stop, it changes our lives.” It's not just that we hear the Gospel, and we believe in the gospel, and we're saved by the gospel, no, then we are transformed by the power of the gospel. Believing is just the beginning of the Christian life. So many Christians in Southern California act like I've already been there. I've already done that. I've already believed I'm already good to go, I know the gospel. It's not like you just believe it at some point and then it stops the gospel. It continues to have a transformative effect on who you are. It changes you from the inside out, it turns you used to identify with this, you used to be all about that, you used to never get enough of this. And now you're over here and you're loving people you didn't even used to like, you're saying no to temptations that used to own you, and you're doing things you used to never be interested in. But now there's good things, you can't get enough of in your life. See, that's what the idea is, wow, people know the turnaround that happened in your lives. That's what it's saying. And so, when the Word of the Lord sounds forth, there is power in the Word of God to work in our hearts, the word of God. And when we have this Word of Christ, dwelling in us richly, it leads to a change in the way that we conduct ourselves.
Go with me to John 17. Turn with me to when Jesus prayed for his disciples in John 17, Jesus, he actually prayed for us, he prayed for all who would believe in him. And here's one of the things that Jesus prayed in John 17:17, he prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your Word is truth.” So, Jesus, he told the disciples, I'm going to leave you and that really concerned them. But he said, hey, I'm going to send my spirit to you. And Jesus said, and you're going to have my Word with you, and the Word is going to sanctify you. So, sanctify is a word that means to set you apart. It sets you apart from the world around you from who you used to be. And it sets you apart for the purpose of God. Specifically, the idea of being sanctified means the idea of becoming holy, you're becoming more like God and less like you, you are on the decrease. Jesus is on the increase. That's the process of growing as a Christian sanctification, and what accomplishes that purpose. Well, Jesus prays to the Father, that he would set us apart by his truth. And where are we going to find that truth? Your Word is the truth. See, this is why we are Compass Bible Church. This is what we believe is happening here at our church, we are bringing the word through this church and the word of the Lord is doing its work. It's sounding forth, it's creating an echo in your life. That's what we believe that the Word is doing the work, the Word of God does not return void, like rain, when it comes in caves, life and waters, the earth when the word goes out, people's lives are changed. It is impossible to preach the Word of God and not see radical differences in the way people live. That's the claim of the Scripture. And that's what Jesus was praying for.
Go back and let's get the full context of this prayer. Look at John 17:13. “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world” So this is Jesus, praying to the Father on the night before he dies. And he's saying, I'm coming to you. So, I'm speaking this, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:14-18 “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world just as I am not of the world, Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth as you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world and for their sake, I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” And then he says, John 17:19, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word that they may all be one just as you are father are in me.” So, he didn't just pray for the disciples there that night. He prayed for you, for everybody here who believes in the Word that Jesus gave to those disciples, that has now been passed down for two thousand years to us on the other side of the world, from Jerusalem, if you believe the word that Jesus is praying that you would be sanctified by the word.
See that that's what we think is when the Word goes out, the Word it cuts straight to the thoughts and intents of your heart. The word speaks. Do you realize how many people have said to me over the years like you were looking straight at me when you said that weren't you? Like people say weird stuff to me like did my wife talk to you like that? She lets you know is that why you said that in that that sermon? I don't know if you guys realize this, but since this is our last time we can just lay it all out here on the table. These lights are so blinding right here I can barely see half of you right now. Okay. And most of the time when people are like you were looking straight at me, you knew what was going on in my life. I'm thinking to myself, brother, I didn't even know you were in the room. You know what I mean? Like, no, it's not me trying to figure out where you're at, and then say something to match your life, God is speaking to you. God is speaking to you through his Word, don't give me the credit. I can't even see you with my physical eyeballs, much less know what's going on in the depths of your soul. But God, he cuts to your heart. And he speaks to who you truly are. People in this room, people have learned things about themselves that they didn't even know people have seen themselves more clearly, than they've ever been able to see themselves. It's almost like people realize that they had blinders on, and they couldn't see who they really were. And then they heard the word of the Lord. And that was the day they kind of honestly met themselves. And they're like, wow. And some people hear the word of the Lord, and it and it sets them apart. It's like, wow, if that's who I am, and this is who God is calling me to be, I can't stay the same. And I need Jesus to do his work in my life. And so, some people, there's different responses that people have to hearing who they are from the Word.
And go over to James chapter 1 where it describes those two different responses that you can have when the Word is heard. James here, he compares the Word to a mirror like we're holding up here, when we open up the Bible, we're holding up a mirror so you can see who you really are in the light of a holy God and the revelation of who God really is. This is who God really is. And this is who you are, by contrast, or in the light of him. And so, James, he describes it like this, James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” He's like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror, wow, look at my hair. Look, I got something in my teeth, or, hey, I’ve got to do something about what's going on here. And you see yourself for who you are in a mirror, James 1:24, he looks at himself and goes away, and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets, but a doer who acts, he, this one will be blessed in his doing. See, you can hear the word and it can show you who you are. And you can see, wow, there are some things that I need to get together in my life or in you, then you can just go and forget it. And you can go and be that seed where the birds come and they snatch it away, and nothing happens in your life. Or you cannot just be a hearer of the word but a doer of the word. So, one of the things that we've tried to do at this church, one of the things that I've intentionally sought to do in the preaching of God's word is make sure that we don't evaluate ourselves as people before God, based on a knowledge-based evaluation, like how much do you know about God? How much information do you have in your brain? How much doctrine or theology? Could you accurately recite? Or how many chapters and verses? Could you turn me to see yes, maybe you've heard all of that maybe you know, all of that intellectually, but we want to evaluate on an application-based evaluation, what are you actually doing with the knowledge of God? How is it actually changing you? How is it affecting the way you treat other people and the way that you conduct yourself? See, look back at James 1:22, there's something that can happen it but be doers of the word, and not hearers only. What does it say there, everybody? It says what? deceiving yourselves. See, there's this thing that happens that you come to church, and you hear about God and all of his glory. And you hear about the good news of the gospel. And because you heard it, you then you kind of think that you know it, and that's why so many church people are so arrogant when you meet them. It's why so many church people are hypocrites as you get to know them. It's because I've been around it. I've heard it, and therefore, because I have familiarity with it, because I've been in the environment with it, I think that because I have the information and I think the information is true, that therefore I'm all about it. But really, no, I'm self-deceived, because I don't really do it. It hasn't really changed me. There's not really a burning heart within me that I want to live for Jesus Christ. I just know about Jesus Christ.
And so that's what happens at a lot of places, is it's just like, well, we've heard this we know this, teach us something new, maybe something that we don't know the thing I love about teaching the Bible. Is it the good news never becomes old? Because do you know how to pray? Well, that's not really the question is if you know how to pray, did you ever pray a good prayer? The question is, are you praying to God like lives depend upon it? See, the question isn't do you know the gospel so that you believe that one day or have you ever shared the gospel with somebody? The question is like, is the gospel burning on your heart? Are you sad for lost people? Are you opening your mouth to speak the good news? The question isn't like, did you love Jesus at some point? Or was there a time you couldn't stop thinking about Jesus? Or was there a time that you could see your heart was passionate and in love with Jesus Christ? That's not the question was where you love in love with Jesus on a honeymoon? Back in the day, the question is, have you lost your first love for Jesus today? Where can you honestly say that I love Jesus more right now than I ever have in my life before? See, this never gets old, this Word of God is living and active. It's speaking not to who you were yesterday, it's telling you who God is calling you to be right here right now. And it has a transformative effect when you do what God says. And so that's what we believe. We believe if we continue to take a look in the book, if we continue to get our eyeballs in the Bible, if we continue to look at this, not just to hear it, but to give us marching orders to say, what are we going to go do about this? See, then we're going to see a mighty effect, an effect so real, so profound in your life, that even other people will be like, wow, that person has really changed. You know what that person I can tell they've been a Christian for a long time. But you know what, they're still growing. They haven't peaked. They haven't reached that plateau, I can tell that person. You know, I've known him for like five years. And I think they've been a Christian for like twenty to thirty years. But I think they love Jesus more now than they used to. That's what the Word does. It stokes the fires of our heart. And it renews the passions of our soul. It revives us, and it causes us to live. That's what the Word of God does when it sounds forth.
Go to 1 Thessalonians because that's what happened with these people. And I want to give you a perspective here of how far the impact of this church went. Because it says the Word of the Lord, we know what that is. That's the gospel. It sounded forth from you, we got that that's an echo. And I'm not even just a repeating of the gospel, but a powerful transformation in the lives of the people who heard the gospel that they're turning from who they used to be to a new way. But when it says it rang out from you, look what it says there in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, it says “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word and much affliction,” talking about the mob and the riot and the persecution that chased Paul out of Thessalonica. Yeah, it wasn't easy to believe the Word there, there was suffering, there was trouble. You receive the Word and much affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia. Now we've got a map here of Macedonia and Achaea that we're going to throw up here on the screen. Can you even see that in the back? Okay, so this screen is just like a cloth we threw up here one day, and we just got kind of a little projector right here. When we go to the new auditorium, you see what a screen can really do. Don't come to me and say we sold out because we've got a screen that works. Okay, everybody, because we want people to see maps. All right, but can you see that in the back Macedonia and Achaea, it's the modern day country of Greece is what it is. This is not like a couple of little towns around Thessalonica like that, even the neighboring villages, no, this is like the whole country. Now there weren't as many people at that time as there are in the world today. But what he's trying to say by Macedonia and Achaea, which is basically the modern day country of Greece, which is the area over 50,000 square miles in area, similar to the area we live in Southern California, like there was such a profound effect of the gospel on these people that everybody in the whole territory knew what Jesus was doing. See, there was the echo. Well, it wasn't just even in their personal lives, so that their lives changed or their family changed. But it was like a far-reaching area knew what God was doing through the gospel message of Jesus, in this church of people. Church is not just for people who go to church. Church is supposed to spread out to everybody. And that's what you see. That's why he says, you are an example of a church to these people. This is what churches should be. I don't know what kind of churches you've been a part of. But look here in verse 7, where he says that this church, this church, that according to Acts 17, he was at for three Saturdays where he was able to preach to them before he got chased out of town. But there was such a powerful response to the gospel among these people that they're now an example of how a church should be. Look what these people are saying, verse 8, “The word of the Lord sounded forth from you and Macedonia and Achaea.” And then he just says, “Your faith and God has gone forth everywhere.” And you could say, well, that's a little Pauline hyperbole there to say they're talked about everywhere. But I think what he's saying, keep reading here with me, “so that we need not say anything for they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you.” Like, everywhere I go, people are telling me what's going on with you guys in Thessalonica. Like Paul's not going around, like a missionary, giving a praise report, I went to this city, I preached the gospel, here's what happened. No, people are coming and telling Paul, hey, we heard about your time in Thessalonica. Wow, what an amazing work of God there. What a church that's being built up there. Wow, the Word of the Lord. It really sounded forth in Thessalonica. Paul's like, I don't have to tell people, people are coming and telling me. See, that's, that's the example here of this church.
The point number three, we can get it down like this: “The Word doesn't stop with us, it spreads to others.” The word doesn't stop with us, it spreads to others. See that? That's why this whole idea of being a small church. Let's think that through. How does that really work to have a small church, maybe there would be a small church in a small town or a small village, maybe a church would be small when it began. But if people are believing in the good news of Jesus, and people's lives are being radically changed, so they're not who they used to be? How is there not going to be an overflow of that? How is that not going to spill out? How are people not going to be like, wow, I'm a new person. And people that work with them notice, people that live next to them notice, their friends from back in the day, their family members, when they get together? They're like, wow, I noticed you're not doing this anymore. You do seem to be spending a lot of time at that church, how does it not come up in normal everyday conversation? See the Word filled the whole country of Greece, and filled Macedonia, and something is happening with these people over here, these Jesus people, these different people, and everybody's talking about it? And so that's why when the question is, why are we moving to a new auditorium? The answer is, I blame you. And maybe not everybody here, but a lot of you here at this church. Because some of you, you are so fired up. You're so excited. I mean, this is the thing is the word of the Lord is going to sound for Jesus is going to build his church, you can be as lazy, as complacent, as indifferent as lukewarm as you want. This is what Jesus is doing. And no one's going to stop Jesus from building his church. And some of you get a glimpse of this and you get excited about this, and you cannot be stopped. You are accosting strangers at the gym telling them how awesome Jesus is. And if they really want to get a workout, they should come here to this church, right? That's what's happening. I'm meeting gym friends, I meet neighbors, every weekend, I'm meeting people. And you want to know that why they got here because you were excited. And your persistence in inviting them overcame their resistance and not wanting to come. And then here they are. And so many of them have come that some of them have decided to keep coming. Some of them have heard the Word of the Lord. Some of them have been saved by the power of the gospel. Some of them are now going to the gym and telling other people about Jesus Christ. That's what's happening. The gospel is spreading, the ripple effects are ringing out what we said was going to happen at Marina High School has now happened here in Huntington Beach. And I know this one family, for example. They were coming to our church all the way from deep in the heart of LA County. They're driving down here to this church and these people, they're bubbly. They're friendly, they get excited about Jesus. And I remember after one of our sermons on Acts, I walked right up to him, and I said, hey, you know what, you guys live so far away. You're inviting people to our church. They don't even know where we are. That's so far from where you live. I bet if you guys moved closer, you would bring a lot of people to church. Guess what they did? Based on that sermon based on that statement, they moved right down the street, everybody. And guess what's happening now? They're bringing people here to this church? Because they're fired up. Like how could they not tell everybody they know who they know and what he's doing in their life? See, this is we are on a mission and the mission is not to go to church. The mission is to be the church and to bring the church to everybody because everybody needs to be the church of Jesus Christ. And so if you want to be a part of a church, where we hunker down and we make church about us, you will be disappointed by your experience here at this church, because the Word of the Lord isn't just for a select group of people, the Word of the Lord is to sound forth. And our faith is to be known everywhere. And we're here to fill 50,000 square miles with the name of Jesus Christ
Go to Luke 24. This is how Jesus said it. Maybe you know, the Great Commission in Matthew 28, where Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations. Well, here, he says it a little differently. But it's the same idea in Luke 24. Maybe that becomes cliche to people that we're on a mission to make disciples. What that means is, I want to be a disciple, I want to grow and mature, I want to become more like Jesus. And then as I become a mature believer in Jesus, I want to take all that I've learned all that he's changed in my life, all that he's done in my family, and how he's changed how I do my work, and the work that Jesus is doing in me. It doesn't just stay with me; I want to pass it on to more people. That's the point of making disciples, to become a mature disciple, to mature as a disciple, and then to pass it on to other people who could become disciples. That is what we're here to do. Look at how he says it in Luke 24:46. And Jesus said to them, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,” and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem, you are witnesses of these things. See, everybody needs to hear the Word of the Lord. And everybody, they all nations, right, beginning from Jerusalem. And there's a lot of attention right now with what's going on in Israel and Gaza. And we are in the Scriptures told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And we're praying that many people are Jews and Muslims were praying that they would come to see Jesus, and believe in him with all the conflict that is going on. But when I go to Jerusalem, and I went there last summer with some of you, I've been blessed to go there several times to the city where Jesus died on the cross for me, and when I go to Jerusalem, and I tell them and I'm from Huntington Beach, they don't really know where that is. Hey, I'm from California. And they're like, Wow, they look at me, like you've come from the ends of the earth. That's what they look at me like, they're in Jerusalem, California, is how you and I might think of Australia, like that's way out there. That's far away. That's what they think about us. And here we are two thousand years later, at the ends of the earth. And we are witnesses, that what Jesus said right here, it's happened. The gospel is still going out. The Word of the Lord is still sounding forth. That's what we're saying, and repentance, this turnaround in your life, and the forgiveness that all of your sins have been paid for by the blood of Jesus, when he died in your place on the cross, that there is complete forgiveness for what you've done before God, and there is a whole new trajectory that you could go live now with Jesus, that is for everybody.
And we need to be about that message, we need to be spreading that Word of the Lord, the Word of the Lord is supposed to sound forth from the church, not just stay within the walls of the church. Thessalonians were an example of that. We want to be like that. You see, when I came to Huntington Beach, and I moved here with my family, and I had some friends that were willing to move here with me and we started this church. We did this because of 1 Thessalonians 1:8. First Thessalonians 1:8, it was like what compelled us, we believed that if you went here and you preach the gospel, people would get saved. We believe that God would create a family, a church family, where people would come to know one another and love one another. But to be honest with you, and we came, and we were praying for people to get saved. And we were praying that those people that God saved, they would come together and really care about one another. I honestly believed that that would happen. But if I'm going to be honest here today, God has done much more than what I asked, much more than what I thought he was going to do. Like I had some level of faith in what the gospel could do. Yeah, he showed me it can do way more than what I think so. I mean, there are people so many people have been saved here at this church. It's hard for me to keep track of how many people's lives, not just people who would say they're safe, but their life has really changed. And there are people at this church, they are my brothers and I'm not talking about my actual brother who's here at the church.
I'm saying I know these people, like I have only known them for a few years, but I am closer to them than people I've known for my entire life than people I've known for decades. And the reason I'm closer to them is they are my brothers in Christ. And God has brought us together. And so that I had some faith in the Word of the Lord. But now God is showing the Word of the Lord, it can do more than what we think it can do. And the Thessalonian church is meant to be exemplary, meant to be inspirational. Look, he just went for three Saturdays, preaching the gospel, and the whole space of the country of Greece knew about the people believing in Jesus. Wow, could something like that happen here? I mean, the truth is one of the things I didn't expect to happen it when we dropped the rock of Jesus and the ripple effects started to go out. We weren't even planning that so many people would come from Long Beach and Lakewood and LA County, down here to our church in North Orange County. But like when I moved here, I was down with Seal Beach. I was like, Fountain Valley, that does look like a nice place to live. I was like Garden Grove. I'm feeling it Westminster. I'm getting to know it. I heard about this place called Stanton, it was hard for me to figure out where that was at first, right? But I met some people from there. I wanted to know about Stanton found the In-N-Out Burger than I knew how to get there. Right. So, I mean, I started learning the territory. But when we were building the map, when we were looking at the area, like the airport in Long Beach, and Lakewood, and that whole territory of all those people who live in that area that wasn't even on our map. It wasn't even on our RADAR. And there are hundreds of people who have come to this church there. And they are now a part of this church body and they come from that area. And so, you can see like, not only do we need to grow and reach more souls here, we need to plant a whole new church there. And you know what? Now, I'm confident that if we started preaching the gospel in Long Beach, guess what would happen? The word of the Lord, it would sound forth, and lives would be changed. Because people are like, well, I don't know about Long Beach. Have you been there much? So that's kind of a sketchy. I mean, you know, it sometimes even especially Orange County, people will talk about LA County people or LA County people will talk about Orange County people. Have you been a part of these awkward conversations before? Especially when they're at church like, whoa, hey, Long Beach. I don't know, I don't know about Long Beach. Hey, here's what I do know, I know about the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I know who my Jesus is. And I don't think Long Beach stands a chance against the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's not about the place. It's about Jesus.
Go back with me to 1 Thessalonians 1:8, because that's what people got about this. It wasn't just that they heard this message. It wasn't just that they believed the message. It wasn't just that their lives were changed. No, look at what it says here in verse 10. Look. So remember now this is what other people are telling Paul, about what happened when he went to Thessalonica. So, this is what the report is from other people. This is not Paul's report. This is other people's report to Paul, that people know you've turned around, you're no longer worshipping those idols, you're serving the living and true God. And then here's what people know about you. You wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. See, what they were known for, at this church is they were known to be a particular group of people, a Jesus people. And this church specifically, they thought Jesus was going to come and get them and take them home. And they were ready. They were waiting. They believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead, he had ascended to the right hand of the Father, he had all the authority, he had been given the name that is above every name as Lord. And at any moment, Jesus is going to return and he's going to get all who believe in him. That's what they believed. In fact they believe this so strongly, that when someone in their church died, this is what the Thessalonians thought they were like, oh, no, so and so just died. If they could have just lived a little longer, maybe Jesus would have come and got them before they died. It's like the complete opposite of the way we think today. Here we are two thousand years later, and most people today at church expect to die rather than Jesus come back when this church expected Jesus to come back rather than to die. That's how they thought about. In fact, you can go to chapter 4, verse 13, where Paul has to answer that question in their mind. Because he said, he says here in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, “We do not want you'd be uninformed brothers about those who are asleep.” That's the nice way to say here that they have died, that you may not grieve as others do, who have no hope for since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, since we believe the gospel, even so through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep, or those who have died. “For this, we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have fallen asleep” or died, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” And so, we will always be with the Lord, therefore, encourage one another with these words, hey, don't worry about those who died, they're going to be there. And in fact, they're going to rise first. And then those of us who are left alive, he Paul's not saying, hey, you guys need to rethink this whole Jesus coming back thing. He's not saying that at all. He's saying, don't you worry about those who died, they're going to rise, they're going to be there. But those of us who are alive when Jesus comes back, we will be caught up, we will meet the Lord in the air. And from that point, we will always be with the Lord forever. And that's what we're supposed to encourage one another with these words. See, this Thessalonian church, they weren't like, oh, we had a good start, or oh, we're different people. They were a faith-based forward-looking future-oriented people and what the main thing they were waiting for hoping for wanting hadn't happened yet. And that was when they were going to be with Jesus.
Point number four: “The word won't stop until we see Jesus.” The Word won't stop until we see Jesus, that's the goal. Somebody said, Maybe Jesus will come back before we get in this new building, I would love to be a part of that, right? I mean, I'm ready for Jesus to come back. That's supposed to be the driving motivation. That's supposed to be what we're looking for. These people were known for waiting for it. And I can tell you that one of the things that has happened, and this was something I didn't see coming from being a part of this church is I didn't see how people would come here. And then they would die. And how people would get relocated from Huntington Beach to God's presence, and Heaven and the more people that I know from this church, as my brother and sister, and then they die in the faith, the more people I know now who are in heaven, the more my heart longs to be there myself. And the more I think about heavenly things, and less about worldly things, see, it's become more clear to me now, what the goal is. The goal is yes, we want to see people get saved. Yes, we want to be the church. And we want the Word of the Lord to sound forth. But the goal is we want to all graduate from here to there, we want to go from living by faith. Yes, Faith comes by hearing. And we need to spread the Word of the Lord, so people can believe faith comes by hearing, but faith becomes sight. And that is the goal of faith, is to see the one that we love. That is the goal that we are striving for. That's why we’ve got to keep going until we get there, until Jesus comes to get us or until we die and our soul leaves our body to go be with him. No, I want to be with Jesus. And I'm here to encourage you with these words, hey, we've just begun here in Huntington Beach. We don't know when Jesus is coming back. But we're going to be ready for him to come back. And until we die, or until Jesus comes back, we are waiting and looking to him. That is our heartbeat. That has to be your passion. This can't just be a changed life. This can't just be a church of people. It has to be about Jesus Christ in your heart, that you would love him that you would want to be with him. And that you would encourage one another in that love.
I remember, I remember there was a time where one of our guys was doing parking right out here. And he was waving people in as we wave people in on Sundays, and like a man turned in here, and he parked and he didn't even know why. But that's just because the parking guy was waving at him. And then he found out it was a church. And so, he came and checked out the church and I remember meeting this guy and I remember he got plugged into one of the fellowship groups and he starts coming to our church just because one of the parking guys. God bless the parking guys, right? And I remember I preached a sermon one time about heaven. And the guy came up to me and had a very troubled look on his face. And he's like, yeah, I really had a hard time with that sermon. And I thought it was a super encouraging sermon about heaven and the hope that we have, why would you be troubled? And the guy said, because I don't see myself going there. I don't see myself being there. And so, we did this men's retreat, and he came to the men's retreat. And I remember on the morning that we were leaving the men's retreat, on the last morning we were there, he was there with just a few of the other guys. And he started to share with them the deep things of his soul. And they were praying together, and they were sharing the gospel with him. And he came back from that men's retreat. And he was letting everybody know, I didn't know what I didn't know until I knew. And now I know. And he was so excited. And he was sharing with everyone what had happened. And, and it was a great story. And that's the kind of thing I would expect that God would save people, and God would even bring people together in the church. But then something happened. And this was the part I didn't see coming, the part where we found out that he had a very aggressive form of cancer, and he was going to pass away within just a few days. And so you realized that God had that guy see one of our parking guys, and coming here, so we could go to heaven, because God knew he was going to go there very soon.
And see, that's the part I didn't I didn't see that clearly when we started this church, that there are souls that are hanging in the balance all around us. And that when they do come to believe, and they do become a part of the family, and you can see their face, and you know them by name, and you love them, and then they get the joy, the rapture, the delight of going to be with the Lord, you realize that is the purpose. That is the goal, not just that we would believe in Jesus, and be the church here, but that we would be with Jesus there. That is the goal. And the Lord has added to the number of souls in heaven through the Word of the Lord sounding forth here in Huntington Beach, and people know that about you. Do people know that you are a part of a group of people, a particular group of people, the people of Jesus, the people who are believing that Jesus is the King, that he's coming back to reign, that he is right now even building his kingdom, and we are a part of it. And we can't wait to be with him. See, that's what these people were known for. They are our example. They are the people that we want to be here in Huntington Beach, we want the word of the Lord to sound forth, we want the gospel to ring out. And so maybe you understood this already. And this could be fresh wind in your sails. Maybe you're newer to our church. And this is giving you more of an idea of what the vision is. But we want now not just hundred of us to be on the same page like we were at the beginning. We want now another thousand of us to all be praying, Lord, send out your light, send out your truth, Lord, let it happen. Like it happened with the Thessalonians, let it happen here in Huntington Beach. Let the word of the Lord sound forth, I want to be a part of the echo. I want to be one of your people. I want to see the ripple effects of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's pray.
Father, we thank you that you planted this church here with this verse as our theme. And we thank you for all that we have seen here in this room over thousand services that I've been able to be a part of, we thank you for the word of the Lord sounding forth for the study of it and Thessalonians, for the reality of it here. And Father, we just want to make it very clear that all the glory, all the praise, all the honor for all the souls that have been saved, for all the people who have been sanctified in their life has changed for all the times that the word of the Lord is spreading. We give Jesus Christ all of the glory. And we want his name to be the name that is known. We want his name to be lifted high. We want to set Jesus apart in our hearts with love. That is our driving passion is our love for Jesus. And we want more people to come and see, we want more people to have ears to hear. We want you Father to open the eyes of more souls so they can know Jesus like we know Jesus. So, Father, we pray that your Word would sound forth; we ask a God Almighty that the gospel would ring out in Southern California. And we ask that you would send out your light that you would send out your truth and you would draw many souls to Jesus Christ. And so, Father, please let your word go forth. Let it run ahead. Let the gospel of Jesus be on the move here among us. We pray this in his name. Amen.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.