Sunday, October 14, 2018

Evidence of a New Birth

Last week began I Thessalonians

Background = Paul and Silas, 2nd. missionary journey (Acts 17)

Church start leads to contention & riots leads to night time departure, Timothy's return --> report 1 1/2 years later --> Paul's letter

Begins with commendation- 1 Thess. 1:2-3 - work, labor, endurance
moves to a Bold Statement!!  1 Thess. 1:4


Reasons:  1 Thess. 1:5-10 - we know because you...
      A.  experienced (power of message, presence of God, conviction of Holy Spirit
      B.  welcomed (the message)
      C.  turned (from idols to God)
      D.  imitated (us, the Lord)
      E.  became (models, messengers)

Examples:  Jesus says "by their fruits...."  (Matt. 7:15-16 - false prophets)
                 Paul says "I see evidence of the New Birth" - of your faith, of your growth

NOTE - true conversion is more than choosing a religion, choosing a moral, ethical standard.  When are following Christianity, are accepting a person.

True conversion includes a work of God/Holy Spirit, a change of mind, heart, being, status, focus, affection(s) which result in a change of actions, behavior, lifestyle - a consequence of changed heart and mind, encounter with God.

So, on one hand we can't Know, however, can look, examine, assess the conversion.

Beware of the tendency to examine ONLY OTHERS!!!
1 Cor. 13:15 - are you in the faith??  How are you doing in the faith?

Evidence of the NEW BIRTH 

I.  The Experience - (power, presence of God, conviction of Holy Spirit)
(Experience is not the ONLY measure ..... however, - part of a valid measure)

"conviction" - John 16:8  is more than mind alone, = deep certainty!!
Convict = convince
The experience varies widely , may not be all at once, may creep up.  Nevertheless = personal encounter with God, Christ, Holy Spirit

II.  The Welcome  (the message)
May not be all at once!!  However, begins with openness and ends with embracing, receiving, welcoming

Note:  Counting cost!!  "in spite of severe suffering"
Luke 14:25-33  (reluctant surrender?  - Example:  C S Lewis

III.  The Turning - 1 Thess. 1:9-10  (Biblical word = Repentance)
"from...."  cultural, social, familiar beliefs and lifestyle
"to..." God and His proscribed lifestyle!!

"to serve God" is more than merely worship.  "to wait for His return" - is our Hope!!

IV. The Imitation - (how am I supposed to act?)  Because it IS the experience, it IS the heart!!!
BUT also - subsequent lifestyle!!
On one hand, nobody is perfect - don't always get it right
But, are issues of intentionality, effort, correction, continuity - Christ-like, little Christs

V.  The Becoming - 1 Thess. 1:7-8
become models of the faith
become messengers of the faith
Growth can be slow, can be often interrupted - BUT should be upward!!

(1)  Christians - the message must be proclaimed in order to be heard - Rom. 10>14
      (your assistance int this?)
Shouldn't just live the Christian life, but must be promoting it!

(2)  Pre-Christians - the message must be heard, Christ must be embraced.

Closing Scripture:  Col. 2:6-7

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