The Viral Gospel: 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

Good morning Gathering

It’s such an honor to be with you this morning and it really is a gift to gather as God’s people in His presence like this.

We are continuing in a study that began last weekend of 1 Thessalonians. So, if you have a Bible with you, I’d invite you to turn there with me.

We’ll be looking specifically at 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 this morning.

I think that all of us have a tendency to come into a church gathering and sort of go through the motions. To take this time for granted. I want to encourage you to recognize how sacred this time is for us this morning.

We get to approach The Word of God — which is God’s revelation to us about who He is & what He’s done & what that means for our lives.

We approach this living, active, breathing love letter from God. The thing that shapes us & molds us & corrects us & trains up. The thing that leads us into righteous.

We get to do that together as God’s people and see God move in our midst. As He changes us for His glory.

Brother & Sisters, this really is a sacred opportunity this morning


I want to spend some time this morning talking about THE VIRAL NATURE OF THE GOSPEL.

The concept of a virus that spreads rapidly should be one that we all understand pretty clearly right now given the dominant news around the world.

If you turn on any news outlet a lot of what you see is coverage of the Coronavirus.

The point for us is that the entire world is talking about this epidemic that could likely become a pandemic that’s spreading fear throughout the world. It’s almost like we’re conditioned toward fear whenever a new virus emerges.

As the virus spreads there’s fear, There’s uncertainty, There’s death. Well, this is how God designed the gospel to spread to the ends of the earth, But with a disease you have fear & death the gospel brings HOPE & LIFE.

The Apostle Paul gives us a picture of the viral nature of the gospel and how it spreads. He shows, how you and I are meant to be carriers of the gospel who infect people around us with our actions & with our words.

That’s what I want to look at today

I’d like you to hold onto this principle as we work our way through the text

PrincipleThe gospel comes to us in power, it transforms us and then causes us to live radically transformed lives as it moves through us to people around us

In other words when the gospel invades the human heart, we’ll see is a movement of God upon us.

Which, He initiates with us, When that happens, it never leaves us alone it never leaves us the same. It radically transforms us at the core level of our nature and then radically transforms what comes out of our lives over time

To the point where it moves through us to infect & impact the people around us. That’s the principle that we talk about so often.

That’s what we’re talking about this morning and I want to flesh that out for you in 3 movements that we can observe in the text.

1) We have been chosen by God as objects of gospel renewal

Look again at verses 2-5… .“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

Please understand what Paul is driving us toward here: 
We are objects of gospel renewal. God acted upon us, He initiated with us, This renewal wasn’t our idea, Our idea was rebellion going our way instead of God’s way.

This is a common theme that we see in all of Paul’s writing.

In Titus chapter 3 Paul explains what life outside of Christ looks like. It’s a life that’s defined by selfishness & self-gratification. It’s marked by malice & envy & relational conflict. And then he describes how all of that changes, when God moves upon us

He says, But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,”

Please don’t miss this,

You didn’t find God, He found you.
You didn’t choose God, He chose you.
You didn’t stumble upon the gospel, the gospel came to you IN POWER

You are an object of God’s love & mercy & grace. When He targets you, The gospel comes in Word & in Power, Meaning — it’s not just intellectual, it’s not just something that we hear & understand, It moves in our hearts in power to radically change us.

This is what Paul means when he says that it brings conviction. It awakens the heart to the truth of our sin & rebellion and convicts us while simultaneously allowing for repentance & faith.

This is what salvation looks like And that salvation belongs to God

It creates relational intimacy with each other — that’s marked by love. Paul says, “We’re thankful for you, we’re praying for you, we constantly remember you.” And — it’s all because of what God has done to radically transform them.

You can think about it like this, Reconciliation with God — is the only thing that allows for reconciliation with one another.

God moves on us as objects of renewal .That moves in us in power — as it changes us, Which shapes how we interact with other people.

And — that’s our 2nd point: 

2) We have been chosen by God as agents of gospel renewal

Look again at verses 5-7“You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

God’s work in us — isn’t really about us. It’s the way that He’s chosen to glorify His name in the world — THROUGH US.

Paul is reminding the Thessalonian believers that he, who was once far from God — lived out his gospel transformation among them. He was with them — and they were able to see the power of the gospel at work in Paul Which is what God used to bring the gospel to them — as Paul proclaimed the truth…

All of this means that we are called to IMITATE & MODEL.

 Remember the viral nature of the gospel?
God’s design is to work through the infectious nature of the gospel at work in us. We catch transformation from His work in others and we spread transformation as we model it for others.

And — let me point out 2 important things as it relates to this: 

This requires proximity. Notice the words “AMONG YOU”.

This only works if you’re in close proximity with people. The same way a virus will only spread if you’re with people.

The 2nd important thing to note here is that:  Imitating & Modeling happens best when we’re suffering for the gospel. You want to see what someone really believes — see what they do when they begin to face affliction.

** God glorifies Himself in a unique way through us — when He allows us the privilege of suffering for the gospel. This shouldn’t surprise us when we look at Jesus, The disciples, The early church, The historical church & the current persecuted church throughout the world.

** Peter — there Spirit rests upon you when you suffer.

So — get this We’re OBJECTS of gospel renewal as God moves in and changes us. That leads us to be AGENTS of renewal. Where God uses us to model the gospel to others.

3) We have been chosen by God as carriers of gospel proclamation to the whole world

Look again at verses 8-10“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.”

The gospel will not let you sit still. It will necessarily propel you out into the world as an agent of renewal — a gospel proclaimer — wherever you go.

And — there’s nowhere you can’t go.

You and I — are carriers of the gospel — are charged with speaking the gospel into a culture that is riddled with IDOLATRY. I’m not just talking about outward — visible idolatry that we see so pervasively in India. I’m talking about the idolatry of the heart.

Idolatry is slavery. The gospel brings freedom!

Here’s the thing: The church becomes a viral movement — when you see the ruthless dethroning of idols in people’s lives. The gospel brings that freedom in our hearts and then we get the privilege of being able to speak that into the lives of other people


We have been chosen by God as objects of gospel renewal
We have been chosen by God as agents of gospel renewal &
We have been chosen by God as carriers of gospel proclamation to the whole world

This is the vision that we must have as the church if we’re going to be viral in how we live out the gospel.

Here’s the hard truth: 

The longer that someone is a Christian the greater the tendency to quarantine themselves to just hang out with other infected people.

We must push back against this,

++ Be reminded of the gospel at work in your life — God’s Sovereign rescue of you

++ Be reminded of your calling to live that out & proclaim it in the lives of people within the family of God

++ Be reminded of the calling on your life to take that gospel near & far

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