Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
Thesis: Imitating the apostles and the Lord has an extremely basic simplicity: receiving the Word with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
Introduction: As we have progressed through the first five verses of 1 Thessalonians 1, we have seen that there is a presentation of the way things ought to be for all of us. We are driven to our work by what we believe; we do work the hardest for that which we love the most; and we put up with everything we have to as long as our expectations are not crushed. The only problem with this reality is that what we believe is not always true, what we love is not always valuable, and our expectations may be more fancy than reality. The ideal is truth believed, God loved, and the Son expected from heaven. The Holy Spirit empowers the Gospel and the examples that other believers provide for our sake so that what ought to be can be.
The question for us this evening is this: if what ought to be can be, why is it not the norm rather than an extraordinary anomaly? The answer in a single word is "imitation".
March 9, 2014
- I. What is an "Imitation"?
- A. We get our word "mimic" from the underlying term.
- B. In the New Testament, the word is used in contexts where there is an attitude and/or behavior that is set forth as a standard by which the "imitator" is evaluated.
- 1. Ephesians 5:1 is a clear example of meaning.
- 2. Closer to home is 1 Thessalonians 2:14.
- C. These texts make no distinction between a comprehensive "imitation" and the "imitation" of a single characteristic, attitude, behavior.
- 1. It is easier to be an "imitator" of a single issue than to be a comprehensive "imitator".
- 2. The context of our text, however, will not allow us to think in terms of only one, or a few, example(s).
- a. Paul's "multiple coverings" concept in 1:5 strongly argues for a comprehensive example that covered pretty much all of the bases.
- b. The larger context of our verse also argues for multiple elements of the imitation.
- II. Who is Being "Imitated"?
- A. Paul's words "of us and of the Lord" seem to imply two that have been blended into one.
- B. The reality is that both the "us" and the "Lord" have a common Root: the Holy Spirit.
- 1. This means that the two are actually one.
- 2. This eliminates all confusion at least at the Root level.
- III. What is Being "Imitated"?
- A. Because every individual (Paul, Jesus, the individual Thessalonians) is an extreme complexity, it is impossible to "imitate" anyone else in any sort of comprehensive way as to "behavior".
- 1. Multiple settings will call for different behaviors out of the same basic Root.
- 2. What "love" looks like in one situation will look like "hate" in another.
- B. For this cause, Paul seems to have pared the issue down to one basic issue out of which all others arise.
- 1. Paul's one basic issue has two parts, the first of which is the attitude one takes toward what is proclaimed as "the message".
- a. The word Paul chose to use is one which means "to take to one's heart" (for an interesting contrast look at how Luke switched to this word in his record of the parable of the seed sown on the rocky ground [8:13] in contrast to Matthew and Mark in their records of the same parable [Matthew 13:20 and Mark 4:16]).
- b. This generally indicates a "no holding back" kind of embrace of "the message".
- c. This boils down to a "settling" of the content of the faith, the value of God Himself above all others, and the expectation being the coming of the Son from heaven so that "faith", "love" and "hope" guide the entire life.
- d. This automatically means that "joy" is attending the "reception" of the Message.
- 2. Paul's one basic issue has a second part: what happens when "trouble" is in the picture for one reason: the "reception" of the Message creates waves of opposition and "tribulation".
- a. It is in this context -- trouble brought on specifically by the commitment one has made in taking the message to heart -- that the "joy" is revealed as to source.
- b. There is "joy" and there is the "joy of the Holy Spirit".
- 1) In Luke's record of the seed sown on rocky ground, there was "joy", but it did not last for one specific reason: trouble brought on by the truth in a context where truth is despised.
- 2) For both Luke and Paul, the "joy" that is from the Holy Spirit is not a "joy" that finds its roots in pleasant messages followed by pleasant circumstances.
- a) Holy Spirit "joy" is rooted in the reality of a clear relationship with the Father in Whose presence is fulness of joy, not in anything else.
- i. The "message" is not designed to make circumstances pleasant; it is designed to open the relationship between Father and child.
- ii. After that relationship is opened, it has to be maintained.
- b) Circumstantial "joy" is really only idolatry, setting up one's demand for a certain kind of experience in this world as the "god" that is to be worshiped.