The epistles of Paul to the church at Thessalonica are two of Paul's earliest writings. They were written to real people who were experiencing real problems in a world that was contrary to their Christian faith. There are several reasons why these letters were written.
At least four times in this first epistle, Paul gave thanks for the church and the way it responded to his ministry. What characteristics of this church made it so ideal and such a joy to Paul's heart? It was what every church should be.
I. They were an elect people. v1-5
A. 'Church' = ekklesia = a called out group.
1. 1 Peter 2:9, "...called out of darkness into His marvellous light."
2. We are in the world but we are not of the world.
3. These saints were at Thessalonica but in Christ.
B. 'Election' and 'decision'
1. No contradiction but rather they are complementary
2. To the Father we were saved when He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
3. To the Spirit we were saved when we responded to His call and received Christ.
4. To the Son we were saved when He died for us on the cross.
C. Paul prayed for them always with thanksgiving:
1. Because of their work of faith. v3a
a. faith is shown by works
b. works cannot save but saving faith will lead to works. cf. James 2:18
2. Because of their labor of love v3b
a. A Christian has a new motive for living
b. He loves Christ and loves others
3. Because of their patience of hope v3c
a. the lost person is without hope
b. the believer has endurance because he has hope in the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ
4. Because they are the elect of God
a. evidence of salvation is always shown by faith, hope, and love.
b. these folks had these evidences in their lives
II. They were exemplary people. v6-7
A. They were good examples to all believers
1. Because they followed their spiritual leaders
2. Because in doing so they also followed the Lord
3. Because they heard the Word, welcomed it, believed it, and suffered for receiving it into their lives.
B. They had a far-reaching testimony
III. They were enthusiastic and evangelistic people v8
A. They witnessed by their walk v7
B. They witnessed by their talk v8
1. their talk wasn't about themselves
2. their talk was the Word of the Lord
3. their talk was everywhere their faith led them
4. they were missionary people
C. They were effective in their witness.
IV. They were an expectant people v9-10
A. The second-coming of Christ is the theme of the book.
B. They show us how we should wait for the return of Christ.
1. Waiting involves activity and endurance
2. Not wrapped in a white sheet perched atop some mountain in some far off land.
3. The saved are serving the living God and rejoicing
4. 1 Thess 5:4-9, "...let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober..."
C. The return of Christ must not simply be a doctrine in our creed, but it must be a dynamic in our lives.
D. In other words, 'we must not just talk it, but we must live it every day of our lives.'
E. Jesus will deliver us from wrath of tribulation.
Paul remembered this church, and he gave thanks for their spiritual characteristics: They were elect; exemplary; enthusiastic; and expectant. But churches are made up of individuals. When we speak of the church, we must never say 'they' but we should say 'we'. We are the church! That means that if you and I have these spiritual characteristics in our lives, then our church will become what God wants us to become. Perhaps we need to take a personal inventory of our lives to determine whether or not we are what God desires us to be.