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I THESSALONIANS (7)
A Flawless Ministry: Preaching (2)
I Thessalonians 2:4-6
Victor M. Eskew
A. When Paul wrote his first epistle to the Thessalonians, his ministry was being attacked.
B. In I Thessalonians 2:1-12, the apostle defends himself.
1. He begins by describing his preaching among the Thessalonians.
2. He concludes by examining his practice among the Thessalonians.
C. We have entitled this section: “A Flawless Ministry.”
1. In our last lesson, we examined four elements of Paul’s preaching that he sets forth in I Thessalonians 2:1-3.
a. His preaching had No Fear.
b. His preaching had No Falsehood.
c. His preaching had No Flesh.
d. His preaching had No Fraud.
2. In I Thessalonians 2:4-6, Paul continues to describe his preaching while he was in Thessalonica.
I. PAUL PREACHED WITH NO FAVOR FOR MAN (I Thess. 2:4)
But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
A. The Role of A Steward
1. Paul begins by noting his stewardship.
a. The gospel did not belong to Paul. He was not its owner.
b. God is the originator and owner of the gospel. He simply allows men to proclaim its message.
2. Thus, it should be spoken just as God gave it.
a. Notice Paul’s words: “…even so we speak…”
b. LESSON: Every preacher needs to remember this fact. We are stewards of the gospel. Our sole responsibility is to proclaim the message of the gospel as it has been revealed.
B. The Responsibility of a Steward
…even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God…
1. A steward of the gospel has a burden placed upon hm.
2. His obligation is to please God, not men.
1) Strong (700): to be agreeable to
2) Thayer: to accommodate one’s self to the desires, opinions, and interests of others
b. Paul could not show any favor to man in his preaching.
c. LESSON: The gospel should not be manipulated or changed just to please men (Gal. 1:10).
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
d. The key is to please God.
e. God knows exactly what we preach and why we are preaching it. It is He who tries the hearts of men.
1) The word “trieth” means “to examine, prove, scrutinize.”
2) God knows the real purpose and intent of the minister’s heart.
3) He knows who the preacher is seeking to please.
II. PAUL’S PREACHING WAS WITH NO FLATTERY (I Thess. 2:5a)
For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know…
A. Flattering words
1. Strong (3850): flattering
2. Thayer: flattery, flattering discussion
3. Dictionary.com: excessive, insincere praise
B. Paul did not try to “butter-up” to people in an attempt to win them over to Christ.
1. Barnes: “The meaning is, that the apostle Paul did not deal in language of adulation; he did not praise them for their beauty, wealth, talents, or accomplishments, and conceal from them the painful truths about their guilt or danger” (e-sword, Barnes).
2. LESSON: Gospel preaching is not designed to flatter. It is designed to convict, to prick the heart of the sinner.
a. NOTE: People love to be flattered.
b. The deceiver does not hesitate to use this tactic in his discourses.
c. It is one of the things that puts a faithful gospel preacher at a disadvantage.
III. PAUL’S PREACHING WAS WITH NO FAÇADE (I Thess. 2:5b).
…nor cloak of covetousness, God is our witness.
A. When a person enters the ministry, he should do so because he desires to preach the gospel.
1. Paul told Timothy to “preach the word” (II Tim. 2:4).
2. Paul told Titus to speak the things which become sound doctrine (Tit. 2:1).
3. When Paul entered the city of Corinth, he desired to preach Christ Jesus and Him crucified (I Cor. 2:1-4).
B. Some, however, enter the ministry in order to enrich themselves.
1. The ministry becomes a cloak of covetousness.
2. One of the characteristics of the false teachers of Peter’s day was to make merchandise of others (II Pet. 2:3).
And through covetousness they with feign words make merchandise of you…
a. Creflo A. Dollar, Senior Pastor of World Changers Church International
1) He drives a Rolls Royce.
2) He is flown around in a private jet.
3) He owns a million dollar home in Atlanta, GA.
4) He owns a $2.5 million apartment in Manhattan.
b. Joel Osteen owns a $10.5 million dollar, 17,000 square feet mansion in Houston, TX.
c. John Hagee makes $1 million per year.
d. Franklin Graham makes just a little more than $1 million per year.
C. NOTE: Ministers are to be paid for their labors in the gospel.
1. The Bible teaches the concept: “the laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7; I Tim. 5:18).
2. The minister’s purpose, however, is not to get rich at the expense of the gospel.
3. When money determines the message, the ministry becomes a cloak of covetousness.
IV. PAUL’S PREACHING WAS WITH NO FANFARE (I Thess. 2:6)
Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome as the apostles of Christ.
A. Position often brings advantages and benefits that others do not receive.
1. The office of “an apostle” was the highest human office in the body of Christ.
a. These men were hand-chosen by Jesus.
b. There were only 13 men who ever filled this office.
2. Paul could have used this office to his benefit as he went from place to place, but he did not.
B. Paul said that he did not seek glory.
1. “Glory” involves the praise, adoration, and accolades of men.
2. Paul did not seek to be lifted up because of who he was as an apostle.
C. LESSON: All offices of the church are NOT about the people who fill them.
1. It is about the work, the ministry of the office.
2. Glory and praise and honor should not that which is sought by the person holding an office in the body of Christ.
3. Some love the praise of men. The Pharisees did (Matt. 23:6-7).
And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
4. It is sad when individuals are concerned with their own glory instead of seeking to honor and glorify God.
A. The apostle Paul sets a very high standard for preaching.
1. He referred to many things that tempt so many men who preach: fear, favor, flattery, finances, and fanfare.
2. If a preacher follows in the footsteps of Paul, his ministry will be free of these things. It will be flawless.
B. As we close, let’s focus once again on the mainstay of Paul’s preaching.
1. I Thessalonians 2:2b
…we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
2. I Thessalonians 2:4a
But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak…
3. Preaching is about the gospel and its faithful proclamation.