Nobleton Community Church
April 14, 2024
Text: I Thessalonians 2: 1-16
Pastor Paul V Lehmann

Listen to the live audio here

Last week we talked about how Paul became a “game changer” by preaching the gospel to this church in Thessalonica. This church had quite a testimony. Some churches have a testimony of being a “Missions giving” church, Others have the testimony of being an “Outreach church.” Nobleton Community Church had the testimony of being a “Friendly Church.” That is still true, but I hope we are also getting the reputation and having a testimony of being a church that preaches the gospel.

When Timothy returned from Thessalonica to Corinth and reported to Paul, he told him of the attacks which the Jews were making on his ministry and his person. These Jews had opposed him when he was there, out of envy. They said he was deluded and crazy. Also he was impure and that he was a deceiver (verse 3 ) The NIV says that he was accused of tricking them. This meant that he was lumped in with the magicians, charlatans, and the “quacks” of the day; that he practiced immorality as the heathen priests did in Corinth in connection with the polytheistic religions who sought to make a profit from his deluded followers. Paul defended himself by calling to the memory of the Thessalonians, what his ministry was really like when he was with them.


Paul said in verse1; “you know that our ministry among you was not without results. Then in verses 2-5, he reminds them about his suffering in Philippi, and before God he tells them that with the help of God, he endured all of that and that his life was not impure. He also reminded them of his affection and love for them, —that it was like a mother’s love for her children. He reminded them of how he worked outside of the ministry (as a tent-maker), because he didn’t want to be a burden to them financially. All this was to counteract what they were hearing about him.



His message was the Gospel—the Good News. Verse 4 says that it was committed to him by God. The very content of the message was an attestation of his character because someone who preaches this kind of message can’t be a deceiver and we are not doing it to please people, but God, who tests our hearts. Being saved, he had a responsibility to carry the message -the Good News to others. The problem with too many Christians today is that they consider their salvation,– when they received Jesus into their hearts, to be only a “fire escape from hell.” They want to go to heaven, but the idea that they have a responsibility to testify to the fact that they have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation doesn’t always seem to be their understanding of what the Lord requires of them.

He goes on to say that God searches our hearts when we cry out to him, and he tests us to see if there is any wicked way in us. What Paul went through every time he planted a church, was so severe that he couldn’t possibly do it unless the Lord gave him the strength. No matter what Satan his enemy, (working through the Jews and pagan Gentiles), threw at him, he had the wisdom, strength and supernatural power by the Holy Spirit to support it. The opposition was great by so many, but in spite of this he was successful, and that’s why he commended the Thessalonians so much. They responded to the gospel, in spite of what others were saying about him.

Any time the Lord calls us into ministry, and he calls each of us in different ways, he also gives us the strength to do what he calls us to do. Paul never changed his message or flattered or “buttered up” people in order to make his message more acceptable. What he did do was adopt the message to the people he was trying to reach. May the Lord help us to do this too. Cross-cultural missionaries must do this all the time. When the teaching is based on the Word of God, and on Jesus Himself people will respond. This was true of the people in the Ngeba region where Tata Mbanda and I planted a church. A village about 3 or 4 miles away had received a Catholic priest to come into their village to teach them. He complained that they didn’t give him a young girl to be with him at night. The Village chief ordered him out of the village. He said to him; “you get out of here and never come back. We want someone to teach us what the Bible says, not to corrupt our young women.” When we evangelized this village. After we showed the Jesus film in Kikongo, almost the whole village turned to Christ. We provided them with Bibles and Mbanda went back every week to teach them. After a month or so, We told them to pick a couple of elders to lead them. When we returned, we met with the whole village, probably over 100 adults. We sat at a table with kerosene lanterns. We read to them the requirements for someone who is an elder or overseer in I Timothy 3. Then one of the men said; “we need to meet together again. The men we had chosen, did not meet the Biblical requirements. They came back a while later and presented to us two different men than they had first chosen. They were led by the Word, and the Holy Spirit to put the priest out of the village, and to welcome us because we taught them the Word. They believed what they saw in the scripture.

When we reach out to people we should never just give them what they might want to hear. We must be honest with them, and only share the Word. Sometimes we might be tempted to share things that would make a good impression. Paul says that we didn’t come to them with flattering words, but he was open with them and the Holy Spirit used his word so that they would respond. They didn’t respond to Paul, but to the truth about Jesus Christ. It was the Holy Spirit that changed them so that they turned from idols to serve the true and living Savior Jesus Christ.

Our objective should be always to please God and not people. Faith that God will vindicate a righteous and consistent life is the motivating power of all service and sacrifice.

So Paul could leave his detractors to the sovereign disposal of God. The Jews tried to keep him from sharing the Good News, but it didn’t work. The pagans tried to keep the Thessalonians from responding. It didn’t work. They were just as bad as the Jews who tried to keep their fellow Jews from following Jesus. God has promised: “Vengeance is mine, the Lord says, I will repay.” And He has admonished men; “Touch not those I have anointed.” We may therefore accept an example of Paul and “heap coals of fire on our enemies head.” We read in Proverbs 25:21; “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, if he is thirsty give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Now perhaps you have wondered how serving your enemy in this way, could possibly “heap coals of fire on his head. In the East, this is not a way to show revenge, but the expression refers to the custom of one household that has a flint and thus a way of starting a cooking fire. Early in the morning the mother lights coals and places them on a piece of broken pottery and puts them on the head of a young boy, and he begins to go from house to house delivering some coals of fire so the neighbors will be able to prepare breakfast. This is actually a pleasant task for the boy on a cold morning. The coals keeps him warm.

Heaping burning coals on someone’s head isn’t a way of revenge, but it is an extension of the admonishment to “Bless them who curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” —If you heap coals of fire on your enemy’s head, you are doing so– on his mind and heart, and you may persuade him to put away his evil ways.

No matter how many detractors the enemy of our souls, Satan raises up to stop the spreading of the gospel in a given area, whether it is planting a new church, or trying to stop an established church from growing. He will not succeed; anymore than what happened by the ministry of Paul in Thessalonica. There were plenty of detractors there—-those who stirred up trouble for Paul, that no one would respond to the gospel, but the Holy Spirit had another agenda. God’s name was glorified when so many turned to Jesus Christ.

Don’t allow anyone or anything to detract you form fulfilling what God has asked you to do. He won’t ask you to do anything without giving you the wisdom, the gifts, and the power to accomplish what he has called you to do.