Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
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How to Handle the Gospel
1 Thes. 2:1-9

1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2 but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. 3 For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts. 5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-- God is witness-- 6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. (NAS)

Introduction
Today we can see many different ways of handling the gospel. There are several ministers on television and we can occasionally see someone going house to house or witnessing at a shopping center. In the text Paul tells us some of the ways he handled the gospel.

    1. Handle the Gospel with . . Audacity.
           2. Handle the Gospel with . . Approval.
                    3. Handle the Gospel with . . Affection.
 
 

1. Handle the Gospel with . . Audacity. v 1-3


Introduction Notice this definition of the word audacious: audacious (ô-d³"shs) adj.

1. Fearlessly, often recklessly daring; bold. 2. Unrestrained by convention or propriety; insolent. 3. Spirited and original. --auda"ciously adv. --auda"ciousness n.

A.    Audacity with . . Purpose. v 1
        "For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain,"

Ryrie
Vs. 2:1 This verse builds on 1:5. not in vain = not without results. Paul returns to this subject in verse 13, after reviewing his ministry (vv. 1-12).
 

B.    Audacity Even when given . . Persecution. v 2
        "but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the
        boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.

Ryrie
v 2 Vs. 2:2 in Philippi. The account of Paul's beating and imprisonment there is found in Acts 16:12-40.
 

C.    Audacity with . . Purity. v 3
           "For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; "

Ryrie
V 3 Vs. 2:3 Paul attacks what must have been charges brought against him: of error (i.e., that the gospel he preached was based on error); of impurity (that Christianity encouraged sexual immorality); and of deceit (that his methods were underhanded).

Illustration
Peter Marshall in his characteristically trenchant manner describes 20th century Christians in these words: "They are like deep-sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms deep, marching bravely forth to pull plugs out of bathtubs."

Illustration
"My friends think this is so out of character for me. I'm actually very quiet and shy. I had never been an activist. But the Lord has helped me develop boldness." Richard B. Neill, the Fort Worth, Texas dentist who has been drilling into Donahue's wallet by convincing 132 sponsors (including K-Mart, Dr. Pepper, Dole, General Mills, Revlon and Woolworth) to stop advertising on the syndicated talk show. "What parent, Christian or non-Christian, would bring a homosexual marriage ceremony or 70-year-old strippers or lesbian go-go dancers into their home and let the children watch?" asks Neill. "That's exactly what parents are doing when they let their kids watch Donahue." It is estimated that almost 500,000 North American children watch the show daily.
 

Application Acts 4:17-20

18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard. " NAS
 
 

2.    Handle the Gospel with . . Approval. v 4-7


A.    Approval from . . God. v 4-5
        "but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as
        pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts. 5 For we never came with flattering speech,
        as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-- God is witness--

Ryrie
Vs. 2:4 approved. Paul was already a veteran of local church ministry (Acts 11:25-26), of an
evangelistic, missionary trip (Acts 13-14), a potentially explosive church-wide debate
(Acts 15), and now part of a second missionary trip. In all this he was approved by God.

V 5 Vs. 2:5 flattering speech = cajolery; i.e., an attempt to persuade by use of insincere speech.
 

B.    Approval from . . Glorying. v 6
            "nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of
            Christ we might have asserted our authority.

Ryrie
Vs. 2:6 asserted our authority. Better, made demands (on you); i.e., for support. Paul makes clear his right as an apostle to financial support but says he behaved as selflessly as a nursing mother (v. 7).
 

C.    Approval from . . Gentleness. v 7
        "But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children."

Illustration
A girl from a wealthy home was converted to Christianity, and for several years was a faithful witness to Christ. One day she was invited to stay with relatives whom she barely knew, and whom she had actually never met. She decided that she would not make a point about having become a Christian. On the day she left, a poised lady, an elderly relative of hers, was walking with her and asked, "By the way, where is your sister, and why didn't she come? I mean your religious sister. It was because I heard she was coming that I am hear. I am sick of my empty life, and I so wanted to talk to a real Christian."
Donald Deffner, Seasonal Illustrations, Resource, 1992, p.26.

Application

(Acts 20:20 NASB) how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house,
 
 

3.    Handle the Gospel with . . Affection. v 8-9


A.    Affection that . . Pleases. v 8
        "Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of
        God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

Ryrie
Vs. 2:8 fond . . . affection. An unusual word indicating the yearning love of a mother for her
children. Paul's pastoral heart is laid bare in these verses.
 

B.    Affection that's . . Persistency. v 9 a
        "For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a
        burden to any of you, . . . "

Ryrie
Vs. 2:9 labor and hardship. Paul did manual labor (likely making tents) in order to give the gospel
without charge.
 

C.    Affection that . . Proclaims. v 9 b
        ". . . we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. "
 

Illustration Evangelism: weeping (cost tears sacrifice pain personal)
Many years ago there was a medical missionary in Africa named George Harley. He built a small clinic and a chapel next to it. Very quickly the natives started coming to the hospital but for some reason they refused to go to the church. For the better part of four years the only people who entered that chapel were Dr. and Mrs. Harley and their young son.

One day, though, Harley's son fell off a ledge and hit his head on a sharp rock. The missionary ran to the youngster's side, but he could not save the boy's life. A casket was made for the lad from old shipping crates and a memorial service planned. Only the two missionaries attended, and not a word was spoken.

Dr. Harley recounted, "I could not speak, I could not pray, so finally I just picked up the casket and put it on my shoulder and started to carry it out to the place where he would be buried. As we walked along the road, a man came alongside and asked, 'Great Father, what do you have in that box?' I replied, 'It's my son. He died last night.' Then the man took one end of the casket and I took the other, and we carried it to the grave-side where I broke down completely and began to cry, 'Why, God, why?'

The man looked at me and then ran back to the village with the announcement, shouting it from house to house, 'The Great Father cries, just like us. The Great Father cries just like us.' Then they came running from all directions and put their arms around us, and tried to comfort us. And from that time on, every time we had a service in the chapel, those who were not in the clinic were in the chapel. And that's how we finally got through. But oh, the cost." Paul W. Powell, "How to Start a Church Fire" p. 43-44.

Application

        How Should We Handle the Gospel
                Handle the Gospel with . . Audacity.
                        Handle the Gospel with . . Approval.
                                Handle the Gospel with . . Affection.
 
 


 
 


 
 

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