Authentic

Our speaker Joel Marcus (Baptist Missions) began with an update on the church he and his wife, Katya, have planted in Belturbet, Co. Cavan since they were last in Windsor, five years ago.


After reading this morning’s Bible passage (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10), he drew our attention to the word ‘authentic’, commenting that sadly some churches are beautiful on the outside but there is no authentic Christianity within.


The church in Thessalonica had been born in persecution. Having seen many conversions, Paul, Silas and Timothy had been forced to flee the city under cover of darkness because of trouble caused by jealous Jews (Acts 17). Now, hundreds of miles away in Athens, they were wondering how the fledgling church was getting on.


Paul writes a letter overflowing with encouragement, assuring the Thessalonians of his continual prayers and his thanksgiving for their work produced by faith, labour prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ (v.3). Joel highlighted the ‘triad’ of faith, hope and love that appears frequently in the New Testament. Here, they are hallmarks of the authentic Christianity of the young church.


What do these three actually look like? “Authentic faith gets busy.” Paul is sure their faith is real, that they have been chosen by God, firstly because they had accepted the Gospel, and secondly because they were sharing the Gospel. The Good News had come to them with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (v.5), not just with words. The people received the message gladly, despite severe suffering.


Our natural human response to suffering is to avoid it. Here in Thessalonica, the fact that the people accepted the Gospel, despite the anguish it brought them, is evidence that a higher power is at work. Further evidence is seen in the response of the people to what they heard. They lived out the amazing message but also spoke it out, all over Macedonia and Achaia – virtually all modern Greece – and beyond! And this to such an extent that when Paul and his fellow-missionaries met other believers, they had no need to tell them about the church in Thessalonica because their story, their joy, were already well known. They were a model to others.


The Thessalonians had given up their idolatrous past. They believed in Jesus and his power to forgive their sins and were now waiting for his return from heaven.


Joel highlighted some characteristics of the church in Belturbet that he would like outsiders to notice:

  • joy in spite of sufferings;
  • a rejection of materialism;
  • believers who care so much about their faith they want to share it with others who do not yet believe.

 

He concluded with a prayer that we might all be people of authentic faith that others will heed.

Christine Thompson

Christine Thompson

I’m Christine and I’ve been at Windsor for 37 years! Now retired, I have taught languages to adults (mainly) and was also an administrator at Prison Fellowship, a Christian outreach to prisoners and their families. I love poetry and hiking, especially by the sea.
Christine Thompson
I’m Christine and I’ve been at Windsor for 37 years! Now retired, I have taught languages to adults (mainly) and was also an administrator at Prison Fellowship, a Christian outreach to prisoners and their families. I love poetry and hiking, especially by the sea.