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June 17, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Sounding Forth Today

“For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.”

1 Thessalonians 1:8, Page 1846

       Have you ever noticed that some groups really sound out on their personal views.  I often see on television spokesmen for one political party or another, eagerly putting forth their views.  I also see special interest groups buying air time to promote a new green initiative.  In most cases, those groups have little to fear in retaliation.  Unless, of course, you criticize an Islamic practice or Islamic leader.  In that case, the news media applies special rules they never apply to Christian organizations.  No one can sound out their views about Islamic activity if that would somehow jeopardize the safety of the station.  Do not miss my point: I am not saying anyone should take free shots at any religion.  I am only observing that the sounding out today in American has particular unwritten rules that must be followed.  When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he knew they lived in a place of intense persecution, particularly from the Jews who violently opposed the preaching of the Gospel in Thessalonica and the neighboring areas. 

       The Thessalonians knew about persecution, and the cost of spreading their faith.  Instead of shrinking back from sounding forth the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they spoke even more loudly.  Why would anyone risk so much to talk about Jesus?  Let us turn to Romans 10 for a few moments.

       In Romans 10:13 (;age 1722), Paul stated that whoever will call upon the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved from eternal punishment.  He then starts asking a series of questions that focus upon the importance of sending forth missionaries who will preach the Good News of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:14-15, pages 1772-1773).   Paul concludes with this famous verse: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, page 1773).  Without a preacher, people will not hear about the salvation Jesus has already purchased and delights in giving to sinners without cost to them.  The point here is that the plan of God for spreading the Gospel depends upon people sounding forth their faith, even in the midst of opposition.  I also want to emphasize another passage.

        Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He left the disciples with very clear instructions to follow: once the Holy Spirit had filled them and empowered them, they were to be His witnesses in Jerusalem first, and then moving out to the rest of the world (Acts 1:8, page 1698).  They started in Jerusalem, where they lived.  In the case of the Thessalonians, they sounded forth first from where they lived, Thessalonica.  The whole region heard about the Thessalonians’ faith in Christ.  Can you imagine having a church testimony on that scale, that everyone knows about your testimony?  When people stand together and share their testimony together as one body for Christ, the witness spreads far and wide.  Who will you tell today about the forgiveness Jesus offers as a free gift to everyone who believes that He died to set sinners free from death and judgment?  Who will hear the Gospel today and believe in Jesus for eternal life?  What will you say today?

      In order to build strong relationships in Christ, we need to sound forth the Gospel together.  As a group of Christians, we should speak together of the glory of Christ forgiving sins and the Holy Spirit bring joy into our lives.  I am going to thank God for the great testimony of my fellow Christians uniting their voices to tell of the great things God has done for them.

Application for Today

        Today, I am want to seek opportunities to sound forth the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone in my community.  I know God will be moving people’s hearts to let the Gospel ring forth from their lives.  What will people be hearing from you today?

 

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