Integrity

Rob Green January 14, 2006

Introduction:
- I want to begin our time by briefly reviewing a few details about the church at Thessalonica
1.  It was a church doing a lot of things right.
- in fact, Paul took the whole 1st chapter to thank them for their (1) work of faith, (2) labor of love, (3) enduring hope
- he thanked them for their genuine repentance in turning TO God FROM idols to serve the LIVING and TRUE God (reminding them that their idols were DEAD and FALSE!)
- we’ve said this before:  IF WE ARE GOING TO BE A CHURCH THAT PLEASE GOD, IT WILL BE BECAUSE INDIVIDUALS SEE THE NEED TO WORK FAITHFULLY, LABOR LOVINGLY, AND TO ENDURE WITH HOPE (don’t quit!)
- and like the church at Thessalonica: WHEN CONFRONTED WITH TRUTH, INDIVIDUALS WILL RECEIVE IT, OBEY IT, AND PASS ON TO OTHERS WHAT THEY HAVE LEARNED
2.  In chapter 2 Paul reminds them about the integrity of his leadership and of his fellow workers!
>  in essence, he ‘silenced the critics’ and would later remind the church that they too “endured the same sufferings at the hands of [their] own countrymen” (1:14).
3.  A disciple of Christ, as well as a disciple making person and/or disciple-making church, is going to face some degree of criticism (sufferings – attacks)
 John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
 Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
 2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
- it's not a matter of "if" criticism will come, it's a matter of "when" – the question is:
Q:  How do you handle it?
4.  A Disciple Making Church is going to face adversity (e.g. criticism, false accusations, etc.)
Input:  What are some wrong ways to handle adversity?
 Run from it (act like it’s not there)
 Fail to learn from it – minimize it, fail to see God’s sovereign hand!
 Become bitter/angry
5.  Paul gives 3 illustrations of ways that he conducted his life among them, and this serves as a model to us (and they knew it to be true) of how we should function in our ministry life:
#1:  Integrity of a Faithful Steward – 2:4
#2:  Integrity of a Gentle Mother – 2:7
#3:  Integrity of a Responsible Father – 2:11  [READ: 1 Thes. 2:1-12]
6.  Let's see how Paul uses these concepts to teach us about leadership that produces disciples – and how we can be a disciple making church


I.  The Integrity of a Faithful Steward – 2:1-6


- the idea of stewardship comes from 2:4 where Paul states that God ‘entrusted’ him with the gospel – that’s stewardship!
- There are several ways to be a faithful steward and have a high level of integrity!
A.  Faithful Stewards Maintain a Consistent Testimony – 2:1
- Paul said in 2:1, these folks had a "thorough, accurate knowledge of the facts" about his ministry among them – ‘for you yourselves know . . .’
- they knew that the CONTENT of his preaching was not empty or hollow or just a bunch of words lacking in purpose
- when Paul came on the scene- he had a message from God - he preached the gospel to them – and they received it
> the focus of our study next week –  the 3rd characteristics of a Disciple Making Church: Receptive to the Word – 2:13-19
- . . .and they knew that as a RESULT of his ministry, many came to know Christ
B.  Faithful Stewards Minister to the Individuals -2:1
- he said, ‘you yourselves [emphasis on them as a church/individuals] know brethren’
- Paul had preached the gospel to enough people // he had witnessed to enough people that when his integrity was questioned, many people stood to their feet and gave the verdict!
- when this was a church body (we have no idea the number of people that made up this church)
> this body was made up of individual people – each person important in the eyes of God and important to Paul
Q: In what ways are you ministering to individuals? [discuss the large body, small group ABF, Teams within our ABF, Point Man Groups/Ladies Bible Studies, etc.]
- thirdly
C.  Faithful Stewards Use Adversity to Strengthen Their Ministry – 2:2
- Paul and Silas had been beaten and humiliated at Philippi [Acts 16:22-24] – yet they were stronger because it
> after that conflict, they came to Thessalonica and preached the gospel (the attacks motivated them to greater service – they ‘geared up’ and got better at it!!)
> most of us would have taken a vacation or found an excuse not to minister
- notice the word  that Paul used: mistreated
= expresses insulting and outrageous treatment and especially treatment which is calculated publicly to insult and openly to humiliate the person who suffers from it
Q:  Can you think of someone else in the NT who faced this kind of adversity, yet continued till He said, “It is Finished!”? [Jesus]
- we need remember the words of Hebrews 4
 Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Point:  We can expect to face some adversity and trials during a year of “Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness” –but we can’t quit – integrity pushes us forward!
- we need to view adversity through the grid of Rom. 8:28, Jam. 1:2, 1 Thes. 5:18:
 Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
 James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
- faithful stewards use adversity to STRENGTHEN their relationship with the Lord
- part of the reason is:  * The message being proclaimed is more important than the messenger
>  yet we also have to keep in mind that the life the messenger can ENHANCE or WEAKEN the message being delivered
D.  Faithful Stewards Ensure Their Speech Is Consistent With the Truth – 2:3
- he said his "exhortation" was not from error, impurity, or deceit
exhortation = to call alongside, to encourage, or appeal
- evidently Paul, Silvanus (possibly the same as Silas), and Timothy had been accused of some sort of false teaching because he said ...
 . . .our appeals are not “come from error" [Paul's message agreed with the truth]
- you and I ought to be able to make that same appeal
* Compare what I'm saying and the way I'm living with the standard of God's word
- if I'm wrong, I'll change // if I'm right, then the dispute is settled
 . . .our appeals are not to be from "impurity."
- the word he uses could refer to sexual/moral impurity, but here it is probably more in a general way
- Paul is saying he did not preach from any impure motive:
 ambition, pride, popularity or greed
Point: We don’t serve for what we can get out of it – our motivation is pure!
 . . . our appeals are not to be by way of "deceit."
- a word that carries the idea of "baiting a hook"
- in other words, Paul did not trap people into being saved, or to serving the Lord, like  the way a clever salesman traps people into buying his product
[Apply this to the Intro to Faith Class – we practice FULL DISCLOSURE – nothing to hide; we’re nto trying to trick people into joining/serving!]
E.  Faithful Stewards Recognize the "Trust" Given to Them – 2:4
- an omniscient God entrusted them with a message and responsibility to declare the gospel
 2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
- Paul said, because of that trust, "so we speak"
Q:  How often do you (we) focus on what God has entrusted you (us) with and therefore you (we) speak up about Him?
- for some who have focused on that trust, it lead them to:
 martyrs fire // imprisonment // a mission field 1,000's of miles from family/friends
Q:  Will you allow that trust to take you across the street to your neighbor?
Q:  Will you allow that trust to take you to the point of sacrificial giving to the Community Center?
 Luke 12:48 . . . from everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
- Paul finishes his point of faithful stewardship by saying ...
F.  Faithful Stewards Have the Right Motive  (4b-6)
* Goal: Not pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts
- those words have implications to the fact that man can see our heart or know our inner motives – but God can – He will be our final judge
- the proof was in what he how he live and what he said:
• No flattering words: – saying nice things to gain influence over others
• No pretext for greed: – no outward show // no cover up
• No desire for the praise of men: – uses the word "glory" (doxa)= means "opinion"
Point:   We don’t get the right opinion a/b ourselves from what people say (good/bad) – we get it from God who ‘examines our hearts’ at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:9-10)
 2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
[if time:  Notice Paul’s life, the closer he grew in his relationship with Christ, the lower opinion he had of himself:
 1st stated:  "I am the least of the Apostles" (1 Cor. 15:9 – written a/b A.D. 55)
 Later stated: "I am less than the least of all the saints" (Eph. 3:8 – written a/b A.D. 60)
 Close to the end:  "I am the chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:5 – written a/b A.D. 64)
- the 2nd way Paul demonstrated his integrity and that we should also as a Disciple Making Church:


II.  The Integrity of a Gentle Mother – 2: 6b-8


Input:  What are some characteristics of a "nursing mother"? [various answers]
> bottom line: she’s careful about how her baby is treated; she’s protective, helpful, etc.
- Paul drew the analogy to his ministry by saying...
A.  Godly Leadership Doesn’t Abuse Authority
- as an apostle of Christ, he had the right to receive special respect, but that was not a great emphasis of his
- there are times when he APPEALED to his apostolic authority,  but he never ABUSED this authority to as something to lord over them – but rather, he used it in love
- I assure you that your pastors don’t want to abuse the authority entrusted to us
> sometimes we do have ‘exercise’ that authority – but there is NEVER a time to abuse that authority (to use it to manipulate people for selfish reasons)
> this applies to how we disciple church members – we want to keep people accountable, but we want to do it in a gentle way!
Point:  While Paul could have been burdensome to them, he was gentle
- not only did he not misuse his authority, he was ...
B.  Godly Leadership Is Willing to Sacrifice For Others
- a nursing mother must sacrifice to meet the needs of her child
[Example:  The nursing mother eats the food and transforms it into milk for the baby; a nursing child can become ill through the reaction to something the mother has eaten – so a nursing mom guards what she eats!]
- Paul said he was willing to give not only the gospel, but was willing to impart his own life
ILL:  There was a beautiful girl in high school who attended a party; a lady who had come to pick this girl up from the party got out of her car and approached the building; some people made fun of the lady’s disfigurement; one person asked the girl who the lady was, the girl responded, “That’s my mother; she saved my life when our house caught on fire.”
Lesson to Learn:  God doesn't ask us to run into a burning house to sacrifice for someone to be saved, *God asks us to be faithful in giving the gospel – to live a life typical of a gentle mother who "tenderly cares for her own children"
> to love folks enough to give them the truth they NEED and not what they WANT to hear
Q:  How is your love for people looking right now?  What are DOING to demonstrate that love?
- lastly, Paul tells us that he conducted his life ...


III.  The Integrity of a Responsible Father - v. 9-12


- Paul considered himself a "spiritual father" to the church @ Thessalonica
- he has won many of them to Christ, but his responsibility to them did not end there
> just like the church’s responsibility didn’t end when the received the Word of God – something had to be done!
* A Disciple Making Church meets people where they are and leads them to where they ought to be!
- it's one thing to see people where they are, or see where they need to be, and another thing to lead them to that place of spiritual growth
Q:  How does that happen?
A.  Leads by example – in 2 areas:
1.  Work ethic (effort in getting the job done!)
- Paul said he labored "night and day" [experiencing fatigue and all kinds of outward difficulties . . .in order to preach the gospel to them]
- we often say that Christianity is NOT about being comfortable – coasting – along the ride
> instead, Christianity is about the ‘work of the Lord’ – blood, sweat, tears sometimes!
- he also led by example in the ...
2.  Character of his life – 1:10
- God witnessed the character of Paul's life & Paul wasn't afraid to call God as a witness
Q:  If you called God to witness the character of your life would he say that . . .:
 your life is HOLY / FAITHFUL / SERVANT / GROWING
Input: What do we want God to say about our church at the end of 2006? [various answers – tie these back to what Paul was saying about his life!]
- lastly, Paul says a responsible father
B.  Helps others give a good account – 2:11-12
- his purpose was that his children in the faith would walk worthy of God and the Lord would get the glory through the lives of His children

Conclusion:
Next Week:  Jan. 22 :  #3: Receptive – 2:13-20 – The Disciple Making Church Receives the Word of God!
Summary: ‘when you received the Word of God… you accepted it not as the word of man, but of God’
ABF Series: The Disciple Making Church
#2:  Integrity – 1 Thes 2:1-12

Introduction:
1.  It was a church doing a lot of things right.

2.  Paul reminds them about the integrity of his leadership and of his fellow workers!


3.  A Disciple Making Church is going to face __________________
Input:  What are some wrong ways to handle adversity?

 

1.  The Integrity of a Faithful Steward – 2:1-6
A.  Faithful Stewards Maintain a ______________ _______________.


B.  Faithful Stewards Minister to the _______________ – 2:1


C.  Faithful Stewards Use _____________ to _______________ Their Ministry – 2:2
Mistreated = expresses insulting and outrageous treatment and especially treatment which is calculated publicly to insult and openly to humiliate the person who suffers from it

* The message being proclaimed is more important than the messenger!

D.  Faithful Stewards Ensure Their Speech Is Consistent With the ___________ – 2:3
exhortation = to call alongside, to encourage, or appeal

* Compare what I'm saying and the way I'm living with the standard of God's word!

E.  Faithful Stewards Recognize the "___________" Given to Them – 2:4

Q:  How often do you (we) focus on what God has entrusted you (us) with and therefore you (we) speak up about Him?

F.  Faithful Stewards Have the _____________ _____________ - 2:4b-6a
* Goal: Not pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts

II.  The Integrity of a Gentle Mother – 2:6b-8
Input:  What are some characteristics of a "nursing mother"?

 

A.  Godly Leadership Doesn’t Abuse _____________


B.  Godly Leadership Is Willing to _______________ For Others

Lesson to Learn:  *God asks us to be faithful in giving the gospel – to live a life typical of a gentle mother who "tenderly cares for her own children"

III.  The Integrity of a Responsible Father - v. 9-12

*  A Disciple Making Church meets people where they are and leads them to where they
ought to be!

A.  Leads by _______________:
1.  _________ ethic


2.  _______________ of his life – 1:10
Q:  If you called God to witness the character of your life would He say that . . .:


Input: What do we want God to say about our church at the end of 2006?

 

B.  Helps others give a _________ _____________ – 2:11-12


Conclusion:

Next Week:  _________________________________________________________________!

ABF Series: The Disciple Making Church
#2:  Integrity – 1 Thes 2:1-12

Introduction:
1.  It was a church doing a lot of things right.
2.  Paul reminds them about the integrity of his leadership and of his fellow workers!
 John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
 Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
 2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
3.  A Disciple Making Church is going to face adversity
Input:  What are some wrong ways to handle adversity?

1.  The Integrity of a Faithful Steward – 2:1-6
A.  Faithful Stewards Maintain a Consistent Testimony -2:1
B.  Faithful Stewards Minister to the Individuals – 2:1
C.  Faithful Stewards Use Adversity to Strengthen Their Ministry – 2:2
Mistreated = expresses insulting and outrageous treatment and especially treatment which is calculated publicly to insult and openly to humiliate the person who suffers from it
 Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
* The message being proclaimed is more important than the messenger
D.  Faithful Stewards Ensure Their Speech Is Consistent With the Truth – 2:3
exhortation = to call alongside, to encourage, or appeal
* Compare what I'm saying and the way I'm living with the standard of God's word
E.  Faithful Stewards Recognize the "Trust" Given to Them – 2:4
 2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Q:  How often do you (we) focus on what God has entrusted you (us) with and therefore you (we) speak up about Him?
 Luke 12:48 . . . from everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
F.  Faithful Stewards Have the Right Motive  (4b-6)
* Goal: Not pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts
 2 Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
II.  The Integrity of a Gentle Mother – 2: 6b-8
Input:  What are some characteristics of a "nursing mother"?
A.  Godly Leadership Doesn’t Abuse Authority
B.  Godly Leadership Is Willing to Sacrifice For Others
Lesson to Learn:  *God asks us to be faithful in giving the gospel – to live a life typical of a gentle mother who "tenderly cares for her own children"
III.  The Integrity of a Responsible Father - v. 9-12
* A Disciple Making Church meets people where they are and leads them to where they ought to be!
A.  Leads by example:
1.  Work ethic
2.  Character of his life – 1:10
Q:  If you called God to witness the character of your life would he say that . . .:
Input: What do we want God to say about our church at the end of 2006?
B.  Helps others give a good account – 2:11-12

Conclusion:
Next Week:  #3: Receptive – 2:13-20 – The Disciple Making Church Receives the Word of God!

Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.