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Sound Forth the Word

Ryan Joy

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February 5, 2023

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“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything” (1 Thess. 1:6-8).

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a land covered in deep darkness. Dark clouds covered the sky, summoned by a gang called the Gray, who kept people enslaved in a spell of silence. They silently went about their business in a resigned haze in villages throughout the land. Until one day, they heard another sound. There was cadence and melody in it. It was a song, the most beautiful song! A young boy’s voice seemed to soar over the darkness and chase it away.

Soon, the people near that City felt the warmth of sunlight on their skin as the dark clouds above them left. But more than that, they felt hope and joy. They saw the singing boy wearing a crown as they went to the City. And as far as his song reached, the darkness scattered as people found freedom and life again. And the people near him watched and waited for the music to clear away all the darkness in all the land. But it didn’t.

His City began to thrive, but the darkness remained all around it. And that could’ve been the end of the story. But then, a young lady found the tune herself. And an old man began harmonizing in a low, raspy voice. The two of them walked down the highway, and as they went, the darkness went with it. And so the kingdom of the Prince and his light traveled with the song. Pioneers were sent into the darkness to stake new outposts. And everywhere they went, they taught the song and sang it as far as they could into the night. And while — to this day — the darkness remains, the song continues as well.

A Pattern

The Greek word tupos — the source of the English expression “type” — describes “an example to imitate” (2 Thess. 3:9), a “model” (Titus 2:7), or a “pattern” (Heb. 8:5). Our text (1 Thess. 1:7) is the only passage that explicitly describes a church as a pattern or model. They’re the epitome of what we might call an “approved example,” an apostle holding up a New Testament-era church. So it’s worth slowing down to look at what we should imitate in them.

And while — to this day — the darkness remains, the song continues as well.

The Point

Point #1: After you catch the song, you become a singer. We’ve received the gospel with joy and conviction. It’s time to carry the Lord and his word with us (1 Thess. 1:6-8). The Thessalonians were changed by what they received (cf. 1:9-10), full of joy (1:6), faith, love, and hope (1:3). So they sent out what they received. The word for “sound forth” pictures ringing out in all directions.

They’re the epitome of what we might call an “approved example,” an apostle holding up a New Testament-era church. So it’s worth slowing down to look at what we should imitate in them.

Point #2: We are a kingdom outpost, dispatching light into the surrounding darkness. Our mission is to fill our area with the word, then send it further — as far as we can reach (1 Thess. 1:8). Because God is omnipresent, it’s easy to think his salvation is as well. But his salvation and kingdom travel with his word. In his wisdom, he chose to have people speak it. So geography has a part in the gospel, as Jesus made clear in his three-phase commission: “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Likewise, the Thessalonians sent the word out to all of Greece (Macedonia and Achaia), and then their faith went even further (1 Thess. 1:8). Applying this to ourselves, we could replace those regions with areas around us: “For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia [or for us, Fort Wayne & the Midwest] but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere…”

God’s salvation and kingdom travel with his word. In his wisdom, he chose to have people speak it.

The Application

So we have a mission to Flood the Fort, filling Northeast Indiana with the word and then letting it ring out further, using all our resources, including media and our support of evangelists elsewhere. But we have some work to do first. This year will focus on overcoming obstacles identified in the “Evangelism Check-In” forms the congregation turned in. We will equip this church for our task. What are your first steps toward greater effectiveness in sharing the gospel with those in your life?

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