Cowboy Fellowship Church Pete Pawelek Series: 1 Thessalonians July 4, 2010 www.pastorpete.org or listen to the sermon here simply search for the title in the search bar on the player. Enough Already 1 Thessalonians 2:3 â€Śwhy, but Paul begins to defend his ministry. He begins to defend the fact that he shared and dared to share the gospel in Thessalonica. As we've talked about in the past, this was not an easy place to share the gospel. It was a place where he and others faced great opposition as they went and told people about Jesus, yet they dared to share the gospel. After Paul left, and sometime in between the time he was in Thessalonica and went to Berea, and went down to Athens and ended up in Corinth, from sometime in the time Paul left and the time he sent Timothy back, people began to spread bad rumors and nasty things about the apostle Paul and his ministry while he was in Thessalonica. One of the places in this letter that these false accusations are addressed by the apostle Paul is in these verses. I want to back up, and I want to read verses 1-6 of the second chapter of 1 Thessalonians just for context, but again, we're going to primarily focus in on verse 3 today. He says, "You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition." Verse 3, "For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greedâ€”God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else." The first thing Paul makes an attempt at defending is the message. He sets out to defend the message that he preached. Listen, if you're going to go out and tell people about the gospel, somebody is going to make an accusation about that message. I've preached the gospel in Africa. I've preached the gospel in Europe, Central and South America. I've preached the gospel here, there, and yonder, and everywhere I've done it, over time, somebody eventually comes up and makes an accusation about the message of the gospel, not about me, but about the gospel message in and of itself. Apparently, this is what had happened sometime between the time Paul left and the time Timothy returned from his trip to Thessalonica. Timothy brought back a report that people were accusing the gospel as being wrong. Paul says this in verse 3, "For the appeal we make does not Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX
spring from error." He wanted them to know that the appeal they made through the gospel did not spring from error. It was not false. It was not wrong. In fact, it was accurate and true. I need some volunteers today. Anybody want to volunteer, or do I have to call on people? I need some kids who know their ABCs and 123s. Okay, you right here, come on down (in the green shirt). I need one more, about 6,7,8 years old, knows some basic math. Yeah, right over here with the sunglasses on top of your head. Yeah, come on down here. I know you didn't have your hand up, but that's what you get when nobody else raises their hand. Give them a round of applause. Tell everybody your name, and some people know you, but the people at Wilson County don't, so tell them your name and your age. All right? Emily Frans: Emily Frans, and I'm 12 and a half. Pete Pawelek: And a half, great! Go ahead. Amanda Owens: Amanda Owens, and I'm 13. Pete Pawelek: And a half? No. Okay. Y'all come stand right over here. Here, actually both of you kind of stand right here where you can see this, but where they can see it as well. Twelve and 13, so you know your ABCs and your 123s. That's the idea. What is the first letter in the alphabet? Emily and Amanda: A Pete Pawelek: Nope. Where do y'all go to school? The first letter in the alphabet happens to be J, as in Jesus. Y'all didn't know that? What's the second letter? Second letter of the alphabet, this isn't hard. Emily and Amanda: E? Pete Pawelek: Nope, second letter of the alphabet happens to be C, like church. Y'all didn't know that? Y'all look confused. They're not teaching these kids anything in school these days. Are they, people? What is the third letter of the alphabet? It's P! Like Pastor Pete! JCPâ€Śy'all have never heard of that? Okay, maybe y'all are better at math. Y'all are probably better at math, right? Tell me if you can solve this equation. I'll keep it simple. Two plus two equalsâ€Ś Emily and Amanda: Four. Pete Pawelek: Nope, nine. I don't have time to explain this to y'all tonight, but you're just going to have to trust me. Okay?
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Y'all can have a seat. Give me that microphone back before they say nasty things. Give them a round of applause. Now, of course that's not really the ABCs, and two plus two (of course) doesn't really equal nine. That's error, right? They weren't just confused because they thought I might be wrong. They were confused because they knew I was wrong, and they had no ability to correct me because I'm the pastor, right? They were just submitting to the pastor's authority there. This is error! This is false. This is wrong. This is what they were accusing Paul of. They weren't accusing him of just misguiding people a little bit. They weren't accusing Paul of messing up one little thing about the gospel. They were saying what Paul was teaching was error. It was false. It was utterly wrong, and there was no way that it could be true. So Paul refutes that by saying, "You know the appeal we make does not spring from error." Paul wasn't an uneducated man. You can go into the book of Acts, chapter 22, and you can find he was very well educated. Paul was very well educated, and he had spent time studying all kinds of theology, and he knew the gospel he was preaching wasn't a two-plus-two-equals-ninekind-of gospel. He knew it was right. Two plus two equals four every time, isn't it? Paul knew the gospel he had preached was correct and right, but somebody was making an accusation. They were accusing him of teaching false doctrine. They were accusing him of teaching something that was wrong, but he answers his critics in verse 4, the very first part of verse 4. He says, "On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel." He calls on God to be his witness. He says, "God can testify to the fact that what we are preaching is true. What we taught was right. God can testify to the fact that we are men who speak approved by God." God has entrusted us with the gospel. Any time you go and preach the gospel, any time you go and take the triple-dog dare to tell people about the gospel, you will have somebody who says, "No, no, no. Two plus two is not four, it's nine. It can't just be this easy. It can't be two plus two is four. That's too easy. It has to be two plus two equals nine." No, the gospel is simply this. Jesus came and He died on a Cross for you, and if you accept it and believe it, you're saved. "No, no, no that's too easy. That's too easy." That's the false gospel. They'll throw works in, and they'll throw all these theological arguments in. They'll want to get off on all these big, long tangents just like they were doing with Paul. They will accuse you of not preaching the gospel. This happened all the time. It didn't just happen to Paul. Look at what it says in 2 Peter 1:16. Listen to the defense Peter brings, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty." He faced it as well. Somebody was accusing him of not teaching and preaching the right thing. What about Galatians? Again, back to Paul, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Verse 11, "I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached [catch it] is not Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX
something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." Nobody taught him that two plus two was four and that ABC was actually how the gospel went. He says, "I received it directly from Jesus Christ." He said, "I didn't just go out and make this stuff up." I made this up, by the way. That's error. I made it up. Tomorrow it will be different. I just made it up. Two plus two could be 29. Two plus two could be 99. Two plus two could be anything because I just made it up. He says, "I didn't make this stuff up. This isn't my invention. This isn't something some great philosopher taught me. This was revealed to me by Jesus Christ Himself." The message we preach, and the message we proclaim, if it's the true gospel, I promise, you will be challenged. Somebody will come up and they'll say, "That is not the right message." Here's the thing for most of us that we need to pay attention to when it comes to the message. We need to make sure the message we preach and the life we live match up because I'll tell you something that is way confusing to the world, something that has totally dumbfounded the world outside of church walls is thisâ€Śthey are confused by the fact that we preach two plus two equals four. That's what we preach. We preach the right gospel. But then we live our lives like two plus two equals nine, or 29, or 99, or who knows. We make it up as we go along. One day we do it, the next day we don't. One day we follow His commands, the next day we willingly disobey Him. See when the gospel we preach and the gospel we teach don't add up, there is going to be error. They're going to have reason to challenge the message because now they don't know what to believe. Is two plus two four, or is two plus two nine? Nobody knows. The world becomes confused. Paul lived his life right, as we've talked about in the past. He lived his life in a way that honored God and honored the gospel he preached, and ours must as well because if we teach and preach one thing, but live another way, we'll just confuse everybody around us, and the message we preach will have no power. It will have no validity. It won't make any sense because nobody will know what they're going to get from us tomorrow. Paul says, "You know what we preached to you was ABC. You know that we told you every time two plus two is always four. What we preached and the way we lived, how we taught you was right. We didn't make it up as we went along. We didn't invent it. We didn't read a book about it. It was revealed to us by God Himself." They attacked the message, but that's not all they attacked. It appears they also attacked Paul's motivation, the motivation of Paul and the other believers who traveled with Paul. He says in verse 3, "For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives." Anybody here read Greek? This is nasty in the Greek. This impure motives, boy the English does a good job of cleaning it up. This word in the Greek, I can't even make it translate in English, I'll be honest with you because people would get mad at me for saying stuff in church.
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Basically, this impure motive they were comparing Paul's ministry to it was the worst kind of sin in the world. It was sexual sin. It was the kind of sin that prostitutes partook in. They accused Paul of having selfish motives for himself. They were saying basically that he was prostituting the gospel. He was out there as a prostitute would sell her body, he was selling the gospel in just this dirty and vile and horrible way. I mean this was a nasty accusation. This was ugly stuff he was refuting, and he says, "You know about our motives. You know we didn't have these impure motives with you. You know that's not the way we lived our lives." He refutes it in the second part of verse 4. He says, "We're not trying to please men, but God who tests our hearts. It's not about us. It's not about you. It wasn't about money, or fame or anything else. It's about God." In verse 6 he says, "We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else." He's trying to say, "We weren't selfishly motivated. It wasn't about us." Do you remember what happened in Philippi? Those of you who haven't been with us probably don't know. We don't have time to go into it tonight, but man, they had the snot beaten out of them. Selfish motivations would have sent them home. It wasn't about selfish motivations. It wasn't about money, fame, power. It wasn't about impressing people. It wasn't about getting elected the next time elections came around. It wasn't about any of that stuff. He says, "Our motives were pure. Everything we did was for God and was for the kingdom. It wasn't about men. It wasn't about us. It was about God." Here is one thing I've learned about the devil. If he doesn't succeed in attacking your message, do you know what he'll do? He'll attack the messenger. If he can't destroy the message, which he hasn't been able to do in Thessalonica, the message of the gospel stood strong. He couldn't destroy the message, so he came after the messenger, Paul. He came after him and said that the motivation of the vessel God chose to use, the apostle Paul and the others in his group, the motivation of those men was false. It was wrong. It was ugly. It was vile. People began to attack the motivation of Paul. You know what makes this thing the saddest? He faced this his whole ministry. That's why I titled the messageâ€ŚEnough Already. Man, I would have been sick of this by now. We studied weeks ago that this is most likely the very first letter that Paul ever penned that we have recorded in the Bible. Now while this isn't at the very beginning of his ministry, it's certainly not at the very end either. He faces this time and time again. Read 2 Corinthians 7:2. He says, "Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one." Again, he faced the same accusation. They came after the messenger, and they attacked the messenger's motives. Galatians 1:10, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Again, same accusation against the messenger that his motives were wrong. If the devil can't beat you at the message, he'll come for the messenger, and he'll attack the motives of the messenger. Paul, like 99.9 percent of all Christians, had pure motives. He had the right motives. He had the right heart. Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX
There are people out there who do things with the gospel they shouldn't. There are people out there who are in it for the money and the fame and the glory and the power. There are people out there who use it to their own benefit, but Paul wasn't one of them, and you're probably not either. Paul didn't do this for anything selfish. He did it for God. The message for us in this is that we must make sure our message and our motivation are right. When we go out and tell people about Jesus, if you go out and take that triple-dog dare I gave you last week to tell somebody about Jesus, if you go out and invite somebody to come with you to that PBR event that is going to go on on August 1, if you invite somebody to come to a fall festival or any other evangelistic outreach event, you better make sure your motivation is pure and it's right because if it's not, the devil will see a little crack, and he'll attack that motivation and he'll exploit it. If you're in it just because you think if you get somebody there you're going to get a bigger house in heaven, that's not the right motivation. If you're in it because you think you're going to earn some brownie points with God and He is going to love you more if you share the gospel more, that's not the right motivation. If you're in it so when the end-of-the-year banquet comes at church, you can get the super-duper Christian award, that's not the right motivation. If you're in it so you can put another notch on your belt and say, "I won another one for the Lord," that's not the right motivation. Hell is the motivation. That's what motivates me every morning to get out of bed and try again. The grasp and the grip the devil has on this world, the grasp and the grip he has on my family and my friends and people I know is all the motivation I need. I'm not motivated by the thought of a bigger mansion or more rubies in my crown. I'm not motivated by anything like that. I'm motivated by the fact that I know there is an enemy out there who is stalking the souls of people I love and eternity is on the line. I'm motivated by the fact that I know God has commanded, and called, and equipped me to share my testimony and to preach the gospel so that some might be saved. It's motivation enough! We don't need any other motivation, and Paul didn't either. You better make sure your motivation is right. You better make sure it's true, or the devil will exploit it. He'll use it against you every single time. Then there is the third thing they attacked in Paul's ministry, and they'll attack in yours too if you go out there and share the gospel on a regular basis. Not just the message you preach, not just the motivation of your heart, they will also come against the method you use. I'm a firm believer God doesn't change. I'm a firm believer He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, as the Scriptures say. Anybody else believe that? Nod your heads. Yeah! I'm a firm believer in it, but I'm also a firm believer that my God is the most creative being there has ever been. Just look at us. Go home and look in the mirror. You don't think God is creative? Every single one of us have different fingerprints, different number of hairs on our head, and He knows all about all of that stuff.
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He knit it all together in our mother's womb. Every single one of us has a different personality. Every single one of us has a different set of gifts. You don't think God is creative? Go outside on a clear night, and look up at the stars and the moon, and understand that there are billions upon billions of stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. There are billions upon billions of galaxies in our universe that are full of billions upon billions of stars, and you don't think He is creative? Oh, He is creative. God doesn't change, but sometimes His methods do. Sometimes He calls people to do different things. Paul was doing different things. He was doing different things than Peter, the apostle Peter. He was preaching the gospel to different people and in a different way than others were doing, and God was blessing his ministry. There is nothing wrong with the method Paul used. But because it was a little bit different, guess what? The devil attacked it. Paul said, "You guys knowâ€Śyou know." Look at verse 5. He says, "You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greedâ€”God is our witness." He said, "We are not trying to trick you," in verse 3. "The method we used was not something that tricked you." The word for trick in the Greek means to be deceived. It means somebody intentionally lied to you and deceived you, just like I lied to those girls earlier. All the stuff was a trick. It was a lie. It was made up. It was phony. Somebody intentionally tried to deceive them. That's what they were accusing Paul of. He says, "You know we never tried to trick you. We didn't lie to you when it came to the gospel." He says, "We never used flattery." In other words, we never tried to build you up and just pretend to be your friends so you would come to know Jesus. He says, "We always told you the truth." When it comes to the gospel, it doesn't matter so much what method you use so long as your method is the truth. It is not okay to lie to people to get them to come to know Jesus, not then and not now. It's not okay to tell people, "Hey, hey," you take the Cross and Cowboy Fellowship off this, right, you Photoshop it really good, and you say, "Hey, come to a bull riding with me. It's going to be great. Just ride with me. Just ride me. No, you can ride up with me." Then you get to the bull riding and the bull riding is over and they're like, "Oh man, let's go. Boy, that was cool." You're like, "Uh uh buddy, you rode with me. I have the keys. You can't go nowhere. Whoa! Going to get you the gospel." That ain't going to work. That's deceptive. It's the wrong method. See there has been a great debate going on in Christian circles for about the last 20 years, and it concerns this issue of the method. There are some people who think that churches like Cowboy churches, for example, are bad because it's deceptive, because it entices people to come through events like ropings and bull ridings and things like that. There are some people who think events like, say the Fall Festival, are bad because you're enticing people to come for candy and things like that. There are some people who think events like a potluck are bad. I don't. But there are some who do because they think it's deceptive. You're just tricking people to come to church to eat. There are people who think ropings and play days and all of that stuff are bad, Christian concerts and anything that brings lost people in they basically think are bad because it's deceptive. But let Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX
me ask you a question, anybody here tricked to be here tonight? Did anybody think they were coming to Cowboy Fellowship for the potluck tonight and think it wasn't a church? No, nobody was tricked. You knew what you were going to get when you came to church, right? Nothing deceptive about it. Same with our roping. Same with Fall Festival. Same with this PBR event. Yeah, it's enticing, and yes, it may just be that extra little nudge that gets somebody to go, but we don't hide the fact the gospel is going to be presented and people are going to have an opportunity to respond to it. It's the whole point. It's the whole point of everything we do. We're not hiding it. We're not lying to people about it, and we're not certainly being deceptive. We're not trying to trick anybody. See people were saying Paul was trying to trick you guys. Paul says, "We never tried to trick you. We never used flattery. We never tried to build you guys up just so you would come to the faith." He says, "We always told you the truth." Some people say, "Well, if Paul were here, he probably wouldn't do a fall festival. He wouldn't get together with the Billy Graham organization, and he wouldn't get together with Riding High Ministries and the PBR and do an event like that if Paul were here." Oh really? How about 1 Corinthians 9:20-23? Let's let Paul explain himself, "To the Jews I became like a Jew [guess why?], to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to [do what?] win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to [what?] win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings." Wasn't selfishly motivated. He says, "I do it all for the sake of the gospel." His message was right. His motivation was pure, and his methods were okay. He didn't lie. He didn't trick people. He did not deceive people, yet time and time again, they came against him. Just read 2 Corinthians 4:2. He says these things kind of sarcastically. He says, "Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." Second Corinthians 12:16-18, very sarcastically, "Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent you? I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same course?" Time and time and time again, people came after his method. Why? Because they were trying to destroy the great work God was doing through him. They came after the message. They came after the man, the messenger, and they came after the method he was trying to use. If I were Paul, I would have said, "Enough already! Enough, I'm finished. I'm done. You guys, you can just have it. You know better than all of this." But Paul, he was a veteran, and he just answered his critics with the truth. He had nothing to hide, and he had nothing to be ashamed of so he just answered them. Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX
The devil will attack the message you proclaim. He'll attack the motivation of the messenger, and he will attack the methods that are successful for winning the lost because he is your enemy, not your friend. Anything that is successful he will come at with everything he has. So don't be surprised when you take up the challenge to share the gospel at the place you work and at the school you attend, don't be surprised when you go next door to your neighbors and your family and your friends and you share the gospel and somebody attacks the message, or they come against you (the messenger) and your motivation, or they attack the method you use. Don't be surprised. Be prepared. You're not the first, and you won't be the last to face these kinds of accusations. The apostle Paul stood against it, and still had a very successful ministry and you will as well if you just answer your critics with truth.
Cowboy Fellowship Church Jourdanton, TX