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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

FOLLOW THOSE IN CHRIST JESUS

1 Thess 2:14-16 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

The church of God in Christ had its beginning in Judea, in the city of Jerusalem. It was on the day of Pentecost that Peter, and the other apostles of Christ, preached the first gospel message of the salvation from God. It was first offered to the Jewish nation and later to the entire world - to all those that would hear and obey His call to obedience through, and in, His Son, Jesus Christ (See Acts 2). Immediately, and without any doubt, it is easy to understand that any "religious" body, having its beginning in any other city of the world, could not possibly be the church of God ...in Christ Jesus. The original church of Christ that began in A.D. 33, in the city of Jerusalem, was established in accord with the inspired word of God, and was founded on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the doctrine on which it was founded, is the only authorized, God-given tenets that are to be used as an example for any, and all, other churches of God ...in Christ Jesus.

The church of Christ in Thessalonica became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus. They followed them, not only in their doctrine, but they also imitated their example of confronting, dealing with, and overcoming persecution from their own countrymen - the Jewish nation. Although they were especially chosen as His children, the Jews, in general, were a rebellious people that refused to become, and remain obedient to their Heavenly Father. Jesus tells us that they persecuted God's prophets (Matt. 5:12; also see Matt. 23:31). The Jews, and even the apostle Paul, before his conversion, severely persecuted the churches of Christ in Judea, as well as all other nearby cities, in which the gospel message of Jesus Christ had spread. Stephen, in his defense before the council, reminded the Jewish hierarchy, not only of their persecution of the prophets of God, but also accused them of the betrayal and murder of God's Son, Jesus Christ.

Referring to those unbelieving Jews, Paul said that they both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us. Unbelieving Jews originally persecuted the church at Thessalonica, but they, in turn, stirred up the people and induced other countrymen,the pagan Gentiles of their city, to join in their effort (Acts 17:13). This fact must serve as a lesson to all churches of Christ throughout the world, that persecution will come in some form or another, and it can, and must, be confronted, and overcome,just as the first churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus.

Those opposed God, and refused to accept His Son, Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the promised Savior of the world. Of those unbelievers Paul said that they please not God, and are contrary to all men. Although the leaders of the Jewish nation professed to be God's chosen people, yet biblical history proves that they failed miserably to do so, because they relied on their own human wisdom, instead of the wisdom of God, which He gave to them through His chosen prophets. Likewise, because they rejected God's prophets, they rejected His Son, Jesus Christ, who was the fulfillment of their prophecy. Because of their hatred of Paul and his message of salvation, the unbelieving Jews followed, denied, and persecuted Paul, and his fellow laborers, everywhere they went to deliver the gospel message of Christ. Paul said that they forbid us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved. Of these unbelieving, persecuting Jews, Jesus said, Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them, which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell (Matt. 23:31-33)?

The church of Christ in Thessalonica followed the example of like churches of Christ in Judea. They were founded on the doctrine of God's inspired, truthful word. Unbelievers of all generations, those that persecute the true church of God, follow the wisdom of men, and are inspired, and promoted, by Satan, himself. The "religious" bodies that false preachers and teachers establish, do not resemble the church established on the Day of Pentecost.

The really important question is, whom do you follow? The true answer is to follow the churches of God which in Judea (that) are in Christ Jesus!