God has given us His great assurance. Yes, there will be affliction and conflict, but He shall make us triumph. (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6; 2:2)
Speaker(s): Pastor Steven Scibelli, Avery Powers
6:30 PM on 4/25/2021
Avery – Good evening.
Someone asked me recently, how do we stop sinning? I thought about it and I was like, that’s
why I go to church three sometimes four times a week. That’s why I’m in Bible college 6 -10
p.m. That’s why I’m working at the church. That’s why I come here every opportunity I can. I
need to be like crying to God, Lord, fill me with your Spirit. Through the process of sanctification
maybe we sin less and less. Open with me to Matthew 13:44-46. I just want to read that with – I’m
going to read it. Just keep in mind – I’m not going to read it yet – just keep in mind before I go to
the other part the parable of the hidden treasure. vs. 44. Just keep that in mind that something
you find that is greater than everything you have at the moment and you forsake and sell all of
that for the greater treasure. So keep that in mind as we go to 2 Chronicles 16:7. Here in 2
Chronicles we have King Asa and if you read chapter 14, he actually trusts in the Lord for a
battle, 14:11. He’s trusting in the Lord at this moment.
This is before that battle. Then later on, he has an opportunity to trust in God and he doesn’t. He trusts in the King of Syria. This is kind of like – P. Schaller had spoken this morning remembering Egypt. The things of Egypt and then
you are drawn to it. You are remembering these good things in Egypt. It’s like we kind of make
the past to be something greater than it was. We remember these foods we were talking about
this morning. We had meat to eat. We had fish. We had cucumbers. P. Schaller said in the 9
a.m., maybe they didn’t have that or maybe. I was thinking maybe they did have it but it was
rotten, right? It wasn’t as good as you remember it. These things in our past that maybe we hold
onto. It was so good those times. The good old days. We’re nostalgic. It wasn’t that good. I’m
not remembering the bad things, but because of my current situation and what’s going on in my
current situation, it maybe feels like it was better in the past but it’s not the case.
If we are following God, if we are trusting in the Lord, like seeking God and we weren’t in Egypt, like that’s
like we have the Lord. We forsake the treasure. Back to Matthew 13, we have the forsaking of
the treasure. You sell the treasure. You sell the goods to get the treasure. You sell it. You don’t
leave it. He doesn’t leave the goods that he had. He sells it. It’s no longer his. I think that is kind
of what I was thinking about and just this idea that can we sell the things that we own and that
we no longer own it. We find something greater and that’s Christ. And after we find Christ, he
decides what we have. He gives us, maybe he gives something back but it’s from him. That’s
the quick thought I had. Are we selling our possessions for this field that has the treasure. Are
we selling it or are we just leaving it? Just walking away from what we have and going to the
field and we have the treasure in the field and we go, this treasure is amazing. But we didn’t sell
it. We still have it. We still own it. Lord, what do I still own? It could be a prayer. What do I still
own that I’m holding onto that I’m not giving to the cross for you to transform, change, and
resurrection life afterwards.
Still alive! What a life this is, isn’t it? Amen. What a great church. Grace church.
Glorious church. Glad to be in the church. Amen. I want to read a few verses. If you would stand
with me and turn to 1 Thessalonians There’s three verses I want us to look at and really connect. I was
just sitting there thinking these verses really connect together. Paul is writing to this church
where he spent three weeks in that church, three Sabbaths. It wasn’t a long time movement. He
did take some Thessalonians with him on a journey so I think that’s why the church really
responded very well. vs. 5. Listen to these two words: much assurance. Say that. Much
assurance. Much assurance. vs. 6. much affliction. What is it? Much affliction. 1 Thessalonians 2:2,
much contention. Much contention. You may be seated. We had a great time for a number of
weeks, myself, P. Renaldo, P. Eugene. Thank God for those men who steer me in the right
direction when I go to the wrong gate or don’t know where my luggage is or what not and they
are just there. I don’t pay much attention to those things.
The same with whether it’s a visa or whatever. They’re there. They said to me, you know you have to get a covid test before you get back on the plane? I said, why? I said, I have one. I have one. I have two. I have three. I have
four. I think P. Renaldo had six. Between him and I we had ten covid tests. Somebody is making
money. I’ll tell you that. So I go to the doctor and he’s born again which is really great. I’m
thinking I don’t like people sticking things in the nose and all that kind of stuff. It was like, man!
He’s sitting there looking at me, and he pulls this thing out. It’s this long. I started to think about
much contention, much affliction. What is that? He goes, we don’t go up the nose because that
doesn’t work. They always tell you you don’t have it because they go up the nose. They don’t go far enough. This is going down your throat. Open your mouth. I’m like, looking at that thing and
thinking [making a noise]. He tested it and in about a few hours he said you’re fine. You’re doing
fine. I thought thank God you are saved and born again because if you weren’t, we could have
had a small situation here! It was an awesome time regardless of those things. I think those
things are going to happen.
I mean I asked myself a question, wow. One thing after another. One visa, one immigration officer, one border crossing, another covid test, another covid test, another covid test and I’m like, yes. It’s worth it. Why? Because we meet these precious people.Amen. We meet these precious people. We had an opportunity to connect with 100 GGWO
churches. I didn’t go to all of them. They came to where we were which is a little bit better. It’s a
little bit better than trampling all over the place. We had about 80 to 82 churches in East Africa
alone and another 18 or so in Southern Africa. What a great time. In their minds, they are
wondering is anybody – and they love it. They love watching online. They love when they can
take a look at classes. They all have classes you know. But like to see people face to face. Just
to see them face to face to me was so incredible. I think I mentioned it before, there’s this one
couple and they came to our church. I’ve said this story before but I want to say it again
because I want it to sink into my own mind.
They came as orphans from the country of Chad. Really kids, orphans, eleven and twelve years old. They were raised in our orphanage that is in Uganda. Then they were in Christian school. Then they went to Bible school. Then they got
married and now they are on their way to Chad as missionaries which is a remarkable story. If
you don’t think so, snap, try to see if you are alive! It was amazing to see these two and what
not and the direction they are going in with their lives and how humble and meek. Just coming
as little children right through Christian school, Bible school, getting married and then being sent
out as missionaries. And by the way, if it wasn’t for this church’s giving, they would be able to
get to Chad. They wouldn’t be able to live in Chad, cause through offerings and missionary
money that is supporting them and sending them, that’s the only reason they are going. That’s
the reason that is behind them. Thank God that we are behind missions. I love this as Paul is
speaking to the Thessalonians. He’s talking about having much assurance.
He’s got much assurance because he’s got the Word of God. There’s three things he mentions: the Gospel of
God, the Word of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit. When we understand deep in our souls
that we have God’s Word. We have the Gospel, the message of the Gospel and we have the
Holy Spirit’s power, that gives us tremendous assurance. We don’t walk around being
intimidated by people. It’s very easy for the world, the flesh and the devil to intimidate us,
whether we are at our place of work or on the street where we live or we meet people. In the
midst of people maybe that have known you for years and all of a sudden we can find ourselves
going backwards. Every one of us can find ourselves living with human reason and fear and
doubts and anxieties about what is going to take place.
Paul said regardless of what has happened in my life, I’ve got much assurance. I read something today which is interesting to me, was to me anyway. In Romans 1, Philippians 1, 1 Thessalonians 1 and 1 Corinthians 9, the word
“gospel” is mentioned 46 times in those four chapters. Gospel and maybe ten percent of the
time it’s the word “preaching.” I was thinking what is on this man’s mind? What is on the mind of
the Apostle Paul. He’s so overwhelmed that God saved him from hell. Great message this
morning about how God delivered us, Luke 16. And so overwhelmed. It’s so easy to get caught
up with what I have, what I don’t have and what I’m trying to keep whatever it may be. And what
should be taking place, what’s going on, how come it’s not going like this, the government this,
the country that, this, that going on. Situations in families and marriages. But you know, how
vital it is when our mind begins to focus on the Gospel, the simple Gospel. Because the Gospel
is very easily understood. It’s the person of Christ and the work of the cross. That’s the Gospel.
The person of Christ and the work of the cross.
That’s good news, glad news, glorious news, great news. You know what is bad news? The person of me and the work that I do in the flesh. Me and what I do outside of God. That’s called bad news. When I understand what kind of bad
news that is, who I am outside of the new man in Christ and what I’ve done outside of the new
man in Christ, that’s pretty bad, depressing news. Then I shift out of that and I shift into who he
is and what he’s done. Hallelujah! Are you here tonight? It’s glorious. It’s the Gospel. We’re
down at Aldi’s yesterday. I love Baltimore. I love how people respond. We had great responses
yesterday from people and just giving people the Gospel. What a privilege. I’m waiting for
someone to kick us out of there, but it hasn’t happened yet. And we stand right in front of the
door sometimes. Too many of us. And the employers go in and out and they are smiling and laughing.
They’re probably thinking it’s great that somebody is here. Because maybe with God’s
presence here, some things that could happen won’t happen. We are there with the message of
the Gospel. We’re in the city. We’re working with young people in the Bible clubs and all these
things that are going on. We’re giving people simply that message of the Gospel. What else is
there in my life to do? I don’t know. What am I going to do with my life? I was thinking about it
the other day. What would I do if it wasn’t for God and the message of the Gospel and the
church? Sit home and watch some box all day long and eat macaroni until it came out of my
ears? What are we going to do? Where are we going to go? He says we got much assurance.
When I live in much assurance, I don’t live in my insecurities, my fears, what’s going to happen
in life. What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose a soul?
Do you realize that one person you pray for, one person you talk to about Christ, one person that responds whether
it’s now or ten years from now, – one person is worth more than anything anybody could ever
attain to in this life. Recognition, power, riches, money, high offices in the lands. It’s absolutely
nothing compared to a saved soul. Are you with me? By the way, I have a problem talking to
people with the Gospel. Did you ever think that maybe you could ask God to help. Here’s a
prayer: Lord Jesus, I really pray that you would give me somebody today that would be open for
the Gospel. God says, no. I’m not interested in your prayer. I’m interested in you getting more
money. No, no. Is God interested in souls? Hello? Why wouldn’t he answer that prayer. You try
a prayer and see if God doesn’t bring someone this week in your face that wants to know why
are you always so happy and joyful and if you’re not, just rebound, okay! Why are you so happy
and joyful all the time and what’s going on. Don’t you know the world that we are living in? No, I
don’t know the world that I’m living in.
Well, that’s hyperspiritual. No, it’s not. It’s just plain spiritual. It’s I know Jesus Christ and I know what he has done and I know who I am in Him and I know what I’m doing through him and I’m excited about it. Paul said I got much assurance. I’m filled with the assurance of God. I’m not assured in my own self. He’s this small Jewish guy that
spoke with a squeaky voice…yet he says, I got incredible assurance. That’s one of the great
things that’s lacking in Christianity today. People having assurance of who He is and what He’s
done and who they are and what they can do. Are you with me? Are you sure? Someone said to
me, hey. You’re still doing this? Aren’t you old? What is old? What does that mean? Aren’t you
old? It’s like coming out of Satan’s mouth. No, your old. You’re an old serpent and you live in an
old world with an old sin nature that you’re attacking. There’s a lot of “olds” regarding you. There
is a lot of new regarding me. N-E-W. New. I’m new. Amen. Aren’t you getting old what you’re
doing? I said, I had a plan when I was a certain age, a certain age.
Every decade my wife and I make a new plan. I’m in my 70-80 plan now. There’s another one that’s 80-90. Then there’s
another one, God permitting, that is 90-100. I’d like to be preaching the Gospel at 100 years old.
I don’t know if I’d be making any sense! But that doesn’t matter much. You could sit there and
drool and if you are smiling and they knew you were saved maybe someone could get
delivered! Are you listening! Much assurance. Much assurance. The world is trying to attack us
to get us to live in insecurity that’s being used by the devil to do it. That we would be insecure.
Thinking about that. I heard someone said to me recently, I can’t go to Bible school. I don’t have
any education. I said, who needs it? Education? It’s okay, but you can learn the Bible. Right?
You know what Philippe Serradji’s background is? He went to second grade and he quit. No, I’m
just joking! No, he’s got much assurance. You went to third grade, alright! Third grade! I hated
school. I was getting kicked out of classes when I was in fourth grade.
Brought my dog into the class one time, and the teacher said the dog has to leave. I said why don’t you leave? I was not
– at fourth grade or 12 years old, I was a miserable person to be around. Don’t think anything
different. Much assurance! We got assurance that the words that we speak are eternal. They
can be used to change lives. A person can get pulled out of darkness into his marvelous light.
What assurance we’ve got. I don’t stand insecure analyzing everything I say. Did I say that
right? Did I speak that right? Did I explain that right? I’m not an apologetic. I’m not an apologist.
There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just kind of can I tell you how God loves you. What do you
mean by that? I don’t really know a lot about it but I know he loves me. If he loves me, he can
definitely love you. Much assurance. This assurance in our lives, it takes us through much
affliction. You say, why do you have to bring that part of the message in? Because it’s in the
Bible. Much affliction. PLIPSIS. Trouble on every side.
Pressure. Do you know what I’m talking about? No, you don’t. If you live in much assurance, the pressure doesn’t touch you. Hello? Don’t let it touch you. I remember in Thessaloniki when we were there. I went there five times. Every time P. Tom said you’re doing the preaching because it’s better that you get arrested than
I get arrested and get kicked out. I said I’m not so sure I agree with that kind of understanding,
that kind of thinking. It’s better that I get arrested? He said you’ve been arrested so many times,
what’s the difference? You know jail. I said exactly I do. It’s only eight times. It’s no big deal. You
know. Are you laughing at me? Huh? You couldn’t believe it. You would stand to preach and
people would attack you while you were preaching. They run right at you trying to punch you. I
had two big guys with me, Don Benoit and Jim Henry. They took care of that thing coming. One
time a guy said to me, he was behind me screaming like a demon. He’s yelling and screaming.
He was screaming, “give me the mic!” He said it like ten times.
I said you want the mic? Here you go. Right in the forehead! He went down! No, I wasn’t ordained. He kept asking for the mic so I gave it to him. He didn’t say where he wanted it. I know go home and you’re talk about it
and say something’s there. It was the way I was raised. I don’t know what it was, but much
affliction! Pressure. People coming at us all the time. Trouble everywhere. It was incredible. We
had Randy Bertacky with us. He was an amazing man of God. Still is. And he used to do a
mime. He played the devil. Rich Mahoney was Jesus. And when Jesus appeared, the devil fled.
But Randy Bertacky would run off the pier into the ocean. I don’t know if you remember that,
right Kathy? He’s run off the pier into the ocean. Is he out of his mind? But it was very effective.
The devil is drowning! It was incredible the affliction and the contention. It wasn’t a little. It was
much affliction, much contention. I’ll never forget we went to Bulgaria and we did a mime in
Bulgaria, Sophia. This is 1980-81.
That was forty years ago, what Bulgaria was like. It was a
police state. When they arrested us, they took me to a police station and they brought me into a
room and they showed me cameras that had every street in the capital city on a camera on a
television set. That’s the kind of place it was. They said what are you doing here with this? Do
you have any Bibles? I had seven Bibles on my body taped everywhere. I said, no. I wasn’t
lying. He said Bible singular! I had Bibles. I wasn’t lying! But contention. Contention bringing the
Gospel to China. Contention even in trips that we take no matter where it may be. There’s
affliction and maybe that’s centered at me, my old sin nature, things that I’m going through in life
and then there’s much contention. Much contention. That can happen. That can happen in a
relationship. That can happen in a marriage. It can be affliction and contention. In churches,
sometimes those things go on in bringing the Gospel into all the world. The reason why – by the
way, if a church doesn’t have trouble, it’s because they are not a threat to the devil.
Did you hear me? If a church or a Christian isn’t experiencing a problem it’s most likely that they are no
threat to the kingdom of darkness, so he doesn’t bother with them. He already owns them. Oh,
sorry about that. There’s going to be much affliction and much contention. It’s the way it is. Paul
talked about it but the greatest thing is I got much assurance. I got the assurance of the Holy
Spirit. I got the assurance of the promises of God. I got the assurance of grace. I got the
assurance of the finished work. I got the assurance of God’s mercy which rejoices over
judgment. I’ve got such assurance. I’m in this Body of Christ with these incredible believers with
a vision and a purpose. What assurance I’ve got! If I wasn’t in this church, I would be like a
flaming coward most likely. Running away. Because of this ministry and the church and the
Spirit and the Word and the finished work and the eternal purpose and knowing there is a
heaven and a hell, I’ve got what and you’ve got what?
Much assurance. And that assurance can permeate our souls. It can control our emotions, our will, our conscience, our self image and before you know it we are walking around with an assurance that can handle any kind of much
affliction or any of the much contention. Is the much affliction and the much contention going to
be there? Yeah. He kept talking about joy in this portion of Scripture, joy in the Holy Spirit. Why?
Because he had such assurance from God. We have assurance. We have eternal life, amen.
We’re going to live forever. No matter what is going on down here, I’m going to live forever with
God, with no sin nature, no bad knees, no problems physically, no need for glasses. Halleluiah!
I won’t have to put socks on there either. I’ll have an angel do it for me if I can’t bend over! We’ll
get a new body. Wow! What a life! What a great hope we have in heaven being together
forever. Can you imagine? It’s going to be incredible and I have such assurance of eternal life.
They have a song in Ghana. It’s called a happy eternal life in view, in view. A happy eternal life
in view. My Savior’s gone to prepare me a place.
I have eternal life in view. Let’s live in the assurance of God, amen! Yeah, there’s contention. Yeah, there’s affliction. Yeah, there’s an old sin nature. Yeah, there’s things happening all the time. Yeah, there’s trials. Yes, there’s tests.
They had it. They had it. They were driven out of Thessaloniki in three weeks. Driven out. Enemies followed them everywhere. Even ones from the one city followed them to the next. But
you know what? Much assurance. Much assurance. And it’s so great to see the believers that
we have in Greater Grace and these countries like Zambia, Zimbabwe and Southern Africa and
Rwanda. We have churches in Kigali, Rwanda. And Sudanese believers. You should see these
Sudanese believers. I love them. I said what do you do when you get hungry? There’s no food
in Sudan. We eat tree bark! We boil tree bark and it’s nutritious. I thought, we have a lot of trees
here. If we ever have a problem, I’m just going to boil tree bark. They got so much assurance in
what God has given them. And Kenyans. P. Renaldo is in Kenya today. Kenyans and all these
people from Eastern and Southern Africa.
And to see the Arman family, P. Chris and Julie and their children. And to see how much joy they are having and how much assurance they have that they are in the will of God. What are you doing in Africa? How long are you going to be here for? I don’t know. Could be thirty years, forty years. And they have such an assurance as they
raise their family and their kids overseas. Some people would say what kind of education are
they going to have? They’re going to have God. The one who can teach anybody anything.
They’re going to have Jesus. Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will
give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. Learning of God and what assurance
they have as a family. And to see the Sliva’s there and just see how much they are enjoying the
work of God. Is there contention? Is there affliction? Of course there is. Of course there is. But
they have so much assurance from God and they live in that and go forward.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.