Improving the Church’s Public Relations

Pastor Phil Andrukaitis, March 19, 2023

The Apostle Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians

 General Theme: Living Righteously While Waiting Patiently for Jesus to Return

Sermon Title: Improving the Church’s Public Relations

Sermon Text: First Thessalonians 4:9-12

Subject: Public Relations

Complement: Positive, public relations are established when Christians strive to lead a peaceable life.

Dominating Idea: Quiet living is a valuable contribution in our sinful world.

Overview & Review

I.          Spiritual leaders prove their concern for the church. (1:1a)

II.        Spiritual leaders provide care for the church. (1:1bc)

III.       Spiritual leaders pray for the church. (1:2-10)

IV.       Spiritual leaders pattern a life of loving service unto the church. (2:1 – 3:13)

V.         Spiritual leaders prescribe exhortations for the church. (4:1 – 5:22)

            A.         Exhortations regarding practical sanctification. (4:1-12)

                        1.         Abstain from sexual immorality. (4:1-8)            

                        2.         Amplify brotherly love. (4:9-10) Today’s Focus

                        3.         Aspire to live a balanced life. (4:11-12). Today’s Focus


William Miller was the founder of Millerism.  Miller, a farmer from New York, claimed to have discovered the time when  Jesus Christ would return to earth.  While Miller formed this belief in the 1820s, “Prophet Miller” delivered hundreds of emotional lectures filled with terror from 1831 to 1844.  By the early 1840s, approximately one million people had attended huge outdoor camp meetings to hear “Prophet Miller’s” messages.  It was estimated that a hundred thousand people followed Miller despite his critics and disbelievers and thus, they became known as Millerites.

Miller predicted that Christ’s second coming would occur on October 22, 1844, believing all “worthy” people would ascend to heaven.  Consequently, thousands of people all over the country eagerly anticipated the event.

Sadly, many of the Millerites forsook their original religious beliefs and adopted Millerism, hoping that Jesus Christ would find no fault with them when He would soon return to earth.  The Millerites consisted of all types of people especially among the working-class people who hoped that Christ’s arrival would end their laborious lives.

While many American citizens believed people were sinners, it was generally believed that Millierites were true believers and would escape divine punishment.  God wanted the “deserving” to assist their unworthy neighbors through various reform movements, such as the temperance and abolition movements.  Other people believed that citizens of the United States were God’s chosen people and that Jesus Christ’s arrival would prove this point.

As October 22, 1844 approached, many Millerites sold their earthly possessions, dressed themselves in white robes, and climbed the highest mountains and hills they could find so that they would be closer to heaven.  Unfortunately for these people, they did not ascend to heaven on the appointed day.  Consequently, most Millerites bitterly returned to their former way of life and the “Great Disappointment” became another historical event to be recorded in history books.

Miller claimed to have made an error and quickly issued a new date for the second coming, approximately six months later [April 1845].  Once again, this day came and went.  At this point, most of Miller’s followers abandoned him and joined the Adventist Church, which Miller had helped establish.[1]

Note:  For a more thorough treatment on this historical figure and event, click on the following link:

Transitional Thoughts

Sadly, William Miller and his followers failed to grasp the significance of Jesus’ answer to the disciples when they asked Him about His return – “But of that day and hour no one knows, no not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24, especially verse 36).  Unfortunately, their zeal for the Lord’s return was not balanced with practical living.

In a similar way, Paul was concerned for a developing situation that possessed the potential to hinder the spiritual growth of the Thessalonian Church; a preoccupation with the return of Christ at the expense of neglecting practical responsibilities.  While some teachers had troubled the Thessalonian saints with their erroneous teachings about end times, after Paul sent off his first letter, he fired off another, addressing the same issues that were plaguing the Thessalonian believers (2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3 and 3:10).

When Timothy presented his positive and glowing assessment of the Thessalonian Church to Paul, Paul commended the Thessalonian believers for their faith, love, and hope (1:3); after all, Macedonia had been impacted by this model church.  Nevertheless, having been taught about the Lord’s return, the Thessalonian believers were eagerly waiting for Jesus to return (1:10)

But somewhere in Timothy’s report, it seemed that a group of fellow believers needed …a different kind of instruction and exhortation.  They are identified in 5:14 as the “idle” and Paul says they are to be warned rather than helped.  –John Stott 

Let’s consider our present time.  If the church is going to have good public relations with “outsiders” and with God, its membership [you and me]

  • …must keep themselves from every form of sexual impurity (1st Thessalonians 4:1-8) and
  • …secondly, the church must not allow their “excitement and enthusiasm for the second coming of Christ overshadow the ordinary responsibilities of life” (1st Thessalonians 4:9-12).  –John MacArthur

I believe our Lord has given the church today a front row seat to the unfolding events on the world scene.  Presently, there is a growing spirit of concern within the body of Christ as governmental officials are attempting to impede local congregations’ “free exercise of religion by criminalizing activity directly required by our faith” (John MacArthur).  In other words, it appears that the government’s power is moving in the direction of tyranny, whereby religious freedom is eroding before our eyes.

For example, about 2½ years ago, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff issued an injunction prohibiting Grace Community Church from conducting indoor services, thereby upholding Governor Gavin Newsom’s mandate for churches to remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The judge’s injunction was based on the latest CDC’s report; a report that is disputed by many clergy.

While there is a spirit of growing concern within the body of Christ, there is also a spirit of anticipation as many Christians believe the Rapture is near – an event when Jesus Christ returns to this earth at the end of the Great Tribulation to set up His Throne in Jerusalem and to rule this world [His Kingdom] for one-thousand literal years.

Therefore, to help the Thessalonian believers [and believers today] adjust their perspective on world events and Christ’s return, Paul encouraged his readers with two exhortations because…

Quiet living is a valuable contribution in our sinful world.

2.         Amplify brotherly love.       

3.         Aspire to live a balanced life.

2.         Amplify brotherly love.

“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more.

(1st Thessalonians 4:9-10)

Having exhorted the Thessalonians to avoid all forms of sexual immorality (1st Thessalonians 4:1-8), Paul’s shift to brotherly love is a dramatic change in subject matter.

“Brotherly love” philadelphia is made up of two words:  phileō [to love] and adelphos [from the same womb].  In other words, “brotherly love” is the expressed affection among blood relatives.  And Christians are related by blood – the blood of Jesus Christ Who shed His blood for our sins.

  • Brotherly love is a kindness and friendliness towards one another. (Romans 12:10)
  • Brotherly love is to be expressed continuously. (Hebrews 13:1)
  • Brotherly love is expressed with deep sincerity with other Christians. (1st Peter 1:22)
  • Brotherly love is united, sympathetic, and tender-hearted. (1st Peter 3:8)

It is fascinating to see that Paul notes God’s love seven times throughout this letter.  Each reference is a marvelous reminder of the wonderful work His love has in us[2].  For example:

  1. His love is in us (1:3)
  2. His love motivates us (1:4).
  3. His love brings forth a godly works through our lives (3:6).
  4. His love directs us (3:12).
  5. His love confirms us that we are children of God (49).
  6. His love protects us (5:8).
  7. His love enables us to be submissive (5:13).

Therefore, as Christians, we are enabled to love one another because…     

            a.         Christians are born of God (John 1:12-13).

          “But to all who did receive Him, who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

            b.         Christians are taught by God (1st Thessalonians 4:9; John 14:26).

          “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

            c.         Christians are “urged”  [encouraged] to excel in their love from God.

Paul recognized the work of God in the Thessalonian believers because of their demonstrative love for one another.  While God’s love for us is perfect and fully revealed, especially on the cross of Christ, God knows that there is

still room in our hearts to love others more and more.  God gave His all.  When we give our all, we can still call on God to express His love to others through us.  After all, there is no limit to God’s love.  Amen! 

 Therefore, let us not ignore Paul’s exhortation to excel in our “brotherly love” for one another; it is an exhortation we must not ignore.   

Listen to the following quotes that illustrate love. 

  • Saint Augustine:  What does love look like?  It has hands to help others.  It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.  It has the eyes to see misery and want.  It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.  That is what love looks like.
  • D.L. Moody:  While Satan separates, and God unites; it is love that binds believers together.
  • What is love?   Someone wrote:

It’s silence when your words would hurt.  It’s patience when your neighbor is curt.

It’s deafness when the scandal flows.  It’s thoughtfulness for another’s woes. 

It’s promptness when stern duty calls.  It’s courage when misfortune falls.

  • James D. Bryden:  Love does not die easily.  It is a living thing.  It thrives in the face of all life’s hazards, save one – neglect.

Quiet living is a valuable contribution in our sinful world…

1.         …Especially when Christians avoid sexual impurity.

2.         …Especially when Christians amplify brotherly love.

3.         …Especially when Christians aspire to live a balanced life.

“…and to aspire to live quietly,
and to mind your own affairs
and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you,

so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
(1st Thessalonians 4:11-12)

At first glance, it may appear that these two verses seem unrelated to the previous verses; however, when individual responsibility to support oneself is shouldered to the community of believers, there is a disturbance within the fellowship.[3]

Paul does not address the reason for the idleness that existed in some of the believers.  While there are valid reasons, like accidents, emergencies, the unexpected, etc., I suspect that a distorted view of Christ’s second coming may have undergirded the heart of Paul’s three exhortations for the idle believer.

            a.         Make it your ambition to live a quiet life.

In other words, be zealous to live quietly. The emphasis is on the quietness of mind and heart, the inner peace that enables a man to be sufficient through faith in Christ [John Barnett].”

Consider the example of Jesus.  “Jesus had a full and very pressured life.  His days were always long, His nights were often short.  His time was constantly punctuated by the cries of enemies and friends.  He was sought out by individuals, hunted by friends, invaded by crowds.  He had hurried or no meals at times, and collapsed in the fatigue to the point of sleeping through a storm.

“Yet, in the midst of constant pressures all about Him, He lived in an aura of constant peace.  He lived and breathed the fragrance of a world of heavenly tranquility.  To His dying hour he was brave, bold and confident aware of God’s plan.”[4]

How was he able to do this:  Keep your mind fixed on God (Isaiah 26:3) and be a person of prayer.

Therefore, do not distort the gospel by misapplying Scripture, especially eschatological passages.  Remember the lesson from William Miller. 

To evade our personal responsibilities under the cloak of ministry is not honoring to God.  Thus, what possible causes might create idle believers?

  • Imbalanced excitement concerning Christ’s return could lead to foolish lifestyles.
  • Self-seeking ambition promotes personal agendas, not God’s agenda.
  • A restless spirit may imply a troublesome spirit.
  • Sometimes, there is just plain laziness.

            b.         Mind your own business.

Whether Paul is addressing specific believers or the church in general, the fact of the matter is that some idle believers were identified as “busy-bodies” (2nd Thessalonians 3:6-12). 

To mind one’s own business does not mean that believers are to ignore one another’s needs and life; on the contrary, Paul calls believers to look not only to their own interests [tend to our God-given responsibilities] but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).  Therefore, avoid these two extremes:  nosiness and isolationism.           

Remember, an undisciplined life is an unwise life.  A person who does not live wisely [skillful living] before God and man will fall into many harmful situations and miss the blessings of God.  Try reading one chapter a day from the Book of Proverbs – and then apply what you have read.

            c.         Work with your hands.

Within the Greek culture, manual labor was generally considered degrading; however, the Jews did not embrace this attitude.  Therefore, if some of the new Thessalonian believers [obviously Greek] held this attitude, combined with their anticipation of the Lord’s return, then it makes sense why Paul exhorts these saints to “work with their hands.”  In other words, do not stop supporting yourself and expect the church to become the social security agency.  This is not honoring to God or found to be honorable among men.

While Paul’s words may seem harsh, his letter to the Ephesian Church, Paul instructs Pastor Timothy to pass on many practical truths, especially those related to work: 

            “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his   household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1st Timothy 5:8).

A word about sacred work and secular work; whatever work God calls you to do to provide for yourself and/or family, it is sacred work because all of God’s will is sacred.

My past employment with public works many years ago involved several months directing traffic as a flagger, since I was low man on the seniority list.  Yet, my employment with public works was sacred work because God appointed me, provided for me, and most important of all, taught me several lessons – lessons I will share with you some other time.

Whatever job opportunity God provides for anyone in a prosperous or struggling economy, humble yourself and accept the job.  God knows our household needs.  He also knows our character needs.  Since His will is sacred, don’t be disappointed when His gracious provisions seem humiliating.  After all, God usually humbles His children before He exalts His children.

                                                 PAUSE for PRAYER for the church family.

If we are going maintain good public relations with the “outsiders” with Christians and with the Lord, then may God’s people…

1.         Avoid sexual impurity.                                                                      

2.          Amplify brotherly love.                                                                                 

3.         Aspire to live a balanced life by…

…making it our ambition to live a quiet life;
…minding our own business; and
…working with our hands


There are two basic results according to Paul’s exhortations:  “…so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1st Thessalonians 4:12).

  • First, believers may win the respect of “outsiders”

The believer’s goal is not to discredit the gospel by being a poor example.  Rather, every believer ought to live his/her life as a living sacrifice unto God.  And once the believer accepts God’s call and placement, remember “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us” (2nd Corinthians 5:20a).

Over forty years ago, I read William Lederer’s book, The Ugly American.  This book caused quite a stir in diplomatic circles, changing the way foreign policy is determined.  Written in 1958, this novel exposes the reasons why American diplomacy was failing in Southeast Asia during the 1950’s while communism was succeeding.

Contrasting two ambassadors, the author described the communist ambassador as one who was healthy, intelligent, and hard-working.  The ambassador learned the customs and culture of the Southeast Asia.  As for the American ambassador, the author described him as one who sought “cushy” jobs, referred to the people of Southeast Asia as “little monkeys,” and simply lived a lavish lifestyle.  Thus, the American ambassador was perceived as The Ugly American.

My point:  As ambassadors of Christ, how well do we represent Christ in all our efforts to understand our culture and to sow the gospel seeds?  Could it  be said of us, that we are Ugly American Christians?

  • Second, believers would not be in any need.

This is not a verse to justify a Yankee, independent spirit or a self-sufficient spirit.  On the contrary, Scripture clearly teaches that Christians are to depend upon one another.  Consequently, the goal for each believer is to support himself and the family so that when lean times impact our society, they would be able to support themselves and loving assist others who are in need.

Quiet living is a valuable contribution in our sinful world…

2.         …Especially when Christians amplify brotherly love.

3.         …Especially when Christians aspire to live a balanced life.

Conclusion – Gospel Presentation

May we sing acappella the following song, They’ll Know We Are Christians?  I believe it is important to understand that the love we possess and demonstrate comes from God. 

            “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1st John 3:16).

            “…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God demonstrated His love for sinners because He is holy and love.  Yet, God cannot deny Himself by ignoring His holiness, righteousness, and wrath against sin and sinners. 

On the night of July 8, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut, Pastor Jonathan Edwards preached his sermon entitled, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, to his congregation.  The text was taken from Deuteronomy 32:35, “Their foot shall slide in due time.” 

[You can read this sermon in its entirety by clicking on the following link:]

To summarize a central truth from the sermon and the Scripture, to those who are without Christ, who have not been born again, you are alive for the mere pleasure of God’s will and that your appointed time to die has not yet arrived.  It is by God’s grace that you continue to live, even though God’s wrath continues to remain on all those who do not believe (John 3:36).  At any moment, your feet can slip and cast you down into hell’s fires.  And God is right to cast every sinner into hell.

On the other hand, God cannot ignore His love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness to people; after all, we are made in His image.  And to demonstrate His love for sinners, Christ was crucified for our sins.  He paid the price sinners could not afford.  He suffered and experienced the full wrath of heaven against our sins.  And three days later was raised from the grave; proving that God’s righteous requirements had been satisfied.

And now, I present Christ to you.  As His ambassador, I have been authorized to extend His gracious invitation to you – read Matthew 11:25-30. 

Come to Him, all who have been drawn by the Father and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.  Turn away from your wicked attitudes, ways, and manner of life and be saved.  For who knows, today may be your day of salvation.

[1] Ohio History Central, William Miller, [doc online];; accessed 2019, Feb. 25.

[2] “How to Really Love Each Other” John Barnett, [doc online];; accessed 2023, Mar16.

[3] Robert L. Thomas, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 11, (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1978), p. 274.

[4] “Pursuing the Quiet Life,” John Barnett, [doc online];; accessed 2023, Mar 16.

%d bloggers like this: