Paul’s Short Commands for the Christian Life (Part 2)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
Truth Taught- God gives us eight imperatives to strengthen our walk with Him through Jesus Christ.
In this short section, just six verses, we have God giving us eight imperative commands to strengthen our walk with Christ. If we are to mature and be a healthy Christian these eight commands are very worthy of our consideration and application today.
How is your spiritual health? Are you growing as a Christian? Are you walking in Christ more and more each day? I pray we would all consider these imperatives and by grace seek to live them out each day to the glory of God and for our good.
Last time, we looked at the imperatives concerning how we live with and respond to one another in the context of the local Church. We saw that God is honored as we show respect to Church leaders, counsel other believers with appropriate biblical approaches, namely, admonishing, encouraging, and helping one another. So, we could categorize last week’s text how we respond biblically to people in the church.
Today, we will see how we are to relate biblically to God. How are we to be oriented toward God with our lives? How can we live a Godward life? These imperatives fix our spiritual compass, as it were, to dead north or right on God. These imperatives are not just things we do but things we do that flow from a life focused on God.
I want to pause here just a moment and say that sometimes if we are not where we need to be spiritually we shouldn’t sit around waiting until we feel like doing these things but sometimes we simply need to do them and in doing them we will meet God in a special way. What I’m saying is sometimes we just need to obey and do the things God commands whether we feel like it or not and once we begin doing them God will meet us and bless us for our obedience even if we are not entirely whole hearted in our doing them.
I desire to always be excited about God’s Word most of the time…I desire to be the man in Psalm 1 most of the time…
Psalm 1:1–3 (ESV)
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
What should we do in the situation when we may not desire the things of God like we should?
Here’s an example, sometimes I’m tired perhaps and just don’t feel like reading the Bible. I begin to read anyway. God works and I read something that is exactly what I needed for that day. If I lived based on feelings I would have missed what God had for me. So my desire and joy in God’s Word is restored. Here, God gives us a battle plan to remain Godward in our focus and life.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–22 (ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
This trilogy of commands, which may seem, at first, three separate commands, are actually interrelated and build on each other.
God commands us to always be joyful. This is an imperative that really means be joyful in times of struggle and trial. Non-Christians can be joyful when happy times come upon them but only the Christian and crazy people can be joyful during times of affliction. This rejoicing is not in life’s circumstances because if they were going to drive our rejoicing then we could never rejoice always. No, to rejoice always means we must have something admirable and consistent that is rejoice worthy. To dissect rejoicing is to discover that it is a sincere emotion or response to something worthy of joy. We cannot make our self joyful when there is nothing worthy of our rejoicing. So, it cannot be our circumstances because they forever are changing. To always be rejoicing means we have something that is joy worthy and this must always be worthy of joy.
Paul’s Short Commands for the Christian Life (Part 1)
1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
Truth Taught- As Paul closes his epistle he gives us short commands for life in the local Church
If a Church is to glorify God and be a light in a world of darkness the people within the Church must act in godly ways. If we are to have a good reputation in our community we must seek to respond to others with love seeking restoration and peace.
1 Thessalonians 5:12–15 (ESV)
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Recent studies have indicated that the avg tenure of protestant pastors is about 3.6 years. Some studies have a little different outcome but the bottom line is pastoral tenure is not very long at any given place.
There are different reasons for a pastor leaving his church. Sometimes there are reasons that are mostly his fault. I know pastors who simply use their church, as a stepping-stone to something that, in their mind at least, is greater. Their goal to have the big church causes them to leave. Others leave because of infidelity or some other sin. Some leave because the hardship of ministry is simply too much for them.
Then there are churches that just simply cannot be pastored. I remember early on in my ministry looking for a church. I had a few opportunities to be called to go but I thank God because as badly as I wanted a church He was protecting me and my family from crazy people and very bad churches. Sometime I’ll have to tell you some of the horror stories but for now just let me say sometimes the reason a minister has a short tenure is because the church simply refuses to allow him to lead.
Under the heading we ask you brothers we have three admonitions.
Respect those who labor, who rule and who admonish. This list is speaking of the role of elder. The term rule may be a little too direct. It really means to lead. To lead with an aspect of authority. To admonish is to warn and to at time directly confront the church member who is going astray for the purpose of repentance and correction.
If the church members respect their elders then these tasks will go much better. It’s hard enough to hear a reproach but it goes much better if it is coming from an elder you respect. It’s hard to take correction but it would be much harder if the elder is not living a godly life.
How would you accept correction? How have you accepted it? Please understand when correction comes from an elder here, it’s coming in the spirit of love and of care for your soul.
In addition to respecting your elders, the Apostles writes that elders should be esteemed.
esteem them very highly in love because of their work
John Calvin notes that the esteem is not so much for the benefit of the leaders, but for the sake of the whole Church that those who govern faithfully should be held in esteem. The word esteem, here means to value and honor.
It’s important that we understand that the esteem is not only on an intellectual level but in love as well. This esteem should have connected to it a relational aspect as well. The bottom line here is this, congregations grow to maturity best when they respect and esteem their elders.
You have the responsibility to show your leaders respect and esteem and we, as your leaders must also strive to earn your respect and esteem. We also have a great responsibility to not be abusive, negligent, lazy, truthful ect.
Be at peace among yourselves.
Seek to love all within the church body. Love your leaders as they love you. Honor them by obeying heir counsel. Seek to live at peace together as God’s Church.
Book: Gleanings in Genesis
A W Pink
Book: Gleanings in Genesis
A W Pink
Concerning the Second Coming
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Truth Taught- Jesus is returning suddenly and unexpectedly so we must always be ready for that day.
Last time we looked at the Second Coming of our Lord in the context of what happens to those who are in Christ who have already died and are buried when Jesus returns. We learned that God will never forget any of His beloved elect. From Adam to the last death all will be raised when Jesus returns. The Christians who are alive at that time will also be changed and we all will me Jesus in the air at His return.
Now, the text before us today, Paul addresses what we should be doing and not doing while we wait on the Lord Jesus to return. While last week’s passage dealt with how we should understand what happens to the dead in Christ, today’s passage is concerned with what we should be doing as we anticipate Jesus’ return.
1 Thessalonians 5:1–11 (ESV)
5 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
5 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
Here we see that Paul had already spoken to them while he was there about the Lord’s return. He says things like…
you have no need to have anything written to you.
For you yourselves are fully aware
So, he has already taught them the basics about the Lord’s return and now explaining what they need to do. What should our mindset be? How should we conduct our lives in this fallen world?
Probably, when Timothy returned and told Paul about the Thessalonian’s great strides in sanctification he also reported that some were asking specifics about when Jesus would return. Notice that Paul immediately moves from the topic of date setting. Here, he actually quotes or at least alludes to Jesus’ words at His ascension.
Acts 1:6–7 (ESV)
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
Jesus told His followers it’s not in God’s plan to fill them in on when Jesus would return. We are not meant to know the date or even the approximate time because if we knew, as sinners, we would not be prepared until the day before He was to come.
Matthew 24:36 (ESV)
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
Man’s obsession with date setting stems from his sinful condition. We would rather live life on our terms then at the last moment, right before Jesus returns, shift gears and live obediently for a day or two and then Jesus comes back. That is the only reason we would be concerned with the date of His return.
So, how should we live? How should we view the second coming? Paul gives us two points here…
Unexpected– 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night
Here again, the Apostle recites what Jesus had already said.
Matthew 24:42–44 (ESV)
42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Jesus’ return will be unexpected. The thief is only successful if he breaks into a home where the owner is not expecting to be robbed. Either the owner is away or sleeping. Either way the thief breaks in unexpectedly. So Jesus is teaching that His return will also take place on a day when no one is expecting Him to return.
His return is also going to be Sudden–
3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
No one will have time to change his or her life, get saved, share the Gospel, or do a good deed that you’ve been meaning to do. There will not be any time then because His return is sudden.
1 Corinthians 15:52 (ESV)
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
You know I think there have been different eras both in our nation’s history and in western history and even over the course of the last two thousand years where our culture and other cultures have been more attune to the reality of the return of Christ. But we live in a time — and don’t you feel this in the air? We live in a time where there is a pervasive carnal security. Very few people in our culture, outside of the churches, have any kind of anticipation of a reckoning with God at the end, a real belief in a returning Savior who is going to judge. And there’s a certain poison in our culture that seeps into our souls — unbelief that this coming is really going to happen.
What we should do now is ask the question, Since the time and season of Jesus’ return is unknown and since He is returning unexpectedly and suddenly what sort of people should we be?
Book: Gleanings in Genesis
By A.W. Pink
Concerning The Dead In Christ
1 Thess. 4:13-18
Truth Taught- All Christians, including those who have already died, will meet Jesus at His Second Coming with great joy and excitement.
Throughout the centuries there has just about always been a person making a prediction and setting a date for the return of Christ. In our modern day there continues to be those that set dates. The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson has made his predictions…
In 1976 he predicted the Jesus would return in 1982. In his 1990 book The New Millennium, Robertson suggests the date as the day of Earth’s destruction would be 2007.
Another end-times prognosticator is Harold Camping. Camping predicted the rapture would occur on 6 September 1994. When it failed to occur he revised the date to the 29th of September and then to the 2nd October. Camping’s fourth predicted date for the end Mar. 31, 1995. This would be Camping’s last prediction until 2011. Camping predicted that the Rapture and devastating earthquakes would occur on 21 May 2011, with God taking approximately 3% of the world’s population into Heaven, and that the end of the world would occur five months later on October 21. When his original prediction failed to come about, Camping revised his prediction and said that on May 21, a “Spiritual Judgment” took place, and that both the physical Rapture and the end of the world would occur on 21 October 2011. Well, he was wrong again and so has everyone else whose made these date setting predictions.
My end-times prediction is that end-times predictions will continue as long as they sell books.
What I want to remind us all of is that just because there have been and will be stupid people calling themselves Christians making predictions that don’t come true, we should never think that Jesus’ words about His return won’t come true.
Matthew 24:36–39 (ESV)
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
With this passage in mind, I think the words of John Calvin are very appropriate for us to keep in mind. He warns Christians to avoid excessive curiosity in the things the Lord has hidden.
So many times when people become enamored with a certain segment of theology, especially with the end-times they become consumed with discovering things that they are not able nor meant to discover because they are hidden things. They do this at the expense of the things that are clearly revealed. For someone to spend their life studying whether or not Jesus’ return will be pre, post, or amillennial and forget that they are to be growing in Christlikeness will mean that they may in fact have proven that their salvation is not even genuine.
What I’d like us to do today is to avoid excessiveness and to avoid unhealthy curiosity in the area of end-times and learn the powerful truth Paul has for us regarding the coming of our Lord.
What we have before us today is not an exhaustive teaching on end-times but a specific teaching. What the Apostle does is confronts an issue that the Thessalonians were struggling with. He uses the doctrine of Christ’s return as a means of comfort for those new Christians.
What was the issue? The issue was that the new Christians had been told that their deceased loved ones who were also Christians were for some reason not included in the end-times resurrection of the dead. No one knows for sure exactly the details of our Lord’s return. We do know He is returning. We know His return will be physical. We know His return will be sudden and unexpected. Much else beyond these things revealed in Scripture tends toward unhealthy speculation.
To sum up what Paul addresses in this passage, he answers the question: what happens to the dead in Christ?
Probably between Paul leaving Thessalonica and Timothy arriving some Christians had died. They were given inadequate explanations and Paul wants to bring them truth and that truth will be a comfort to them as they grieve.
So, if you have a loved one who has died and if that loved one was a believer, here are some encouraging words from Paul for us today.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (ESV)
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
He gives his pastoral concern that he doesn’t want these new believers to be ignorant about those who have died who were Christians. He calls those who died who were in Christ, those who have fallen asleep. For a Christian who has died, sleep is a very good image because at the second coming of Christ they will be awakened. Specifically, we must realize he is referring to the body metaphorically sleeping not the soul.
This verse does not teach soul sleep, as many cultists might want us to believe. Soul sleep is the teaching that when a person dies that his soul “sleeps” until the time of the future resurrection. In this condition, the person is not aware or conscious. This is not taught here or any other place in the Bible.
Book: Gleanings in Genesis
Living to Please God
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
Truth Taught- God’s will for all Christians is that we become more and more like Jesus Christ in our lives
Book: Gleanings in Genesis