Learning from 1 Thessalonians
1:1-2:20 - If God is to be glorified through the preaching of His Word, there needs to be more than the ‘words’ of the preacher. There needs to be ‘the power of the Holy Spirit’ (1:5). Good preaching is not a matter of ‘plausible words of wisdom’. We must look for ‘a demonstration of the Spirit’s power’ (1 Corinthians 2:4). When the Spirit is at work, there is effective communication, leading to a life-changing encounter with God. ‘When you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers’ (13). Don’t let God’s Word ‘go in one ear and out the other’. The ‘message’ will do you no good if you don’t hear it ‘with faith’ - ‘Today, when you hear His voice, harden not your hearts’ (Hebrews 4:2; 3:15).
3:1-4:12 - We need both ‘love’ and ‘holiness’ (3:12-13). Our love is to be holy. Our holiness is to be loving. Getting the right balance between love and holiness is like walking a tightrope. You can easily lose your balance and fall off. We can be too soft - all love and no holiness. We can be too hard - all holiness and no love. Love doesn’t mean ‘anything goes’ - ‘I don’t care how you live’. That’s not love. That’s indifference, a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. Holiness doesn’t mean looking down your nose at other people - ‘You’ve sinned and I will never let you forget it’. Don’t be like ‘the Pharisees’. They wanted to ‘stone the woman caught in adultery’. We must not ‘stone’ people with our ‘hot tongue and cold shoulder’! Be like Jesus. Show love - ‘I don’t condemn you’ - and holiness - ‘Do not sin again’ (John 8:3-11).
4:13-5:28 - Do you feel like giving up? God is not about to give up on you: ‘He who calls you is utterly faithful and He will finish what He set out to do’ (23). He has a great future for us: ‘God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (9). We look forward to the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘The Lord Himself will descend from heaven’ (4:16). We look forward to heavenly and eternal glory: ‘We shall always be with the Lord’ (4:17). This is the kind of encouragement we need. We are to remind one another of these things: ‘Comfort one another with these words’ (4:18). We are ‘to encourage one another’ to go on with the Lord. Let’s ‘build one another up’, encouraging each other to build on ‘the Rock’ which is ‘Christ’ (11; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Matthew 7:24-27).