1 Thessalonians 4_1-12 Part 1
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 Part 1 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 We finally transition out of the introductory material and reach the exhortational section of this letter. Everything that we have read thus far show the heart of Paul and how much love and care he had for these people. Just a recap. Chapter 1: Reason why he is thankful for their faith: Thank God always for them, mention them in his prayers always, Gospel was not in vain but produced something within them, they welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering, they preached the message from Macedonia and Achaia, they turned from idols Chapter 2: Describes Paul’s Ministry there: The care they had for them as a father to them, taking suffering while there, not flattering them but rather speaking the truth, and how he longed to see them again Chapter 3: Encouragement: He needed to know of their faith, encouraged by the report from Timothy, and of course a prayer for the people And thus far, it seems like for the most part we have just been peeking into the relationship between them and seeing what is going. But in Chapter 4, we shift from encouragement to edification. And later we move on to the Second Coming. There are instructions given on how to please God. They are guidelines that convey a truth to every believer and instruct us all in a manner in which we will be able to walk and please our Heavenly Father. You know God spoke three times from Heaven audibly in the New Testament. The baptism of Jesus (Matt 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22), His transfiguration (Matt 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35), and during Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12:28). In the first two instances, God made a specific declaration. A declaration that He was pleased with His Son. Can you think of a higher approval? A higher commendation than to hear from God, that he is pleased with you? I think we ought to have this desire. I think it is a good thing. Some have wrongly said that all desires are bad. While there are many desires that can lead you astray, in fact in this passage we read of several such as sexual immorality or greed or fame, there are also good desires. Pure and holy desires, one such desire that is commendable is to desire to please God. But having a desire to do something and actually doing it are two very different things. This is well understood in everyone’s life I am sure and if you were to fail in seizing the object you desired it can hurt. Sometimes it can make you withdrawn and turn back away from what you had sought. Maybe you sought a promotion at work and were passed up on it. That hurt you feel may cause you to work with a lesser degree of enthusiasm. Or maybe you sought to accomplish a specific goal, and when the going got tough and you found that you were in a place of despair you gave up or were not able to continue any longer and some withdraw. Maybe to turn away from it with sorrow or to back away to admire what others have done. However, a desire to please God should not follow the same path. We may fail at times in obeying God and grieve the spirit, but that should not cause us to shirk our growth and quell our desire. It should not bring us to a place of saying “well, I tried. That is that.” No, we live with this intention and when obstacles come, when struggles come, we should not fall to the wayside. We press on. Mark 8:22-25 <Exposite> Not to add to the text what Is not there, but the Bible does speak about blindness as a sort of spiritual darkness we live in. (1 John 2:11, Matt 13:13-16, Eph 5:8, Mat 15:14) Stages 1) Spiritual vision- clouded by sin (Matt 5:8) a. Sisyphus 2) Multiple touches 3) Glory Generally, when we think of instructions we think of them as good guidelines. That is not the same message that Paul is trying to convey here. He is not trying to give them some good guiding principles, but an instruction as a teacher instructs a student, this is the way you ought to do things. It is not an instruction manual that comes with pieces and says you should follow this, but if you want to try it out on your own method, you can do that as well. No, because these instructions bear weight. They carry with them the authority of the Lord Jesus. If you think that you can go around or even ignore these instructions, you do it at your own peril. If any one of you think that you can just disregard a command from God, then the question you need to ask yourself is what kind of Lord is he to you? The early church faced much persecution for declaring Jesus as Lord. Why? They refused to declare Kaiser Kurios - Caesar is Lord. Instead they proclaimed: “Jesus Kristus Kurios” “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Kurios-747 times in the NT. One who has power, absolute authority, total right to command, synonym is despotos- despot in English. One who has complete and absolute power without question. A declaration still made today, but meant by very few. Additionally, commands given that carry with them the authority of Jesus….you need to ask yourself what sort of authority he has and where you reside under his authority? The final question, does your obedience to Jesus stem from a motive to benefit self or to please God? Because these commands that were passed on to the Thessalonicans were not merely to keep them under the yoke of Paul, but for them to move in a manner in which they will be pleasing to God. And so what is the will of God in our lives. Many have different answers to this. Some will say that it is God’s will for you to be a millionaire. Others take a complete opposite view and say you are going to be poor. In this passage, we see portion of God’s will in our lives. Our sanctification. That is, he wills for us to be holy. He desires for each and every one of his children to be made in the likeness of His Son. And that is the life long journey that we are all going through. In Christ, we are justified. Perfect in the eyes of God. But sanctification is different. It is a life-long journey as we continue to be disciplined by God and renewed into the image of the Son. That is the desire of Paul isn’t it? 1:6- They became imitators of them and the Lord 2:12- They are encouraged, comforted and implored to walk worthy of God 3:13- Praying for them to have blameless hearts in holiness 5:23- “Sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of the Lord.” You know, it is an easy thing for us to say we have this desire to please God. It is another to know how to do it. It is just the same as trying to play soccer without any goals, or trying to play golf without any holes. We need to have a clear idea of the goal. Sanctification is that goal. And so what is the goal? I believe that sanctification is the process, but our aim is His Kingdom and His righteousness. Protos- priority, above all else. And seeking requires effort. Seeking does not mean we take a nap and hope that it will eventually come to me. The parable of the lost coin in which the woman turned her whole house upside down seeking for a lost coin is a good example. In our seeking, there is a striving. There is work being done. And so, taking that verse in chapter 6, we see we seek his righteousness and his kingdom. We will be covering this in the next set of verses, but so that you have something. Righteousness- Bible Study, prayer, fasting, church attendance, and evangelism are necessary for church growth, but they are not the final goal. Let’s not confuse spirituality with righteousness. So what is righteousness….doing what is right. In a Christian sense, it is doing what is right in the sight of God. Seems simple at face value, but you and I know that we fall short many times. Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Charles Colson-Watergate. “loyal love”. Golden Rule 2) Kingdom- out of time, but it is acting in a manner that is to advance the Kingdom of God. Guarding those in it and advancing it by preaching it. Understanding that every kingdom has a king. And your King is the one true God. So, let’s please God. With our lives. Always.