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At the end of the letter...
At the end of the letter...
Once again it is important here to understand the context of this letter. This letter was written in 50 AD or there about. It was not written last week or in March of 2020. We may find parallels, allusions, prophecy that speaks directly to us. Some that is good. That is useful, and instructional.
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Scripture is exactly what it says… God breathed, useful, educational, and used to training.
But in order to understand it completely we have to understand the who, what, why, and when of the writing of the passage.
The 10 cent seminary word is Hermanuetics.
And of lot of people spend a whole lot of time thinking and writing about this issue.
I am NOT a hermanuetical giant. I have some ideas that I think that I can back up with scripture.
There are folks who think completely differently about these issues. They will be in Heaven and then we’ll all know the truth.
On a scale of 1-10. This is about a 4. Fun to argue about, but NOT worth dividing over. I have seen folks use this as a dividing issue and destroy churches, families and relationships over it. DEFINITELY NOT WORTH IT!!!
So I’ve set the table pretty high here… let’s get to the passage. 1Thessalonians 5. 1-28.
1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,
The word “brothers” once again is a gender neutral word here meaning men and women.
Times and dates for what?
Evidently Paul had some conversations with the Thessalonian Church about the return of the Lord. They knew Jesus had died, arose from the dead and ascended into heaven and they would be taken up to be with him with Jesus.
They didn’t necessarily know or understand the tribulation and it aims, except what the Jews knew from the books Old Testament books of Zechariah, Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah and Malachi,
After all of the teaching and conversations the Thessalonians that thought they had been left behind, a forgotten group doomed to live through the terrible end times.
So the question remains...The dates of what?
2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
A couple of key phrases there that would have piqued their interest and concern
“… the day of the Lord...” They had some idea because Paul used the phrase here, referencing the some 30 times in the Old Testament. in the Old Testament the phrase is coupled with the Lord’s anger, His wrath, it’s dreadful, it’s darkness, it’s bitter, the day will plunder you.
If we didn’t have the New Testament, this would scare us too. the NT provides some context to what will and when happen.
The other phrase is “thief in the night.” They knew what that ment. Quickly, without warning, taking everything they wanted without regard for those being stolen from.
Paul quickly fills in the blanks what to expect
3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
Please DO NOT impose our current situation with our state government and Governor on this verse. Resist the urge to do really bad interpretation.
V.4 is key here… Brothers and sisters we are NOT in the darkness
5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
Paul is addressing them as children of the “light.” People who have been enlightened. People who have been educated, people who have some understanding. That do not belong to the darkness
I. Be part of the light, do not belong to the night or darkness
Don’t be ignorant, don’t run around saying “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Be a disciple, know the scripture and know what’s ahead for us.
These are the uninformed people of the “darkness”
6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.
Be alert, Be self-controlled, Be sober… this in NOT a statement of the use of alcohol, just those that use it and get drunk. We don’t know the day or time. We certainly will want ALL of our faculties when “THAT TIME” comes.
Paul provides the contrast in verses 8-11. What it’s like to belong to the hearers and doer of the word
8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
II. “Faith” and “Hope”... Certainly a shift from fear and uncertainty.
How do we get there.. how do we have faith and certainty. This confidence comes from sitting at the feet of Paul. Yes you heard me correctly… sitting at the feet of Paul.
Ok… learning, listening and applying the truth of God’s word as revealed here and 1000 other places in scripture.
Of being a disciple, taking part in learning opportunities, taking time to study yourself, having a mentor that might just be a single page ahead of you but can provide an understanding beyond “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Think about it… It’s very important!
We are going to take a step in that next year… We will looking at the ‘Attributes of God” in the first 15 or so weeks of 2021.
This will be a good place to start our post-Covid-19 lives.
In my opinion… V.9 is VERY important. Key Verse… Worthy of underlying, circling, highlighting
9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
My interpretation of that is by our faith and hope we are saved, we belong to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Because of that faith and hope we escape the wrath of God that is destined to happen to those who don’t have
II. Faith and Hope… Certainly a shift from fear and uncertainty .
Let’s set the next verse up by saying that Paul, may have been looking far out into the future or for him maybe the very next day.
10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
HE DIED FOR US!!! Christ died for us! Christ died for EVERYONE who by faith and hope acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior. Whether we are alive or dead, that we will live together with Him… FOREVER into eternity.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
III. Encourage one another, build each other up!
That only happens in relationship with brothers and sisters. That only happens when know each other, that only happens when we are willing to step out and be willing to be a little be vulnerable to each other, to be willing to have spiritual conversations with those around us.
I love to have spiritual conversations… if you have questions, answers or just need a little faith and hope call me, I’d love to sit with you and talk.
IV. How should a group of followers of Jesus relate to the leaders of church?
12 Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
As much as this talks about how we should relate to our Pastor and Elders, look at the last little phrase...
“Live in peace with each other.” I’ll add 100 exclamation points here.
The Christian life as we have been talking about it for the last several weeks is NOT easy, it’s hard, it’s not fair, everyone does NOT get a participation trophy. Sometimes it means dividing with your family or friends. Sometimes it’s frustrating and difficult.
We can make it a lot easier if we were a little less hard on each other. A little more Grace when Grace is needed but gentle correction when its needed. Kindness goes along way!
14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
V. “Be kind to each other AND everyone else.”
To those like you, in this context other believers and those not like you, in this context those who are still walking in the “darkness.” Kill them with kindness.
The letter ends with a list of exhortations starting in V.15
V.15 Don’t pay back wrong for wrong, two wrong’s don’t make a right
V.16 Be joyful
17 pray continually;
BE in an attitude of pray AT ALL TIMES… It’s hard to pray when your angry.
V.18 Give thanks in all circumstances
V.19 DO NOT quench the Holy Spirit
V.20 Listen and learn from the prophecies delivered to you from the Old Testament. They will instruct you in the end-times things
21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.
Test everything, hold onto what is good, right and trustworthy. Get rid of the rest. Test scripture with scripture. Have a guide, person that can help you test scripture, provide context and wisdom
V.22 AVOID every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are in a discipleship relationship with someone, it’s not them that is teaching you. They are simple opening doors and helping you get on track when you might be off.
They are affirming your right path, pointing you in the direction of truth and righteousness.
It is in fact God that sanctifies, that makes you more and more like His son everyday. Be open to God doing work inside of you by the Holy Spirit.
May God give you peace and continue maturing you, keep with it, keep changing more and more into the image of Christ, pray that He, God will find you blameless when He does come.
V.24 Be found faithful by the one who calls you, Jesus Christ.
V.25 - This is a special one for me as your Pastor and for our Elders. For Jack, For Tyler, For Tyler and For Tiffanie
25 Brothers, pray for us.
Pray for your leaders, as they navigate tough times with increasing difficulty and coming up against opposition where is seemed impossible before.
V.26 Greet each other with a Holy Kiss… Completely cultural! I hope!
V.27 Keep reading this letter, over and over. Out loud so that EVERYONE can hear it and use it for there growth in the Lord.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
This idea of Grace is so mysterious, it’s impossible to understand, it’s free but it is VERY costly, it’s an easy yoke but as difficult as it is to plow and hard rocky soil. It is by it’s very nature, the lifeblood of what it is to be a follower of Jesus. Completely foreign but yet completely intimate. Finally, if you are walking with Christ… it goes before and follows behind.
If you have yet to follow Christ. It is chasing you, and begging you to acknowledge. It will continue to chase you everywhere… Until finally it is to late.
I hope that you have heard and learned some things during this short study in 1 Thessalonians.
Jill and I wish you a happy, family filled Thanksgiving. We are taking off for Colorado on Tuesday evening and will come back on Sunday night.
Don Vlieger will be bringing the message next week.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Now and forever!