For the next two Sundays we’re going to be looking at what you can do to prepare for a permanent pastor.
- Today we will consider what you as a church can do.
- Next week we will consider what to expect from him.
Before we look deeper into our passage for today I want to tell you that the greatest gift you can give to a permanent pastor is your commitment to learning, giving, and growing in the gospel of grace.
- God’s grace, which comes to us through faith, seems too good to be true. One person said, ‘God’s grace is free, but we still don’t buy it!’
- It seems way too easy. The truth is, grace is that easy. Or, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, grace is free but not cheap.
- Grace is not in short supply. But people who know how to receive it are.
- My best definition of grace: All that God is, lavishly poured into you.
Let’s look at some context for our passage for this morning – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
- The first three chapters of 1 Thessalonians are looking back and chapters 4 and 5 are looking forward.
- 1 Thess. 5:1-11 is a declaration regarding the return of Jesus Christ. Paul calls it the “day of the Lord” in vs. 2.
- And vs. 11 sets up vs. 12-22: “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
- Notice that these are the things that the church is to be doing with, for, and to one another…
- This is a passage focused on Christian conduct – how Christians are to relate to each other. (Let’s look at it on the screen.)
Contained in these 11 verses are 17 commands – or imperatives in vs. 12-22.
Now, there is a key phrase that opens up the passage and helps us to distinguish between a gospel-centered application and a moralistic application. It is VERY IMPORTANT that we see this.
What does it mean to be “in Christ Jesus”? (This is EXTREMELY important and, as I said, it will distinguish between a moralistic interpretation of Scripture and a gospel-focused, or gospel-centered, interpretation.)
- To be “in Christ Jesus” is the sovereign work of God: “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
- We find ourselves “in Christ Jesus” through a response of faith:
- “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17a)
- “We live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20c)
- “You were also raised up with Him through faith” (Colossians 2:12b)
- We activate grace (God’s strength and power) through:
- Honest confession – Own your own issues. We are more depraved tan we ever realized and simultaneously more loved than we ever dared imagine.
- A lifestyle of repentance — Luther: “The whole life of believers should be repentance.”
- Worship – Focus more on what Jesus Christ has done than what we ‘should’ do.
With this understanding/perspective of a gospel- or Christ-centered vantage point (or activation point), let’s look at the imperatives (commands) listed in verses 12-22…
These verses revolve around how active, intentional followers of Jesus Christ are to relate to one another.
There will be four C’s: Caring, Connecting, Communicating, and Conducting…
1. Caring for our leaders (1 Thess. 5:12-13):
- Appreciate those who diligently labor among you –
- Value, believe the best about, and respect those whom God has placed in positions of authority.
- How do we influence those placed in positions of authority over us? Honor them publically and they will welcome your input privately.)
- Esteem them very highly in love [agape]. Lust is getting, love is giving…
- Live in peace with one another.
- When the members of the church lovingly support, respect, and follow those whom God has appointed to lovingly lead them it will promote “peace” in the church.
- When faithful and hardworking leaders are esteemed and respected in the church, the result will be peace, harmony, and unity within the church.
2. Connecting with each other (1 Thess. 5:14-15):
- Admonish the unruly
- “Lean into” those who are living undisciplined lives.
- The term ‘unruly’ is actually a word employed in military contexts to indicate “the soldier who does not keep in the ranks.”
- Encourage the fainthearted
- These are the spiritually discouraged who must be lovingly consoled.
- Remember, this is not Daniel’s, Dave’s, or Andy’s responsibility – this is your responsibility…
- Help the weak — Those who lack spiritual strength against the forces of temptation should be continually held up and lovingly supported by those who are stronger (at the moment).
- Be patient with everyone
- The Greek word literally means to be “long tempered.”
- Patience is a developed inner strength and resilience that allows us to hold out under the weight of a heavy burden.
- Patience, then, becomes a manifestation of love that helps us to hang-in there with those who are “irritating and burdensome.”
- See that no one repays another with evil for evil
- This is a practice of non-retaliation.
- We leave it to God retaliate.
- Seek after that which is good for one another and for all people
- We are to work for the benefit and well being of others.
- Jeremiah 29:7: “Seek the welfare of the city, for in its welfare you will have welfare.”
3. Communicating with God (1 Thess. 5:16-18):
- Rejoice always
- Live your lives in the atmosphere of praise to God.
- You may be going through some difficult circumstances but what do you have to be thankful and grateful for?
- Remember, the gospel invites us to find our joy, comfort, and delight in Jesus Christ.
- Pray without ceasing
- This means to carry an attitude of prayer with us through the day.
- It’s a continually unfolding realization of our dependence on God for all that we have and are.
- In everything give thanks
- I looked up the word “everything” in the Greek; do you know what it means? Everything.
- God invites us to be thankful even in difficult times – turning to Him and asking Him what He is trying to teach us – or prepare us for — through our circumstances.
4. Conducting ourselves with wisdom (1 Thess. 5:19-22):
- Do not quench the Spirit
- This means that we are to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- Be open to new ways of doing things…
- Do not despise prophetic utterances
- A prophetic utterance is God’s word for the moment.
- There are two Greek words for the word “word”: Logos and Rhema
- Logos refers to the written word of God in its totality.
- Rhema refers to the word of the Lord for now. And it should be noted that rhema words will never contradict the logos.
- Here are a couple of examples:
- The overriding goal of sermons are that they are to be rhema words to the congregation.
- The Bible instructs us in the qualities we are to look for in a spouse – but nowhere in the Bible did it tell me to ask Linda to marry me. That was a rhema word from God – confirmed by those I trusted in the Lord.
- Last year through a series of all-church summits we determined that SBF is a “non-charismatic continuationist congregation,” meaning that while we don’t believe that speaking in tongues is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit, we do believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-10 are for today.
- Continuationist vs. Cessationist (continuing vs. ceasing).
- We are to make room for words of wisdom and knowledge, for extraordinary faith, for healing, miracles, prophesy, discernment – and even tongues.
- I suspect that the tongues and interpretation of tongues that Paul refers to in 1 Cor 12:10 had some significant cultural implications
- And they are certainty not for corporate ecstasy according to 1 Cor 14.
- Paul clearly states that he spoke in tongues in 1 Cor 14:18, but he also indicates it is primarily for his personal and private devotional life.
- I just think there has been a lot of really bad teaching on this topic – on both sides of this issue.
- But examine everything carefully – In Acts 17:11 Luke writes about the Bereans who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”
- Hold fast to that which is good – or that which has come from God.
- Abstain from every form of evil –
- This final injunction means we are to separate ourselves from any form evil.
- “Doctor, doctor I broke my arm in 14 places.” “Well, don’t go in them places…”
As we close let’s read the final verses in 1 Thess. 5…
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely [it’s God who does the work]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass [again, it’s through God’s calling and transforming power that we are changed].
25 Brethren, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.