The Power of God unto Salvation
Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
The Thessalonians were shining examples of the power of Christianity.
From gross immorality and idol worshippers….they turned to Christ.
They were deeply loved by Paul.
For when Paul came and preached the gospel to them…..many believed, and were saved.
The persecution that began immediately….against Paul and all who believed in Christ in that city…..did not sway them….
…..but they took a firm hold on Christ….and…
….instead of growing angry or hateful….they loved each other and even their enemies, fervently….
….this was a testimony given them throughout Macedonia. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-8)
Yet no one is ever out of need of awakening and growing in grace….so….
…..Paul writes them in small exhortations….
….certain they will listen and obey.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22:
“…know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;….and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake…”:
(Admonish means to “put you in mind” of God’s Will)
Paul begins with those “laboring among you”….
…..these are those God has given a responsibility to pray, or speak to us…”in the Lord”.
They were to see their work, and love them for it.
“Be at peace among yourselves”…..”warn them that are unruly”…or disorderly:
The first line of attack against any church is to cause arguments, or cliches….divisions between members….
…and Paul warns against this.
“…comfort the feeble minded (faint-hearted)”. This has nothing to do with intelligence,….but courage or weakness. “Sustain the weak”
Some are faint-hearted because of unbelief. They are to be taught and encouraged in God’s faithfulness.
Some are faint-hearted because of fear…..they will not take the next step….wanting to stay in a place they know. They are to be awakened to the Holy Spirit’s enabling…..His support in their weakness.
(There may be no inclination to give way to evil….but no courage to step out in faith…..they are to be helped in prayer and comfort)
“Be patient toward all”.
We may think we know what the problem or solution is for others…..but misjudging is easy….and patience gives us time to find out what our place is in each situation (Do a say something? Or stay quiet and pray?)
This reminds us that we are all different….yet put together in the body of Christ, as He wants.
“See that none render evil for evil…..but ever follow that which is good….”
Only good overcomes evil. And this is both to the church and outward to “all people”.
We should not show one face in church….and another in other places. We are to be lights, and representatives of God’s mercy to the world.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. This is in trials, as well as good times.
When we lose it, our peace wavers….and we are tempted to look toward other things for “happiness”.
Re-joy….in other words….the Lord’s joy by the Holy Spirit comes to us…and we receive it….
…then it has a chain reaction…..it warms our hearts and affections…..it calms our minds….it brings stability to our wills. The Lord’s joy is our strength.
“Pray without ceasing”
This is an acknowledged dependency upon the Lord as….Creator, Savior, Keeper, Almighty, Friend.
It is the attitude that we are in His presence all the time, ready to get direction,…. or give a prayer for someone else.
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”. “Quench not the Spirit”
We might have thought that this would have been next to “rejoice always”…..but actually it is a prelude to:
“Quench not the Spirit”.
If we are giving the thanksgiving that we should…..we will not put out the fire of God’s Spirit within us by being miserable about things….
…..for we will see (and this is important for all Christians to see), that whatever comes to us….comes through the Will and Hands of God.
The Spirit is likened to fire within us…..warm, light,….blazing a way within ourselves to purify us……for His power and mercy to be shown through us….
…..but we are charged not to “quench” Him…..not to shut Him off….not to murmur against His Way….not to be unthankful for Him.
“Despise not prophesying”
When the Bible speaks of prophesy…..it is not just speaking of future events…….it is telling God’s people what is on His mind for them for now.
Speaking out of the fullness of the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
Prove means to examine, weigh, try what you hear by the Word of God.
And we are responsible to read and know God’s Word.
When we know the truth…..we are to hold it fast, maintain our walk in His light.
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
This is to stay in the light;……keep away…..run away if necessary, from the darkness.
Would you walk through a dark alley if there was a brightly lit way to home?
Then stay away from what God warns about…..walk in the sunlight of His love. (Jude 21)
There are one hundred and thirty words in these ten verses…..yet they incapsulate how we, as Christians, are to follow our Lord through this wicked world….which is full of temptations and traps.
Paul was writing a faithful and loving church…..which was under persecution.
He did not pamper them…..but with great love for their continued growth in Christ,….he exhorted (awakened) them to further godliness and joy.
What of us?
Are we content with our position in Christ….or are we…
……”reaching forth unto those things which are before,….
…pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus” as Paul, himself, did? (Philippians 3:13-14)