The Faith of the Thessalonian Believer’s…
Nearly all new believers have questions about their faith. As a seasoned missionary, Paul knew this.
For this reason, he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica shortly after establishing the church there.
Timothy’s job was to find out how the young church was doing.
When he returned, he was loaded down with their questions.
First Thessalonians is Paul’s patient reply.
He reinforces the basic gospel message, instructs them further in the faith, and provides practical applications for spiritual truths.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5
5:1–11 Paul informs believers about the day of the Lord.
This phrase refers both to the moment of the rapture as well as the seven-year tribulation period that follows the rapture.
The day of the Lord will commence unexpectedly, like the arrival of a thief at night. It is described as a time of darkness with dreadful consequences.
Unbelievers, identified as those who belong to the night, will be overtaken by destruction. But believers are, symbolically, of the day not the night.
They are not the objects of God’s wrath, but are destined to receive a full rescue from the day of God’s wrath.
In view of their exemption from the day of the Lord, believers ought to encourage and edify one another.
And in verses 12-22, Paul gives us Strong, Specific Commands for Life…
There are some specific ways to display the changes Christ brings into our lives.
5:12-13 “Those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work” probably refers to elders and deacons in the church.
Perhaps the elders of the church in Thessalonica had rebuked those who had quit working and were “mooching off” others.
And no doubt the drones didn’t take the rebuke too well!
That may account for this exhortation to the leaders and to those led.
When Paul urges the saints to recognize those who labor among them, he means to respect and obey their spiritual guides.
How can you honor your pastor and other church leaders?
Express your appreciation for them, tell them how you have been helped by their leadership and teaching, and thank them for their ministry in your life.
If you say nothing, how will they know?
Remember, they need and will cherish your support and love.
5:14 Lovingly warn those who are lazy, remembering to model a good work ethic yourself.
Many people dismiss or overlook people who are timid and weak, but Paul urges us to encourage and care for them.
At times, distinguishing between idleness and timidity can be difficult.
Two people may be doing nothing—one out of laziness and the other out of shyness or fear of doing something wrong.
Ministry involves sensitivity: sensing the condition of each person and offering the appropriate remedy for each situation.
Paul reminds believers to be patient with everyone. You can’t effectively help until you know the problem; you can’t apply the medicine until you know where the wound is.
5:16 “Rejoice always” Joy can be the constant experience of the Christian, even in the most adverse circumstances, because Christ is the source and subject of his joy, and Christ is in control of the circumstances.
To RE-JOICE means to return to JOY; in other words, it means to return to all that Christ brings to the table in order to help us navigate through our problems.
5:17 “pray without ceasing” Prayer is two-way conversation between us and God; and to pray without ceasing means that we are to maintain that vertical connection with Him 24/7 365.
Just as we see Jesus did, during His Earthly ministry, when He said that He only did what He saw the Father doing, and He only even spoke what He heard the Father speaking; and He said “as a Father is calling me, I’m calling you.”
Prayer should be the constant attitude of the Christian—not that he abandons his regular duties and gives himself wholly to prayer.
Sure he prays at certain regular times; but he also prays extemporaneously as need arises; and therefore he enjoys continual communion with the Lord by prayer.
In Galatians 3:17, we are told that “whatever we do in word and deed, to do it as unto the lord,” so why not let’s make our life itself a prayer unto God?
Let’s plug in each morning, through our morning prayers and devotions, and then maintain that connection throughout our day – “acknowledging God in all of our ways,” and then knowing that He is directing our steps (Prov 3:5-6).
5:18 Giving thanks to God should be the Christian’s native emotion.
If Romans 8:28 is true, then we should be able to praise the Lord at all times, in all circumstances, and for everything, just as long as in doing so we do not excuse sin.
These three good habits have been called the standing orders of the church.
They represent the will of God in Christ Jesus for us.
The words in Christ Jesus remind us that He taught us these things during His earthly ministry and He was the living embodiment of what He taught.
By teaching and example, He revealed to us God’s will, for each of us, concerning joy, prayer, and thanksgiving.
5:19-22 “Do not quench the Spirit, Do not despise prophecies, Test all things, Hold fast what is good, and Abstain from every form of evil” In these next four verses God seems to be dealing with behavior in the assembly.
To quench the Spirit means to stifle His work in our midst, to limit and hinder Him.
Sin quenches the Spirit.
Traditions quench Him.
Man-made rules and regulations in public worship quench Him.
Disunity quenches Him.
And also our despising and not allowing the gift of Prophecy in our services quenches Him.
By warning us not to “quench the Holy Spirit,” Paul means that we should not ignore or toss aside the gifts the Holy Spirit gives.
Here, he mentions prophecy (5:20); in 1 Corinthians 14:39, he mentions speaking in tongues.
Sometimes spiritual gifts are controversial, and they may cause division in a church.
Rather than trying to talk about the issues, some Christians prefer to smother the gifts.
This impoverishes the church.
We should not stifle the Holy Spirit’s work in anyone’s life but encourage the full expression of His gifts to benefit the whole body of Christ.
The Holy Spirit speaks to us by convicting us to do what God wants, warning us to flee temptation, and helping us to discern the truth.
Ignoring these inner promptings stifles, or quenches, the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
Not acting on these spiritual gifts in your life or keeping someone else from exercising their gifts can hinder God’s work at a particular place and time.
Trust the Lord, discern your spiritual gifts, and use them to build up the body of believers around you.
5:21 “Test all things; hold fast what is good” We must evaluate what we hear and hold fast what is good, genuine, and true.
We shouldn’t make fun of those who don’t agree with what we believe (“scoff at prophecies”), but we should always “test everything that is said,” checking people’s words against the Bible.
We are on dangerous ground if we laugh at a person who speaks the truth.
God has often spoken through prophets, inspiring them with specific messages for particular times and places.
The gift of prophecy is less about predicting future events than about bringing messages from God under the direction of the Holy Spirit to the body of believers.
This gift provides insight, warning, correction, and encouragement to God’s people (Acts 15:32), edifying the believers (1 Corinthians 14:5, 10-12).
More Christians should seek this gift today.
On one hand, prophecies spoken should not be ignored or treated with contempt because the words are from God; on the other hand, Paul advocates comparing what people say with what the Bible says.
A true prophecy will never contradict what the Bible says.
The standard by which we test all preaching and teaching is the Word of God.
There will be abuses from time to time wherever the Spirit has liberty to speak through different brethren.
But quenching the Spirit is not the way to remedy these abuses.
An open meeting, a liberty of prophesying, a gathering in which any one could speak as the Spirit gives him utterance is one of the crying needs of the modern Church.
5:22 “Abstain from every form of evil”.Christians cannot completely avoid every kind of evil, because we live in a sinful world.
We can, however, make sure that we don’t give evil a foothold by avoiding tempting situations and concentrating on obeying God.
Paul concludes this letter with a prayer for the Thessalonian Christians, asking that God would continue to work in every part of their being–spirit, soul and body.
He prayed that God would mature them by developing, purifying and preparing them for His purposes.
Their whole being was to be preserved for God and “kept blameless” until Jesus returns.
Notice that they would not accomplish this in their own ability, but the “one who calls you is faithful and he [God] will do it” (v. 24).
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Come join the Adventure!