Saturday, January 30, 2010

First Thessalonians, Chapter Four

1 ¶ Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
They have been taught how to live in such a way as pleases God and Paul wants to see them grow more and more.
2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
Fornication is one of the biggest social problems our country has and is the source of all sexually transmitted diseases, unintended and unwanted pregnancies, and often the cause for marital splits and the resultant destruction that divorce wreaks on children.
Sex has a tremendous religious application. The first time the word, fornication, is used in the Bible it is in reference to idolatry, God’s people going after other gods, devils. The relationship between a husband and wife should mirror that between Christ and the church as Ephesians makes clear. The joys of sexual union are provided to be enjoyed ONLY in that setting. Anything outside of that marriage bond is fornication. Since Jesus makes thoughts and intentions equal to action in his famous statement on “lusting after” then fornication also includes pornography. Adultery, specifically going to someone other than your spouse, covers both parties as being married to someone.
However, fornication has a more broader application and can include adultery as 1 Corinthians 5:1 shows. Fornication can be pre-marital sex between boyfriend and girlfriend. Let me point out something to the young people. If you choose to defy God by doing this, you will pay a price later, even if you “get right with God”.
Like David, you can be forgiven and yet still face terrible consequences in your family. Let me say again, if you willfully commit this sin that unites your body to someone without the commitment before God and man to stay together for life, your future family, even if you turn fully to God and repent and ask forgiveness and “raise ‘em right” will suffer.
How can I say this in a more acceptable way. A family that starts out on the basis of fornication, with a surprise pregnancy, a marriage of necessity, and all the ambivalence and uncertainty that goes with that will be a damaged family from the beginning. The greatest thing you, young people, can give your future children is to do it right from the beginning.
TheBible makes it clear that sex is a good thing, a thing of joy where both parties most intimate needs and longings should be met and, believe me, there are as many non-Biblical and perverse marital relationships as there are unions based on fornication so just going before the preacher and getting a license from the state doesn’t mean you’re going to be right.
First, both of you have to love Jesus Christ. Both of you have to love each other THROUGH Jesus Christ. Then, both of you have to abandon yourselves physically to the other. Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition. It is a 100-100 proposition. Young men, the Bible gives you as much a responsibility to meet your wife’s needs as she has to meet yours.
But, outside of a Christ centered marriage, any sexual thoughts toward others or actions, and every man in here, at least, knows what I’m talking about, is fornication. I can’t speak for the women but I can assume. But, for the men, if you tell me that you have never looked at a pretty girl and thought, wow, since you’ve been married, I’m going to squint my eyes at you and say sarcastically, “sure”.
Young people, get busy, work, sports, serving Christ, serving your parents. Get busy and don’t dwell on your hormonal urges. Like the Pastor said, sleep on that one, and wait for God to bring you a spouse. If you don’t dwell on your feelings and stay away from visualization (guys) and romance garbage (girls) then you will have an easier time not engaging in this most destructive of all sins.
I didn’t quote a bunch of verses here because if you would just read 1 Corinthians you’d get a clear picture of this. Read the entire letter. Think about it.
5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
We’ve discussed concupiscence before. It is found;
Romans 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
It is, according to Websters 1828 dictionary as it is not clearly defined in the Bible except by association with other words, as a lust for carnal things. It is synonymous with inordinate affection and covetousness. Evil concupiscence would be a desire to obtain something that is not rightfully yours to obtain like another woman’s husband or someone else’s money. It is all characterized as idolatry in Colossians 3:5. We Christians obsess about so many things; sports, politics, money, education, someone else’s big, big ministry.
6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
This is a clear command and the last part of the verse might be linked to the following verses;
I Corinthians 6: 1 ¶ Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
Leviticus 19:13 clearly defines defraud as robbery. 1 Corinthians 7:5 defines denying sexual satisfaction to your mate, your spouse, as robbery. Mark 10:19 defines coveting your neighbor’s possessions or his wife, as defrauding him. Contrast with Exodus 20:17. See how coveting is replaced with defraud.
So, you defraud someone when you want what they have, when you steal if from them, or when you desire their mate.
7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
We have been called to separate ourselves from that which is unclean and I think most of us have a pretty good handle by now on what God considers to be unclean. God’s standard of righteousness is found in the Law given to Moses. Although we aren’t justified by the moral laws, and in no way is our salvation’s security dependent upon them, our adherence to them gives evidence of what is in our hearts.
The first time ‘unclean’ is mentioned in the Bible it is associated with touching a carcass in Leviticus 5:2.
Colossians 3:5, Ephesians 4:19, and 5:3 link uncleanness with greed and covetousness as the foundation for a whole host of sins. Also, read the absolute statement of 1 Timothy 6:10. So, uncleanness is linked not only to sexual sins but to greed, and they are all idolatry, following another god.
8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
The “therefore” implies a conclusion. We have discussed before how to “despise” means to hold in low regard, to view with contempt, to love less than one should. These are all Biblical definitions of “despise” as it is used in the Bible. We’ve gone from verses 2-4 where abstaining from fornication was the focus, to 5, where wanting something that it is not lawful to have was the focus, and, in context, referring to the previously mentioned fornication and then opening up the door to greed, another lust, which leads us to cheat our brothers and sisters.
A love for money and for sex without regard for God’s calling on those two things, is made possible by not holding people in anything but contempt. If you view other people as “things” to use to satisfy your unlawful lusts, whatever they may be directed to, it is God whom you are holding in contempt.
When the people wanted a king, God told the judge and prophet, Samuel, that it wasn’t him they were rejecting but God. Here, Paul shows us that when we use people to satisfy our wicked desires it isn’t them we are holding in contempt but God. Young people, if someone says they love God, or are a Christian, a follower of Christ, and they want you to break your fellowship with God for theirs and presumably your pleasure or greed they are false, at least in that instance, and I would run, not walk, to get away from them.
God has given us His Holy Spirit. Should we hold Him in such low esteem? This passage goes all against the excuse of saying, “I can’t help myself. God will understand.” Understand what? That you don’t care for Him?
9 ¶ But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
This is how Jesus said that people would know we were his followers.
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Charity, the love that one Christian has toward another, a step above brotherly kindness;
2Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
And does no harm to your brother or sister;
Romans 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
They have already shown great love toward their fellow Christians in Macedonia and he pleads with them to grow stronger and stronger in their love, their charity toward them. These people weren’t like American Christians who may have an issue with paying the mortgage on the church building but since these people met in homes, the issue, more often than not was like for our Liberian brethren, one of simple survival. I, personally, am not so interested that you are doing God’s work by helping the church across the way pave their basketball court as I am by you all pitching together to help some elderly Christian with the costs of their medicines. A youth group playing volleyball is not near so Christian to Paul as would be a youth group cleaning up an ill Christians yard and house.
I doubt that God would have a problem grading one thing above the other if your choice was between helping a brother or sister keep a roof over their head (if they were giving it an honest effort but failing) and having a bake sale so the youth could go to Hershey Park. I am shocked at the things Christians today say are “working for the Lord”, when there are so many needs, so great, even among a nation of such wealth as ours that are ignored.
Let brotherly love increase and keep the main thing the main thing.
11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
Here’s some things that I wish modern Christians would take to heart. Study to be quiet. They warn you before you go into the Army, if it moves salute it, if it doesn’t move pick it up, if you can’t pick it up paint it, and above all, never volunteer for anything and keep a low profile.
There is nothing more obnoxious than a loud, noisy ANYBODY who has the answers to something and that includes us. There is strength in quiet, moral power. Let them say, he or she is what they are and that’s all. It’s one thing to always be in people’s faces but if fundamentalist Christians would simply do what they say they believe is right then Emerson’s old adage, “Your actions are speaking so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying” would be a good, not a bad thing, for us.
Christians complain about the language at NASCAR races or pro football games. What are Christians doing at worldly amusements like that? Christians complain about Ellen Degeneres, the lesbian, having a TV show. What are Christians doing watching worldly entertainment? A relative of mine once complained that her mother was complaining that FORD advertized in gay magazines. Another cousin wryly said to her, tell your mother to stop reading gay magazines.
If you want to have an effect on your culture for Christ then stop supporting wickedness. Stay away from worldly passions and entertainments. Focus on Christ and your testimony. The way you live and your attitude say more about your Christianity than how loud you are. Being annoying is satisfying to the flesh but hardly reveals Christ to a fallen world. Back on FORD. Every major US Corporation has sensitivity classes on how to avoid offending homosexuals and now that the government controls them it is even more an imperative. Don’t like it? Build your own car or fly yourself to your vacation destination. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against boycotts. They work. I am not opposed to refusing to buy something because of the policies of the corporation. What I am opposed to is this constant complaining and whining in the name of Christ. The world is covered in darkness. The god of this world is Satan. That’s what the Bible says. Get over it. Do what you are supposed to be doing. Keep the main thing the main thing. You are the advanced commando unit for a soon to be invading Army. You are fighting a SPIRITUAL, not carnal, war. You are not here to be a TV critic! Let’s put Christ back in Christ’s mass? Let’s put Christ back in our lives and be examples for a fallen world.
Do your own business and work with your own hands seems a common sense and clear call that the ideal Christian employment is self employment, producing something useful. Before the Industrial Revolution it was common for people to be involved in farming and agriculture and to have their own little cottage industry where they made things at home and sold them in the market. This is a far better, if tenuous, existence than wage slavery and the modern view of employer as Big Daddy or Big Momma. There are many sermons that can be written about this concerning time off to worship, prayer in the workplace, the roles of men and women under authority, and how people are to be paid. But, that’s not for now. Think on this statement a bit, young people, when you start your life out. What skill can you learn that will allow you to follow God’s admonitions, live a Christian life, and have something to offer the world in exchange for a livelihood.
12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
As the great African-American educator, Booker T. Washington pointed out to people of his color, if you have something to offer that people want and need, you’ll never go hungry. Having your own small business where you provide a service or a product that the world needs will help you maintain an honest presence before the world and keep you and your family from want, with the Lord’s blessing.
It is very hard to have a good testimony while working your way up a corporate or bureaucratic ladder where in order to be successful depends not so much on what you know as on who you know in the organization. This is a very dangerous road for a Christian. Young people, learn a useful trade. You can always do something else after you’ve established yourself, later.
13 ¶ But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
Sleep is a metaphor for death in the Bible in some cases while in others it is obviously about sleep.
John 11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
It is fundamentally obscene for Christians to mourn like nonbelievers when a loved one dies. It makes it look to all like you don’t really believe what the Bible says. Well, do you? Do you believe that a saved brother or sister in Christ is in heaven before the doctor even pronounces them dead? If you believe that and you believe that a joyous reunion is awaiting you then why aren’t you cheering and joyful and happy at the funeral of someone you know is saved?
Unless you aren’t sure they’re saved or maybe that you’re saved, huh? We need to quit acting like pagans and start acting like we believe.
1Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
This clearly says that when a Christian dies he or she goes to be with the Lord, lest how could they be brought with Him when He returns? Ask anyone who teaches soul sleep or no Rapture. How is it possible for this verse to be true if you don’t go to be with Him? Thank about it.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
Prevent like “let” has different meanings based on context but the meaning in the Bible is pre-event, to go before.
Matthew 17:25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
Psalm 119:147 I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
Psalm 88:13 But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
Psalm 119:148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
The context does not allow for prevent as meaning “to not permit” but to “go before”. But be convinced in your own mind of what you believe. My point is the next verse indicates that to prevent is “to go before”, at least in this context.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
“the dead in Christ shall rise first” shows that they go before us. The Lord shall descend from heaven with 1) a shout, 2) the voice of the archangel of which Michael is the only one named in Jude, verse 9, and 3) the trump of God. Which trump in Revelation is it? Might it be;
Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
This is what we think of as the reference to the Rapture of the church. There are three times when the words, “Come up hither(here)” are said in the Bible;
1. Proverbs 25:7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.
2. Rev. 4:1
3. Revelation 11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
These correspond with the statements in 1 Corinthians 15.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
This is the first resurrection, those that belong to Christ; the Rapture of the church, the body of Christ, at the beginning of the Tribulation and the Rapture of the faithful Jews at the end of the Tribulation as indicated in Revelation 11:12. Proverbs 25:7 would be a reference to the Old Testament saints that Christ caused to be resurrected at his crucifixion.
Matthew 27:50 ¶ Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
The final resurrection will be the unsaved dead who must stand before God, the second resurrection, the white throne judgment in Revelation 20, after the Millennial reign of Christ.
1 ¶ And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 ¶ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
This corresponds to 1 Corinthians 15:24 reflecting the end of the Millennium.
1Corinthians 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1Corinthians 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
The question presented by these two verses is when do we get our resurrection body? Is it at the Rapture? If it is not at the Rapture, but at the “last trump”, then what is raised of the dead in Christ. Spirit and soul are with the Lord. This confusion is wrapped around the phrase “the last trump”. This seems to fit in with the second removal of believers, specifically the Jewish believers in Revelation 11. Or is the Rapture toward the end of the Tribulation? But this would contradict other verses that say we will not taste of God’s wrath.
Revelation 11:14 ¶ The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
So, here is a conundrum we must answer to understand the sequence of events. I don’t have an answer for you. Just knowing I’m going is good enough for me.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
We need to always remember the promises concerning resurrection, specifically our resurrection. Keep looking up.
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

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