Saturday, May 31, 2014

1Thessalonians 4:9-12 comments: honest work

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. 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;

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; 12  That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

Paul reinforces a statement he made in 3:6 regarding the good news that Timothy brought them about their faith and charity. The Holy Spirit teaches the Thessalonian Christians to love each other, as Jesus taught his disciples.

John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The Thessalonians have extended their care and concern to all Christians in the region and Paul wishes that this attitude would continue to grow.

Paul also instructs them on their position in making a living. They are to quietly go about their business and, “work with their own hands.” He says he commanded them to do this. The common laborer, the craftsman, and the simple man or woman of business and trade have lives that are consistent with a Christian witness. The person who gambles with other people’s money, exploits their fears and anxieties, or manipulates them is not consistent with a Christian witness. Early Christians said that being a Roman soldier or even the Emperor himself were not consistent with being a Christian as allegiances were misplaced and religious idolatry was commanded as patriotism and obedience to the state.

It would be very difficult for a Bible-believing Christian to be President of the United States. The power to send millions to their death in war, the need to negotiate and accept behavior that is against God’s mandates, and to deceive the people, “for their own good,” is not consistent with being a Christian. The chief executive is not a pastor or a messiah but a manager of the public’s interest. To demand that this person declare himself a faithful Christian as a condition for a vote is to ensure that liars, murderers, and thieves run for the office. The country is not a church and the president is not a pastor.

In President Andrew Jackson’s day, in the early part of the 1800s, it was unlawful in some parts of the nation for a preacher to even run for political office. Andrew Jackson refused to participate in a day of prayer for a cholera epidemic because he said that the people had pastors for that and that wasn’t the place of the president. Within a few decades, Abraham Lincoln was declaring national days of prayer and thanksgiving. The presidency was approaching the level of the pastorate and the lines between faith and politics were becoming confused.

James Madison, noted by many as the, “Father of the Constitution,” stated that the government had nothing to say about a man’s duty to his Creator. The government should not only not intrude but remain silent regarding religion. He was even opposed to paid chaplains in the military as eventually the government would tell them what they could and couldn’t pray, which has happened.  Even today, some vestiges of that sentiment remain as the Supreme Court recently, in a unanimous decision of both liberals and conservatives, upheld the idea that the Federal Government has nothing to say regarding a church organization’s relationship with its ministers in that church and pastor are exempt from employee protections extended to everyone else (Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School vs. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

In today’s climate I would be extremely suspicious of a person running for high office who insisted that he was, “doing God’s will,” or that God had spoken to him  and told him to run for office. I would be more impressed if the candidate declared his personal faith but did not add, “God wills it,” to his most important opinions. Remember what John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, Lord Acton, said and remember the entire quote that pertains to this subject. It is essential in understanding history.

“…Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it….”

Americans, even Christian Americans, have exchanged their faith in God for faith in government and both left and right are looking for someone to worship, a messiah figure, hence the devotion to the cults of Reagan and Clinton, and Obama in the first part of his presidency.

Paul calls Christians to walk quietly minding their own business, work with their own hands in some useful manner, and be honest in their dealings with the outside world so that they will lack in nothing which they need to survive in this hostile environment. He will reinforce this in his second letter to the Thessalonians.

2Thessalonians 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.12  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

And to Timothy in praying for leaders, none of whom were Christians when this was penned.

1Timothy 2:1 ¶  I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

The ideal Christian life is not one of ambition toward the world, of gaining money, power, and influence but of ambition toward God of saving souls from destruction and living a separated and sanctified life pleasing to God. Teach your children well lest they become enamored of the world and get trapped in Satan’s web.

As regards to the one who complains that this attitude would render Christians has having no influence in the world I would argue that if the huge number of those who claim to be religious in this country didn’t support the pornography industry, the liquor industry, the entertainment industry, or voted only for leaders who showed a consistent testimony of their commitment to obey the law those industries would collapse and political leaders would be pressured to be much different than they are now. You have no greater influence than your own personal actions and consistent moral witness, honoring Christ in everything you do or say.

Friday, May 30, 2014

1Thessalonians 4:1-8 comments: our moral behavior

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. 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; 5  Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 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. 7  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8  He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

In verse 3 we have the use of the word, “even,” to unite two ideas. Paul says that the Thessalonians sanctification is the will of God just as he says that Jesus Christ is the, “angel,” or appearance of God here.

Galatians 4:14  And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. (For the definition of an angel see Isaiah 63:9).

Notice the first mention of the word, “even,” and how it sets the tone for one of its uses elsewhere, although there are other uses.

Genesis 6:17  And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

The vessel in verse 4 is a reference to our physical bodies.

1Peter 3:7  Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

“Concupiscence,” refers to a strong lust or sexual desire that is extreme. Sexual obsessions themselves are a religion of idolatry.

Colossians 3:5  Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Paul tells the Thessalonians that he has told them how they should behave in a way that pleases God. He emphasizes their sanctification, or being set apart for God’s purpose.

Exodus 28:41  And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

This sanctification Paul emphasizes is abstaining from fornication, which is any sexual activity or desire that is not ordained by God, that is, anything apart from the sexual union and enjoyment of sex between a man and woman who are husband and wife.

This always requires the Christian to go against his or her culture. From the most ancient times many ancient religions such as that of Canaan, revolved around sexual behaviors, with temple prostitution of women (whores) and men (dogs – still a slang term for a male prostitute).

Deuteronomy 23:18  Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

Male temple prostitution, as well as female, was vigorously condemned by God, practiced even in relation to God’s Holy Temple against His will.

2Kings 23:7  And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.

The Greco-Roman world that the Thessalonians lived in was also filled with fornication in the way of temple prostitution and sexual affairs, hetero- and homo-, as a part of cultural practice in no way associated with God’s plan for mankind.

The Greek’s most private behavior was influenced by public expectations. Homosexual and heterosexual behavior outside of marriage were not condemned but were either expressed through religious activities or social behavior identifying one party as the other’s superior in social ranking. It could be a man and a younger man or a boy or a man and a woman as long as they were not on an equal position of power and social status. What was condemned for men as immoral was a lack of self-control, regardless of what behavior was expressed. I recommend reading,”Against Timarchus,” by Aeschines and books like Women in the Classical World and Women in Antiquity. To be a moral Greek had nothing to do with the standard set by man’s Creator in the Bible. It only had to do with doing things accepted by the society in moderation.

Paul has called the Thessalonians out of their culture, to live in their culture, but not to practice as their culture taught and even insisted. All Christians are called to do the same. We must control the excesses of our sexual nature or, at least, to permit them to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. This is not prudery or mid-Victorian paranoia but focus on a life that is pleasing to God.

Paul here narrows his focus on adultery as you can see by his references to defrauding a Christian brother and holding him in contempt, which is essentially doing the same to God. Remember Paul’s criticism of the Corinthian church for accepting a man who had slept with whom we suppose was his step-mother and then his admonition to accept that man after he had repented of his sin.

1Corinthians 5:1  It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

2Corinthians 2:6  Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7  So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

Notice also how Paul exhorts a Christian husband and wife not to defraud each other by denying each other their sexual favors as it leads to fornication.

1Corinthians 7:3  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4  The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5  Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

In our culture today we are bombarded by sexual imagery. Advertising and entertainment sexualize us at way too early an age. To live as a Christian is supposed to live in this culture requires one to oppose the culture and reject its values just as the Thessalonians were called to do. We often consider ourselves sophisticated and liberated by our lack of morality but what we have done is to condemn large segments of the youthful part of society to a lifetime of struggle, regret, disease, and heartbreak. Our culture is no less awash in self-destructive, exploitive, and manipulative sexual behavior than the ancient Greeks or Canaanites. It’s just that in our case we don’t call it religion. We call it being liberated, “normal”, feminist, free, or in tune with our feelings. Modern man is no less a fool than ancient man and Paul is telling the Thessalonians and ourselves to step out of that world and come to God’s way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

1Thessalonians 3:6-13 comments: He's returning with His saints

6 ¶  But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 7  Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 8  For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 9  For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10  Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

Notice how Paul is pleased with news of the Thessalonians continued faith and charity, which I have explained before is the love that Christians are supposed to feel for each other which is actively expressed by our ministering to each other’s needs.

Charity is not simply giving money, food, and material goods to others. It is the perfection of brotherly love.

2 Peter 1:5 ¶  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;7  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

1Corinthians, chapter 13, is not merely about giving to the poor which is evident from this verse.

1Corinthians 13:3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Paul goes on to say that his difficulties were alleviated by the knowledge that the Thessalonians were continuing in their faith. His statement reflects that he can go on because they are standing fast in the Lord. He wants dearly to see them again.

11 ¶  Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 12  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13  To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

Again, a chapter ends in triumph and joy. Paul’s prayer is that not only will he be permitted to visit them again but that the Thessalonians grow in their love toward each other, and not only toward each other, but to all men. Lest someone think that the ideal Christian life is one of confinement with other Christians and no love for the lost these kinds of verses overthrow that notion. The Christian only learns to love the people of the world he desires to save by loving first his fellow believers.

It is important to note here that Jesus is going to return with all His saints. You can’t return with someone who is not with you when you return. Again, a clear statement that indicates that the church will not be on this earth when Christ returns confronts the reader.

First, you see 1Thessalonians 1:10;

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

The church will not face the wrath God is bringing on the world.

Then, you can see 1Thessalonians 2:19;

“19  For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?”

The church is in Christ’s presence at His return. And now chapter 3, verse 13;

“To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

Any review of how the word, “saint,” is used in the Bible will make it clear that God is referring to His people.

In the Old Testament;

Deuteronomy 33:2  And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.

And in the New;

Romans 1:7  To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

1Thessalonians 3:1-5 comments: staying on track

1 ¶  Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2  And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 3  That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5  For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

Paul sent Timothy, to whom the two pastoral letters were written, to Thessalonica to assist them and help firm up their faith. He doesn’t want the Thessalonians to worry about him and the trials he is suffering for the faith. Paul had told them that he was going to suffer tribulation and it happened. In fact, Paul has told Timothy;

2Timothy 3:12  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

 Paul wanted to make sure that the Thessalonian church was still on course, still faithful, and still holding on to the faith.

Besides slipping back into paganism due to the pressure from the surrounding culture, their government, and their families there was also the danger of Jews coming in and trying to put them  under the Law given to Moses for the Hebrews, a warning that Paul gave to the Galatians, as he told them that being circumcised in Jewish fashion was not and could not be a prerequisite for being saved as there are no outward actions that put you in Christ.

Galatians 5:2  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.3  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

This is why the word, sacrament, is not found in our Bible. Salvation is predicated upon belief, faith, and trust in Christ only. No baptism, sprinkling, and no ritual act like circumcision saves you.

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

You can imagine today that Paul might send Timothy to Thessalonica to make sure they hadn’t started believing they had to be baptized to be saved, attend church whenever the doors were open to be saved, street preach to be saved, wear the right clothes, have the right haircut, or observe the correct memorized prayers to be saved. Paul was concerned about his converts straying from the faith. It is so like us to lean toward works as works can be so satisfying and such a powerful method of control. But, as Paul told the Galatians;

Galatians 3:3  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Monday, May 26, 2014

1Thessalonians 2:13-20 comments: our crown of rejoicing

13 ¶  For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 14  For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15  Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16  Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

Modern versions remove, “their own,” from before prophets in verse 15. Paul, while pointing out the persecution that the Thessalonian Christian suffered in a Greek and Roman world, also pointed out the Jewish persecution of the early church. His statements are prophetic in that the Jews have suffered horribly as a people for two thousand years.

In verse 13 Paul remarks how the Thessalonians were moved by the word of God, accepting it as from God rather than just the philosophy of men. They believed and God worked in their hearts. The link between belief that is generated within one’s self and faith that is a gift from God, as explained in Ephesians, is very important. They didn’t believe because they were “good people.” They believed because the gospel is true. Faith was given to them and the word of God did a work in their hearts because of their belief.

17 ¶  But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. 18  Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 19  For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20  For ye are our glory and joy.

Compare the triumphant ending of this and chapter one. As Paul reveals his desire to come to visit the Thessalonians and his frustration that he had been hindered in doing so by those persons stirred up by Satan he calls the fact that he knows the Thessalonians belong to Christ, to be revealed at His coming, Paul’s hope, his joy, and his crown of rejoicing. This is something that every Christian knows who has led someone to believe in Christ and heard them say that they have accepted Him, received Him, or been born again. It is a feeling almost as good as your own salvation experience. The joy should come not at just having someone say a formula prayer but at discipling them and watching them grow. Too many Christians leave their spiritual children in the street.

Remember that the command from Jesus Christ to His disciples was not simply to get someone to say a 1-2-3 repeat after me formula prayer.

Matthew 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Notice the words, “teach,” and “teaching,” in those verses? “Discipling” one convert can take years and come in stops and starts but it is essential in doing justice to the intent of the gospel, to save people and to make them useful vessels for God’s will in saving others and living lives separated unto God. Paul’s crown of rejoicing is knowing that the people he has taught are going to be translated, raptured if you will, by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The simplest thing that you can do with a new Christian is to teach them how to let God speak to their spiritual heart by His words in the Bible. Teaching them to read God’s word, to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit, and to let God work in their heart gives them the solid foundation that will prevent them from being blown about by, “every wind of doctrine.”

But, if you don’t know how to or haven’t cared enough to read your Bible from cover to cover or heard it read from cover to cover how can you teach anyone anything but a few select points you’ve heard from a preacher but can’t back up, defend, or explain because you don’t know where or how they are established in God’s word? There is simply no substitute for having God speak to your heart directly without commentary, man’s opinion, or man’s agenda by reading or hearing the words He has given by inspiration and preserved in His Bible.

God’s word speaks to a believer’s heart on subjects that are personal to that believer and may not have anything to do with the meaning of the passage they are reading. I recently, during a sermon given faithfully from the Bible, on one issue, was given overwhelming peace by God regarding a subject completely unrelated to the sermon. But, by hearing God’s word and thinking on it I was given a blessing that helped me in a huge way get through a crisis.

We must teach new believers how God’s word can instruct, can teach, can comfort, can exhort, can correct, and can change us. We can have that joy, that crown of rejoicing, when we leave behind what Paul did, one or more Christians standing against the world and their flesh, feeding on God’s word every day, rejoicing in the Lord, and standing on His promises for them. Imagine the greater victory of rather than just knowing you prayed with twenty strangers for salvation you never saw again that you taught and discipled ten strangers who became friends whom you communicate with regularly clearly having the power of God in their lives.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

1Thessalonians 2:9-12 comments: Paul's example

9  For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

10  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: 11  As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12  That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Paul worked as a tentmaker to supply his own needs so as not to ask for wages of the people to whom he was preaching. This is evidenced by his actions in Corinth.

 Acts 18:1 ¶  After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2  And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 3  And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

In early America Baptist preachers were not expected to live off of salaries from their congregations like other denominations of Protestant Christians. A preacher was to labor for his bread outside of his work for his church. In a world of ministers supported by taxes it would have been a tremendous burden on a poor congregation to have to support a preacher and his family entirely from offerings and tithes.

Paul wanted to devote himself solely to ministering of the gospel to the church without the burden of taking money from them. He worked night and day either supplying his own basic needs or to the ministering of the gospel. He was a busy man at all times.

Paul’s efforts were always to be above reproach, to purposefully give no one grounds for criticism that he was an exploiter or a fake.

Acts 24:16  And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Notice in another place how he likened his care for his flock to a father urging his children to do right, which is why it was so important to him to set an example.

1Corinthians 4:14 ¶  I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

15  For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

Paul’s purpose was to see the Thessalonian church set a good example as Christians in a heathen world, as worthy of the God who called them into His kingdom and His glory.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

1Thessalonians 2:4-8 comments: Paul's method and manner

4  But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 5  For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: 6  Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

God has committed the gospel to faithful Paul in trust.

1Timothy 1:11  According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

His purpose was not to become a celebrity like some kind of itinerant Greek Sophist preacher going from place to place making great speeches for gifts of money. His purpose was not to please men, to tickle their ears, but to please God.

Romans 16:18  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

He did not flatter his hearers nor did he attempt to deceive them for monetary gain. He was not interested in being lifted up as a great preacher and recognized by the mighty ones of the culture. Paul was a faithful steward of the mysteries of God. Those preachers who would make the following verses refer to church attendance are doing just the opposite of what Paul is talking about in the verses. This is not about being faithful to church attendance, but about being faithful to God’s word.

1Corinthians 4:1 ¶  Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

7 ¶  But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 8  So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

Paul’s mission was not to tear the hide from the people’s backs. His preaching was not just to get the Scripture out there in the air, no matter how loud, rude, hateful, or mean-spirited, just get it out there, like some street preachers do, shouting verses angrily as people hurry by.

Paul had a heart for the lost. He treated them kindly and brought the gospel to them as a nurse brings food and care to their charge. Paul’s arguing was for the argumentative, the self-righteous, and the disputers, but even with some of them who were not believers he showed kindness and reason and won converts.

Acts 17:22 ¶  Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23  For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27  That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

32 ¶  And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. 33  So Paul departed from among them. 34  Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Paul saved his hard speech for the religious elite who persecuted him, one of which he was at one time.

Acts 23:3  Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

Paul didn’t only give the gospel to the Thessalonians. He gave himself, out of a true affection and love for them.

Monday, May 19, 2014

1Thessalonians 2:3 comments: evil preaching

3  For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

Modern Bible versions change, “deceit,” to “error,” perhaps to tone down the judgment of God upon men’s actual motives. Paul’s preaching was not of deceit.

Romans 16:18  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

2Corinthians 2:17  For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

2Corinthians 11:13  For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

Paul’s preaching was not of uncleanness. He did not exhort the congregation to immoral behavior or preach as a cloak to cover any evil intention on his part to take advantage of them.

Paul’s preaching was not in guile, which is linked to iniquity, speaking evil, wickedness, deceit, and malice.

Psalm 32:2  Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Psalm 34:13  Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

Psalm 55:11  Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.

1Peter 2:1  Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

Now, you can imagine what Paul’s preaching did not involve. We can be sure from his teaching in his letters that he did not try to put them under the Law given to Moses. We can be certain he did not preach a contempt for or hatred of women. We can be sure he did not try to exploit woman or children. And we can be sure that he did not try to defraud them regarding money.

The best way for Christians to guard against evil preaching is to know what the Bible actually says rather than being spoon-fed false doctrine, often sprinkled with sugar, some personal stories, and a few jokes to make it more palatable. Jesus warned His disciples about the preaching of the religious elite.

Matthew 16:11  How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12  Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

1Thessalonians 2:1,2 comments: Paul's experience at Philippi remembered

1 ¶  For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: 2  But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

Remember how Paul was treated at Philippi? It left us one of the greatest verses in the Bible, one that, through two thousand years of church-state madness, makes salvation understandable.

Philippi is where Paul and company met Lydia, the seller of the purple dye that was so valued among the elite, as they preached to the women who had come down to the river to pray. It was at her house that Paul and his associates stayed while in Philippi. When they had cast a devil out of a woman who was shouting out who they were and what their mission was her employers had Paul and the others arrested, after which they were whipped  and imprisoned.

It was that night when an earthquake opened the doors and released them from their bonds as they sang praises and prayed but all the prisoners stayed put and the jailer was determined to commit suicide thinking that they had all escaped. He uttered the famous words, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul then said,

Acts 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

After their release at Philippi they came to Thessalonica where many converts were made in spite of the Jews’ harassment.

Acts 17:1 ¶  Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2  And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3  Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4  And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 5  But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6  And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. 8  And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9  And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

Friday, May 16, 2014

1Thessalonians 1:8-10 comments: return, resurrection, and deliverance from the wrath to come

8  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.9  For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10  And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
The example set and the message preached by the Thessalonian church brought new believers in Macedonia and throughout Greece.
Religion in the Roman Empire cannot be separated from the politics of the Roman Empire. The Greeks personified their gods and the Romans made theirs almost vague abstractions. However, to the Roman and the Greek there was a sort of a deal with the gods. If you practiced your rituals letter perfect and honored the gods by the form of your worship then you expected benefits from them, almost like a business deal. Religious offices were political in nature.
Religion had its most important expression in patriotism and patriotism had its sanction and support in religion. In Roman religion there was little discussion of a life after death. The focus of Roman religion was on this earth. Greek and Middle Eastern gods were accepted but their worship was considered inferior to the Roman way. Piety toward the gods was as important as obedience to the civil magistrates.
You can imagine how hard it was for the Thessalonians to turn from those forms of religious devotion that essentially made them Romans or Greeks to the God of the Bible. It may have been a simple thing in their head once the Holy Spirit had spoken to their spiritual hearts but it was a life-changing and sometimes catastrophic change in their daily lives and interactions with friends, family, and, most importantly, the authorities.
The Greek world, in which Thessalonica lay, had a deep reverence for antiquity and, “the wisdom of the ancients,” which often took the place of religion as in their deep reverence for the poems of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, about the Trojan War. Alexander the Great is even purported to have slept with a copy of the Iliad under his pillow. Do not think it would have been an easy thing to turn from this worldview to the God of the Bible.
Here is the first hint of the rapture of the church, what the Bible calls, “translation.” The word, “rapture,” is not in the Bible. But words like, “translation,” and phrases like, “caught up,” will reveal by their context what is to happen and what the early church believed by virtue of many quotes from the early church fathers such as Shephard, Victorinus, and Cyprian.
The Thessalonians were nourished by the faith that Christ would return and remove them from, “this present evil world.” He would save them from God’s wrath, which is to come upon this world.
Verse 10 says that they are to wait for Jesus from heaven who has delivered them from the wrath to come. We see God’s wrath explained in detail in the Book of the Revelation of John.
Revelation 11:18  And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
The first chapter of 1Thessalonians ends with three basic doctrines of Bible-believing Christianity. One, that Jesus is physically returning for us and, two, the resurrection of Christ, and, three, that the church will not see God’s wrath visited upon the world, at least from this angle.  Hallelujah!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

1Thessalonians 1:6,7 comments: affliction and joy

6 ¶  And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7  So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

There is a great doctrine hidden in this passage in plain sight. The Thessalonians, on the physical level, received the gospel with, “much affliction.”  Affliction is distress and suffering.

Genesis 16:11  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.

Psalm 25:18  Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

1Thessalonians 3:7  Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:

Emperor worship became prominent in the first century and continued. To refuse to acknowledge the emperor as a god or a messiah was considered unpatriotic. Early Christians refused that honor to an earthly ruler, unlike American Christians who are always trying to elect a left or right wing messiah to save them. The Thessalonians would have had great distress and personal persecution if they had been true to their faith which Paul is implying here that they were.

To put yourself in their position mentally, just imagine if you began, because of your faith and not because of your apathy, to refuse to celebrate patriotic holidays like July 4th, religious holidays that are not called for as such in the Bible like Christmas, to vote, to say the pledge allegiance to the flag, to get a marriage license, or any number of other things that a, “good American,” is supposed to do then you can imagine the ostracism and alienation you would feel from friends and family. Now, you say, well it isn’t the same, but it was to the Roman. To the Roman the customs of reverence and worship of the state, the honoring of gods of everything from the farmer’s field to the child’s nursery, and the celebration of civic and religious holidays as a moral duty were part of the cultural fabric that signified being a good Roman citizen.

Imagine the difficulty you would face if you put Christ first and brooked no competition between Him versus family and state. At least you aren’t likely to be arrested and executed for your stubbornness as they would have been.  

However, they received the gospel not only with affliction, but at the same time, “with joy of the Holy Ghost.” This underscores that for true, uncompromising Christianity rather than the drivel passed as such in today’s world, our promises are spiritual, not necessarily physical. We can be persecuted, even killed for our faith, and have supernatural joy because of Christ. Just read accounts of the martyrs throughout history.

Today, imagine being a Christian in North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Iraq. To not go along with the crowd, to resist the government and the culture, results in murder, rape, kidnappings, church burnings and a whole host of evil. Yet, any review of the magazine put out by the organization called The Voice of the Martyrs will show you how many of these Christians express sheer joy at their faith and in their distress.

2Timothy 3:12  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Romans 5:1 ¶  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4  And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

On the other hand, much of the affliction spoken of by Paul in the early church had to do with their great poverty and need.

2Corinthians 8:1 ¶  Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2  How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3  For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4  Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

We have our example of the joy that comes from fulfilling God’s will in Jesus Christ.

Hebrew 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

With obedience to God through Christ comes great tribulation, affliction, and distress often but also joy in the Holy Ghost knowing that in doing God’s will and being in God’s will He will lift you up and you will experience supernatural and unexplainable joy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

1Thessalonians 1:5 comments: presenting the gospel

5  For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

Paul is speaking here about the presentation of the gospel. He did not just teach in words but by his actions as well, which we all do. Power often refers to strength and the ability to get something, like wealth. It also refers to strength under restraint.

Jesus could have called on spiritual beings to deliver Him physically from the agonies of the Cross. He told Peter when Peter drew a sword to protect Him.

Matthew 26:52  Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53  Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

A Corinthian woman was told to exercise her liberty with restraint by wearing her hair in a manner that perhaps wouldn’t confuse her appearance with the thousand short-haired and shaven headed temple prostitutes in nearby Acro-Corinth.

1Corinthians 11:10  For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

Still, in most instances power will be as we understand it; strength and might. Jesus Christ, being God in the flesh, had the ability to lay down His life and to raise it again.

John 10:18  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Think on this principle. Paul came to the Thessalonians, not only with words but with the moral power to back those words up with his actions. Christians today are fond of expressing the gospel verbally but living in such a way as if they didn’t believe it. There is no power in their words because their actions don’t give testimony to what they are saying.

To love violence as entertainment, to fiercely cling to every moment of life on this earth as if no Heaven awaited you, to be bigoted regarding people who are different than you and hateful to those who disagree with you, to act terrified of society, government, current events, and culture when the Bible has foretold how it’s all going to work out is not a good way of delivering the gospel with power or showing your faith with confidence that its really based on something other than itself. In other words, do you really have faith in God or just faith in your faith? “It must be true because I believe it,” is not an argument or a testimony.

Paul expressed the gospel to the Thessalonians with the power of the Holy Ghost displayed, and with much assurance. Paul was able to establish their faith, to comfort them, and to give them confidence in their trust in and reliance upon God. Paul talks about the example he and his fellow-laborers were to the Thessalonians. In this letter Paul will make certain assurances and promises to the Christians here and to us regarding what to expect in the future and how actions must back up words for the words to have meaning.

1Corinthians 4:18  Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 19  But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. 20  For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

As Paul talks about the example we are to set and the great chapter on our own self-restraint of the liberty we have in Christ, Romans 14, he says;

Romans 14:16  Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

When you are giving your testimony for Christ does the person you are talking to see faith in God or fear of men? Do they see confidence in the promises of God or uncertainty? Do you know the Bible well enough to answer the seeker’s questions or are you just as ignorant as the average unsaved person about what the Bible actually says as opposed to what some celebrity preacher said? Does your life reflect what you say you believe and I don’t just mean what you don’t do, don’t say, or where you don’t go? Is there power in your testimony?

Monday, May 12, 2014

1Thessalonians 1:1-4 comments: Paul's introduction

Thessalonica  is a city in Greece today which is also called Thessaloniki or Salonica. It is the second largest city in Greece. It was founded in 315BC by King Cassander of Macedon, who named it after his wife. Eventually it became an important city in both the Roman Empire and after the western half of the Roman Empire fell, remained an important city for the Eastern Roman Empire. Thessalonica was important, being a powerful trading city, in the development of early Christianity.

It has been said that the two epistles or letters to the Thessalonians are the most important Pauline letters for a new convert to read. Ruckman pointed out that the Gospel of John is important to convert sinners to Christ, Romans and Galatians are wonderful in teaching salvation by grace through faith but contain a number of Old Testament references that would be unknown to a new convert, but that the two letters to the Thessalonians would contain little that the new convert couldn’t understand and offer them much relief in knowing that not only was the new convert saved from Hell but that the One who saved him was coming back for him.

1st Thessalonians                 


1 ¶  Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We know Paul as the apostle that Jesus chose to go spread the gospel to the Gentile world for two thousand years through his writings.

Romans 15:16  That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

Silvanus helped Paul establish the Gentile church at Corinth.

2Corinthians 1:19  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.

And helped Peter with Jewish believers in Asia.

1Peter 5:12  By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.

Silvanus was probably also known as Silas in Acts as he and Timothy are mentioned together a few times and was an important fellow-laborer with Paul.

Timotheus we know as the young preacher, Timothy, for whom two of Paul’s letters were written. There is a great deal said about Timothy in the New Testament but that is not part of our study of the Thessalonian letters.

The church of the Thessalonians, like other churches of Paul’s day, would have included small groups of Christians who met in individual houses for worship and fellowship as there were no buildings dedicated to church worship until late in the second century. These house churches are mentioned in Romans 16:5; 1Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4;15; & Philemon 1:2. A house church is referenced as in 1Corinthians 16:19 while the house churches in a city are called collectively, the church, as in 1Corinthians 1:2 & 2Corinthians 1:1.

I am assuming there may have been more than one meeting of the church in Thessalonica even though there are no churches meeting in someone’s house mentioned in that city. It is an assumption based on the literal facts of Romans, 1Corinthians, Colossians, and Philemon.

Paul wishes them grace and peace from God. Jesus Christ and God here are united in a figure of speech called a Hendiadys where two things are united in one meaning by the conjunction, “and.”

For instance, Jesus Christ is God in these passages.

2Timothy 4:1  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2Thessalonians 2:16  Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

Philemon 1:3  Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Along with other references that united Jesus Christ and God in one identity.

John 14:9  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

John 10:30  I and my Father are one.

1John 5:20  And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Not only the Son of God, or God in the flesh, but also the Messiah for which the Jews themselves were waiting to deliver them.

John 4:25  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Belief that Jesus Christ is God, the only begotten Son of God as in never before or since has God walked in human flesh (thank Him that He created Eve so that our Deliverer could be born of a woman), the Messiah or Christ, and that He rose from the dead literally and physically are essential beliefs if you regard yourself as a Christian.

If you believe that being a Christian involves simply being some idea of a gentleman (although I’ve never met someone who claimed that who was really a gentleman) or a philosophy (as in the famous politician who recently called Jesus his favorite philosopher) of living then you are sadly deceived by your own willful stupidity no matter what position and influence you have or how much money is in your bank account. There are even so-called Christians who believe that you can call Christ a liar and still have eternal life. They will say that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe in something even though He Himself said that only He was the way, the truth, and the life and no one could approach God the Father but by Him (John 14:6).

There will be many people in Hell who regarded themselves as Christians when they walked in the flesh.

2 ¶  We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

3  Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4  Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

After Paul tells the Thessalonians that he includes them in his prayers he refers to three things that stand out regarding their walk in Christ. There is their work of faith which is mentioned again in 2Thessalonians1:11. What is a work of faith that is said to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in them?

Jesus told the Jews what this work of faith was.

John 6:28 ¶  Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Carnal, fleshy religion doesn’t like that idea. We, in our flesh, want there to be a lot more, more that we can see because we are never so happy as when we feel we can dictate the terms of someone else’s relationship with God.

Again, in Revelation, when Jesus refers to them that overcome in speaking to the churches;

Revelation 2:7  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

…11  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death…..17  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it…..26  And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

Revelation 3:5  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels…12  Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name…..21  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

And then at the end of the book…

Revelation 21:7  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

He has already defined what it means to overcome in John’s letters.

1John 5:4  For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

The work of faith is continuing in that belief and trust in Christ until the very end.

The labour of love is mentioned in Hebrews by showing love toward His name in ministering to your brothers and sisters in Christ as those who live out the thought behind 1Corinthians 13, the chapter on charity. You should read that entire chapter.

Hebrews 6:10  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

This would involve everyone from a humble pastor to the person who serves food or takes out the trash after a meeting of the church. God holds ministering to the saints in high regard, helping those who are sick, hungry, elderly, and in need. We can expand our ministering to the unsaved world by starting at the household of God.

2Corinthians 9:13  Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

Galatians 6:10  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ is a concept we can all understand.

Titus 2:11 ¶  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

More will be said about Christ’s return in these letters. The church was to know its election of God.

Election is based on foreknowledge.

1Peter 1:2  Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

You are elect because God sees ahead in your future that you will believe. The things God does to you and for you are done by virtue of your belief and His response to your belief. There is no need to make it more complicated than that. This election, based on your being in Christ, was known by Him from before the foundation of the world.

Ephesians 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

We were chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before Him in love based on the sacrifice He would make on our behalf and the resurrection of Christ and the promises that flowed from that singular event. The adoption is the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:23  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

This letter will tell us more about our hope as we wait for the redemption of our bodies.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ephesians 6:21-24 comments: closing verses

21  But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: 22  Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.

Tychicus is mentioned elsewhere and was an important help to Paul.

Acts 20:4  And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.

Colossians 4:7  All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:

Colossians 4:18  The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen. « Written from Rome to Colossians by Tychicus and Onesimus. »

2Timothy 4:12  And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.

Titus 3:12  When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter.

He has been sent from Rome to deliver this letter to the church at Ephesus and to give them an account of how Paul was doing at Rome. It is because of that effort that we have this marvelous letter of Christian doctrine, not confusing, but clear and precise, on how we are supposed to live.

23  Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24  Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. « To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus. »

And so, this wonderful work on what it means to be a Christian ends. I ask you to read it again, doing your own cross referencing of verses. Pray that the Holy Spirit teaches you from it. Let God speak to you through His word every day.