1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 – God is faithful

1Thessalonians 5v23-28

God is faithful.

Introduction.

ILLUS.: In the past if you needed a new fridge or vacuum cleaner you went to the local appliance shop. The shop owner was also the repairman. If there was a problem after the sale he would generally fix it – or you could work out some deal personally.

Now when you buy any appliance it is invariably from a chain store – The salesman’s primary purpose is not customer satisfaction but his commission and he is very insistent that you need an extra 5 year-warranty.

The reason these policies sell is because people want guarantees.

Doctors/ hospitals are sued more and more – industrial tribunals abound …… NOW, of course, workers and the public need protection and these legal procedures are sometimes necessary.

However, part of the thinking underlying this is a feeling that we want guarantees against things going wrong. We want to be sure that our material possessions and our health are protected.

BUT if we just stop and think clearly for a minute we all have to admit that there are few guarantees in life. Machines and appliances inexplicably breakdown – Insurance companies go bankrupt – As the Lloyd’s name discovered a few years ago when Lloyd’s of London went through a rough patch. Our jobs are not guaranteed // our health is not guaranteed // how our children turn out in not guaranteed.

I said there are few guarantees in life, I didn’t say there weren’t any!

  1. 1.     The Future can be assured because…….

One thing that those in the insurance market, esp. the life/endowment sector, are always telling us is that we must take a long-term view. And they are right we do need to take a long-term view. However even the long-term view of the Insurance market is very short-sighted because it can only insure for this life and even then their assurances are only as good as the economy. No insurance company, no matter how large and successful, can give a 100% cast-iron guarantee.

Usually the best guarantee you can get for any product is the manufacturer’s guarantee – Well since God created the world and everything in it, including us, then who better to guarantee the future.

We have seen as we have studied this letter that St. Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica that many were worried about the future. They were worried about those who had died and consequently about their own deaths. And also about what would happen at Christ’s return. Paul has endeavoured to reassure them and he does so again in these last few verses.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (NIV)

….God calls

This picks up on a theme that runs through the letter – viz. God calls  –

1:4  For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, (NIV)

2:12 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (NIV)

4:7 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (NIV)

NB the present tense – The one who calls – God never merely calls Christians once and then after that leaves them to their own devices. God continually calls // speaks // communicates. God stirs us in our spirits // he speaks to us through the Bible // through the lives and words of other people. It is in God’s nature to reveal himself, communicate with us if we will but listen.

ILLUS.: Just like the radio waves are there but we need to tune in to hear!

….God is faithful.

The one who calls – is also faithful. That means that God will not reject them nor will he go back on his word. This is the point that Paul makes to the Church in Corinth – 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (NIV)

He develops this same thought even more fully when he writes to the Roman Church – Romans 8:30; 38-39 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. ….. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

Romans 11:29 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (NIV)

Paul’s confidence for the future of the Thessalonian Christians / and ours as well / is not based upon some extraordinary inherent power in the Christian. NO – his confidence is built upon the faithfulness of God.

It is not our will power that keeps us – as the hymn writer says we are “prone to wander”! Our ultimate security rests on the fact that God is reliable and he keeps his promises. He undertakes to finish what he starts.

Philippians 1:6 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Do you ever have doubts about your future?

Do you ever have doubts about your faith?

I do!!   Sometimes fleeting / but there have been times of real struggle –   You know what brings me back:-

1) The alternatives don’t make a lot of sense.

2) The historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is

compelling. Based upon the fact that he predicted he would die and

rise from the dead – and he did – gives great confidence that what he

says he will do in the future will happen.

It is important to remember what God has done.

  • When things are going well we need to remember that it is because of God’s grace and goodness, not our own efforts. Deuteronomy 8:10-18 10 …, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, ….., …. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, ….
  • When things are not going well. It gives us hope to remember that the God who has been faithful in the past will be faithful in the future.  We don’t only have the record of the Bible – we can also look down 2000 years of history and see God’s faithfulness. The fact that the church exists today and we are sitting here this morning is testimony to God’s faithfulness. It is important that we share with each other what God has done and is doing for us. We encourage and strengthen each other in this way.
  1. 2.     God is preparing his people for the future.

By personal involvement.

Paul emphasises “God himself” – this is no distant deity. God as it were gets his hands dirty – he is personally involved in his creation and esp. in the lives of his people. God is personally interested in you!

By restoring peace.

He describes himself as a God of peace – on two counts.

  • God is Father, Son and Spirit – he is a perfectly integrated personality who is at peace with himself.
  • He is the source of peace – which is not merely an absence of conflict – but positively and more importantly, it is a state of wholeness and well being which is characterised by reconciled relationships – with God / vertically – with other people / horizontally.

When God created the world and all that is in it, it was in perfect harmony. At peace – Shalom. We have a picture at the end of time and history when the world will again be in perfect harmony – at peace – shalom. In between God is reconciling the world to himself through Christ [2 Cor.5]. He is restoring perfect peace and harmony.  At a personal level we will only ever know real peace of heart and mind – even in trouble and disaster – when we are at peace with God through Jesus Christ.

By making believers holy / blameless / perfect.

When Paul talks about “Spirit Soul and body” we must not get dragged into a debate about the components of the individual. Paul is writing to Greeks who thought that the body was the tomb or prison of the soul that sought to escape.  The Bible sees us as a whole and so for Paul there is no existence apart from the body – Paul explains to the Corinthian Church that when we die we are given new heavenly body – like Jesus had after his resurrection.

God is in the process of making his people – the church – Holy. The Bible uses the imagery of a bride being prepared for her wedding. Jesus is described as the bridegroom and the Church as the bride. The bride will be presented at the wedding pure and spotless.

If you are like me you don’t feel very holy – BUT that is what God says we are in Jesus and will become in reality.

Two words “Justification” and “Sanctification”

Justification – because of Jesus God forgives us and treats us as if we were perfect –  in reality we are not but in terms of our standing with God we are.

Sanctification – whereby God is in the process of improving us – making us holy/blameless – a process in which must co-operate with the Spirit. It is this process that Paul is talking to the Thessalonians about.

1 Thessalonians 3:13 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (NIV)

It is interesting to note that archaeologists have discovered ancient tombstones in Thessalonians marked with the inscription “Blameless”

Sanctification – being made blameless – is not a passive process. It takes effort on our part as we direct our lives God’s way.

  1. 3.     The Christian life is future and also present.

The God who calls – the God who has shown through Jesus how much he loves us – he has also given us the Holy Spirit. It would be surprising if in the light of what he is like that he didn’t require that we live holy lives [4v7] & love others [4v9].

We have two examples in the next verses – 1 Thessalonians 5:25-26

25 Brothers, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. (NIV)

Praying is a vital part Christian living – it benefits those we pray for in a way that we don’t always fully understand. And it benefits us as we express our dependence upon God.

Greet … with a holy kiss

This was to be and outward expression of unity and mutual affection. We do not need a long debate about whether it is appropriate to kiss in greeting. The forms of greeting // and kissing vary from culture to culture.

The key to this is not the form of greeting but the meaning – it was to be a sign of unity and mutual affection within the congregation.

Paul’s main concern is that in response to our God who calls us and is faithful we need to live in way that reflects God’s goodness.

In some circles it has been popular to wear a bracelet with the letters WWJD on it. Meaning “What Would Jesus Do?”

The idea is that when faced with a problem situation the wearer will be prompted to ask, “What would Jesus do?” in these circumstances.

The bracelet becomes a means of reminding the wearers to live their lives in the light of the teaching and actions of Jesus.

This is well and good, but only insofar as the wearer knows what Jesus taught and did. Sadly, it is increasingly true that contemporary society, often Christians included, are lacking in Bible knowledge.

It seems rather pointless to wear a WWJD bracelet – or not wear one but claim to be a believer – if one has little or no idea what Jesus taught and did. We can not discern how to live in the present or look forward in hope if we do not learn and remember what God has done in the past.

Conclusion.

So we come to the end of Paul’s letter. These closing verses echo the opening verses of the letter. The spotlight is clearly focussed on God and Jesus Christ.

Through the letter Paul has talked much about the Thessalonians and himself – but not the last word id not about them but, as it should be, about God.

  • God is the one who called and saved us through Jesus Christ.
  • God is the one who gave us His Spirit in power and holiness.
  • God is the one who will bring us into his kingdom and glory when Jesus returns.

Sometimes these seem such lofty ideals – maybe almost unreal – as we are forced to spend so much of our time thinking about the here and now. The present can be all consuming. Meeting sales targets // caring for children // caring for elderly relatives // holding together a fragile relationship with spouse or children or parents. Maybe most of your life is behind you // maybe you feel you are less and less useful – you are worried about your old age, about being dependent.

This life seems to hold more uncertainties than certainties.

That is why as Christians it is right and good and very helpful to step back and view life from God point of view. If the focus of our hopes and dreams is only in this life we will always be disappointed and disillusioned.

God has called us and is preparing us for life with him – which starts now but will reach it fulfilment when we died or Christ returns.

Sometimes it seems so unreal – we struggle to grasp it – Our short-term future in this life is uncertain/ life in fragile BUT our long-term future is certain. It rests entirely in the power and faithfulness of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (NIV)

Not only is God able to do what he has promised, but because he is trustworthy and reliable, he will in fact do it.

God is faithful

1Thessalonians 5v23-28

1. The future can be assured

 

  • because God calls
  • because God is faithful

 

2. God is preparing his people for the future

  • By personal involvement.
  • By restoring peace.
  • By making believers holy / blameless / perfect

 

  1. 3.       The Christian life is future & also present

 

  • Pray
  • Christian unity and mutual affection.
  • W W J D

 

 

 

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it”

 

Not only is God able to do what he has promised, but because he is trustworthy and reliable, he will in fact do it.

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