THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7
SCRIPTURE: 1 THESSALONIANS 4
This chapter begins with an interesting word: Finally. Most of you have been around church long enough to know that when a preacher says “finally” it really doesn’t mean much. For example, Paul’s use of the word “finally” comes at the half-way point of his letter. In other words, his conclusion is going to be as long as the body of his letter. Preachers are weird creatures.
Paul begins this chapter talking about the Christian life. As is often the case in the Scriptures, the Christian life is referred to as a walk. That’s a pretty good description. The Christian life begins with a step of faith and then continues with a series of steps that become our Christian journey.
Paul challenges us in verse 1 to walk or to live in a way that pleases God. Then he goes on to talk about what a God pleasing walk would look like. To begin with it involves sexual purity. At the time Paul was writing this letter, the Roman Empire was a most immoral place. And sexuality immorality was absolutely rampant. Imagine people who lived in that and who actually participated in that getting saved. Although they were given a new nature at the point of salvation, they would have still had a lot of bad habits that they were probably more than fond of. So, Paul challenges them with the fact that walking in a way that pleases God means living a sexually pure life.
When you get to verse 7, Paul makes the point that sexual purity is necessary for holiness. In other words if we desire to be like the Lord, we need to live pure lives.
The more we are like the Lord, the more we will genuinely love others which is the topic in verse 9. Paul goes on to say that the Thessalonians were known for loving other believers but he encourages them to love more and more. As Christ followers we cannot love enough.
In verse 11, we are given some other characteristics of a holy life. We are to live a quiet life. Too much noise of our own making or the result of others distracts us from the most important things in life. We are to take care of our business. And we are to work to provide for ourselves, our families, and for others who cannot provide for themselves. Living like this provides an indisputable testimony to those who are not Christ followers.
When we get to verse 13, Paul seems to shift subjects. But in effect, I think he is giving us a reason to live a holy life. And that reason is one day, Jesus is coming back to rapture believers out of the earth.
There are some who tend to reject the notion of the rapture but I want you to notice what Paul says about this in verse 14. He places the certainty of the rapture on the same level of the death and resurrection of Jesus. He says if we believe that Jesus died and rose again we should also believe that Jesus is coming back to get us. This is absolutely huge. The death and resurrection is the foundational truth of the Gospel. And in the same way that we believe and cling to that truth, we should also hang on to the fact that Jesus will come and get his church. Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly!