This week we wrap up our series in 1 Thessalonians. The last few verses of chapter 5 give a checklist for the church. There are four very practical and helpful things that we can hold onto until His coming.
The Fire of God
Verses 19-22 read, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is not an influence, force, or power; He is a person. Jesus refers to the Spirit as “Him” (Jn. 14:17), not “it.” You can grieve and hurt a person. God allows Himself to be hurt. It is part of a relationship of love. Our every actions and thoughts are known to Him. How many times have we hurt, grieved, or broken the heart of God? What grieves the Spirit? Ephesians 4:31 lists things like bitterness, wrath, evil speaking, etc. Ignoring God also grieves Him. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) and ignoring Him would be like living in the same house with someone but never talking. When the Spirit prompts us, we should not ignore Him. We should mind those checks He puts in us. When I disobey Him, it is like throwing water on the fire. When I obey His prompting, it is like adding a log on the fire. We need to keep the fire burning. It is all about a relationship. When you disobey, you will doubt God’s love. God never abandons us, but we can abandon Him. We do not lose salvation, but we can lose the assurance of our salvation. We can lose our peace. Don’t despise the word of God when it is taught. Don’t ignore or disobey the Bible. How tragic for the Lord to return and find us not on fire, not in love as we use to be. Notice though that we are talking about fire, not wildfire. Not strange fire. We are to test all things. Everything that goes on in the name of God is not of God. Everything in the news or on social media is not true! Don’t believe a lie. God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. Test everything. Test according to the scripture. Let God be true and everyone else a liar. We have to hold to the good and stay away from evil.
The Faithfulness of God
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (v. 23-24). God the Father made us and through His Son He has redeemed us. He has reconciled us to Himself. He is peace. He is the only one who can bring peace. Peace on earth goodwill toward men is a message the world still needs to hear today. Peace comes through the blood of the cross. God is not the author of confusion, conflict, or disorder. Fear is not of God. There can be no peace apart from the cross. What is God doing now in our lives? Sanctifying us. He has set us apart. Made us salt and light in the world. Not only are we justified at salvation, but the process of sanctification begins. Sanctification is where the Holy Spirit is making us who Jesus says we are. It’s the process of God changing me, molding me, making me like Jesus. Both justification and sanctification are by faith. We bring nothing to justification, but we have to do our part in sanctification. None of us have arrived. We are a work in progress. Praise God that one day when we see Jesus, our sanctification will be complete, and we will be made like Him!
The Family of God
In verses 25-27 the term “brethren” or “brothers and sisters” is used multiple times. We cannot make it on our own. Why do we allow politics, sports, or anything else to divide us? We are the family of God which is greater than any other affiliation. You have immediate family members and friends who don’t agree with you on politics. Do you think every believer in the world is going to agree with you? Love them anyway! We are family! We have an affinity that is closer, deeper than the world. Because Jesus comforts us, we comfort others. Because Jesus preferred us, we prefer others. Because Jesus forgave us, we forgive others. Because Jesus encourages us, we encourage others. Because Jesus bears our burdens, we bear one another’s burdens. Some people say, “I can read my Bible at home.” Sure you can, and I hope you do. But we are commanded to read and study God’s word together. The family of God must read the word together and pray for one another.
The Favor of God
This book ends, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (v. 28). Grace is unmerited favor. It is undeserved. Grace is the heart of the gospel and the heart of God. Christians claim to believe in grace, but we don’t always show a lot of grace. Jesus was full of grace and truth. Why am I here? Only because of the grace of God. Why are you here? Only by the grace of God. Why am I going to heaven? Only because of God’s amazing grace. It makes me think of the old hymn, “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home.” How are you going to make it? By His Grace.