Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

2 Thessalonians 1:9-12

In 2 Thessalonians 1:9-12 Paul reminds us that the punishment of the wicked is everlasting. It is forever, and that is a very long time. This is serious stuff that Paul is reminding us of here. The separation from the presence of the Lord is dark. The blessings of heaven are eternal, the penalty of hell is also eternal. And there is no ground in between. You will spend eternity in one place or the other. “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.”

But along with those sobering reminders, Paul gives us the good news of the Gospel – Jesus is coming again and when He does, everything will change. For the persecuted saints, those who believe, they will have God glorified in them on that Day, and they will see and admire Jesus more than ever. Poole wrote “To raise up such a number of poor, sinful, despicable worms out of the dust into such a sublime state of glory and dignity, will be admirable.” I can’t imagine what it will really be like, but the outcome will be glorious as faith will conquer death and the dead in Christ will rise and join Him everlasting.

Spurgeon painted a picture of what God will do. “Those who look upon the saints will feel a sudden wonderment of sacred delight; they will be startled with the surprising glory of the Lord’s work in them; ‘We thought He would do great things, but this! This surpasseth conception!’ Every saint will be a wonder to himself. ‘I thought my bliss would be great, but not like this!’ All his brethren will be a wonder to the perfected believer. He will say, ‘I thought the saints would be perfect, but I never imagined such a transfiguration of excessive glory would be put upon each of them. I could not have imagined my Lord to be so good and gracious.’ ” Oh what a glorious day that will be.

And what will separate the two outcomes – belief. Paul shows the difference between one destined for judgment and one destined for glory. The difference is belief in the message Paul preached (our testimony), the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul ends this section of his second letter by assuring them of his prayers. “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The great work of living worthy of His calling can only happen according to the grace of God. We need to seek His grace so we can live a life pleasing to Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:18-19

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19 Paul continues to tell us how to successfully live in God’s will. He shared three things, two of which we covered yesterday:

  • Rejoice always
  • Pray without ceasing
  • Give thanks in all circumstances.

The third in his list is to “….give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. We don’t give thanks for everything, but in every circumstance. We recognize God is in charge, and life doesn’t happen by luck or any other means. God owns all, controls all, and is all. We need to have a grateful heart for all God does each and every day.

After these three simple yet powerful exhortations – rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks – we are told to do this because it is the will of God. The thought isn’t “this is God’s will, so you must do it.” The thought is rather “this is God’s will, so you can do it.” It isn’t easy to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, but we can do it because it is God’s will. None of those three things are possible on our own accord – it is only because of who God is, His nature of loving us and wanting to be in relationship with us, and His never ending goodness to us that we can rejoice, pray or give thanks at all.

Paul moves on next to how we should live when it comes to public worship and begins with a rather simple yet difficult to understand concept: “Do not quench the Spirit.” Guzik explains “We can quench the fire of the Spirit by our doubt, our indifference, our rejection of Him, or by the distraction of others. When people start to draw attention to themselves, it is a sure quench to the Spirit.” Quenching is literally putting out the fire or flame which is how the New Testament often describes the Holy Spirit. Thomas says that the phrase could be more literally translated, “Stop putting out the Spirit’s fire.”

Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit when He departed His life on earth. And each of us as a Christ Follower has the Holy Spirit within us as comforter and guide. So one way to quench the spirit is within our life as a believer. But Poole explains further “And there is a quenching of the Spirit in others as well as ourselves; people may quench it in their ministers by discouraging them, and in one another by bad examples, or reproaching the zeal and forwardness that they see in them.” So we can quench the Holy Spirit in ourselves, or we can quench it in other believers based on how we live and respond to the Spirit’s work in and around us. Being sensitive the the Spirit and working to not quench the Spirit is part of the right public worship.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

In 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 Paul exhorts the church on how to deal with difficult people. And ignoring the problem is not the right answer! “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” This is not merely suggestions, but guidance that is urgent and serious and vital to the health of the church. Paul us urging the church to take action, and he gives specifics on what to do and how to handle different areas of disfunction in the body. This is not one size fits all but rather specific to the exact situation and circumstance. And it is to be done out of love!

First Paul addresses the idle (or unruly in other translations). The word here describes someone who breaks rank and marches out of step in a military sense. They are doing their own thing their own way. They are out of order and disruptive to the rest. This is the self-willed person who simply demands to hold his own opinion or preference. These must be warned.

Paul moves on to address the fainthearted. The word literally means small-souled. By nature or experience they tend to be timid and lack courage. These need comfort – in the sense of assisting strength – to be brought to them. It is our job to encourage them to speak up, to get involved, to step forward and be part of the activities of the Body. We need to work to get and keep them involved in the ministry.

Paul next addresses the weak who must me helped and upheld. They need assistance to build up their own strength and become able to handle life on their own, not build an ongoing dependence for assistance.

And then Paul summarizes what is probably the most important part of this exhortation to deal with those who are difficult and need help – he tells us to be patient with all of them. It is through different approaches with each of the three groups described, yet patience is needed with all. This is because true Christianity is shown by its ability to love and help difficult people. We do not look for only perfect people to minister to and to minister with. We are willing to reach out and help anyone in any way needed at any time.

Paul wraps up this little segment by reminding us that as believers, we must never seek revenge or vengeance against anyone at any time. God is the only one who holds that place. “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” Our one and only goal is to pursue doing good to all people. We must have a heart of forgiveness to all and as we give that forgiveness, it is good not only for them, but for us as well.

1 Thessalonians 5:7-10

In 1 Thessalonians 5:7-10 Paul is still reminding the church of what will happen when Christ returns. “For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.” Paul tells us that the opposite of spiritual watchfulness is spiritual sleep. The opposite of spiritual sobriety is to be spiritually drunk. As Christians we are of the day, and so we must watch and be sober. “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” Paul used the image of a soldier’s armor to illustrate the idea of watchfulness. A soldier is a good example of someone who must watch and be sober, and he is equipped to do that with his armor.

If we compare this description of spiritual armor with that found of the very descriptive list in Ephesians 6, it is not identical. This indicates that Paul saw the idea of spiritual armor as a helpful picture, not something rigid in its details. Faith and love are represented by the breastplate because the breastplate covers the vital organs. No soldier would ever go to battle without his breastplate, and no Christian is equipped to live the Christian life without faith and love. In Ephesians 6, it is referred to as the breastplate of truth or righteousness. The hope of salvation is represented as a helmet (same), because the helmet protects the head, which is just as essential as the breastplate. Hope isn’t used in the sense of wishful thinking, but in the sense of a confident expectation of God’s hand in the future.

God’s desire is for all of us to come to know Jesus, and receive the gift of salvation through that relationship with the Savior. Before we enter into that saving relationship, we are doomed for wrath. That is not God’s desire for us, yet it is the outcome we face without Jesus. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” It is important to understand that Paul means the wrath of God. We are saved from the world, the flesh, and the devil. But first and foremost, we are rescued from the wrath of God, the wrath that we deserve. Paul’s whole context here is the believer’s rescue from the wrath of God.

When Jesus died on the cross, He stood in our place in our appointment to wrath, and reschedules us with an appointment to obtain salvation. As believers, when we think we are appointed to wrath, we show up for an appointment that was cancelled by Jesus. The reality is that Jesus died in our place. Not simply that Jesus died for us in the sense as a favor for us; but that He died as a substitute for us. And that death means that He paid the price for our sins. He purchased us with the blood He shed on the Cross. The Cross is the power of the Gospel and is the price needed to cover our sin and provide us with eternal life in heaven.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-6

In 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 Paul continues his teaching about Jesus’ return. He tells them to just be who they are. They need to live up to being who God made them to be. “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.” Morris wrote “Paul is led from a consideration of the day of the Lord to the thought that the Thessalonians have nothing to fear from the coming of that Day. This leads to the further thought that their lives should be in harmony with all that that day stands for.” The coming of Jesus will be a surprise for everybody, because no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36).

But for Christians who know the times and the seasons, it will not be a complete surprise. No one knows the exact hour a thief will come, but we can live with general preparation against thieves. We need to be careful not to be caught up in some of the sin Paul warned against previously in this letter – then we are not ready, and need to make ourselves ready for the return of Jesus. “For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.” It is important we not lose track of who we are and how we should live. Paul gave us very prescriptive guidance on what life as a Christ Follower should look like.

Paul goes on to next tell us three things we need to do in order to be ready – be awake, sober and watchful. “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” As Christ Followers our spiritual condition should never be marked by sleep. Spiritually speaking, we need to be active and aware, to watch and be sober. Hiebert explains “The word sleep is here used metaphorically to denote indifference to spiritual realities on the part of believers.” Sleep speaks of so much that belongs to the world (the others), but should not belong to Christians:

  • Sleep speaks of ignorance
  • Sleep speaks of insensibility
  • Sleep speaks of no defense
  • Sleep speaks of inactivity

We need to be very awake!

In a sermon on this text titled, Awake! Awake! Spurgeon showed the folly and tragedy of the sleeping Christian with three powerful pictures:

  • A city suffers under the plague, with an official walking the streets crying out, “Bring out the dead! Bring out the dead!” All the while, a doctor with the cure in his pocket sleeps.
  • A passenger ship reels under a storm and is about to crash on the rocks, bringing near-certain death to the hundreds of passengers – all the while, the captain sleeps.
  • A prisoner in his cell is about ready to be led to execution; his heart is terrified at the thought of hanging from his neck, terrified of death, and of what awaits him after death. All the while, a man with a letter of pardon for the condemned man sits in another room – and sleeps.”

1 Thessalonians 3:8-13

In 1 Thessalonians 3:8-13 Paul is grateful that the church is standing firm. Paul wrote this letter from Corinth, and his time in that city was marked by difficulty and suffering. But since Timothy came back with such great news, he was renewed and strengthened in his resolve to share the Gospel. Knowing the Thessalonians were doing well made him feel so much better. “For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.” That news brought life to him. When we see other Christ Followers living victoriously, even in the midst of struggle and suffering, it encourages us and gives us more focus on standing fast.

Spurgeon explained “Never is the servant of God so full of delight as when he sees that the Holy Spirit is visiting his hearers, making them to know the Lord, and confirming them in that heavenly knowledge. On the other hand, if God does not bless the word of his servants it is like death to them. To be preaching and to have no blessing makes them heavy of heart: the chariot-wheels are taken off, and they drag heavily along: they seem to have no power nor liberty.” It is important that we share life with those who minister to us, and not only let them see the good and positive things, but also to share the challenges and how we have overcome them.

Paul is clear that he is praying for the Thessalonians. “For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?” Paul longed for the opportunity to see the Thessalonians living for Jesus in person, but until then was praying earnestly day and night that God would make a way for him to see them. He still yields some reality noting that there is always room to increase in faith, and warning them to continue to stay the course of walking with Jesus.

Paul prays that he will be reunited with the Thessalonians soon. “Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” Paul was encouraged at the current state of the Thessalonians and by the fruit that Timothy’s ministry had there. But he still knows how important a visit would be, and is praying that God will grant that prayer and allow him to go in person to be with the church there.

Colossians 3:19

In Colossians 3:19 Paul continues to teach us about God’s design for the family. He began with some words for wives, and now shifts to some direct teaching for husbands. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” Paul’s words to husbands safeguards his words to wives. Though wives are to submit to their husbands, it never excuses husbands allowing them to act as tyrants over their wives. Instead, a husband must love his wife, and the ancient Greek word translated love her is agape. Paul squarely puts the obligation on the husband. In his day, there were no powers or privileges on the part of wives, children or slaves.

But Paul tells husbands to love – agape style love. Vaughan explains “Agapao does not denote affection or romantic attachment; it rather denotes caring love, a deliberate attitude of mind that concerns itself with the well-being of the one loved.” It is sacrificial, giving love and has little to do with emotion all to do with self-denial for the sake of another. Guzik shares some qualities of the love God charges husbands to have for their wives:

  • “It is a love that loves without changing.
  • It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment.
  • It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing.
  • It is love that loves even when it is rejected.
  • Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given. It gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive.”

He goes on to write “we can read this passage and think that Paul means, “Husband, be kind to your wife.” Or “Husband, be nice to your wife.” There is no doubt that for many marriages, this would be a huge improvement. But that isn’t what Paul writes about. What he really means is, “Husband, continually practice self-denial for the sake of your wife.” If you are still wondering what kind of love Paul is asking husbands to express toward their wives, it is simple. Look at the Cross. Jesus loved us with agape love – a love so deep he was willing to take our punishment and stand in our place to receive the penalty for our sin. That’s how a husband is to love his wife!

There may be an implication here that wives sometimes give husbands a reason to be harsh with them. Paul’s answer – it doesn’t matter what your wife does. Here is the truth of the matter. A husband may feel perfectly justified in his harsh or unloving attitude and actions towards his wife, but he is not justified – no matter how his wife has acted towards the him. Agape love is given even when things are obviously bad and full of deficiencies. Agape love happens even when the person on the receiving end may be unworthy. Agape love happens no matter what. Sometimes wives think they get the short end of the teaching on marriage – having to submit. But in God’s plan, submission is extreme protection because the burden is on the husband to love the way Christ loved and that is worth submitting to!

Colossians 3:17-18

In Colossians 3:17-18 Paul reminds us of one of the most important traits of a Christ Follower – as a new person in Him, we need to live ALL of life for Jesus. There is no compartment Jesus fits in. As a believer, we live 24/7/365 with and for Jesus. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Note that Paul says ‘whatever’ we do – be it words or actions – we need to do it representing Jesus. And as we do, we must never forget that God has given us the greatest gift of all in salvation through Christ’s death, and our life should be filled with gratitude for His love.

Paul then tackles what marriage looks like as a new person in Christ. He begins with an unpopular view in today’s world – a submissive wife. “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Submit is a military word that literally means “to be under in rank.” It speaks of the way that an army is organized among levels of rank, with generals and colonels and majors and captains and sergeants and privates. There are levels of rank, and one is obligated to respect those in higher rank. A wife doesn’t necessarily submit to her husband because he deserves it. She submits because he is her husband and in God’s order for the family, that is her role.

The idea of submission doesn’t have anything to do with someone being smarter or better or more talented. It has to do with a God-appointed order. Wiersbe explained that “Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that ‘rank’ has to do with order and authority, not with value or ability.” Submission means you are part of a team. If the family is a team, then the husband is “captain” of the team. The wife has her place in relation to the “captain,” and the children have their place in relation to the “captain” and the wife. It is not slavery, or being a doormat to your husband. It is literally coming under the protection of the husband – who with the place in God’s plan for leadership – also takes the responsibility.

Vaughan explains “The form of the verb (hypotassesthe, middle voice) shows that the submission is to be voluntary. The wife’s submission is never to be forced on her by a demanding husband; it is the deference that a loving wife, conscious that her home (just as any other institution) must have a head, gladly shows.” The Bible never commands nor recommends a general submission of women unto men, only in the home or in the church. Paul tells us that submission needs to be ‘fitting’. That does not define the extent of a wife’s submission. It does not define the limit of a wife’s submission. It defines the motive of a wife’s submission.

Guzik explains “There are exceptions to this command for a wife to submit to her own husband.

  • When the husband asks the wife to sin, she must not submit.
  • When the husband is medically incapacitated, insane, or under the influence of mind altering substances, the wife may not submit.
  • When the husband is violent and physically threatening, the wife may not submit.
  • When the husband breaks the marriage bond by adultery, they wife does not need to submit to her husband being in an adulterous relationship.”

Colossians 3:14-16

In Colossians 3:14-16 Paul shares the one virtue that stands above all others, one that God and Christ demonstrated perfectly and is required of us in relationships we have with others – it is a four letter word LOVE. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Vaughan explains “All the virtues listed in vv. 12, 13 are, on the highest level, manifestations of love; but love is larger than any one of them, indeed, larger than all of them combined.” Wright goes on to explain just how important love is when he writes “The other virtues, pursued without love, become distorted and unbalanced.”

Paul continues and teaches us how peace should reign in our hearts. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Being ruled by the peace of God means that peace should characterize how we live as God’s people, and that peace is a standard for discerning God’s will. Clarke explains “Let the peace of Christ judge, decide, and govern in your hearts, as the brabeus, or judge, does in the Olympic contests…. When a man loses his peace, it an awful proof that he has lost something else that he has given way to evil, and grieved the Spirit of God.”

Wright explains that here Paul is talking about peace in the context of the Body of Christ, ” ‘Peace’ here is not the inward, individual peace of mind which accompanies humble confident trust in God’s love, but a peace which characterizes the community, the ‘body’ as a whole.” So how does all this work for a Christ Follower? By walking in the Word of God and in worship with other believers. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with “thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Paul gives us four key areas that should define how we relate to each other and live in peace together:

  1. Being in the Word
  2. Teaching and admonishing each other
  3. Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
  4. Being grateful to God

It all begins with being immersed in God’s Word. If we are doing that, the other things will follow. We will not be able to contain ourselves when it comes to sharing God’s truth with others in the Body. Paul doesn’t tell us to beat one another with God’s Word, but to teach and admonish each other. That means helping apply God’s Word in each others lives. We’re told to worship. Peake explains “The word of Christ is to dwell in them so richly that it finds spontaneous expression in religious song in the Christian assemblies or the home.” And the outcome of being in God’s Word, sharing it with others, and worshipping Him will be an overwhelming sense of gratitude for a good and generous God who has blessed us far beyond what we deserve!

Colossians 3:6-8

In Colossians 3:6-8 Paul warns that sin brings God’s wrath. We must never forget that God cannot tolerate sin. His nature will not allow it. So sin is our biggest challenge and the enemy of walking well with Christ. “On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” It’s why Jesus came to earth as a baby and went to the Cross for us. He took our sin upon Himself and put it away once and for all through the sacrifice of His life on that rugged cross. “In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.” These sins may mark a world in rebellion against God, but they are in the past tense for the Christian. When we accept Christ, His blood covers all our sin.

Simply put, a Christ Follower should not live in disobedience. A true Christian can not be comfortable in habitual sin. Paul continues and brings another list of sins that we must get rid of. Some look at this list and call them “little” sins that Christians may overlook with little danger. Paul challenges us to put off the old ways in every area of our lives. “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” Bruce explained “Put off all those old habits, just as you would discard an outworn suit of clothes which no longer fitted you.” Sin has to go. We can’t continue to live in it and walk with Christ.

Each of the sins Paul lists here are primarily committed by what we say. When Paul calls Christ Followers to deeper obedience, he tells us to bridle our tongue. Barclay wrote Nevertheless, it is also possible to lie to one another without words. “It is easy to distort the truth; an alteration in the tone of voice or an eloquent look will do it; and there are silences which can be as false and misleading as any words.” Many Christ Followers quickly recognize the first list of sins Paul shared a few verses ago as bad and definitely not acceptable. But unfortunately many look at this second list and discount the impact of “less severe” sins and are willing to accept them.

Guzik explains “In this section (Colossians 3:5-9) Paul showed two high priorities in Christian living: sexual morality connected with a right attitude towards material things, and simple getting along in love with one another. It is easy for a Christian community to compromise one for the other, but Paul (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) insisted that they both have a high place in Christian practice.” The reality is that any sin – even just one – is enough to leave us short of hitting God’s requirement for eternity. It’s why no man will ever get there on their own, because not one of us is perfect and righteous in every way. We need to put off sin as much as we can, but realize that every one of us still needs Jesus to get to heaven. It is only by the Blood of the Lamb that our sins will be forgiven and we will receive eternal life!

%d bloggers like this: