So I am searching scripture to find out what is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I decided to start with one of the letters written by Paul, the Apostle we all love and admire. I choose to use his letters written to the church in Thessalonica. Today, we are going to read 1 Thessalonians 3-4. I am excited because I think I am going to find some answers here. So let’s read.
1 Thessalonians 3 (NIV)
So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.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.
So, this chapter talks of the love Paul and his companions in ministry have for the believers in Thessalonica, and how much joy they bring them by walking in the faith they were taught by them. Again, we see Paul use words like faith, the way, and standing firm. But what is the faith and the way? What are they standing firm in? Here is another Bible study tip. Whenever possible read a whole book of the Bible at once. Even if you are only studying out a small section of the book, read the whole book before you begin your studies. When the scriptures, especially, these letters from Paul were written there were no chapters and verses. it was just a letter expected to be read in one sitting. In this particular situation as we now look at chapter four and five of this book we finally find some answers to our questions. Read with me.
1 Thessalonians 4-5
4 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.[b] The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you,for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
5 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,”destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awakeand sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
So, I am excited now. The very first thing we see in this passage is that Paul and the other apostles gave the people clear instructions on how to live. This let’s me know that the Gospel was NOT just believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved. There was more than that. IN fact, if we look at verse one and two of chapter four in the New American Standard Version it reads, “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” If we keep reading we see that Paul is addressing sexual sin specifically. He tells the readers that God calls us to be clean, not unclean. He reminds them that God gave them the Holy Spirit to teach them to reject mans ways, and walk in God’s Way. He encourages them to love one another. He continues by telling them these words in verses 10-12, “Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
He continues his letter with words about those who have died and says something that gives us a hint at what he preached to them when he was with them. He says starting at verse 14, “ For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” So, we see that He taught them that Jesus Christ died and rose again for them and will bring those who have died (fallen asleep) back to life when He returns.
Then in chapter five Paul begins a closing that is all about how these people should live in love and hope. He concludes this letter with these words. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. Brothers and sisters, pray for us. Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Wow, there is so much in this final greeting. People of God should be:
NOT quenching the Spirit
Testing the prophets
Holding on to Good
Rejecting all evil
Being sanctified (set apart) unto YHVH God
That is a great list. We still don’t have a clear understanding of exactly what the apostles preached and taught the church as the Gospel or Commands of God, but we are getting a better picture of how a child of YHVH God should live and what they should look like. Join me tomorrow as I continue my search for answers.