Thursday, April 21, 2022

2022.04.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 3:11–13

Read 1 Thessalonians 3:11–13

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does the apostle appeal in 1 Thessalonians 3:11? And to whom else? To do what? And what does he ask the Lord to do to them (1 Thessalonians 3:12)? And make them abound in? Toward whom? And whom else? Who abounds in love to them? What will the Lord establish by this abounding (1 Thessalonians 3:13)? In what two things will He use this love to establish their hearts? Before Whom? At what event? With whom will the Lord Jesus come? 

The apostle has just finished saying (1 Thessalonians 3:10) that they pray night and day to see their face and perfect what is lacking in their faith. Now, he gives us a window into the content of that prayer by pronouncing a benediction to the same ends as he closes off this portion of the letter. In the benediction, we see the particulars, principles, and purposes of his requests.

Particulars: that they would see one another soon, 1 Thessalonians 3:11. The verb “direct” is a singular verb so that the subject “our God and Father Himself and our Lord Jesus Christ” is treated as one joint Actor. Paul, Silas, and Timothy hope to come. But they are under no illusion that they determine their own futures. God alone does that. And this God is not only the Father but the Lord Jesus Christ. To Him, we may make particular requests, “direct my way to them.”

In requesting such particulars, you don’t have to explicitly say, “if it be Thy will.” But if you pray to God as God over all. And as the good Father of yourself, His child. And the Lord, upon Whose Name you have called for salvation. And Jesus, Who saves you from your sin. And Christ, Who is the Son of David and sits upon the throne of heaven… If you pray to God, acknowledging Him to be all of these things, you ask for particulars with the implicit acknowledgment that however He is pleased to answer is right and good.

Principles: that the Lord would increase their love, 1 Thessalonians 3:12. Loving God and neighbor is the sum of the law. The completing of what is “lacking in their faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:10) occurs by their increasing and abounding in love. But even if Paul was able to get there, it wouldn’t really be he who perfected their lack, but the Lord Himself. Since it is the Lord who will accomplish this, the apostle recognizes in prayer and benediction that it can happen even if he never gets back to Thessalonica. The Lord will do it. Using part of the description of the Son, Paul reduces the extended title of the two persons in 1 Thessalonians 3:11 simply to “the Lord” in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, but it is the same God. Jesus is Lord. And the Lord is the One who gives them more love toward one another, more love toward all, and even the apostle’s love toward them. 

Purpose: perfection in the last day, 1 Thessalonians 3:13. This increase of love has an end (both a purpose and a termination point). One day, there will be no more increasing to do, because their hearts will already be established blameless in holiness. Not just before men, but before God. How holy will believers be in the last day? Even God will not find anything in them to fault or blame, even in their hearts! This is the endgame: the Lord Jesus Christ, come again, and every one of His saints being actually saintly! Won’t that just be heaven? Yes, that’s exactly what it will be! And it is the ultimate purpose unto which we are to do all of our praying.

What are some details for which you’ve been asking the Lord? What would those details accomplish, and how else might God accomplish them? What ultimate purpose do they serve? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for reminding us that You are One God in three Persons, and that the Father and the Son are One. Forgive us for when we think that we direct our own ways, or when we pray for things that do not serve the ultimate purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ, come again, with all His perfected saints. Continue to make our love increase and abound, we ask, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH469 “Who Are These Like Stars Appearing”

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