Thursday, June 09, 2022

2022.06.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 5:23–28

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23–28

Questions from the Scripture text: To Whom does 1 Thessalonians 5:23 appeal? What, specifically, does the apostle call Him? What does he appeal to Him to do? What two aspects belong to their whole spirit? In what condition does the apostle hope they will be on what day? What attribute of God assures us, in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, that He will do it? And what do assured people still do (1 Thessalonians 5:25)? How do the relate to one another, who are so valued already by the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:26)? And what other encouragement and blessing do they extend to one another (1 Thessalonians 5:27)? What sustains all of this (1 Thessalonians 5:28)? 

What sort of blessing do you give a man who has everything?  1 Thessalonians 5:23–28 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when God is your blessedness, the blessing that you give and seek is eternal and divine in its definition and power. 

The Thessalonian believers already have Christ—and all things in Him. But, the path to coming into possession and experience of it goes through sanctification. That’s what the apostle has urged them onto in loving one another (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15) and the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:16–22).

The thing about sanctification is that we can’t do it for ourselves even a little bit. But God sanctify our spirit completely (1 Thessalonians 5:23a)! Soul and body (verse 23b) here is a two-parted description of man. The same God Who makes us perfectly holy will flawlessly preserve both our body and soul at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our faithfulness is non-existent, but His faithfulness is perfectly reliable (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Therefore, believers ought to follow their Lord in this and faithfully help and love one another. There are three examples of this here:

1. Prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:25). The apostle affectionately addresses them as “brethren” and asks for them to pray for him and his ministry team. Indeed, this is something that Christ Himself does for us (cf. Hebrews 7:25). And since the God of peace Himself is the One Who sanctifies us, there is nothing that we can do that is ultimately more helpful.

2. Affection (1 Thessalonians 5:26). 21st century America isn’t a friendship-kissing culture, but even the kiss in verse 26 was not the same as in their culture more broadly. It was a holy kiss. Touch gives us a method of communicating Christian love in a very direct way. But the touch by itself is not uniquely Christian affection. When our interactions are joyously, warmly, fervently aimed at mutual sanctification, then we have not just handshakes but holy handshakes, not just hugs but holy hugs. 

3. Scriptural edification (1 Thessalonians 5:27). The brethren are set apart as holy and in the process of being made holy by God. And what God uses for that is His Word (cf. John 17:17). Therefore, this letter was to be read to all the holy brethren. We must not underestimate the power of just reading the Scripture. Here, the Spirit even strengthens the charge by emphasizing that it is “by the Lord.”

Of course, none of these things just work mechanically. As the old saying goes, “the best of means are means at best.” We use the means of grace, because we are entirely dependent upon the grace. And 1 Thessalonians 5:28 concludes the letter by reminding us that the grace is not mechanical but personal. It is the grace of a person, “our Lord Jesus Christ,” that we must have “with” us.

Who is making you holy? How well will He do it? How surely? If He is doing this for other believers, how should you treat them? Of the three ways to do so here, which do you most need to work on?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You Yourself are the One Who is sanctifying us completely in our spirits and will have preserved us flawlessly, body-and-soul, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are faithful, but we are not yet faithful. Forgive us for being forgetful of prayer. Forgive us for lacking in holiness of affection and expression of affection. Forgive us for how little Scripture fills our conversations. But help us by the grace of Christ, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

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