Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Sermon Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/Sermons/zz20020519.htm
1 THESSALONIANS: STRENGTHENING CHRISTIANS
Part IV: God's BEGINNING Direction For EVERY Believer's Life
(1 Thessalonians 4:1-12)
Introduction: (To show the need . . . )
Recently, I have noticed a heightened increase in the number of Christians in our body who are desirous of knowing God's will regarding details in their lives:
(1) I know, for example, of at least four family units in our Church that are seeking God's will as to a possible job change, and some of those would possibly involve a change in housing.
(2) A number of our young people are trying to discern God's will as to if they should marry, and who they will wed if they should marry.
(3) Our Church has a graduation banquet scheduled in a few weeks when we will be celebrating the end of high school studies for some of our teens. They will go out into the adult world either to college, trade school, or to get a full-time job. They are each quite possibly asking, "Where does God want me to work? to go to college or trade school? Where does God want me to live now?"
(4) Several of our college students are either home from school or are coming home, and are interested in summer jobs. They are perusing the paper to see if they really want to dig trenches, feed zoo animals, be polite to customers as receptionists or bag groceries! They may be wondering about God's will, too!
(5) But, this affects seasoned Christians, too! Last Sunday night, I received a call from my retired missionary parents in California about issues they are facing in their Church. What amazed was the fact that my parents who have known the Lord for over 60 years are bothered about discerning God's will in the issues THEY are now facing due to the cultural changes that are affecting regular CHURCH functions in the church they attend!
In view of the growing complexities of our lives, in view of the cultural influences we and our children are facing that affect the choices in life we make, HOW can we BEGIN to discern God's will for our lives TODAY?
(We turn to the sermon "Need" section . . . )
Need: "Though I know the DETAILS God has planned for my life will differ from that of the Christian next to me, does God have a GUIDELINE by which I may DISCERN the DIRECTION that HE wants ME to BEGIN to TAKE? IF so, could you please TELL me?"
Application: To FIND God's will in life's DETAILS, (1) we FIRST believe on Christ to become a child of God that He can lead, John 3:16; Romans 8:14; (2) Then, we START APPLYING God's INITIAL, BASIC guidelines of 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12. (3) In the process, God "fills in the details" as we are "in the way" of doing His will in these things, cf. Genesis 24:1-25, 26-27.
- When Paul wrote the 1 Thessalonians epistle, he needed to give his readers some INITIAL GUIDANCE on living in God's will:
- The 1 Thessalonians epistle was Paul's first communication to new disciples after his discipling effort had been cut short by persecution:
- Shortly after leading some Thessalonians to Christ, Paul had to flee their city to escape persecutors who were after him, Acts 17:1-10.
- From his expressed relief in 1 Thess. 3:1-8 at finding them still loyal to Christ in spite of the persecution that had caused Paul to leave them, we know this epistle was Paul's first communication with the Thessalonian converts after his flight from Thessalonica.
- Hence, what Paul wrote in this letter on God's will for their lives had to be broad enough to cover all the basics of God's will until Paul could finish discipling them on other details in a later communication.
- Thus, what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 on GOD'S WILL supplies an INITIAL GUIDELINE for God's WILL for US to use for discerning where to BEGIN to find God's WILL.
- We then ITEMIZE Paul's words on God's will in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 to discern how to START doing God's will (as follows):
- Initial Guideline One - God wants believers to avoid all immorality, or sexual misconduct that is outside of a Biblically lawful, permanent, monogamous, heterosexual marriage, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 NIV:
- Paul taught believers should avoid all forms of immorality, 4:3:
- The Greek word translated "fornication" in the KJV in 4:3 is porneia, meaning "every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse," cf. Arndt & Ging., A Grk.-Engl. Lex. of the N.T., p. 699-700.
- Since Paul would define such "unlawful sexual intercourse" by Scripture, he would have opposed every form of intercourse except what occurs in a Biblically lawful, permanent, monogamous, heterosexual union, cf. Lev. 18; 1 Cor. 7:10-40.
- Paul taught believers should meet their sexual drive needs that arise outside of the gift of celibacy within marriage:
- Though He counseled believers to remain single if they had the gift of celibacy (1 Cor. 7:1, 7-8), knowing the lack of that gift provided undue temptation to sin in immorality, Paul urged believers not having that gift to marry into Biblically lawful, permanent, monogamous, heterosexual unions, 1 Cor. 7:9 et al.
- Hence, in 1 Thessalonians 4:4 with the NIV word "control" coming from ktasthai, "to take" and the NIV word "body" coming from skeuos or "vessel" [often used by Hebrew rabbis to speak of one's wife], I assert Paul meant one should marry a spouse if he or she does not have the gift of celibacy in accord with his charge in 1 Cor. 7:1, 2-4; Hendriksen, I-II Thess., 102.
- Initial Guideline Two - God wants believers to abound in the attitude of and actions of Christian love, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10.
- Initial Guideline Three - God wants believers to aspire to live with a calm, quiet lifestyle, 1 Thessalonians 4:11a:
- The NIV word, "ambition" comes from philotemeisthai, meaning "zealous," cf. Moulton & Milligan, Voc. of the Grk. N.T., p. 672.
- Also, the NIV "to lead a quiet life" comes from haysuchadzein meaning "take rest" as in a retired man's lifestyle, Ibid., p. 281.
- Hence, God wills that the believer live a life that is calm and settled in behavior much like a retired person is known to lead!
- Initial Guideline Four - God wants believers to be occupied with their own affairs rather than being busybodies, 1 Thessalonians 4:11b.
- Initial Guideline Five - God wants believers to maximize personal control of their own finances to protect their testimonies and meet their material needs, 1 Thessalonians 4:11c-12.
- Paul's call to "work with your hands" was given to counter a bent some had to sponge off of others to the harm of their testimony and their personal welfare, Ibid., Hendriksen, p. 106 (cf. 2 Thess. 3:6ff)
- Hence, God wants believers to have a solid work ethic, working to maximize control of their own finances!
Lesson: God wills EVERY believer START to GO in the DIRECTION of moral excellence, abounding in godly love, living a composed lifestyle, keeping to his own affairs and maximizing control of his own income. God will fill in the DETAILS AFTER he begins doing THESE things! >
Conclusion: (To illustrate the sermon lesson . . . )
A couple of years ago, a Christian woman who had just taken a job in a nearby town here in Connecticut on a company's assembly line asked me how she could witness effectively for Christ there.
I have never actually been inside the company building, and it has been decades since I worked on an assembly line when I was in Bible College on the West Coast. Not knowing what the workplace was like, not knowing any of the supervisors there, etc., I recommended she apply 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 in the basics of doing God's will: I told her to do exactly what her supervisor would ask her to do on the assembly line, to do her best at it, and let the Lord lead from there as to developing a witness. In fact, I recommended she not spend her time trying to testify about Christ in place of doing her work as she had been hired to do what her employer wanted her to do.
Well, on the first day of her job, within hours of starting on the assembly line and following this advice, this woman was hearing about her testimony from coworkers! No, she hadn't said anything about Christ, or told anyone she was a Christian, but by being the only one of her coworkers to obey the supervisor, and to work well at her job, her coworkers were convicted by her actions, and so vented their guilt out on her with false criticism about her "acting like you're better than us"! That opened the door for this Christian to explain to her critics that she was merely trying to live for Christ by how she did her job, and that opened the door for an effective witness!