Tuesday, December 22, 2009

1 Thessalonians 4: How To Wait For Christ (By Abounding In Love)

Theme: Wait for Christ

3. By abounding in love (3:11 - 5:28)

*The prayer in 3:11-13, is that the Thessalonians abound, or increase and overflow in their love for one another and all men. Such love establishes a blameless and holy testimony among men, anticipates the return of Christ, and includes abstaining from sexual immorality (4:1-8), leading a quiet life (4:9-12), and comforting others with resurrection hope (4:13-18).*

Abounding in love involves abstaining from sexual immorality (1-8)

"Immorality", here, refers to any kind of sex the Bible doesn't authorize. Possessing your own body in sanctification and honor means you control your body and passions, and avoid going too far, by flaming the fan of desire in someone else, thereby taking advantage of them. This kind of consecration is God's will, pleases Him, and is made possible as we, by faith in Christ, yield ourselves to the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 6:1-11). Abounding in love means abstaining from sexual immorality.

Abounding in love involves leading a quiet life (9-12). The Thessalonians were already bearing the fruit of love for the brethren, but were urged to excel still more. Apparently, some believers were under the impression that since Christ could return at any moment, there was no need to continue working. This may have bothered believers who supported them, and injured the reputation of non-working believers, with creditors of the world. Such the passage exhorts to lead a "quiet" life, and work with their hands to provide for their own financial needs. The concept of being "quiet", is used elsewhere, to denote a settled, undisturbing manner of behavior, where one minds his own business. It does not, however, require total cessation of speech. In Acts 11, for example, some Jews "took issue" with Peter, for eating with Gentiles. After Peter explained that God had instructed him to, and had given the Spirit to the Gentiles as
well, they "quieted down, and glorified God, saying...". Abounding in love means leading a quiet life.

Abounding in love involves comforting others with resurrection hope (13-18)

Some believers may have become concerned about what happened to their loved ones (believers) who died before Christ returned for the church. Would they too be resurrected? Yes. As Christ rose from the dead, He would first raise physically dead believers, when He returned for the church. These, followed by believers who will be living at that time, will be "caught up" ("raptured ") together with Christ, to meet Him "in the air", and ever live with Him. Abounding in love involves comforting others with resurrection hope. 

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