The missionaries recognized that the relationship they had with the believers in Macedonia resulted in rejoicing in the mercy and grace of God. They also realized that they were to correct them when they were wrong. The reports that Timothy and Silas shared in Corinth not only revealed the faith manifested in the lives of the new believers, but also some areas of concern that needed to be addressed.
As Paul prepared to leave Timothy, departing soon to go to His Lord, he reminded him of the lessons learned early in their ministry –
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
We have learned of the missionary’s determination to Preach the Word. We learned also that they were ready at all times to do what was necessary to minister that Word to others, rejoicing when they were well received and rejoicing when they were rejected by men. We saw how they denied themselves to serve others, emphasizing the Lord’s Words –
Matthew 16:24 (KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
– and as I have said many times before, that Cross is not an earthly burden but it is a Heavenly identification!
Paul began to correct the believers, to “…reprove, rebuke, and exhort…” in order to edify them – to help them continue to grow in the Lord.
We notice that through the Scriptures we know that the missionaries practiced what they preached – Believers should live –
A. Pure Lives. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
The missionaries had come from a society with morals founded on the Law of God –
Exodus 20:13-17 (KJV) Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
This is not to say that they did not sin. If they had no sin, God would not have given the Law to guide them. They did sin, but they had a moral value instilled in them to instruct them to live a pure life and knowing they would be judged by God when they broke the law. In the lives of the Macedonian’s there was no such guide and no requirement to morality. All of these things were part of life and part of their religious practice. The missionary’s learned they must preach salvation and also separation from the sin of the world.
This command includes all believers – men, women, married and single. “…every one of you…” 4:4
We are commanded to live holy lives and to teach others to live holy lives –
1 Peter 1:15-16 (KJV) But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Believers should fulfill their –
B. Present Responsibilities. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
The missionaries knew that loving one another as the Lord loves us involves more than just an emotional sentiment. It means putting others before self. The missionary’s showed their love by not being a burden on others, expecting people to simply serve them because they love them. Paul reminded Timothy of this years later as Timothy pastored the church in Ephesus –
1 Timothy 5:8 (KJV) But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Paul not only instructed the Thessalonians in this, but also we read this same command to the church in Philippi –
Philippians 2:2-4 (KJV) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
It is important that we know and do the will of God in our daily lives, in our relationship with Him and with those around us.
And believers should –
C. Praise the Lord for the knowledge of the Truth. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The church had been taught about the coming of the Lord, but they did not understand how it would be accomplished. It seems that some of the saved had died, leaving family and friends to worry as to whether they missed the resurrection by dying before Jesus came. This led to a general confusion among the brethren which needed to be corrected.
1. The Purpose. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15
To instruct them in the truth as revealed by God. They were ignorant (not knowing), not willingly or rebelliously, but simply had not been taught yet. This part of God’s plan was unknown until this time.
2. The Plan 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17
The Lord revealed His plan at this time in that the people would be informed –
3. The Preparation. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 “…comfort one another with these words.”
Great comfort is found in knowing the promise of God is sure –
that the words spoken at the Lord’s ascension into Heaven are true words
Acts 1:9-11 (KJV) And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
That the admonition to look for His coming is true –
Titus 2:12-13 (KJV) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Philippians 3:20-21 (KJV) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
All of the words Prepare us to live unto Him. They are comforting words, encouraging us with the truth of His Return.
Today, are you ready to meet the Lord? If He were to come today, which He could, what will He say to you?
Well done my faithful servant
Or depart from me, I never knew you?