Paul’s Final Instructions

Membership Sunday

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

12Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil.
23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
25Brothers, pray for us. 26Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. 27I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

This morning we want to take a look at Paul’s final instructions to the church at Thessalonica. Yes, they are the final instructions, but most of them hinge on what Paul has already written about.

This morning we are taking members into our church. The instructions Paul gives to the church there are also good for us. Especially as we remember what it is to be a member of Christ’s church.

First he tells the church to respect those in authority over them in the Lord. We don’t exactly know the structure of the early church, but we know that there was some type of accountability structure to the church. Here in our church the Local Church Conference is the highest authority. Most of their authority has been delegated to the Local Board of Administration or in our case the Ministry Leadership Team. The pastor is the chair of that team. We also have a District Board and a District Superintendent and General Board and three Superintendents. We must respect the authority of those over us. Will we disagree? Sometimes, but Paul tells us to hold them in highest regard. He also tells us that conflict should be the exception not the rule. We are given several quick instructions.
· Live in peace with each other – Oh that the church could learn to do this. What a wonderful witness to the world that would be.
· Warn those who are idle – some had stopped working thinking that Jesus’ return was soon. Paul tells them to get back to work and work until his return.
· Encourage the timid
· Help the weak – This is counter cultural – don’t we say that God helps those who help themselves. Guess what? It’s not in the Bible. We help these, not reject them.
· Be patient with everyone – HELP! This is a difficult prayer for us to pray. We want God to change the other person not me!
· Make sure no one pays back wrong for wrong – retaliation is never a Christian option
· Always try to be kind to each other AND to everyone else. – I think Paul is beginning to meddle here.
· Be joyful always – This is not the happy, happy, happy all the time, but joyful because of what Christ has done in our lives. This is a constant
· Pray continually – We should be in regular prayer for the church, each other and those who don’t know or have rejected the Good News.
· Give thanks in all circumstances – Because of what Christ has done by his work on the cross and resurrection from the dead, we can be continually thankful.
· Do not put out the Spirit’s fire – Stay in touch with what the Spirit is doing – Go with His flow, not ours.
· Do not treat prophecies with contempt – Prophecy is a communication of the mind of God imparted to a believer by the Holy Spirit. It may be a prediction or an indication of the will of God in a given situation – Sometimes God speaks, and we don’t listen.
· Test everything – a balance to the above statement – Sometimes it is just man speaking on his own behalf.
· Hold on to the good, avoid every kind of evil – I think you know where Paul is going with this. We’ve seen what Paul thinks over the past few weeks.
· Then we have this statement. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” Here is prayer for entire sanctification (or set apartness to God’s purpose) where the believer is freed from sin and empowered to live a holy life. The whole person, not just the body or the mind is to be made holy. And those who are holy do not transgress God’s law. And it is God’s will that we pursue holiness in this life. And the God who calls us to holiness can be relied upon to complete what he began.
· Pray for us – all Christians are in need of prayer
· Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss – Paul sends his greetings to everyone even those he had to correct. The holy kiss was equivalent to our handshake.
· I charge you…to read this letter – Everyone (EVERYONE) must hear what is in this letter.

This morning we are Christ’s church. We are going to receive members into the church. We need to remember to do the things that Christ has commanded us to do through his servants…

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