12/11/11 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
DOES, DON’TS, AND DONE
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Paul wanted to leave the Christians in Thessalonica with some closing thoughts. First, he touched on their relationship with their leaders and with each other (5:12-15). Then he addressed their personal relationship with God. In the original Greek, 5:16 (not John 11:35) is the Bible’s shortest verse. It is often, however, one of the hardest to keep.
In a world of problems, sicknesses, accidents, disappointments, and losses, how can we be cheerful all the time (5:16; Philippians 4:4-7)?
Christian cheerfulness isn’t something we can manufacture on our own. It’s something only the Holy Spirit can give. “Praying continually” doesn’t mean we go around constantly mumbling prayers. We do have to concentrate on other things during different times of the day.
How can we possibly pray in every situation (5:17; Ephesians 6:18; Romans 12:12)?
Maybe the best way to “never stop praying” is to “keep the receiver off the hook” and keep God on the line. God wants our praying to be a long unbroken conversation. The last two commands were about our time management. The next one is about coping skills. The best cure for pride is not forced humility. That leads to a pious veneer, but an ugly thought-life. No, the cure for pride is thankfulness.
Why can we keep thanking God no matter what happens (5:18; Romans 8:28,31, 32; Ephesians 5:19)?
In his gospel John describes Christianity as believing “into Jesus (3:16).”
4. What new perspective comes from being “in Christ Jesus” (5:18)?
A long phone conversation where only one party talks is a one-sided conversation. There’s something wrong with that. It’s the same thing in our relationship with God. We can fail the Holy Spirit two ways. The first is by by “stifling” Him (5:19). This involves not doing what He wants us to do. The second is by “making Him sad” (Ephesians 4:30). That means doing what He doesn’t want us to do. The Bible often pictures the Holy Spirit shaped like fire (Acts 2:3; Revelation 4:5). Fire is clean, powerful, light- and heat- producing, and sometimes destructive. When the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives and church families, we have warm love inside us, new understanding, and energy to do the right thing. He “melts us together” to create harmony and cooperation. He cleans us up so we stop sinning.
5. What works every time at “putting out the Spirit’s fire” (5:19)?
Prophecy is on a list of gifts the Holy Spirit gives His people (Romans 12:6). The gift of prophecy is the ability to pass along God’s Word to people and urge them to be loyal to Jesus. After the first Easter, before the Holy Spirit gave us the New Testament, God sometimes used prophets to communicate directly with His people. Today, the prophecy God uses is the Bible He put into writing for us. Christians have always used a “checks-and-balances” system to insure quality control for God’s messages (1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:29-33; 1 John 4:1-4). Satan is always trying to twist what God teaches. Humans always want to make a name for themselves, no matter what the cost. Never believe the pastor, priest, or rabbi, anyone who has an opinion about God’s truth, unless it matches what the Bible says. God wants every Christian to live by this principle. God’s given some believers special abilities in this area.
6. Why would anyone treat prophecies with contempt (5:20-22)?
Too often we try to make extensive, positive Christian changes in our lives on our own. We end up even more frustrated and guilty.
What does “sanctify” mean (5:23)? Why does Paul draw a connection to “the God of peace”?
Five times in this Bible book are evenly distributed references to Jesus’ return: 1:10; 2:19-20; 3:13; 4:17-18; 5:23. It sounds like Paul is saying we have three parts: spirit, soul, and body. Everywhere else in the Bible it says we have two parts—body and spirit (James 2:26; 2 Corinthians 7:1), or body and soul (Matthew 10:28).
How can someone’s whole being be without fault under Jesus’ microscope (5:23)?
The class that goofs off when the teacher leaves the room. The employees who give their level best – but only while the boss is watching. The Christian who forgets about Jesus’ return and live incompatible with the identify Jesus earned us. Watch while you wait. Most of all, watch Jesus.
1. How do the concerns from this section affect Christians as they work together in groups?
If you were to rank these closing concerns from Paul, which ones would you give top priority?
How does this section connect to John 1:6-8, 19-28? What’s the connection to Malachi 4:1-6?