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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, December 18, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 - (L 18)

Home Bible Study©

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                     Published: December 18, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

*********************************************************************************************** 

Merry Christmas

Welcome back to HBS, and thank you for your faithful attentiveness to the Word of God.

Announcements

It seems as though time speeds up as the Christmas holiday season draws near.  The phrase, “So much to do and so little time” comes to mind.  It is with that thought I remind the group that it’s customary for this Bible guide to “rest” during the holidays.  That doesn’t mean I leave my personal time with the Lord.  I’ll stay in the Word and so should y’all.  But it does mean this is the final Bible lesson of 2020.  The first lesson of 2021 will be published on Friday, January 08, 2021. 

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Please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.

The Believer’s Conduct

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  And be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

The Thessalonian church was a model church in many ways.  Its members cherished God's Word, they manifested faith, hope, and love in their dealings with one another and those that were yet outside of Christ Jesus, and exhibited a missionary zeal.  This led to a stellar reputation in their region (1 Thessalonians 1:1–9).  However, these Believers were not immune to temptation.  Paul recognized the possibility that some members of the church might become “unruly,” that is, unreasonably critical of their spiritual leaders, so he instructed them “to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  The author of Hebrews encourages a similar relationship between

Believers and the spiritual leaders that “ruleth” over them saying, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation (or conduct)” (Hebrews 13:7).  

1 Thessalonians 4 ended with our Apostle Paul exhorting the saints in Thessalonica to, “…comfort one another with these words.”  What “words?”  the good news re: the mystery of the Rapture of God’s true Church.  Thus, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 references the Body of Christ while 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 stands as a warning to the unsaved individual who chooses to remain “outside of Christ,” i.e., a lost enemy of God.  

In the Scripture passage currently under study, we find Paul writing sound, practical exhortations to the saints in Thessalonica, but truth be told they apply to every true Believer in Christ.  Therefore, we should take them to heart, meaning, we should dutifully apply these instructions to our lives. 

In verses 5:12-13 Paul deals with the Believer’s rapport with their spiritual leaders, exhorting them to recognize “them which labour among you” as such.  

Verse 5:12a.

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you,” – Paul doesn’t tell us who these people are.  It is evident, however, that the Body of Christ, a.k.a. God’s Church was not left to its own devices, much like a sailing ship without a helm and rudder.  Godly men were appointed to leadership positions in the body to minister to its spiritual needs when Paul and others of his stature were absent.  For instance, we know that there were “elders” watching over the grace church at Ephesus, and over the churches in Crete (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5), and that the church offices of bishops and deacons existed in Philippi (Philippians 1:1).  Knowing this there is every reason to believe that similar church offices would be filled in every newly formed grace assembly, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33).   

Where does this concept originate?  Good question.  The answer is found in the Scriptures.  Please turn with me in your Bible to Ephesians 4:11: “And he (the risen Lord) gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

While noting the number of times Paul said, “some” in the above passage please keep one finger at that Bible address and turn to 1 Corinthians 12:28:31.  Here Paul addressed the same topic to the saints in Corinth writing, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  Are all apostles?  are all prophets?  are all teachers?  are all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing?  do all speak with tongues?  do all interpret?  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:28-31).

First, in Ephesians 4:11 Paul stated that our ascended Lord “gavesome to be “pastors and teachers;” that is to say these men were called to be “pastors and teachers” in the early church for there was a great need.  We see this same thought expressed in 1 Corinthians 12:28, “And God hath set some in the church…” among these are “teachers,” and they were to be recognized as “teacherscalled by God. 

Before we go any further I’d like to point out the term “called” does not mean God Himself visited them in a dream or what not and personally called them to the ministry, as the Lord Jesus Christ did with the twelve apostles and then later with Saul of Tarsus.  It means the Holy Spirit opened their heart to receive and understand His Word and those truths motivated them to serve Him and the cause of Christ.  So in one sense that’s how they were “called” to the ministry.  I suppose a biblical example at this time would be appropriate so please turn to 2 Corinthians 5:17-20:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

This passage doesn’t name a specific church office, per se, but it does inform us that every Believer in Christ Jesus is a “new creature” and has been “called” to “the ministry of reconciliation. For God “hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; 

How many of you know you are God’s “ambassador” on earth and have been committed with “the word (message) of reconciliation; To with, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them?”

I never heard this truth in the churches where I belonged.  I learned about it during my personal Bible study.  But, in truth, this is another Bible passage that I’ve never heard anyone preach/teach a sermon on until I started attending a Grace Bible Church in my locale.  But here’s the thing, once you know and understand this biblical truth and respond dutifully to it, then in a sense you are called to this God-given ministry. 

I have one more example and then we’ll move on.  I’ve worked closely with pastors and  elders over the years as a facilitator and Bible teacher in more than a few ministries.  One co-worker told me he decided to become a pastor because of God’s great love for us and he wanted everyone within hear-shot to know what he knows, namely, that salvation is of God alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of the cross alone.  That was his motivation to serve the Lord and others.  It was a joy to work with such a focused man of God.  The flip-side of that example follows.  I’ve known and worked with several church deacons and can honestly say a few of them are my friends.  One gentleman told me he was selected to this church office by the elders of his assembly based on the fact that he was newly-married of only one wife, he was involved in several ministries and had proven faithful, and both he and his wife tithed 10% of their income to his non-denominational church.  The difference in these two men’s calling stands out and I pray you are able to recognize that difference?  For those of you who are struggling with this, the gentleman in the former example responded to God’s truth re: His great love for us, while the latter was invited to become a church deacon based on his performance in his church.    

That being said, in 1 Corinthians 12:29 Paul continues his thought by asking his readers, “Are all apostles?  are all prophets?  are all teachers?  are all workers of miracles?  The short answer is no they are not.  With respect to the church office of teaching, Paul asked, “are all teachers?” indicating that certain individuals (not all) are called by God to this ministry, confirming Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 3:1: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”

I don’t believe Paul wrote this message because problems existed in the grace assembly at Thessalonica, but that the potential for such problems existed.  We know that people disrespected authority figures back in Paul’ day.  The Jews hated the Romans; and people rejected and persecuted the Apostle Paul wherever he traveled.  In like manner, we live in a day of disrespect and rebellion for authority figures, so every true Believer should take these exhortations to heart, for this is what God has said about rank and authority in His Church: “And we beseech you, brethren, to know (recognize) them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;” (5:12).

“…And we beseech you, brethren, to know (recognize) them – here I believe Paul’s saying were not to regard them as a distant person, i.e., as a stranger, avoiding any and all contact with them.  We’re to “know” them as our spiritual “ruler;” and when they speak words of admonishment, we recognize their message not as coming from a distant stranger, but as those of our pastor, i.e., our friend in Christ.  I look at this thusly, a friend will tell us the truth, always, even if it makes us uncomfortable.  A stranger, on the other hand, is aloof and disinterested in.  They could care less about you and what’s going on in your life, do you see the difference? 

and are over you in the Lord,” – this phrase indicates the various church offices were appointed by the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, and the men who fill these positions are under His direction for He is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18).  These men are not sovereign, but are themselves subject to the One who is over them and that, again, is the Lord Jesus Christ.  The phrase “are over you” is translated “ruleth” in Romans 12:8.  Let’s review that passage of Scripture, starting at verse 12:4:

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:4-8).

We also note the term “ruleth” is found in 1 Timothy 3:4-5, “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

By definition, the term “ruleth” means:  “That which is established as a principle, standard or directory; that by which any thing is to be adjusted or regulated, or to which it is to be conformed; that which is settled by authority or custom for guidance and direction. Thus a statute or law is a rule of civil conduct; a canon is a rule of ecclesiastical government; the precept or command of a father is a rule of action or obedience to children; precedents in law are rules of decision to judges; maxims and customs furnish rules for regulating our social opinions and manners. The laws of God are rules for directing us in life, paramount to all others.  A rule which you do not apply, is no rule at all.”

“…and admonish you;” – the term “admonish” is also found elsewhere in Paul’s writings:  Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; and 2 Thessalonians 4:15 and is rendered “warn” and “warning” in 1 Corinthians 4:14; Colossians 1:28; and 1 Thessalonians 5:14.  The term does not appear anywhere else in the N.T.  It means, to put in mind; and then to warn, entreat, exhort.  It is one of the responsibilities of a minister to put his people in mind of the truth of God’s Word; to warn them of impending dangers; to exhort them to perform their duty, i.e., “their reasonable service” (Romans 12:1), and to “admonish” them should they go astray. 

Verse 5:13.

And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  And be at peace among yourselves” (5:13).

We are most certainly living in a time of civil unrest (a lack of peace) in the USA, but even though you might not approve of everything the president does or says, you ought to respect him and the office he holds.  Similarly, church members should value (esteem) their spiritual leaders, in love, because of the work they do as the Lord's servants.  Here Paul seems to imply a link between proper respect for a church's spiritual leaders and peaceful relations among the church's members.  If some members respect their leaders, but others disrespect them, friction may arise within the assembly, leading to the members taking sides and forming factions within the body.  Should this occur, the church will become unsettled.  However, if all the members hold their leaders in high regard, “peace” will characterize their assembly.

Paul urged his co-laborer Timothy to set a proper example for the Believers "in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).  He also commanded Timothy to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Thus, all those brethren who fulfill their obligations as spiritual leaders of the Church are worthy of our respect and love.

“…And be at peace among yourselves” – think this through, there can be no “peace” where order and respect for authority are found wanting.  Such “unruly” conduct, left  unchecked, will eventually give way to anarchy.  Thus, Paul exhorts not only those who have been appointed to oversee (ruleth) the saints, but the “brethren” in general, to “warn them that are unruly” (See Mark 9:50; Romans 12:18, 14:19).

warn them that are unruly” – this short phrase evokes the idea of the military rank-and-file.  Paul could have used the term “disorderly” instead for it means not keeping the ranks, and then irregular, confused, neglectful duty, or “disorderly” behavior.  The reference here is to the members of the church who might be irregular in their walk with the Lord and others.  It’s not difficult to see when soldiers get out of line, or leave their places in the ranks, or are thrown into confusion, to see that little can be achieved in such a state of irregularity and confusion.  The same might be said of the members of the church who are out of their places, who ignore, or refuse to follow the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Far too many people in the church today resemble an army where many of its soldiers are out of line and there is insubordination within their ranks, and not even half of them could be called on for efficient service in a military campaign.  An army cannot achieve its mission in such an “unruly” state and the same can be said of those who make up God’s true Church, the Body of Christ. 

(To be continued)

 

© Copyright 2011

GJ Heitzman’s Ministry

All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, December 11, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5:4-11 (L 17)

 

Home Bible Study©

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                     Published: December 11, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

*********************************************************************************************** 

Welcome to HBS everyone and thanks for being here today.

Last week we studied “the day of the Lord” and “the times of the Gentiles” because of the confusion and misrepresentation of these two linked but separate periods.  I used the Scriptures to show how and why God the Father will begin to bring to an end the day of man and enthrone His beloved Son as the nation of Israel’s long promised King of kings and Lord of lords on the earth and not in heaven.   Now with that established we can press onward to the next section of Scripture. 

Please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11.  As usual I’ve provided the passage below, but I’d rather you locate and read it from your own Bible which, hopefully, is the KJV translation because the inaccuracy of  the modern Bibles. 

"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-11)

Making Certain

 As if the Apostle Paul had not clearly shown the distinction between our Lord’s coming to “catch away” His own and His subsequent prophesied return to the earth to reign as Israel’s King, he continues to emphasize this distinction so that every saint in Christ Jesus can know for certain “the day of the Lord” and the Rapture of His own are two separate events and the latter precedes the former.   

The word “But,” repeated in verse 5:4, re-emphasizes this distinction.  The day of the Lord” will overtake “them,” that are outside of Christ Jesus, i.e. the unsaved “as a thief in the night,” but the members of the Body of Christ belong to a different category altogether not merely because they are saved and the world-at-large around them are not, but because they will not be here on earth during “the night” of the Tribulation.

Night and Day

I once heard someone refer to verses 5:4-5 as the experience of the enslaved Israelites in Egypt during the “thick darkness” of the 9th plague.  For the Egyptians there was “thick darkness” for “three days, but all the while “the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” (Exodus 10:21-23).

But the two are not exactly parallel, for the darkness and light in the case of Israel and Egypt were simultaneous, the Israelites enjoying light while the Egyptians suffered the darkness.  But here, in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, “the day” and “the night” are consecutive; “the nightfollowing the day.  Paul, in exhorting the Thessalonians (and us) to “comfort one another” with the truth of the Rapture, does not say one word about God helping or protecting His own as they go through the Tribulation period.  Thinking this through as the diligent Bible student ought, would he not have done so if the Rapture followed the Tribulation, as many believe and teach? 

We believe the average reader of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 would naturally recognize them as successive, not concurrent, events, our Lord first coming to take His own out of the world and then judging all those left behind.  This agrees with what Paul said here about “the night” and “the day,” for it is after this blessed day of grace, this “day of salvation,” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) has been brought to a close by the Rapture of the true Church, that this world will be plunged into the dark night of “God’s wrath” otherwise known as the seven-year Tribulation period.    

Therefore, Paul is not merely saying that “we” are of the light while “they” are of the darkness, but that since we are “the children of the day” and “not of the night” (5:4), we belong to another category entirely.  We will have been “caught up” and “the day of salvation” (the Age of Grace) will have been brought to a close when the “thief” comes “in the night” to plunder this Jesus Christ-rejecting world. 

It is on this basis that we are exhorted not to “sleep” but to “watch and be sober” (5:6).  Not once did Paul say we’re to be awake and ready to repel “the thief,” for “the day of the Lord” cannot overtake “the thief,” for the simple reason that “the day of the Lord” will come “as a thief in the night,” after we are “caught up” and away from the earth. 

Thus, Paul exhorts us to “watch and be sober” for the best of all reasons: because the dark night of the Tribulation has not yet come and for us it still remains “the day of salvation.”  At this time I point out to the group that to God one day can be like a thousand years and it might mean one literal day; one has to read the Bible context carefully to understand its meaning (2 Peter 3:8).   In that Scripture passage Peter does not say that one day is a thousand years; he says that one day is like a thousand years. In other words, he is using figurative language to make his point.  The point is not that we should interpret the word day as “a thousand years” everywhere we find it in Scripture; rather, the point is that the passing of time has no bearing on God’s faithfulness.  He will do what He has promised. 

Verses 5:5-7.

“…we (Believers) are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

According to verse 5:7, nighttime is the time when people sleep while others imbibe, indulging in revelry, but for us it is not night, so, “…let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (5:8).

Many people entertain the erroneous idea that truly spiritual Christians must always be pious, solemn, and long-faced.  In fact, they suppose that such Scripture passages as the one above teach this.  They also borrow this Scripture passage to teach it’s a sin to drink alcohol.  But nothing could be farther from the truth, for the word “sober,” in our English N.T. does not mean solemn, but practicing self-control.  This is also true of the original Koine Greek word from which the English word “sober” is translated.  Sobriety in Scripture, as in modern English, is the opposite of drunkenness.  This truth is brought out in the rest of the passage cited above.  Along with its context, the above exhortation reads thusly:

For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken be drunken in the night.”(5:7)

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet the hope of salvation.” (5:8)

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (5:9)

Who died for us that… we should live together with Him.” (5:10)

So, those who are “of the day,” and know Christ as their Savior, should not “sleep” on the one hand, or “be drunken” on the other, but should be awake and alert, their faculties completely under control, so that they might witness effectively to those who are lost the saving grace of Christ while “the day of salvation” remains intact.

Here Paul informed the Thessalonians that “faith” and “love” are a “breastplate” for the true Believer’s heart, and “the hope of salvation an helmet” for their head, and that knowledge ought to stablish them (to fix; to settle in a state for permanence; to make firm) in the truth and thus, “…the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

What does the phrase “the hope of salvation” mean?  Is it our salvation from the penalty of sin?  Not so much, it is our salvation from “the wrath to come,” and indeed, our complete salvation:

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our (complete) salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11).

Verses 5:9-10.

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

About 2000 years ago Paul wrote to his fellow Believers in the vicinity of Ephesus: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming (buying up) the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).  Those were indeed evil days, when a wicked tyrant named Nero ruled the Roman Empire, when the Messiah had been rejected from His incarnation to His resurrection and subsequent ascension, and the Grace Churches were fighting a life-and-death battle to penetrate the prevailing pagan darkness with the light of truth re: God’s free gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8).  Surely Paul never dreamed that the dispensation of grace would continue for more than nineteen hundred years.  He expected the Lord to come at any time to recall His own and bring the day of grace to an end.  Hence the urgency of his appeal to be “buying up the time, because the days are evil.”

But if Paul had reason to suspect that the day of grace would soon be brought to a close, we today have greater reason to think so.  Now that the light of the gospel has been brought to every country on the earth the mindset of  most people remain the same, for the most part, they reject God’s “good news” and our Apostle Paul’s authority as God’s called apostle to the gentiles.  Only a small minority of even Christendom truly believe the Bible and know the Christ it presents and fewer still know the riches of His grace.

Meanwhile our governments, our educational institutions and our social systems are becoming more godless by the day.  The result?  The newspapers, radio, and TV, even a trip to the shopping mall in any fair-sized city, will tell us all we need to know.  Once again “the days are evil” and the Lord’s coming for His own therefore seems imminent.  There is still much talk about lasting peace, prosperity, social justice (whatever that’s supposed to mean) but no informed (sober) person believes that we are headed toward an utopia on the earth or that man is able to make such a place.  That notion is more than ridiculous it contradicts the very Word of God for the world-at-large is heading directly toward the prophesied “day of God’s wrath.”

Therefore, what a “comfort” it is to the Believer to know that “God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us…” (5:9,10).

For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed” and “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:11-13).

(To be continued)

 © Copyright 2011

GJ Heitzman’s Ministry

All Rights Reserved