Hope in Our Holification (1 Thess. 5:23-28)

Dec 29, 2023 By: David Meyer Topic: Sermon Devotional Series: 1 Thessalonians Scripture: 1 Thess. 5:23-28

As we come to our last sermon in our study of 1 Thessalonians, we have learned that it’s a letter to a young church from the missionary team of Paul, Silas and Timothy. This missionary team was going around preaching the gospel, planting churches and teaching the followers of Jesus how to live according to God’s ways (how to “walk worthy”). The letter is filled with many basic themes like faith, hope, love, suffering/trials and purity/sanctification. We also heard many times (in every chapter) that Jesus is coming again to bring complete redemption and restoration to his people and the world. This brings great hope and we are called to encourage each other with those words. 1 Thessalonians is an immensely practical letter to help Christians grow in faith and obedience. That is what the missionary team wanted for this young church 2000 years ago, and it’s what our pastors/elders desire for our church today: to grow in faith and obedience to Christ.

In verses 12-22 of chapter 5, we studied a cluster of exhortations breaking it down over three sermons. We now will look at the last 6 verses of the letter where Paul ends with a prayer, final exhortations and a benediction.

Questions for Consideration, Discussion and Reflection:

  • What brings you deep comfort, confidence and assurance?
  • The Christian life is one of “disciplined dependence and dependent discipline”. (Jerry Bridges, The Disciplines of Grace)  It is divine sovereignty and human responsibility. It is impossible to obey God apart from His Spirit enabling us and making us alive (Ro 8:7-8), but God makes it possible by His work of grace. Once God works in us to make us alive, we are called to make choices to daily (minute by minute) depend upon God and be disciplined. Rather than contradicting each other, how do assurance and exhortation go together to bless faithful followers of Christ?
  • What would have been good prayers to pray for Paul (5:25)? Compare Ephesians 6:19, Colossians 4:3-4, 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
  • What is a “holy kiss” and why don’t most modern churches obey this command? How is it a slippery slope to simply dismiss this as “cultural”?
  • How did Paul conclude this letter (5:28)? Compare to the beginning of the letter 1:1. What is the significance of that?
  • Of all the exhortations given in 5:12-28, which did you most need to hear? Why?