Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
- THIS SATURDAY, we will have our church end of summer pool party at the Van Tubergen’s home from 1-4. We will have hot dogs and hamburgers. Please bring a side to share! Their address is 8803 Catawissa Dr, Houston, 77095.
- Ladies’ night of service and fellowship will be Friday night, August 28th. Invitation forthcoming.
- SEPTEMBER 13 is the first Sunday in our new location at Birkes Elementary School. And we will move out of our current location and set up in the new location on Saturday, Sep 12.
- Our Fall Theology conference with Dr. Carlton Wynne is scheduled for Saturday, Sep 26. For information and to register, click here: http://providencepres.com/2015-theology-conference/.
- Finally, this week’s devotion (attached) is a reflection from 1 Thessalonians 5 on God’s work in the life of the believer.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“A Benediction of Peace”
1 Thess 5:23, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul closes his first letter to the Thessalonian church with a wonderful and encouraging benediction: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:23). Now 1 Thessalonians follows the standard Pauline and Biblical formula of the indicative followed by the imperative. That is to say, 1 Thess 1-3 recount the grand truth of God’s work on behalf of his people. And following the grand indicatives comes the necessary imperative of Christian living in chapters 4-5. For example, Paul writes, “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more … For this is the will of God, your sanctification … Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for yourselves have been taught by God to love one another” (4:1, 3, 9). Through the power of his word and Spirit, the Lord has brought you from death to life – from serving idols to serving the living and true God … therefore grow and walk in grace and truth … grow in sanctification … love one another more and more. In the closing benediction, however, Paul comes full circle to remind the Thessalonians that God himself will accomplish his holy purposes in his people. There are a few brief items to note as Paul asks the Lord to bless his people.
First, we should note the emphasis on God’s work to sanctify his people. Yes, we are called to grow in holiness, to fight against sin, and to pursue godliness (1 Thess 4:1 – 5:22); but ultimately God is doing his work in us (1 Thess 5:23-24). Paul makes this clear, “God himself” will sanctify his people. God is working out his purposes in his people each and every day. We should keep in mind that Paul has no trouble proclaiming both sides of the classic theological tension … we work out our salvation, but God is doing the work in us (Phil 2:12-13). Or as the Apostle John puts it, “the Bride (i.e. the church) has made herself ready … yet it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linens, bright and pure” (Rev 19:7-8).
Second, not only is the Lord at work in our sanctification today, he will sanctify us completely at the judgment day. Thus, Paul is speaking both of God’s work in sanctification throughout our lives and of his work in glorification at the end of our earthly life. At the ‘coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (i.e. second coming), the Lord will keep us blameless. The Christian need not fear the second coming of our Lord … we need not be weighed down with such thoughts as, ‘what if I’m not …. when the Lord returns.’ Those who belong to Christ will be kept blameless at the day of Christ. Jude says something similar in his glorious benediction, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24).
And finally, we should note that Paul’s hope and confidence for the people of God is the character of God: “He who calls you is faithful, he will surely do it” (5:24). God is faithful (1 Cor 1:9). He will accomplish his purpose. And his great purpose is to bring his people home to be with Him! Indeed, he who began a good work in believers will carry it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:9). May God’s glorious faithfulness brings us joy and peace this day!