Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
- 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 life in the body of Christ.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Family Life in the family of God”
1 Thess 5:14, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
The church is the people of God. The church is the bride of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. The church is the body of redeemed sinners who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And as redeemed sinners in union with Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, believers are also connected to one another. They are brothers and sisters in Christ. And the New Testament has much teaching that addresses how believers are to interact with one another. That is, there is much instruction concerning the ‘family dynamics’ of the family of God. We find one example of such instruction in 1 Thessalonians. As is typical of Paul’s letters, 1 Thessalonians follows the standard indicative – imperative schema. The first half of the book (chapters 1-3) concerns God’s provision of salvation in Christ, the indicative; and the second half of the book (chapters 4-5) concerns how believers are to live in light of God’s work of grace, the imperative. And as Paul is nearing a close to this letter, he issues a series of commands to the church: “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (1 Thess 5:14-15). There are a few brief items to note in these verses.
First, we note the obvious point that these words appear in the second half of the letter – the imperative section. That is, these are commands from the Lord to his people – they are commands from the covenant Lord to his covenant people. They are not suggestions – they are not optional. Rather, believes are called to live with and to interact with one another according to certain divine standards.
Second, these commands are given to the church. Paul urges his ‘brothers’ – and just two verses earlier Paul had asked his ‘brothers’ to respect the ministers placed over them. Now we must be clear … we are called to love our neighbors and to be kind to all – we are called to demonstrate the love of Christ to all. But believers are called in a special way to love one another, to care for one another, to be patient with one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord (cf. Gal 6:10).
Third, we note what is assumed in Paul’s words. Paul takes for granted that those in the church will be acquainted with one another. In other words, for Paul’s commands to have any meaning, it is assumed that brothers and sisters in Christ will be involved in one another’s lives. I cannot encourage the ‘fainthearted’ if I do not know who the fainthearted are. You cannot help the ‘weak’ if you do not know who the weak are. It is a given that those in the church will be in relationships with one another.
Fourth, we also note that it is assumed that the idle, the fainthearted, the weak, and on and on, will be in the church. The church is not the place for perfect people. Rather, the church is the place for sinners saved by the blood of Christ to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord. The church is the hospital for weary souls resting in the finished work of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, the applications from these verses are straightforward. May we encourage one another, may we help one another, may we be patient with one another, may we admonish one another in love when necessary; and above all, may we do good to one another. Simply put, may we demonstrate the love of Christ to one another! Is not Christ good to us and patient with us? Does he not encourage us and admonish us when we need it? May we show such love to the bride of Christ!