I THESSALONIANS 5
Chapters 3,4 & 5
THE REAL CHARACTERISTICS
OF A TRUE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
After Paul left Thessalonica, he sent Timothy back to see how they were doing. Paul was not the kind of preacher who counted how many he baptized, so he could brag about what he had done. In the Corinthian letter, he said he had forgotten who he had baptized. He was not interested in how many but in whether or not they were really converted to Jesus Christ. He sent Timothy back to find out if his preaching had been such as would make these people truly converted so that their faith and love would show in their continuing lives. He was delighted and gratified that they had been truly converted to Christ and were living lives of faith and love for all men as Christ intended. This was Paul’s concern for every group of people his preaching had brought to Christ. The faith and love that they showed was his primary concern.
So long as men try to imitate the structure of the New Testament Church without developing the spiritual qualities of faith and love, there will continue to be division and strife in the Christian world. There will always be differences of opinion among men, because none of us is perfect. However, if the stress is placed upon the things Jesus prayed for, love and unity, the differences will become unimportant, and our mutual faith in the Savior will cause us to be one as a body and live the life of a follower of Christ in our daily activities. It is then that they will know that we are Christians by our love and faith as Jesus promised. If you cannot love one who claims Jesus as his Lord, because of some legal disagreement on structure or practice, then you are not following Him. So long as men elevate their opinion of the truth above faith in Jesus and love for one another, there will be division, and the cause of Christ will not be believed by the world and will suffer as it has for centuries.
After commending the Thessalonians for their faith and love, Paul gives them a list of ideals to follow. First, there is Sexual Morality. This is first for it is the factor most often ignored when one forgets to develop the spiritual man and is only concerned with what pleases the flesh. This should be so obvious that it needs no comment or further emphasis. Sins against this principle are so rampant in our world today that even our courts are passing laws that ignore God’s word and pander to the desires of current society in its desire to satisfy the flesh. Paul says as much when he says, “Anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being, but God…who gives you His Holy Spirit”. (Note: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, not a separate person.}
In our next essay we will discuss the other ideals Paul lists for the Thessalonian church to follow.