Year 2 Day 355
Read - 1 Thessalonians 5v23-28
Message - Scott Woodburn
Do you know what sanctification is? The shorter catechism tells us "Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness" So sanctification is the process by which the Lord makes us more and more holy and more and more dead to sin. We are being renewed in the image of God.
Sanctification is important, it is necessary, it is happening and its success is guaranteed by God Himself. It is also Paul's great wish for the Thessalonians. He prays that the God of peace would sanctify the Thessalonians completely (v23a). This prayer would be answered. The success of sanctification does not depend upon you or me. We attend to the means of grace and the Lord sanctifies us. He is doing this work and therefore our whole spirit, soul and body will be kept blameless at the coming of Christ.
Christ's return to judge the living and the dead is a fact and it has been discussed abundantly in this letter. Yet the return of Jesus holds no fear for the Christian. We have been saved, we are being sanctified and we will stand in the judgement. How do I know? For the Lord who has called us is faithful and will surely sanctify us completely (v24b).
This is wonderful encouragement for the weary Christian who sees little or no evidence of sanctification in their own soul. My brothers and sisters, you may not see it but I assure you it is happening. By His Word and by His Spirit the Lord is sanctifying His people.
As Paul prays for the sanctification of the Thessalonians so too he urges them to pray for him. Even Apostles needed the prayers of God's people. They may have been extraordinarily gifted men but they weren't supermen. Paul knew trouble and Paul desired the prayers of the church of Jesus Christ. We would do well to remember this dynamic. Your minister or pastor is not a perfect priest who stands between you and God. He does not have all the answers and he feels the same frustrations that you do. He thinks his work is in vain, he is stung by criticism and rumour. His heart breaks when you ignore him or treat him with contempt. Brothers and sisters, pray for your pastor.
Additionally Paul wanted the Thessalonian church to be marked with love and tenderness between Christians. How would this affection show itself? With a holy kiss (v26). Immediately our reserved Ulster selves pull back from such a suggestion. You might be prepared to pray for you pastor but you're certainly not going to kiss the old lady who plays the organ. You'll be glad to know that kissing isn't mandated here by the Lord - our culture is not like ancient Greece. Nevertheless we are mandated to show one another such affection that the local church is marked by zealous Christian love.
None of this is optional. Paul put the recipients of this letter under oath to have it read before everyone associated with the church (v27). What is an oath? Our confession talks of both oaths and vows. A vow is a promise that you make to God. An oath is when you make a promise to someone and call God as a witness. So Paul wants these men and women to promise that they will read this letter to the whole church. It's so important that he calls God as a witness.
This gives us a little glimpse once more of Scripture's authority. We are not the original recipients of this letter but we are still bound by God to read and study and do His Word. So brothers and sisters, be confident that your God is sanctifying you even as you read these daily devotions each day. In response pray for your leaders, love one another zealously and take heed to what God's Word says.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you (v28).
Q107 What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us? The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen,” teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him; and in testimony of our desire and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.