Reach Gather Grow in 1 Thessalonians
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1 Thessalonians • Lesson Three • Grow
Pastor Roy Townsend

Have you ever heard the saying, “The ends justify the means?” According to the dictionary, this phrase means that wrong or unfair methods may be used if the overall goal is good. I have had many conversations with people about what is right and what is wrong. Whether it be a modern-day governmental policy or a historical event, people are always looking to know what is right and wrong. When I get into these conversations, I often ask how that person “knows” when something is right or wrong.

1. How do you know what is right or wrong? 

 

2. Do you feel that your upbringing has an influence on what you believe is right or wrong?

 

3. How much influence does our current culture have on what is believed to be right or wrong (TV, media, books, popular culture)?

 

Paul, when he was writing to the church in Thessalonica, stated in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3, “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 you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.”

Here we are given some wisdom on how to live our lives and continue to grow in our understanding of what is right or wrong. We are given the understanding that we are to “walk” and “please” God. From that, we are to do this more and more. We are to know the instructions that were given to the church “more and more.” So, we as followers are to use the Scriptures as a basis for what is right or wrong.

4. What are the problems with using modern thoughts and philosophies to determine what is right or wrong?

 

Proverbs 14:12 reads, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”We read that man’s wisdom will set us on a path towards death, but when we rely on God’s instructions we are on a path that pleases Him. Plus, when we grow “more and more,” this will lead us to fulfill God’s plan for our own sanctification.

Paul continues in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4:4-8, “That each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”

Paul asks and urges the church to walk in a manner that pleases God in two specific areas that will grow us toward “sanctification.”

5. The Biblical word “sanctification” is a difficult word to understand. Please explain to your Growth Community what your understanding is of the word sanctification.

 

6. What about this concept causes confusion?

 

In studying the word sanctification, I learned that it can be translated as holiness. Paul is reinforcing the concept that the believer’s life should be one of holiness. An aspect of holiness is to be set apart from the world or separated from the world. We as God’s people should have a separation from the world or we are to live a life that is set apart from the world. So back to our original questions about right or wrong. The world may define something as right based upon popular belief or cultural belief, but we as followers of Christ are to live a holy life. Romans 12:1 reads, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

7. What about living a holy, separated, or set-apart life causes fear among believers?

 

8. Why does Paul encourage our growth “more and more?”

 

We cannot just stop at our original growth when we accept Christ as our Savior. We become saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, but we have not completely arrived in our walk towards holiness or sanctification. The Christian walk is a journey toward a set-apart life. We must continue to grow - more and more because life circumstances will change and our culture will change. We must continue to learn His Word. We must continue to choose this life to become mature followers of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 5:14 reads, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” We must continue to grow. Psalm 119:11 reads, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

9. Why does the River Church include a believer’s growth as part of the mission of the church?

 

10. How are we storing up God’s Word in our hearts?

 

We need to be encouraged when we are studying God’s Word that on this journey we can become more Christ-like and honor His instructions by growing more and more and living a separate life to be a witness to the world.

Finally, 2 Timothy 2:21 reads, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

 



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