Listening to God’s Word while driving to and from work has been very rewarding. A few days ago I was encouraged by the traits of a godly shepherd from 1 Thessalonians that were fleshed out by Paul’s love for the Thessalonians. Today, while listening to 1 Thessalonians, I was encouraged by the characteristics that belong to those who have been redeemed by our glorious Savior Jesus Christ. I would like to share the qualities that accompany true believers given to us in 1 Thessalonians. May God bless us as we look at the wonderful truth that is His Word, the Bible.
The most important attribute of a believer in Christ is that they have been saved through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ by the sovereign work of God in their unbelieving heart. 4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-7 This sovereign work of God in the heart of a sinner results in a radical change that proves itself in the life of the believer. Salvation is never a work of the flesh. God’s faithful sheep demonstrate His life in them by their assured joy in the face of persecution, and their testimony of faith that spreads abroad well beyond their immediate locality.
Believers have received the message of the gospel as the Word of God. It is the Word of God that effectively works in the hearts of believers. God’s sheep know that the Bible is the Word of God and they feed upon its nourishment for their spiritual growth and well-being. They do not resort to the empty lifeless doctrines and opinions of man for their spiritual strength and vitality. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 It is the Word of God that works effectively in the hearts of believers, building them up in their most holy faith; the word of man does nothing but feed the flesh and further the work of the devil.
The blood bought children of God turn from all falsehood and believe the truth from the heart. The Lord Jesus Christ’s faithful sheep follow Him, and turn away from all imposters. For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 1 Thessalonians 1:3 The Lord’s redeemed have turned to God, received salvation and are saved from the wrath to come. This supernatural transformation not only brings the child of God into a right relationship with their Lord and God so they are no longer recipients of His wrath, but it also ushers in godly living that pleases God. Instead of living for this world’s empty pleasures, God’s faithful sheep live for His pleasure and are eagerly waiting for the return of their beloved Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Persecution does not unnerve or dissuade God’s faithful sheep from being true to Him; instead they persevere in the faith and lovingly recall those who have ministered the gospel to them. 1Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 3That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain. 6But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 7Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 8For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8 These precious sheep, believers in Christ Jesus, stand fast in the Lord Jesus Christ and so encourage others in their faith and belief in the truth.
Paul wrote this first letter to the Thessalonians to encourage them in their faith, exhort them to godly living, and encourage them with the return of Jesus Christ for all of His beloved. Paul commands the Thessalonians to live pure lives, rejecting sexual immorality, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. He also urges them to work quietly, minding their own business, and to be honest in all of their dealings with others. He reminds them that this exhortation comes from the Holy Spirit and does not have its origins in the mind and heart of man. 1Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 2For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;5Not in the lust of concupiscence (sexual lust), even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit. 9But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; 11And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 God’s faithful sheep know that His Word instructs them to live godly lives for His glory and to love one another. All of this is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
We should always measure our belief and behavior by the sure standard of God’s Word. We should be able to identify these same attributes in our lives if we have been truly saved by the Savior. Empty professions prompted by men will never result in godly living and the endurance which is necessary for withstanding the attacks of the flesh, the devil and the world. The sovereign supernatural work of God in sinners’ hearts and lives will result in the fruit that demonstrates the Holy Spirit indwells the redeemed believer. As God’s faithful sheep we should pray that these attributes would grow and abound in our lives. 12And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13