Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 1st - Walking in the Light

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching Romans 8
Calvary Children’s Home
School Projects and Tests

Text – 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11

First things first, last week we asked, “What does Zealous mean?” I had an idea of what it meant, but didn’t know for sure, so here is what it means:

Full of, characterized by, or due to zeal; ardently active, devoted, or diligent.

This makes sense, especially to the church that it was being written to, who was Laodicea, who was being the opposite of zealous, they were just bearing the name of Jesus without being zealous, which is why he told them to be, and to repent. If we have time in this class before summer I’d like to go over the 7-churches of Revelation 2 and 3, as they are extremely useful examples of how a Christian church will run.

Second, to tie this class into the Prayer-Sunday class, on that day we talked about the chapter and verse break-ups and that they were not put there by the original writers, but by a man named Robert Stephanus in 1551. While he did a pretty good job, it has done all sorts of damage to theology because we have a tendency to think verses stand on their own. The one that relates to today’s lesson is

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

When we read that, we think Jesus went up on the highest place with the biggest megaphone and proclaimed to the world, I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE!

But that’s not what he did, he was talking to his disciples, and told them we would go to prepare a place for them and would come back for them. For they knew the way to where he was going.

But Thomas was kinda slow, and he said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

And Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

So, we know the way, it is Jesus Christ, he who died for sins but is alive, he is the resurrection and the life, he is the truth, and he is God. And we know him and place our hope in him as someone we have not seen with physical eyes, but know he exists, and is who he says he is, because of his perfect revelation to us. It would be very easy to jump into our passage for today, since it relates directly to this, but then you might not remember the context, so lets read from chapter 4 verse 13 to chapter 5 verse 11.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

So the context is that Christ will be returning, both the quick (alive) and the dead in Christ will rise to meet him as he returns, then he will wage war on his enemies. While the world is saying they have peace and security, we will see the signs of his coming, more “natural” disasters, a fake security, famines, lots of wars and rumors of war, and numerous false-christs.

Remember above all that these signs and seasons are “not given to form a calendar, but to form a character; a character of prayerfulness, watchfulness, honesty, and holiness.” (William Varner)

For most, the Second Coming of Christ will be entirely unexpected, just as in Noah’s time when they were eating and drinking, and marrying, but then the flood came and swept them all away.

v. 4-5 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

Our light comes totally and only from Jesus. This is speaking of spiritual light. Imagine if you were sitting in your house with all the lights on, do you think a thief would be able to sneak in? But what if you were like the world, with all of the lights off, the thief would have free reign in the house.

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

While we don’t know the exact day that Christ will return, we won’t be hugely surprised when he does come back. Certainly we may be a little, but it won’t be unexpected.

Notice Paul keeps using the word “brothers”, this is the fourth time about this subject, he also uses “children”, referring to God’s adopted children; he wants to make sure that an unbeliever reading or hearing this couldn’t think they would be ok.

1 Peter 2:9 You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

We live in a time of much physical light at night, living in a city we hardly even think about just walking outside at night. I grew up in the country, not in the middle of nowhere, but you could see it from there, and after it got dark you wouldn’t be doing much outside, because you would stumble and fall, and maybe even get eaten by something.

That’s for the most part how Thessalonica would understand this epistle, that after the sun went down, it got DARK. That’s how our souls used to be, but Christ has given us the light of life, so that we no longer walk in spiritual darkness.

v. 6 Then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.

This verse is somewhat hard to understand, the agreement on what it means by scholars is that we are not to act as the spiritually dark, not falling into sin as soon as it presents itself.

Your body produces a chemical called tryptophan as soon as the lights go out which makes you drowsy and want to go to sleep. This chemical is also found in turkey and is why turkey makes you sleepy. Knowing this now, this verse makes a lot more sense, that physically as soon as we go into darkness, we want to go to sleep. So spiritually is the same way, if we go into the darkness we are naturally inclined to sin. So, we shouldn’t sin as soon as sin presents itself.

v. 7-8 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober…

Alcohol is a something debated a lot in the church, especially in the Baptist denomination. I’ll share some verses with you to share my view on it. This would be a good thing to discuss with your parents.

Proverbs 31:4-7 It is not for kings, O Lemuel—not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

Lemuel, who wrote Proverbs 31, said that those in responsible positions should avoid strong alcoholic drinks, because it might cause them to be irresponsible. But then he gives the purpose of alcohol, especially for those in distress, it is to dampen pain. We’ve moved on in our medical practices to things like Morphine, which are much harder to make than alcohol, but work better. So when taking medicine, make sure it’s not making you irresponsible in your duties, but know that God ordains their use for pain relief.

Proverbs 23:29-35 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. "They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink."

Straight forward enough, right? Any questions?

1 Timothy 5:23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

Hmm…seems backwards from what we’ve just been reading. Here’s the explanation, wine and beer kills bacteria, and water for the majority of history, and even in most places today, isn't filtered so well as the water we drink, and bacteria in it can make you sick or even kill you. So water mixed with a little wine will have no bacteria and is considerably better for you than just unfiltered water. That’s what Paul told Timothy to drink some, because then he will have less bacteria attacking him. Some will use this to advocate drinking a lot, but obviously it says, “a little wine.” Compare the calling of a deacon:

1 Timothy 3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.

How much is much wine? I don’t know, but as we read in Proverbs 23, once you start to have red eyes, alcohol is all you think about, and you lose control of your inhibitions, you’ve definitely gone way too far. Paul writes to Thessalonica, “Let us be sober.” Sober means no wine or very, very, very little wine.

One thing that gets debated a lot is wine at the Lord’s Supper, we at Summit use grape-juice. I’ll tell you why I think this is wrong, but not something to start a fight over. Blood is very, very rich in nutrients, and once it is in the open air, all sorts of bacteria attacks it. Have any of you ever given blood? How do they store it? In a very well sealed bag so that bacteria can’t get in. It’s sort of like us with sin, us in the flesh are constantly warring with every type of sin, there is no temptation given us that is not common to the whole human race.

On the other hand, Jesus Christ shed his blood to wash sin away. He isn’t like us; he never sinned, instead sin when it comes in contact with him is incinerated, the same way that alcohol kills bacteria. So I think we should be using real wine for the Lord’s Supper, but only a little wine, for multiple reasons. The Corinthians were having huge parties and calling them the Lord’s Supper, and Paul yelled at them for it.

We’ll talk more about the Lord’s Supper in a future class.