I THESSALONIANS 5:16-22: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Is there a Biblical “End Time Survival Guide”? There are many different opinions among believers regarding the events that will unfold during of the “End Times”. It runs the gamut of people who have no clue about the times we live in, to those who are preparing survival shelters for the coming apocalypse. I am not here to criticize any particular group or opinion. I think there is room for liberty here (not ignorance). In other areas of personal freedom Paul exhorts each person to be convinced in his own mind. However, when I read these verses I am led to ask – “Are there some universal, Biblical principles, that can guide us all”?
In context, the verses in I Thessalonians 5:16-22 I believe compose such an “End Time Survival Guide” for all believers. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul is addressing believers who are both confused and concerned about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and the “Day of the Lord”. In his summation he gives the advice contained in these verses. Generally, we have pulled these verses out and looked at them as stand alone exhortations and commands. Yet, this morning, I am moved to look at them within the context of my “End Time Survival Guide”.
Rejoice always! As I see the continuing advancement of sin, the hardness of men’s hearts, and the warring of nations, my natural response is to worry and complain. Yet, Paul calls us to Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks! This seems like an odd response to the current days troubles. Yet it is not simply a suggestion – Paul makes it clear, “…this is the will of God n Christ Jesus for you.” God’s children are called to walk in the light. The light exposes both the darkness and it also reveals the ultimate plan of God for this fallen world. When we see His plan, when we read the closing chapters of the Book of Revelation, is there any other response we can give but to Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks! I now it may seem like a trite statement – but I have read the end of the book and Jesus wins! The Church wins! God’s Saints win! Righteousness, love, goodness, and truth triumph!
Paul then warns us what is at stake. If we grumble, complain, worry, and doubt – we will quench the Holy Spirit! We will miss the prophetic word. We will walk like people who are blind – when we have been set free to see! If there is anytime that we need to walk in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and in the fulness of His discernment – it is today! We cannot be blown away by ever wind of doctrine or every corner prophet who cries forth. We must be anchored to the one Rock, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only as we are anchored to Jesus Christ, as we abide in His truth, as we walk after the Holy Spirit, that we will be able to – “…Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” Only a heart that is filled with praise, persistent in prayer, and giving thanks in all things – is positioned to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in these “End Times”.
Lord, give me such a heart today. Let me lift up my head and proclaim – “My redemption draweth nigh”! Let me rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything. This is your will for my life in Christ Jesus as I await the Blessed Hope of His return. Today, as your Spirit speaks to the Church, give me ears to hear! In Jesus Name!