In the letter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul recalls the conversion of the Thessalonian believers. He also rejoices that they are continuing to grow in their faith, and that they are being made more like Christ. As we come to chapter 4, he continues commend them, but he also exhorts them to press on. Specifically, he encourages his hearers toward both holiness and brotherly love.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul writes, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification….” We often ask, “What is the will of God for my life?” As the Christian writer Kevin DeYoung notes in his book, Just Do Something, we tend to overcomplicate that question. We certainly ought to pray when it comes to major decisions and should always want to submit to the will of God, but Paul is making a point about what the will of God is ultimately for every Christian—sanctification. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks in question 35 “What is sanctification?” The answer provided by the catechism is, “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.” In other words, this means that if you are a Christian, God is at work in you. You are not saved by your holiness; rather, you are saved by Jesus Christ who lived sinlessly on your behalf and who died bearing your sin and guilt. But now that you are a Christian, God is at work in you to make you more like Jesus. Do you love Christ more and hate sin more than you once did? That is because the Lord God is at work in you.
Paul, knowing that God is doing this work of sanctification in the lives of his hearers exhorts them then unto holiness and brotherly love. And those two things really go together. As one is being made to be more like Jesus, they will love His people all the more. Is your fellowship marked by brotherly love? We will discuss these things more fully as we meet for worship this Lord’s Day, September 19 at The Commons at St. Andrews Church in Little Rock at 5 PM. For directions, click here or contact us for more information. You can also join us on Facebook Live@RiverCityARP or on YouTube.
“Shock and Awe, simply Shock and Awe!” For most, this phrase entered our vernacular from CNN Reporter, Peter Arnett, describing the stunning exhibition of US airpower from his hotel in Baghdad on March 21, 2003. The second Gulf War had begun. Operation Iraqi Freedom was underway. But the coalition bombardment was nothing compared to the ‘Shock and Awe’ described in Revelation 19 as the world’s final battle that pictures the return of Christ in judgement.
Kings and captains, mighty men, men both free and slave, small and great gather for battle. Summoned by the King of Rebels, the ancient Dragon and his Beast and False Prophet, they have come to resist the will of their rightful King, the Lord Jesus Christ. They trust in everything false and swear allegiance to the King of Lies and Murder. They think this will be their moment – and indeed it is. Just not the moment they expected. ‘Shock and awe’ is coming. Join us this Sunday as we examine Revelation 19:11-21 and the great promise and the great warning of Christ’s return.
Rivalries are often in good fun. Perhaps you have a favorite football team, and you enjoy the “rivalry game” each year. But even in activities such as sports, rivalries can get out of hand. Imagine a rivalry over something as important as the ministry of the church, the worship of God and the conversion of the lost.
Paul’s response to these teachers who set themselves up as rivals serves as a backdrop for the book of 2 Corinthians. And when we come to 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, we see Paul quite concerned that false teaching is seeking to disrupt the church. The Corinthian church is being tempted to allow worldly principles to shape its practice. Paul, in this passage, gives a warning both to the church and to the individual Christian not to have a partnership with that which is in conflict with the Gospel of Christ. As a Christian is in union with Christ, this precludes a union with idols. Join us this week as we consider Christ, the great salvation offered in Him and how this impacts our lives and our worship.
Weddings should be joyful affairs. Celebrations of the first order. Whether lavish or simple, no expenditure of joy should be spared. It is a day to gather and celebrate what God said was “very good.” Jesus chose to begin his public ministry, celebrating a wedding at Cana. And at the end of all things, Jesus completes his redemptive work, celebrating the wedding supper of the Lamb.
Revelation 17-19 contrast the Harlot and the Bride. A contrast which emphasizes the distinction between the deadly deceptive charms of the world, pictured as a luxuriant but violent prostitute, and the enduring, life-giving beauty of Christ’s church, pictured as a radiant bride. In a world where Christ promises persecution while conformity to the world promises peace, it is easy to lose sight of this distinction between harlot and bride. But in Revelation 19 the Lord unveils for John, and for us, a picture of The Big Day – the promised wedding supper of the Lamb. Join us this week as we examine Revelation 19 and consider how we are to live expectantly, even in the midst of adversity.
Struggling to make a decision is not necessarily a lack of decisiveness, but more often a function of ‘decision fatigue.’ And for the Christian there is a decision fatigue much more persistent than our covid mitigation strategy. How are we to live in the world, but not be of the world? What is our relationship to culture?
Revelation is a book of unveilings. And in Revelation 18, the Lord unveils the destruction of Babylon, the Harlot, who pictures rebellious, worldly culture. The people of God are commanded to come out of her. And while her lovers mourn her downfall from a distance, those who belong to God give thanks for her destruction. At first glance this seems an ungracious, or even vindictive, portrait of the church. But a deeper examination reveals important insights into the responsibility and the relationship of the church to the world. This week we examine Revelation 18 and consider what this passage says about our calling to be ‘in the world,’ but not ‘of the world.’