Lesson 19: For God has Appointed Us to Salvation Through our Lord Jesus Christ - Page 2 - (series: Lessons on 1 Thessalonians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

(5:11) Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

“Therefore encourage one another,” either with the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, the second coming of Christ, and the thoughts of being with Him forever, and with one another, or with this consideration, that they were not in a state of darkness, ignorance, and infidelity, but were children of the light, and of the day, being called out of darkness into marvelous light, and therefore should enjoy the light of life. And along with all that there is the doctrine of predestination, and perhaps the greatest of all is the knowledge that they are not being appointed to that wrath they deserved, but to be given salvation by Jesus Christ, which could never fail, since the purpose of God according to election always stands upon what is never in doubt, not upon an unsure foundation of works, but upon His own sovereign and unchangeable grace. And yet there is even more; the doctrine of Christ's sufferings and death in their place and for them, whereby the law was fulfilled, justice satisfied, their sins atoned for, pardon procured, everlasting righteousness brought in, and their salvation fully accomplished. The apostle had spoken to them of these things: but his words will bear repeating, "encourage one another and build each other up"; that is, not to sleep, as do others, or indulge themselves in sin and sloth; but to be sober, and upon their watch and guard, and in a posture of defense against the enemy; to put on the whole armor of God, and particularly the shield of faith and love, and for an helmet the hope of salvation.

Comfort yourselves together: the apostle had laid before them many comfortable truths, which they were to comfort one another with; and if we read the words and exhort one another, it refers to the necessary duties of religion he had mentioned in this and the foregoing chapter.

“And build each other up.” Paul can readily see that the Thessalonians’ faith is not as strong as it should be, but he knows how to increase their faith; “build each other up,” he says, “and edify{4] one another.”Then he gives them an example they should all be familiar with―he asks them to consider how a house is built. It is built up by degrees―foundation, floor, walls, roof, etc. Every church is the house of God, consisting of living stones; every part is to seek the building up of the whole, and by mutual encouragement and reassurance the whole may be built up. Those Christians, then, that only seek to edify themselves, and they pull down, and divide, and destroy, instead of building up are to be blamed for their weak faith.

“And build each other up” by praying together, conversing with each other about the doctrines of the gospel, and the dealings of God with their souls; abstaining from all corrupt communication, which has a tendency to hurt each other's principles or practices, or to stir up wrath and contention; focus only on those things which are for the use of edifying, in order that their souls might be more and more built upon Christ, and their most holy faith; and be a rising construction, and grow to be an holy temple in the Lord, and for an habitation of God through the Spirit. In other words, strive to build up each other, or to establish each other in the faith―the apostle told the Romans, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification{3]” (Romans 14:19).

It is the responsibility of Christians to do, practice, say and engage in only those things that contribute constructively to the building up (the figure is that of a building) of fellow Christians. It is not enough merely to refrain from saying what will discourage or damage another, or from practicing what will offend another, or from doing what may tempt another. The mandate is to do what will help the spiritual life and growth of fellow-Christians.

“Just as in fact you are doing,” that is to say, from what he has seen and heard, the Thessalonians are already making it their practice to do precisely what the apostle told them to do, for which he here again commends them, as he had done upon several occasions before, but not through flattery, but to encourage them to go on in this way; and from whence it may be observed, that mutual consolation, exhortation, and edification, are things the saints should be stirred up to do frequently and to set before other churches their example for imitation. Let nothing intervene to disturb the harmony and consolation which you have been accustomed to derive from these high and holy doctrines.

Special notes and Scripture
[1} "A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for” (1 Peter 2:8). That Stone is a Rock, the Rock of Ages, and the Rock on which the Church is built; but to the disobedient, it is a Rock of offense.
[2} “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,” (1 Thessalonians 1:4). Here Paul is speaking of “election.” By election is meant that act of free grace by which God destines individuals to become believers in Christ. Thus the Thessalonian converts were chosen or elected by God from among their heathen countrymen to become Christians. The ultimate reason for their Christianity was their election of God.
[3} Edify. It is the "upbuilding," or mutual help and assistance in the spiritual life which Christians receive from their interaction with each other.

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