Thursday, 27 July 2017
…so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:13
The previous two verses, tied together with this one, will give the full sense of Paul’s thought –
“Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
Paul has petitioned for direction for those in Thessalonica which will make them increase and abound in love. Requesting the fulfillment of this was “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father.” It is through the abounding in love that this will come about. The New Testament repeatedly says that love is the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 22:40, Romans 13:8 & 13:10, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8).
In loving, meaning towards God and towards fellow believers, we will be found “blameless in holiness.” There can be no charge against someone who is fulfilling the divine law, because they are dealing with hearts that are pure. And this is deeper than an outward display, but it is with sincerity. One sets themselves apart (holiness), just as they have been set apart by God, in acting in love. On that day which is set for Christ’s return, the intent is that this is how we should be found. As He says, we should be this way “before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The day isn’t known, and the church has waited 2000 years so far, but the day will come. Christ will return to bring the church to Himself. At that time, we will stand before Him to make an account of our lives. This is known as the bema seat judgment. It is a judgment for rewards and losses, but not one for salvation or condemnation.
Paul then adds in that Christ is coming “with all His saints.” Two main views are possible with this. The Greek says, “the holy ones.” Therefore, some believe this is angels that are being referred to. Those who hold to this would choose a verse such as Matthew 25:31 to support their view. This is not what Paul is thinking of. Matthew 25 was spoken to Israel, still under the law. Paul is more likely preparing the way for his words of Chapter 4. In verse 14, he notes that “God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
In other words, they are already dead and awaiting the resurrection at the rapture. Jesus will bring them, and together we shall meet him. The “blameless and holiness before our God” is referring to those who are still alive. Once someone has died, they simply await the resurrection. But while living, this is how saints should conduct their lives, and this is the intent of Paul’s words concerning Christ returning with His saints.
Life application: There is a lot of infighting and backbiting in the church. A lot. We have enough of this in the secular world. Let us strive, as much as is possible, to live at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It isn’t always possible, but this is what we are asked to do.
Lord God, there is enough division in this world where there is little agreement on anything. In the church, we have Your word. It is given to set parameters in doctrine and to provide guidelines for conduct. As long as Your people are conforming to that, we should try, our very best, to live at harmony with one another. Help us in this Lord. We humans can be an irritating lot, and so let the abrasiveness stop with us in hopes that peace will spread to others. Amen.