Title: WHAT A WAY TO SAY GOOD-BYE!
Text: 1 Thess. 5:23-28
As we have gone through Paul’s letter to the Thessalonicans, we have come to appreciate Paul’s relationship with these early Christians. We have often found this letter to be right on target with our own needs. As we look at the end, we will discover that even when Paul says good-bye, he provides provocative and relevant truth for us to chew on. Let’s see how we can better live in the family of God.
When you feel toward someone as Paul did toward the Thessalonicans, it can be very difficult to say good-bye. Paul took six verses to close his letter. Let’s look at his farewell with personal application in mind.
1. Who did Paul focus the attention on at the end of his letter? Why is this so important between pastors and churches? Development of affection between a pastor and his congregation is only normal. How can we insure that loyalty is not diverted away from Christ? How can we prevent people from falling away from the church when there is a pastoral change?
2. How does Paul describe God in verse 23? What is peace like if God is not involved? How does the N.T. convey the idea of peace? Describe the opposite of peace.
3. It can only be God Almighty that can be ascribed to peace because other gods and idols have a different character and appetite. How so?
4. If God is also the God of justice, how can He at the same time be the God of peace? What must man do in order to be at peace with the God of justice? Can we have any lasting peace if we do not put our trust in Christ?
5. Paul now turns his focus to the works of God. He mentions three things that he prays for God to accomplish among them: complete sanctification, complete preservation, and complete blamelessness. What does the word sanctify mean? What are we set apart from?
6. As God is a triune personality (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), we are a triune personality made in the image of God (spirit, soul, body). Are the spirit and the soul the same thing? How are they different?
7. Paul says that he prays they would be preserved complete in spirit, soul, and body. What is he hoping they would be preserved from?
8. Do you suppose God expects Christians to live out of the world, retreat in a monastery, so as to remain pure for Him? John 17:15
9. Complete sanctification and complete preservation logically lead to complete blamelessness. When God looks at His children covered by the blood of Jesus, what does He see? Rom. 5:1-2; 8:1
10. What is imputed righteousness? Phil. 3:8-9 If we are made righteous in God’s eyes all by the work of Christ on the cross, are we free from responsibility to be righteous on our own part? Phil. 3:15-16
11. In verse 24, Paul says, Faithful is the name of Him who calls us. That’s God. Faithful is one of His names. But what does he “call” us to? Rev. 3:20
12. If that’s the case, what is Paul saying with the rest of verse 24...”and He will bring it to pass”? John 10:27l-29; 2 Tim. 2:11-13
13. In verses 25-27 Paul now moves the spotlight away from God and shines it on God’s people. He states that there are three traits that are to characterize believers. These are qualities of loyal friends: they pray for each other, they are affectionate toward each other; and they share the Word of truth. When someone says they are praying for you, how does it make you feel? Why?
14. Greeting with a holy kiss was an appropriate demonstration of love in the culture of Paul’s time. What is an appropriate demonstration of love in our day? No matter what the method, what are we to be expressing toward other Christians?
15. What do you think Paul means by holy when he says greet one another with a holy kiss?
16. Why do you think Paul told them to have this letter read to all the brethren in this church?
17. Compare Paul’s final words in 5:28 with his opening words in 1:1. He opens and closes his letter with the thought that we are under the grace of God. Do we deserve God’s grace? Can you measure how much grace God has? Can we earn God’s grace? Can we repay the grace that God has shown towards us? Who is always the giver of grace, and who is always the receiver of grace? What conclusion then do you come to about the depth of God’s love for you?
18. How was such wonderful grace of God made possible towards us? Col. 2:13-14
By saying good-bye with “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,” Paul was telling his readers to live in the light of God’s grace and to enjoy its benefits. What a way to say good-bye! How can we say good-bye to each other tonight in a similar way, so as to not say empty words, but so as to put a startling spiritual thought in our minds as we depart?