All of Christ for All of Life
Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone

20 February 2021 – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (ESV)

Gary Shogren writes:

The Bible everywhere assumes that good works are at heart the reaction to the coming of God to save. After the exodus, the Ten Commandments demand obedience in this way: “And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.’”

There is implicit causation in the first commandment: God has acted on your behalf, and therefore you must worship him alone. Whether in the face of that archetypical redemption from Egypt or military deliverance by the judges or the return from exile, Israel was commanded to obey because God had already intervened in their history. There is much of this motif in the NT as well; for example, Christ has died for people (5:10), and therefore they should serve God through him (5:4-8).

Yet Paul’s gospel goes far beyond the paradigm of the old covenant. Not only has God acted in historical deeds; he has also intervened in the very person of each Christian. Converts are already “children of the light” and “children of the day” (5:5). This designation cannot be reduced to “people enlightened by the gospel” or “people who live in an ethical manner.” Rather, God has made them a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17).

This arrangement is, of course, not the power of positive thinking, that is, to think better of yourself and you will become better. There is an authentic spiritual – and what we today might call psychological – reordering of the believer in Christ that goes beyond the humanly possible. This is why we cannot sift through Christian texts and find any coherent ethic that does not begin and end with Christ and with God’s work in human beings. It may not be secularized and keeps its integrity.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 66
Q. 66. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.