1 Thessalonians 5:11
The apostle is now led to illustrate the hope of salvation.

I. ITS SOURCE. "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation."

1. The calling is according to the purpose. "Whom he predestinates, them he also calls." The security of the believer depends, not upon himself, but upon God's unchangeable and loving purpose.

2. The purpose is not to wrath, but to salvation. Though believers were once '"children of wrath," they are now reconciled to God, and saved from wrath to come.

3. God's purpose of mercy toward us does not free us from the necessity of being watchful concerning the means of salvation.

II. THE CHANNEL OF SALVATION. "By our Lord Jesus Christ."

1. The covenant was "ordained in the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19.)

2. His death, not his doctrine or example merely, was necessary to our salvation. Who died for us."

3. His death was substitutionary. It was "for us."

III. THE END OF THIS SALVATION. "Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live with him together." This was "the joy set before him" for which "he endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2) that we might live to him in order to our living with him.

1. It is life with Christ. Not merely life in him, but life with him in glory. "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better" (Philippians 1:23). It is the greatest joy and glory of heaven (Romans 14:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 5:9).

2. It is life with all believers. They are to live with him, unsevered from one another; for whether they "are alive and remain," or whether they are of those who "have fallen asleep," they will be together, in Christ's society. Thus the great salvation is the "common salvation."

IV. THE CONSOLATORY ASPECT OF THESE TRUTHS. "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. These truths afforded a grand basis for mutual comfort and edification. The Thessalonians ought, therefore, to dismiss their despondency and alarm, and encourage each other with the blessed hopes of the gospel. - T.C.







Wherefore comfort and edify one another
I. COMFORT implies —

1. The presence of discomfort, and the duty of mutual support under trial. Men are troubled —(1) By sin. We must comfort by restoring such in the spirit of meekness, by pointing them to the Saviour.(2) By infirmities. Here we must comfort by bearing one another's burdens with sympathy and help.(3) Affliction. When we can do no more, we can console with a few simple words. "A word spoken in season," etc.

2. Owning our relationship with others. There is very deep comfort afforded to the solitary when we make them feel that they are not alone — e.g., in Christian testimony before an ungodly world; in work for the Master.

3. Reminding people of what they must expect from the world on the one hand, and of Christ's helpfulness on the other (John 15:17).

4. Bringing before others the real grounds of comfort.

(1)Present acceptance with God.

(2)Future approval and reward.

II. EDIFICATION.

1. Presupposes a foundation — Christ Jesus.

2. Consists in —(1) Christian conversation. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together" (Ephesians 4:29).(2) Mutual prayer. "If two of you shall agree," etc.(3) Unity of design.Conclusion: To fit yourselves for this work.

1. Search the Scriptures, which are full of words of comfort and edification.

2. Read Christian biographies.

3. Beware of Pharisaism.

(Bp. Villiers.)

So have I seen the sun kiss the frozen earth, which was bound up with the images of death and the colder breath of the north; and then the waters break forth from their enclosures, and melt with joy, and run in useful channels; and the flies do rise again from their little graves in walls, and dance awhile in the air, to tell that there is joy within, and that the great mother of creatures will open the stock of her new refreshment, become useful to mankind, and sing praises to her Redeemer. So is the heart of a sorrowful man under the discourses of a wise comforter. He breaks from the despairs of the grave, and the fetters of chains and sorrow; he blesses God, and he blesses thee, and he feels his life returning; for to be miserable is death, but nothing is life but to be comforted. And God is pleased with no music from below so much as in the thanksgiving song of relieved widows, of supported orphans, of rejoicing and comforted persons.

(Jeremy Taylor.)

Shortly before his death, being visited by a clergyman whose features, as well as language, were more lugubrious than consoling, Hood looked up at him compassionately, and said, "'My dear sir, I'm afraid that your religion doesn't agree with you."

(W. Davenport Adams.)

is one of the metaphorical words which have passed into the language of Christianity from the lips of our Lord. The foundation and progress of the Christian life is likened by Him to the building of a house (Matthew 7:24; cf. Luke 6:1, 8; Colossians 1:23; 1 Peter 5:10), and the parable of the improvident builder (Luke 14:28). Christ said, "I will edify My Church" (Matthew 14:18). Thus the Christian Church and the Christian soul are alike compared to a building or temple. The building will not be finished out until Christ comes. Those who by sympathy, word, or deed, assist the growth of Christian wisdom, feeling, or life, are conceived of as builders, helping others or themselves to supply some part for the construction of the spiritual edifice, and are said to edify (1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 14:3, 4; Colossians 2:7).

(Bp. Alexander.)

When Handel's oratorio of the Messiah had won the admiration of many of the great, Lord Kinnoul took occasion to pay him some compliments on the noble entertainment he had given the town. "My lord," said the composer, "I should be sorry if I only entertained them: I wish to make them better." It is to be feared that many speechmakers at public meetings could not say as much; and yet how dare any of us waste the time of our fellow immortals in mere amusing talk! If we have nothing to speak to edification, how much better to hold our tongue.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

This forms an article of the Christian faith; but the profession of a truth and the experience or practice of it are widely different things.

I. WHAT THIS COMMUNION IS.

1. Saints are those who have been convinced of sin and saved by Christ, and are now living under the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost.

2. Their communion is a union of heart with Christ and one another. This is confined to no Church, age, people, or place. If grace sanctify some poor heathen five thousand miles away, and any poor sinner amongst ourselves, let them meet, and there will be a communion of feeling and interests between them. This communion has its type in the walk to Emmaus. The topics are —

(1)Themselves — their joys, griefs, failures, triumphs, fears, hopes.

(2)Their Lord — His condescension, goodness, love, truth.

(3)Christ's kingdom and doctrine — how most effectually they may further the one and adorn the other.

(4)Their heritage — in its future and all glorious perfection.

II. ITS ADVANTAGES.

1. Comfort. The followers of Christ, so far from being exempt from trial, are often most troubled; but by communion they comfort themselves together. When one member suffers, all suffer.

2. Edification. Sometimes it is humbling, sometimes encouraging or consoling; but it is always edifying to commune with believers. Such an interchange of thought, feeling, and affection, produces often a friendship as intimate and endearing as that which subsisted between Jonathan and David. In conclusion, I would recommend —

1. Religious intercourse.(1) There is an intercourse which seems to be religious, but is far from being so. Many talk about religion without talking religion itself.(2) Many professors are wanting in Christian openness and candour. How freely worldlings communicate their ideas to each other. Should Christians be less communicative?

2. Devout retirement. Without this the life and power of religion cannot be maintained, much less communion.

(W. Mudge, B. A.)

Luther, at Wittenberg, discerning a very melancholy man, whom formerly he well knew, said unto him, "Ah! human creature, what doest thou? Hast thou nothing else in hand but to think on thy sins, on death, and on damnation? Turn thine eyes quickly away, and look hither to this man Christ, of whom it is written, 'He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, died, buried, the third day arose from the dead, and ascended up into heaven.' Wherefore dost thou think all this was done? Verily, it was that thou shouldst comfort thyself against death and sin; therefore, forbear, be not afraid, neither do thou faint, for truly thou hast no cause; for Christ suffered death for thee, and prevailed for thy comfort and defence, and for that cause He sitteth at the right hand of His Father to deliver thee. Therefore, whosoever thou art that art possessed with such heavy thoughts, know for certain that the same is a work and devising of the devil; for God hath sent His Son into the world, not to affright, but to comfort sinners. From hence these and the like sentences are often expressed in the Scriptures: 'Rejoice; be joyful in the Lord.' 'Be not afraid.' 'Be not discouraged.' 'Be of good comfort: I have overcome the world.'"

(Luther's Table Talk.)

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