Sunday: The Situation in Thessalonica
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Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. List the clues in this passage that point to the false beliefs in the Thessalonian church that brought unnecessary grief to those who held them.


Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

Within the Judaism of Paul’s day, a variety of views regarding the end time were prevalent. One of these viewpoints, in some form, crept into the Thessalonian church. Though we’re not certain exactly what it was, it seems to have been the idea that though all of God’s faithful would share in the “world to come,” only those who were alive at the end would be carried up into heaven. Those who died before the end would be resurrected and remain on earth.

In such a belief system, it would be a serious disadvantage to die before the end came. But it would also mean a separation between those taken to heaven and those left on earth. If the Thessalonians Paul was writing to lived until the end, they would truly ascend to heaven at the second coming of Jesus, but they would have to leave their deceased loved ones behind on earth (see 1 Thess. 4:1314).

It is not surprising, therefore, that Paul begins 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 with a comment about the church’s ignorance, rather than with “you know very well,” which appears elsewhere (1 Thess. 5:2, NIV, see also 4:2). Regarding the prophecy about the Second Coming, there were important things the church didn’t know and other things they would need to unlearn.

As we think about prophecy, we must remember that it is not given to satisfy our curiosity about the timing and details of end-time events. Prophecy has an ethical and moral purpose. God designed it to teach us how to live. It is intended to provide encouragement and purpose, especially in the midst of suffering and loss. Rightly understood, the prophecies of the Bible have life-changing power. In other words, though it’s important to believe like an Adventist (which means believing in Bible prophecy), it’s even more important to live like one.

What does it mean to “live like an Adventist?” Bring your answer to class on Sabbath.

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Sunday: The Situation in Thessalonica — 14 Comments

  1. As an Adventist
    This week study will strengthen our interpretation of the scripture that the dead are sleeping and will awake when Christ returns. The dead are not with God.

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  2. The name Seventh - Day Adventist has a lot to tell us. Those who believe in the 10 commandments, live in anticipation of the 2nd return of their SAVIOUR and live their lives according to the revealed will of GOD.

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  3. Live like an Adventist means to live each day with the great hope of Christ's second coming, testifying and proclaiming His truth, His word , His second coming.

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  4. Even though prophesy, "is not given to satisfy our curiosity about the timing and details of end-time events" it functions beyond merely, "ethical and moral purpose." It also warns us against false teaching that Satan has introduced to deceive us in the future.

    A good example of this is Paul's statement that I am sure will be brought up in a future lesson this quarter:

    Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? (2 Thess 2:3-5 NKJV)

    If we look at the book of Daniel we find quite a bit said about the little horn which in Paul's time hadn't happened yet. It is that little horn that exalts himself above everything else including God. If that be the case then all that the Holy Spirit had to do was to point out these things to Paul. He didn't need a new detailed discourse by God on the subject - it was already written down beforehand.

    The same happened concerning Christ. The Old Testament foretold the exact manner and timing of the first advent which He enlightened His disciples on after His resurrection.

    Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:25-27 NKJV).

    The problem is that in the past God's people continually misinterpreted the prophesies and put their own spin on them. They failed to heed the warning. Likewise, the same can happen to us if we set these things up as only "ethical and moral."

    On the other hand we have a terrible tendency to set up markers on the path to define every exact detail and Satan knows it. Do we really think that his deceptions are going to be so blatantly obvious? Therefore, to me what we need to do is to understand the purpose of the event, get a good overall picture of what God plans to do, and then understand His character and how it is involved in the event. As has been said before by many others, we don't need to study counterfeits in order to detect the false. What we need to do is to study the genuine. If we do that then we will know when the false arises for we will discern it for what it really is.

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  5. ..to live an ADVENTIST life is to follow CHRIST's life style every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year till you go to sleep awaiting HIS coming or HE comes to meet you alive..no more no less (and not the observance of only the seventh day SABBATH as some of us think..)

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  6. This lesson offers an encouragement to us. Whatever happens, our ultimate hope is in Christ. Now, knowing this hope we have, we should never give up. Though the world should crowd us with unfounded theories, we know our stand. This should make us want to live this life, covering our lives with words about the beauty of Jesus, because in Him we will all live again. Our finishing line, our ultimate prize, our ultimate goal, is heaven. Whether be dead now or found living when He returns. Let us comfort one another, having known what is there in store for us who believe and have faith in our Lord.

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  7. A real Adventist, must know that to "fear God and give him glory" we must hate evil doings! And have the heart of spreading the gospel to the whole world.

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  8. To put into practice all that is said, we must examine our hearts without ceasing.
    check our motive(s) in decision making. Check our motive (s) why we do what we do and why we fail to do the things we should.
    This is called the "search light method".
    "Search light method" brings us into whether as individuals or as a body, active relationship with Christ. Praying without ceasing, fasting, studing the word, meditating and evangilising and actively and lovingly been charitable to our neighbours is the fruits of "search light method". This method if used is bound to keep our lamps trimmed and burning and ready for our Lord's returning.
    But if we as a people reject the council of the True Witness whose council will we heed?.
    Read Rev 3:18-22.

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    • The search light method as you have described it is entirely introspective and egocentric. In my opinion we need some of that but if that is all we do then we are in deep trouble.

      Peter points us to the promises of God as the way to divine likeness and to overcome the world (2 Pet 1:4). It is through the promises of a new heart that we are changed not by what we can do ourselves - that comes from God as a gift to those who accept the new covenant. "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phi 2:13 NKJV).

      Another approach to the problem is what Paul states, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor 3:18 NKJV). Both of these look away from self and focus on Jesus. We need to remember the very valuable lesson of Peter walking on the water. When he took his eyes off Jesus then he began to sink. Or as Ellen White said concerning these things:

      It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed. Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness. If the mind is never exalted above the level of humanity, if it is not uplifted by faith to contemplate infinite wisdom and love, the man will be constantly sinking lower and lower. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p 91.2)

      Or in another Place:

      As the mind dwells upon Christ, the character is molded after the divine similitude. The thoughts are pervaded with a sense of His goodness, His love. We contemplate His character, and thus He is in all our thoughts. His love encloses us. If we gaze even a moment upon the sun in its meridian glory, when we turn away our eyes, the image of the sun will appear in everything upon which we look. Thus it is when we behold Jesus; everything we look upon reflects His image, the Sun of Righteousness. We cannot see anything else, or talk of anything else. His image is imprinted upon the eye of the soul, and affects every portion of our daily life, softening and subduing our whole nature. By beholding, we are conformed to the divine similitude, even the likeness of Christ. To all with whom we associate we reflect the bright and cheerful beams of His righteousness. We have become transformed in character; for heart, soul, mind, are irradiated by the reflection of Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us….
      Jesus Christ is everything to us–the first, the last, the best in everything. Jesus Christ, His Spirit, His character, colors everything; it is the warp and the woof, the very texture of our entire being. The words of Christ are spirit and life. We cannot, then, center our thoughts upon self; it is no more we that live, but Christ that liveth in us, and He is the hope of glory. Self is dead, but Christ is a living Saviour” (The Faith I Live By, p 150).

      "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Eph 3:20-21 NKJV).

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      • Perhaps we should rely on the Holy Spirit to do the "searching." The Spirit may be a more effective "search light" than us, considering how easily we can go astray.

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  9. To live an Adventist life, we ought to give our whole to Christ, no looking back, left or right. We have to keep a level eye, get our eyes fixed at the cross and the cross alone.

    All our day to day life should be fixed at Christ's assurance of salvation/ eternity.

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  10. I am thankful that Paul was inspired to address the misconception that some of the Judaial Thessalonians had. It is such a blessing to know (1 John 5:13) that whether I have died in Jesus, or am standing believing in the name of the Son of God, I will able to board the 1st or the last celestial transport. You remember when you were a little child, you didn’t want to get lost from daddy, you held his hand. I have decided to grasp the sleeve of the Jewish Man whom I have read that God is with Him, (Zechariah 8:23), and He gives me eternal life. (John 10:28).

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