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Directions for Church Life

November 1999 | by Jack Sin

Paul writing an epistle, by Valentin de Boulogne 1619
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In 1 Thessalonians 5: 15-23 we have a list of imperatives to apply to the church today.

Follow that which is good. There is much temptation and moral evil around us, and believers are vulnerable to them. Do not be caught up in vengeance, hatred and cynicism, but do good to all men. Honour God and do not engage in fruitless in-fighting, schisms and tension-building in the church. Concentrate on edifying the saints.

We are to rejoice in the Lord and live lives of fruitfulness and spiritual vitality, not engage in idleness and despair. Discipline and diligence should characterise our lives, not inactivity and nonchalance in spiritual matters.

We should be fervent and frequent in prayer. Prayer is to characterize our daily walk, with thanks-giving in our heart, not murmuring against God or men all the time. Paul said in Romans 15:30: ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me’.

We are to be sensitive to and obey the direction and prompting of the Spirit, not quench or grieve him. We are to be filled with the Spirit and not disobey his leading. We are to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh (Galatians 5:16), and be filled with the Spirit all the time (Ephesians 5:17–18).

We are not to despise the preaching or teaching of God’s Word. Do not take lightly or look down on the pulpit ministry or anyone teaching the Word to you. Take it seriously and examine your heart, and apply it when relevant. Like the Bereans, examine with alacrity the Word that is preached.

We are to be discerning, and test and examine all things to see if they are from God. We are not to be credulous or gullible people, especially in these last days of deception (e.g. charismatic phenomena, the New Age movement, god-less psychology, ‘Bible code’, Alpha courses, ‘holy laughter’, ecumenism, cults, etc.). These are the last days and we are to be watchful.

We are to run away from all opportunities to sin, all occasions of temptations (2 Timothy 2:22). We are to be watchful and careful in our conduct, speech and company (e.g. the people we mix with), especially in these perilous days (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).

This body of Pauline advice is very needful and relevant to the church today. We need to heed and follow the biblical exhortations and grow as churches, ministering to the various needs of our members in the extension of God’s Kingdom.