Just to remind you, I’m going through the New Testament in the order it was revealed to the church by the Holy Spirit. The first four books, James, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, and Mark, are the foundation stones of our walk with Christ.
Because of this, there are a lot of “firsts” in these writings. In this post I’m going to deal with an important first principle. It’s one that’s almost lost in our modern church experience. I believe that God wants to restore it in this generation.
Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-2
Before I get started into the main subject, I want you to see that God’s desire is always for our growth. Whatever we’ve learned and implemented in the past, it must always increase more and more each year. We want the life of Christ to become increasingly brighter all the time.
The principle that we need to understand is that of authority and submission. These are two subjects that most people don’t want to deal with in the church. That’s usually because it’s not done in a Scriptural way.
In these verses, we see the first time that a church leader talks about his authority in Christ. It’s the foundation for the relationship between leaders and followers in the body of Christ.
When Paul says that we instructed you, it literally means you received instructions from us. I believe that there’s a big difference in those two phrases. Paul didn’t just talk to them, they actually took what he said seriously; and applied it to their lives.
He taught them how to live in such a way that it pleases God. To please God means that you evoke a positive emotional response from the Lord. Some of our modern teaching gives us the wrong ideas.
The fact is that God loves us and wants us as His children at all times. However, not everything we do brings a good emotion to the Lord. When I operate outside of His will, He’s not smiling happily saying, “That’s My boy!” There are plenty of Scriptures that implore us not to grieve the Holy Spirit within us.
On the other hand, our present church culture usually doesn’t want to be instructed on how to live for God. It’s okay to suggest to us some things, but don’t tell me what I need to do. I’ll decide for myself what I will and won’t do in my life.
By this time, you might think that I’m simply talking about being obedient to church leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth. This lack of submitting to instruction has a lot to do with our present leadership.
I call your attention to the second verse above. The word instructions is actually the word commands; like in the military. They’re not optional.
Here’s the important point that I don’t want you to miss. The word authority is not in the original Greek verse. Paul actually says; you know what commands we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
Please understand that Paul is not saying that Jesus gave me the authority to tell you what to do. Unfortunately, that’s how many leaders incorrectly interpret it. Then the leaders try to force people to do their will.
On the contrary, Paul was saying that he spent quality time in the presence of the Lord. He then heard from Christ certain commands that he was to pass on to the church. And that’s where, I believe, we’ve missed it.
We need leaders who are willing to do what it takes to hear a Word from God. People don’t need to hear my opinion on how to live for Christ. They need to hear from Christ, Himself. That’s where God is bringing His church to in our generation.
Question: How have you seen the effect of leaders operating in their own authority?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017