Thursday, October 22, 2020

89. First and Second Thessalonians

First and Second Thessalonians (Thru the Bible #49) J. Vernon McGee. 1978. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: This wonderful epistle is almost at the end of Paul’s epistles as far as their arrangement in the New Testament is concerned. However, it was actually the first epistle that Paul wrote. It was written by Paul in A.D. 52 or 53.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently Psalms 1-41.

This commentary covers both 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. He did a great job! 

While reading McGee I'm always pleasantly surprised in how TIMELY and RELEVANT his insights are. Most of the commentaries were first published in the 1970s, but it's as if he's talking to us right here, right now. Though I'm sure he'd get even harsher if he could truly witness how far we've come as a society.

Quotes from 1 Thessalonians:
  • If a person will teach the total Word of God, he will deal with every subject in the Bible—he will be forced to play every key on the organ and to pull out every stop. It isn’t possible to ride one hobbyhorse and emphasize one theme to the exclusion of all others if one teaches the entire Bible. I wish we had that kind of discipline in our churches today. I wish every church would go through the entire Bible.
  • Any believer who is in Christ Jesus is also in God the Father. That is a very safe place to be, safer than any safety deposit box!
  • Every man lives with some hope for the future. And that hope, whatever it is, will sustain him. Down through the centuries man has expressed this. Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”
  • If your hope is in this world, you are chasing a will-o’-the-wisp of happiness that will shatter like a bubble when you get it in your hands. You are following a Pied Piper who is playing, “I’m forever blowing bubbles.” God put man out of Paradise because man was a sinner, and man has been trying to build a paradise outside ever since. God have mercy on anyone whose hope rests upon some little, frail bark that man is paddling! I don’t think that any man or any party or any group down here can work out the problems of this world. The sceptre of this universe is in nail-pierced hands, and He will move at the right time.
  • We need to recognize that God created the universe. I’m not concerned with how He did it, nor am I concerned with the account in Genesis. I simply want to emphasize the fact that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
  • Now there are those who are willing to say He created, but they deny Him the right to direct the universe. They deny Him the right to give a purpose to it. May I say to you that we live in a universe that was created by God and exists for His glory.
  • I say especially to you, my Christian friend, that God is the Creator, and this universe exists for His glory. He is God, and beside Him there is none other. He doesn’t look to anybody for advice. He is running this universe for His own purpose.
  • You and I live in a universe which is theocentric, that is, God-centered. It is not anthropocentric, man-centered; nor is it geocentric, earth-centered; but it is uranocentric, heaven-centered. This is God’s universe, and He is running it His way.
  • “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” Maybe you don’t like this verse, but this is the way it happened. And God is running this universe. Instead of joining a protest march against Him, I suggest that you fall down on your face before Him and thank Him that He has brought you into existence, and that He has given you the opportunity as a free moral agent to make a decision for Him.
  • I believe the Spirit of God can take the Word of God and make it real to you. I believe the Word of God is that kind of thing. I don’t think the Spirit of God could do much with the telephone directory or the Sears and Roebuck catalog or with popular magazines that are published today. But I do believe that the Spirit of God can and will take the Word of God and perform the greatest miracle possible—changing an unbelieving, lost sinner into a child of God!
  • Without the Holy Spirit the gospel is merely words. With the Holy Spirit it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. This is exactly what the Lord Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do:
  • If a man doesn’t turn from his sin, it is because he hasn’t turned to Christ.
  • The message of the Lord Jesus to the churches is to repent. Today it seems that the church is telling everyone outside the church to repent. The Bible teaches that it is the people in the church who need to repent. We need to get down on our faces before God and repent.
  • The coming of Christ for His church is called the Rapture of the church. It is not a doctrine to argue about; it is a doctrine to live.
  • Every believer is a preacher. Maybe you don’t like me to call you a preacher, but you are one nonetheless. You can’t escape it—you are saying something to somebody by the life you live.
  • The greatest sermon you will ever preach is by the life that you live.
  • One of the things that disturbs me about some ministers is that they give a good, clear-cut gospel message in one place, but then they show up in another place where they need to be equally clear in giving out the gospel, and they are fuzzy!
  • I have always felt that the gospel is not presented in the power of the Holy Spirit unless it is presented as something that the Holy Spirit can use to convict a man. That means that He convinces a man of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Those three elements are always in the gospel message.
  • The popular thing is to have a little sermonette given by a preacherette to Christianettes. There is so little urgency. Someone has defined the average church service in a liberal church as when a mild-mannered man gets up before a group of mild-mannered people and urges them to be more mild-mannered. Oh, that is sickening, my friend!
  • “Some sermons don’t have enough gospel in them to make soup for a sick grasshopper.”
  • How do you receive the Word of God? Do you receive it as the Word of God? Or do you get angry? Does the hair stand up on the back of your neck?
  • The Word should go out as the Word of God, and it should be received as the Word of God. And, my friend, if you will receive it that way, then it will be able to work in you, and there’s blessing there for you. Otherwise, you are wasting your time in church.
  • We have seen how Paul has been giving out the Word of God. It irritated some people because God’s Word is salt, and salt stings when it gets into a fresh wound of sin in the life of an individual. The Word of God is also a light, but there are a lot of people who love darkness because their deeds are evil.
  • I believe that if revival came to the church, we would all know it. No one would need to ask, “Do you think this is revival?”
  • Love is not affection or just a nice, comfortable, warm feeling around your heart. Love seeks the welfare of another. That is the way love is expressed for anyone. If you love someone, you seek his welfare and you actually would jeopardize your own life for the person whom you love.
  • The fact of the matter is that you will have trouble after you become a child of God, even if you haven’t had any trouble before. He has never promised that we would miss the storm, but we will go through all the storms of life. What He does say very definitely and dogmatically is that He will go with us through the storms and that we will reach the harbor.
  • You cannot lose as a Christian. Even if you have trouble, it is going to work out for your good—you can always be sure of that.
  • The first coming of Christ was an epiphany. It has the idea of a shining through. A second Greek word is apokalupsis, which means a “revelation” or an “unveiling.” That is actually the name of the Book of Revelation. One could hardly call His first coming an unveiling, because actually His glory was veiled in human flesh when He was born in Bethlehem.
  • The Ten Commandments were not given to save us; they were given to show us that we are sinners and that we need a Savior. That is their purpose. If man could not keep the Ten Commandments, how can he keep higher commandments? The Bible makes it very clear that man was not able to keep the Ten Commandments.
  • Sanctification of the believer is a work of the Spirit of God. We need to review the threefold aspect of it, because this is so very important: Positional sanctification means that Christ has been made unto us sanctification. We are accepted in the Beloved, and we will never be more saved than at the moment we put our trust in Christ. We are never accepted because of who we are, but because of what Christ has done. This positional sanctification is perfection in Christ. Practical sanctification is the Holy Spirit working in our lives to produce a holiness in our walk. This practical sanctification will never be perfect so long as we are in these bodies with our old sinful flesh. Total sanctification will occur in the future when we are conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Then both the position and the practice of sanctification will be perfect. 
  • One cannot live in sin and be a preacher or singer or Sunday school teacher or an officer in the church. I don’t care who you are, if you do, you will wreck the work of God.
  • You and I need to recognize that it is only in Christ that we can be acceptable to God. Paul says that we have been sanctified, brought to this high state, set apart for the use of God.
  • A child of God cannot continue in sin. The prodigal son may get in the pigpen for a time, but he won’t live in the pigpen.
  • After we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, then God talks to us about our lives. The child of God is not under the Ten Commandments as the way of life—he is way above it. He is to live on a much higher plane, as we can see by the commandments in this section.
2 Thessalonians Quotes:
  • Peace is the world’s softest pillow that you can sleep on at night. It is the peace that comes when you know that your sins are forgiven.
  • Well, if you have a good view of the future, it will give you the patience of hope—a hope that looks way down yonder to the good smooth road coming up. And it may be closer than you think.
  • Patience is an interesting word. The Greek word translated by the English word patience has the literal meaning of “standing under.” It means to be placed under. A great many people try to get out from under the problems and difficulties. The person who is patient is able to stay under, and he keeps on carrying the load. He doesn’t throw it off; he doesn’t try to get rid of his responsibility.
  • Whatever you are going through, you have company. It is not a strange thing for suffering to come to us. Peter goes on to say, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:13).
  • The Word of God actually says very little about heaven. One of the reasons is that it is so wonderful we could not comprehend it. And the Lord does not want us to get so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.
  • Scripture not only says very little about heaven, it says less about the condition of the lost. It is so awful that the Holy Spirit has drawn a veil over it.
  • When God judges, He does not do it in a vindictive manner. He does it in order to vindicate His righteousness and His holiness. There is nothing in the Scriptures to satisfy our curiosity about hell, but there is enough said to give us a warning. It does not mean that it is less real because so little is said. Actually, Christ Himself said more about hell than did anyone else. Hell is an awful reality.
  • Hell is ridiculed today, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. Our beliefs are sometimes only wishful thinking.
  • The important thing to say in a testimony is not what He has given you but from what He has delivered you. That was the whole purpose for the coming of our Savior. He came to redeem us!
  • He didn’t come to give us new personalities or to make us successful. He came to deliver us from hell! That’s not popular to say. Folk don’t like to hear it.
  • There are too few people today who are willing to confront folk with the fact that they are lost.
  • What can withhold evil in the world? The only One I know who can do that is the Holy Spirit. Governments can’t do it—they are not doing it. The Roman Empire couldn’t do it; it was an evil force itself.
  • The Lord Jesus Christ is the living Word of God. Today we have the Bible, which is the written Word of God. The written Word is about the living Word, and it is alive and potent. When the Lord Jesus returns, He comes as the living Word of God.
  • God is going to judge those who have rejected the truth. I have said this many times, and I am going to say it again: If you can sit and read the Word of God in this book and continue to reject Jesus Christ, then you are wide open for anything that comes along to delude and deceive you.
  • The Lord Jesus Christ brings comfort and consolation to our hearts. He does this through His Word. That will establish us in every good word and work. The study of the Word of God will lead to the work of the Lord.
  • “Pray for us.” Prayer is something that every believer can engage in. I do not think prayer is a gift of the Spirit. Prayer is something that all believers should do. Every work must have prayer behind it if it is to succeed. Every successful evangelist and preacher of the Word, every teacher of the Word who is being used of God, has people who are praying for him.
  • Pray that people will exalt the Word of God in their own lives. It troubles me and it worries me to see that even those who claim to believe the Word of God give so little attention to it. Pray that if people profess to believe the Word of God, they will get into it and find out what it says.
  • The foundation of the church rests upon the doctrine which the apostles have given to the church. That is what we should teach and preach.
  • Christians need to be established. Right now the home is in disarray, the church is in disarray, and the lives of believers are in disarray. We need to be established. How can you as a believer be established? By coming to the Word of God and letting it have its influence in your life. The Lord operates through His Word. The Word of God will keep you from evil.
  • Someone has said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from the Bible.”

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: