More / Book of the Month / Encouraging with The Teaching, II / Sermon / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday November 15th 2020 - / 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Encouraging with The Teaching, II / Sermon / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday November 15th 2020 - / 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Theme: Encouraging with the Teaching - II

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Intr – Last week we talked about encouraging people, and we heard that Paul encourages the Thessalonians by teaching doctrine. That is, knowing the Word of God is great encouragement to our faith.

As he carries on in writing the epistle, Paul brings also these beautiful words in today’s reading: “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” (v.4-6). Again beautiful words of encouragement for our faith life as we walk in this world with all its problems, challenges and losses. And again Paul points to the fact that we have where to lean on for sure encouragement. We belong to the light, we belong to God, because Christ has redeemed us, and because we came to know His Word for us.

         Today, we have the second part of the “Encouraging with teaching” small series that we’ve started last week. If you missed that one, you can find both sermons on our website. Following the steps of Paul I want to incentive you, children of light in Christ, with His Word. Especially in these end times when everything related to moral, ethics, peace and justice seems to be derailing by the day. Learning the Word of God, being reminded of it, holding fast to it, that’s where we find real encouragement and comfort for our life; at any time.

         I’ll make use of a material used by The Lutheran Youth of Brazil as a way to stimulate the church's continuous doctrinal and practical reflection, inspired by the work of the Reformation, particularly of the 95 theses. At the time, the battles and demands of Luther and the reformers were mainly those contained in the original theses. This is now an attempt to update the issues and questions facing the Church today.

2 - We affirm as legitimate principles for the correct reading of the Bible the following hermeneutical keys[1]: The whole Bible is inspired by God. The Bible interprets itself. Christ and his work is the center of God's revelation. Law and Gospel must be distinguished. Context is fundamental (2Tm 2:16, 2Tm 3:16, Jn 5:39, Gl 3:24).

4 - We understand that we must maintain, or recover when needed, the reading of the Bible applied to our daily life. That implies the reading and study of the Bible not just for learning stories and passages, or for intellectual knowledge only, but asking ourselves all the time what the text says for our life and how we can put it into practice by faith. (2Tm 3:16, Jas 1:22-25) We reject the criticism of “fundamentalists” and “old-fashioned” because we read the Bible in a classic and orthodox way, as being authored by the Holy Spirit, inerrant and totally valid and applicable to us; and/or because we believe that there is only one Truth. We do not want to be held hostage to preferred and convenient parts of the Bible, but we submit "to all the counsel of God." (Jn 14:6, Acts 20:27).

6 - We believe that Jesus' consummation on the cross means that absolutely all our account with God has been properly paid, once and for all. There are no works, sacrifices or bargains needed to achieve salvation or favour from God (Eph 2:8-9). We believe that the work of Christ is vicarious above all, which means everything He did was primarily as our substitute, not as our example. To look at Christ only as an example is lack understanding of the essence of His work, the essence of Christianity and on top of that, we have entered a dangerous path of moralism and despair. (Jn 11:50-51, Jn 1:29, 1 Co 5:7, Gl 1:4) At the same time that Christ is our substitute, He is also our model of life, and following His example is our goal in life. We wholeheartedly wish to imitate him, as Paul desired. (1 Cor 11:1; 1 Pt 2:21; Jn 13:34; Eph 5:2; Jn 13:14).

8 - We believe that the world and the human being were created by God in an act of love, by the Word. We are not the product of a natural evolution of species, or cosmic dust; we are not just the result of any accident, but we are creatures loved by God. We therefore reject any theory that does not match the Word of God, as well as atheism. (Gen. 1:26, Ps 8:3-6, Ps 139:14) We defend creationism, understanding that it has nuances, which deserve to be known and respected. (Gen 1-2) We also understand that the dialogue between faith and science is possible and fruitful. Both can learn from each other. (Dn 1:17, Ps 139:6, Pv 9:10)

10 - We disagree with the charge that the Holy Spirit is “The God unknown” to the Lutheran Church. We recognize that because of the Christocentric emphasis of our confessions we may not have sufficiently emphasized the work of the Holy Spirit in our teaching and practice, and we can further our teaching on our theology about the Holy Spirit. We believe that in justification the Holy Spirit did everything to give us new life. We were dead in our sins. We had no free will. He regenerated us and gave us faith. (Jn 15:16) 

12 - The Holy Spirit is free to act where he wants and how he wants. But we believe that He decided to act objectively in us through the Word and the Sacraments. (Jn 3:8)

14 - We affirm that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are natural to the new man, but they are not optional. We are all invited to practice and exercise in them, the best we can. As someone has said, faith saves alone, but faith it is never alone.

16 - We admit that at Holy Communion we receive much more than meet the eye and the senses can feel (Matthew 26; 1Co 11).The real presence of Christ is given to us in a concrete and highly powerful way. We admit that within the package of forgiveness, life and salvation, which is offered to us by Grace at each Supper, there is a world of gifts that we do not always realize, but that if we did, we would not waste an opportunity to be with the brothers at the table of Lord, and we would go with much more anticipation in our hearts. We attest that Holy Communion is, above all, a vertical gift from God to your children, but that it has serious and necessary horizontal implications.

18 - May our Services be first of all a Service of God to us. Our emphasis must always be Theocentric: God’s gifts in the Word and God’s gifts in the Sacraments. We refuse to give in to the temptation to go to worship having our needs and preferences to be the priority (1Co 7.20). We also believe that in worship God wants to receive our response to His Grace. We recognize the importance of expressing a sincere confession, a thankful praise, a generous offer, a confident and humble prayer, and a desire to leave the church service excited to continue the service in our vocations for the week (1Co 9:19-23). We recognize that worship is both for the edification of the people of God and also evangelistic for non-Christian visitors. We do not consider any instrument or musical rhythm, whatever its origin, more holy than another (Ps 150). Also, that pastors and members value the simple preaching of the Word and communion with the brothers, instead of mere “gospel” shows in order to have “crowded” churches to hear the “attractions” of faith. (1Pt 5:2).

20 - We understand that our church intentionally does not constrain anyone to bring offerings, and does not stipulate a specific quantity or system for the offerings. But we also know that discipline, attendance, generosity and a spirit of sacrifice can be very positive in the habit of giving. We understand that financial prosperity can be a blessing in the life of a Christian, but that this is not a rule. God has no obligation of bestowing riches and prosperity over a Christian’s life. (Php 4:10-12)[2]

22 - We realize that some reasons why people leave the church are understandable and, at times, even legitimate, but we do not support disorganized spirituality, which refuses to return to the heart of the Christian community and wants Jesus without his bride gathered in congregation, as the Word commands/recommends. We know that it is our commitment to seek out the brothers tirelessly, with all love and affection and to live with the weakest in the faith

24. Our relationship with culture is paradoxical. We don't want to conform to it, nor make it Christian. We do not accept that it would dictate fashion for our faith and Christian life, but neither do we run away from or abandon it. We judge anything and everything with our faith given discretion.[3]

26 - We believe that the Kingdom of God has a perspective that has already happened and another that has not yet been realized. God already reigns in this world and has already won the victory over sin, death and Satan, but we still do not fully enjoy all his gifts.

28 - We believe that the devil exists. He is one of our enemies in the spiritual battle, along with the world and our flesh. (1Pt 5:8-9). But the devil does not possess all the credit given to him by some churches. He is the personification of evil, the number one enemy of Christ and his church, but he has already been defeated and is already "tied". We deal with him avoiding the extremes of giving him too much credit and, thus, being frightened for nothing; or forgetting his attacks, and thus becoming vulnerable to them. 

30 - We find much comfort in the promise of heaven, and our greatest hope is laid on the resurrection of the flesh and in the life of the world to come.

Cc – “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” Let us encourage one another in the Word of God. There is no greater encouragement to face anything that may come our way. In Christ, we walk as children of light, in the best direction there is: Heavenward.

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[1] Hermeneutic: the interpretative approach to the Bible held by a person/Church.
[2]We recognize as well that the way we manage our money is one clear symptom of the state of our faith and our relationship with Christ.
[3] We know that it is permeated with the goodness of God, and for that matter we enjoy it, but we are also aware that it is contaminated by sin, and for that matter we denounce it.


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