by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3 March 29, 2015 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(125)Thesis:Paul's focus upon the believer's personal sanctification is upon three issues: rejoicing, praying, and responding to grace.
Introduction:As we work our way to Paul's conclusion to his letter, we have seen that he has addressed the focus of life for believers as it takes on an "outward" perspective: how to act toward others. This evening we are going to look into what he has to say about that focus of life as it takes a "circumstantial" perspective: how to react toward circumstances.
I. Always Rejoice.
A. This "always" is the same word as found in 5:15 and carries the same idea.
1. It has very little "wiggle room", though there are a host of complications regarding the definition of "The Good" and to whom one must be committed in the performance of it.
a. The "always" covers "all" actions taken toward others.
b. The complications all rest in trying to decide "which" others are to be given the greater consideration.
2. It is used six times in this short letter (compared to two times in 1 Corinthians) and the most interesting one (to me) is the "promise" of 4:17.
a. The most straightforward sense of the term is "always" in the sense that there are few situations that fall outside of its parameters ("sleep" may be one such).
b. In respect to the "promise", 4:17 addresses what we should anticipate in the "forever after" of God's kingdom plans.
B. The "rejoice" term is only found in this letter twice (3:9 and our text), but it is directly tied to the concept of "reaction for cause".
1. In Jesus' instruction in Matthew 5:12 and Luke 6:23 reveals that one has to choose "which" of the "causes" in a given setting should capture our attention unto "rejoicing".
a. There are no purely "singular" settings where only one thing is going on.
b. The instruction is to deliberately focus upon the promises of God with regard to what is going on.
2. The idea of the word is that there will be an emotional reaction to most events in life and we are to "react" to the realized/expected positive outcomes.
C. "Always rejoice" boils down to evaluating everything in light of "The Hope" and allowing the soul to react accordingly.
II. Unceasingly Pray.
A. Paul switches his terms as he moves to this second exhortation regarding circumstantial developments.
1. This ought to make us aware that he has a different idea in mind than the "always" concept.
2. The term he uses is only used four times in the New Testament and three of them are in this letter (1:3; 2:13; and our text).
3. The idea seems to be "without stopping" without the linear concept: Do not quit praying.
B. The issue of "prayer" is very general, but it has the strong implication that the circumstances of life are going to require us to respond/react and we have a great need to "see to it" that our reactions are legitimate; thus, "pray".
1. Many have ignored this exhortation because of some traumatic event wherein a certain anger toward God was allowed to "settle in" and "conversation with Him" ceased.
2. It is a most soul-threatening situation to have a "fight" with your "Husband" and stop talking to Him.
III. In Everything Give Thanks.
A. This "in everything" is a third way of making sure that we understand that Paul is writing about things we cannot afford to let slide ("always", "without stopping", and, now, "in everything").
1. This situation is not addressed as a "for" everything (Ephesians 5:20 doesn't even really say that), but rather as an "in" every situation.
2. Like the above "rejoice" exhortation, there is a built-in issue of "perspective" and which of the issues of focus we will allow to come front and center.
B. The "giving of thanks" runs straight out of its roots.
1. Giving thanks requires that we recognize "grace" and respond to it properly.
2. In everything give thanks means, automatically, that there is "grace" in the situation; though one may have to look carefully to see it.