“[…] Just as you are in fact walking, we request you and appeal to you by the Lord Jesus to keep doing it more fully.”
1 Thessalonians 4:1
The members of the Christian congregation in Thessalonica were not perfect.
They had moral standards and love, but could improve on both counts. (1 Thess. 4:3,4,9,10)
That is why Paul commended them while tactfully encouraging them to “pursue what is good toward one another.” (1 Thess. 5:15)
Regardless of how long it has been since we became Christians, ‘making sure of all things’ and ‘holding fast to what is fine’ is something we have to remember to do every day. (1 Thess. 5:4,6,8,21)
We cannot afford to take our faith for granted, and as long as we are imperfect, there will be things we can improve on.
“Working together with him, we also urge you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.
For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you.’
Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.”
~2 Corinthians 6:1,2
Serving God is not necessarily easy nor fun. While it is not burdensome, it does entail considerable effort and sacrifice. (Matt. 7:13,14; Phil. 3:12-14; 1 John 5:3)
It may be tempting to take the easy way out and leave drawing closer to God for a future time when life is more “settled” or we feel more “prepared.”
The reason God’s Day has not come is because he wants us to repent. (Rom. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9)
But we do not know what will happen tomorrow or a couple years down the line. (Jas. 4:13,14)
Even if we spent 80 or 90 years studying about Jehovah and Jesus, we would still have so much more to learn about them and all they have done for us. (Job 26:14)
We cannot store up time and return it to God at a later date.
If we meditate on how we can draw closer to him today, we will have fewer regrets when we finally do run out of time. (Is. 30:18; 55:6; Eph. 4:30; Jas. 4:17)
“[…] ‘The righteous one will live by reason of faith.'”
In his letter to the congregation in Rome, Paul explains that even those who suppress God’s Word ought to have a sense of right and wrong based on observing nature. (Rom. 1:18-20)
Does this mean that God judges us based on our own individual criteria, and we do not need to be held to absolute universal standards?
How do we know what it means to have good enough faith or to be righteous?
Paul says God’s righteousness is revealed in the good news. (Rom. 1:16,17)
When he speaks of faith, he is not speaking of an impersonal higher power who saves everyone regardless of their actions. (Rom. 1:21,29-32)
Yet, it takes more than knowledge of God to have faith. (Rom. 2:17,18,21)
If we listen to our own conscience, we can be at peace if we “work what is good.”
However, we cannot save ourselves.
We rely on God’s mercy. (Rom. 3:24; 4:5,25)
But if we are also to “live by reason of faith,” we do well to strengthen that faith by deepening our understanding of God’s good news and of his creation. (Rom. 2:10,13,15,16)
God’s Word tells us he judges us based on the sincere motives behind our actions and not merely on what we think or do. (Rom. 2:29)
The higher standard we’re being judged against is whether or not we do things out of love. (Matt. 22:37-40)
“God did not send his Son into the world for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him. Whoever exercises faith in him is not to be judged. Whoever does not exercise faith has been judged already […].”
Does the Bible teach faith-based salvation?
While faith is a key component of our salvation, it is not the sole requirement.
God’s Word later explains that faith without works is useless. (Jas. 2:24,26)
What kind of works satisfy God’s standards?
To exercise true faith, we must follow in Jesus’ footsteps, sharing the message of God’s kingdom motivated by love. (Matt. 10:7,8; Jas. 2:8)
Still, we need to understand that faith and salvation are gifts from Jehovah God that are only possible through his own arrangement. (Eph. 2:8)
One Watchtower likens it to how we pray for our daily bread, and yet we understand we still have to go out and work for it.
Likewise, we have faith and work towards salvation, but left entirely on our own we could never attain it.
“[…} Many of those asleep in the dust of the earth will wake up, some to everlasting life and others to reproach and to everlasting contempt. […]
But as for you, go on to the end. You will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.”
What a beautiful hope God has given us in the promise of a resurrection for those who have died.
Centuries after Daniel lived, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ in spirit form, a new type of resurrection hope was eventually introduced to humanity. (Luke 12:32; 22:28-30; John 10:14-16; 1 Pet. 1:3-5)
Still, the resurrection most of us look forward to is the original one promised to take place here on a paradise earth. (Job 14:14,15; Ps. 37:29; Is. 26:19; John 11:24; Acts 24:15; Rev. 21:3-5)
Five years ago on this date, we unexpectedly lost a very kind-hearted friend who always gave everyone of his time.
Many of us looked up to him and asked him for advice, and he always followed up on it.
I knew him as a young girl, but in adulthood he became my husband’s friend.
Although I have lost friends and family to death, the date of his parting sticks with me because it was my first day at a new job.
I drove by his place of death later that morning, noticing an accident, unaware of what had happened.
Then I drove by the same spot everyday for the next four years, and every single morning I wished I could go back in time and warn him to take things easier and not overwork himself.
But he gave his all to God, and even if I could warn him, he would still work as diligently as he did to help others.
What is more, if it is impossible for us imperfect humans to forget our loved ones whom we’ve lost, how could God in his perfect love ever forget them? (Heb. 6:10)
Like Daniel, many faithful servants of God await in rest until God calls their name and blesses them with everlasting life.
Who do you want to see again?
“[…] Cause your face to shine upon your sanctuary that is desolate, for your own sake, O Jehovah. […] Do not delay, for your own sake, O my God, for your own name has been called upon your city and upon your people.”
When Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray, the model he established put the sanctification/vindication of God’s name first and foremost. (Matt. 6:9)
Today, people still defame God’s name when they blame him for human suffering or when they mock God, his moral ways or his loyal servants.
Even the righteous prophet Daniel recognized that our personal salvation is secondary to Jehovah God’s glory and is only possible because of God’s divine mercy. (Dan. 9:18)
It is because of God’s name that the salvation of his loyal servants is guaranteed, for God cannot lie. (Tit. 1:2)
Taking a spiritual point of view on the relevance of God’s name and all it implies helps us maintain a patient, waiting attitude during trying times.
“[…] Do not let your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion.”
Is it cruel on God’s part to destroy the wicked?
Jesus said God executes justice “speedily.” (Luke 18:7,8)
But when Ezekiel prophesied about Jerusalem’s destruction, five years had yet to pass before its fulfillment.
Since the days of Moses, Jehovah had sent one prophet after another to warn his people of what would happen should they stray from true worship. (Jer. 7:25)
Still, the people as a whole were not destroyed.
Jehovah examined them individually and figuratively marked those who would survive Babylon’s invasion.
Furthermore, the religious leaders most responsible for corrupting Jehovah’s worship would be the first to be executed. (Eze. 9:6)
This teaches us that being a nominal Christian or getting baptized is not enough to receive the “mark” of salvation.
Jehovah and Jesus will closely examine who among us truly has faith by our acts of worship. (Jas. 2:24)