Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Final Exhortations

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

16 Πάντοτε χαίρετε, 17  ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε, 18  ἐν παντὶ εὐχαριστεῖτε· τοῦτο γὰρ θέλημα θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ εἰς ὑμᾶς.

I'm a big fan of Scripture memorization.  If you have never memorized any verses I would recommend these as they are short and you can say that you've memorized three verses.  Verses 16 and 17 are even shorter than the famous John 11:35, at least in Greek.   I don't have any magical exegetical insights here, nor do I need to.  The verses are very straightforward.  What does Πάντοτε mean?  It means at all times.  In other words, there is no time when we are not to be rejoicing.  What does ἀδιαλείπτως mean?  It's an adverb that means unceasingly.  We are to pray at all times without giving up.  What does ἐν παντὶ  mean?  It's the same word as verse 16.  We are always to give thanks.

So what do we do with this?  I tend to read through these passages kind of quickly because I see them just as Paul saying good-bye to his friends at whatever church.  But these are three very powerful admonitions that I don't always obey very well.  Always means always.  Always means when work isn't going well.  Always means when you or a loved one is sick.  Always means when people you love die.  We who are in Christ are to keep on rejoicing.

Without ceasing means that we never sell God short.  We never give up on Him saving someone we love.  We never give up on praying for our families, whether we are parents or children.  We never stop praying for our country.  We never stop praying for our churches.  We never stop praying for the advance of the gospel.

All circumstances means that we should always give thanks, no matter what.  Nothing happens apart from God's will.  Therefore, any trial that comes into our lives is part of His plan for us.  If we are His children it is for our sanctification.  If we are not His children it may be so that we die to ourselves and trust completely in Him.  Whatever it is, we are to give thanks.  Pick the most horrific thing you can imagine happening in your life.  We're still to give thanks when that happens.  We don't have to know why it happens except that it is part of God's will for us.

My prayer is that anyone reading this will obey.  Would you pray that for me as well?


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

I'm all for memorization too, but I have never tried to memorize any bible verses. I have probably hundreds of bible verses memorized, and tho I usually know where to find them in the bible, I rarely remember the chapter and verse number. This is where the internet comes in very handy.

When I speak, what I say is usually salted with the Word of God and it's obvious, and I don't stop and quote chapter and verse, I just witness.

When I write, the bible verses just come out of me at the right time and in the right place. Afterwards, on my blog for example, I will go back and find the book, chapter and verse, and add them in.

Memorization just happens, if you are reading the Word constantly every day, and if you go to a church where the content of worship is mainly the bible. That's how the Orthodox Church is, its worship is almost the bible set to music, since the services are almost entirely choral, without instrumental accompaniment.

I think we need to encourage people to go beyond intentional bible verse memorization, and worry less about book, chapter and verse, but rather focus on retaining, through daily bible activity, the verses, the living words, that attach themselves to our individual lives and form the content of our testimonies.

Jason said...

I think both are valuable. I have used this system ( to great benefit as I've memorized Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Peter, and James. It's nice to have all that Scripture at my fingertips.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

I just looked at the 11 page treatise on memorisation of scripture, partly reading and scanning, if you know what I mean. I am very impressed. Thanks for showing me this. I may blog about it. I am also impressed that you have committed six epistles to memory using this system. That is phenomenal. It also makes me glad that at least some evangelical Christians are doing this. If Muslims can memorise the entire Qur'an, which is, I think, shorter than the New Testament, why can't Christians memorise even some portions of the Bible. I really liked the reasoning given for memorisation, as it matches my own reason for making the Bible the one constant, main focus of my private life. Among the Orthodox it is a saying that if the world had ever succeeded in removing and destroying all copies of the Bible and the Divine Liturgy, we could rewrite it because among us all of it is memorised. I actually believe this is true.

Again, thanks for showing me this site.

Jason said...

You're very welcome. Someday I hope to do Romans, but that will be after I finish seminary. I understand that the man who wrote it has memorized Matthew.

Basically, we have to decide whether or not we take Psalm 119 seriously. I think it's a great personal discipline. Plus, it helped me out when I took Greek and one of our books was 1 Peter!

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Psalm 119!

So for you it is also a pivotal psalm!