This morning, I am continuing in my sermon series through 1 Thessalonians, which was a letter written by a leader in the early church named Paul to a church in Thessalonica that he had been instrumental in starting around the year 49 AD. Paul and his fellow missionaries had been driven out of Thessalonica by a mob of angry Jews who found his message about Jesus being Lord to be blasphemous. And 2-3 years later, Paul has not been able to return to Thessalonica, so he sends Timothy, one of his fellow missionaries, who brings back a report about how the Thessalonians are doing and what issues they are facing. In response to Timothy’s report, Paul sends this letter. We are nearing the end of 1 Thessalonians, and the short passage we will be reading today as the power to dramatically change your life for the better if you would only put these words into practice.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 - Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.
This is a short passage with a lot of power, and it raises a few questions that we need to answer:
Who is the Spirit?
What is the Spirit’s fire, and how do we avoid putting it out?
What are prophecies?
How do we test prophecy to see if it’s genuine or not?
Who is the Spirit?
The Bible teaches us that God is a Trinity, three-in-one, same in nature but distinct in persons. Followers of God interacted with God the Father in the Old Testament, while the Holy Spirit would empower specific individuals at different times. Then Jesus shows up, and it is clear to His followers that while He is distinct from God the Father, He is also divine – He receives worship, He forgives sins, He is eternal, He is without sin. And then, as his death was getting closer, Jesus told his disciples about another who would come after him, the Holy Spirit: