Encourage One Another

July 19, 2008 1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

Discussion

Read Ephesians 4:14-16

Ephesians 4:14-16As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

  1. Why is biblical truth the basic source for encouragement?
  2. In what specific situations have Christians encouraged you with biblical truth?
  3. In what situations have you been able to encourage others with the truth?

Gene Getz tells of a personal illustration:  A number of years ago, I learned a very powerful lesson. I was serving as director of the Moody Evening school in Chicago-a ministry to lay people. About a thousand students attended. Most of these people had full-time jobs, but served as Sunday School teachers, board members, deacons, elders and in other lay positions in their churches. Some simply came to Moody Bible Institute to increase their knowledge of the Bible.

As director of this school, I used to speak in various churches throughout the Chicago area and the suburbs in order to let people know about our ministry and how we could serve them. On one occasion, a woman introduced herself after I had spoken at a Sunday evening service. She wanted me to know what a blessing Dr. Charles Horn was in her life. Chuck was one of our professors. “I never miss that class he is teaching on the Book of Romans," she said. "During the day I work as a secretary in downtown Chicago," she continued, "and I am always tired when I get to school. However, that course is changing my life!"

I remember jotting down what she had said and the next morning when I arrived in my office, I called this professor on the telephone. Frankly, I simply relayed to him what this woman had told me. As I did, I could "hear" the silence on the other end of the phone. And then I heard the following words encased in a context of deep sincerity and appreciation, "Thank you. Thank you very much, Gene! I needed that!"

"Well," I said, "this student really appreciates you, Chuck. Your ministry is changing her life. And I appreciate you too! Thanks for your faithfulness."

Little did I realize then that my telephone call that morning was life changing for this professor. Subsequently, I discovered that in all of his years of teaching this was the first time that he had ever received positive feedback from one of his superiors. "This should never happen not among Christians!" I remember thinking to myself


Another Comforter

"ANOTHER PARAKLETOS"

  • Following Christ's return to heaven, God's plan for continuing what His Son had done focused on the HolySpirit.
  • Four times in John's Gospel, Jesus identified the Holy Spirit as a "counselor"(John 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7).
  • Translators of the King James Version call Him "another comforter."
  • In the New American Standard Bible He's identified as "another helper."
  • Why these different English titles?
  • The word in the language of the Greek New Testament is parakletos, and it's transliterated into English as "another paraclete."
    • The important correlation here is that the Greek verb parakaleo is frequently translated "to encourage."
    • Therefore, it would also be appropriate to identify the Holy Spirit in this passage as "another encourager" which is why the King James Version uses the synonym "comforter."
  • At this time in their lives, the apostles were very fearful.
  • Their hearts were "troubled" (John 14.27).
  • Hatred toward them by the religious leaders in Jerusalem had never been more intense. It was no secret that there had been several attempts to kill their Leader. This was why Jesus "no longer moved about publicly" (John 11:54).
  • No wonder these men were frightened and discouraged when Jesus announced His plans to leave them!
  • In actuality, Jesus was not going to leave them. He would still be present in the person of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit was then to be "another Counselor" or “another encourager”. He would continue Christ's work on earth. He would never leave the apostles or others who followed Christ.
  • Jesus also identified the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of truth.” He did this three times while encouraging the apostles in their time of stress and difficulty:

John 14:16-17 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

John 15:26“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,

John 16:12-13 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

Encouraging One Another through the Inspired Word of God

  • When the Holy spirit came, He fulfilled Jesus' promise. one of His greatest gifts to us is theinspiredscriptures.
  • The authors of the inspired Word "spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21)
  • Paul told Timothy that “all scripture is God-breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16).
  • He was definitely referring to the ministry of the Holy Spirit as He inspired those who penned the Word of God.
  • The primary means then for "encouraging one another, isGod’struth! This is why Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians, encouraging them to continue "speaking the truth in love." Then, he said, "we will in all things grow up into him who is the head that is in Christ” (Eph. 4:15).

There are many biblical examples that demonstrate that the basis for encouraging other believers is the Word of God.

  • For example
  • When Paul outlined the qualities for eldership in his letter he emphasized that a pastoral leader must

Titus 1:9  . . .hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

  1. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he charged this young pastor to "preach the Word,” he was to be prepared in season and out of season” in order to “correct, rebuke and encourage” (2 Tim.4:2).
  2. Furthermore, when Paul, Silas, and Timothy disciple the Christians at Thessalonica, they dealt with each one of these people just as a "father deals with his own children encouraging, comforting and urging [them] to live worthy of God (1 Thes. 2:11 – 12).
  3. Paul went on immediately to describe the means for this encouragement when he wrote:

1 Thessalonians 2:13For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

Encouraging One Another - A Key to Spiritual Growth

The most comprehensive New Testament passage instructing us to encourage one another appears in the letter to the Hebrew’s.The specific injunction reads

Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

What should happen to Christians when they meet together regularly and "encourage one another”?

  • First, we should grow in our faith(Heb 10:22).

Hebrews 10:22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

  • Second, we should grow in out hope(Heb. 10:23).

Hebrews 10:23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;

  • Third, we should grow in our love(Heb. 10:24).

Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

  • More than any other quality, mutual encouragement among members of the body of Christ should "spur one another on towards love and good deeds" (v. 24).
  • Paul underscored this truth when writing to the Corinthians. Summarizing at the end of that great passage in 1 Corinthians he said

"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love . But the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13)

Encouraging One Another Through the Power of Words

  • The focus of Paul's exhortations to "encourage one another” in the Thessalonian epistle is on "words of truth" that come directly from the Bible regarding the second coming of Jesus Christ.
  • But in addition to correct doctrine, there are many other "word" messages we can use to encourage one another. When we use them appropriately, they have a profound impact on those who hear them.
  • For example, consider the following proverb.

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up (Prov. I2:25).

  • This is what I did for my friend Chuck in the Moody Evening School. In many respects, he had a heavy heart-simply because he felt discouraged. He wasn't sure if anyone really appreciated what he was doing. Consequently, when I offered "a kind word”, it cheered him up. It encouraged his heart.
  • In fact, we can change a person's whole perspective on life. It's so simple. It costs nothing Why don't we do it more often? Unfortunately, we're too often so wrapped up in our own world we don’t think about others.
  • Another Example

Pleasant words are a honeycomb' sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Prov. 16:24)'

  • This second proverb treats another important dimension, of encouragement. This time, Solomon wrote about pleasant words that are like honey. They're "sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
  • Man is basically a two-dimensional creature-both soul / spirit and body.
  • Of course, both are interrelated so much so that we often talk about experiencing "psychosomatic" conditions.'
  • The first of this word, 'psycho" comes from the Greek word psuche meaning “soul”.
  • The second part of the word, “somatic,” comes from the Greek word soma meaning “body." Therefore, "psychosomatic" refers to both the “soul,” and “body.” Pleasant words affect, both our spiritual being and physical being in a positive way.
  • On the other hand, Solomon also reminds us that the opposite is true. He also penned this proverb

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Prov. 17:22).

  • Are you a "healer" or a "hurter"? An important means to help people, is to use pleasant words.

PRACTICAT STEPS FOR ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER

Step 1

Learn tousethe Word of God.

All Christians must realize how important the Word of God is in building up others within the body of Christ. And all Christians must be challenged to learn what God's Word says. They must be ready to share the Word with others who are in special need of encouragement. In other words, Christians cannot mutually encourage one another with Scripture if they are not familiar with Scripture. Therefore, encourage each believer in your church to study the Word of God-not only for personal growth, but to be able to assist others in their growth.

Step 2

Allow the Holy Spirit to minister throughallmembers of the body.

I noticed a man walk into a "small group" one day who had not been present for many months. I knew he was having a moral problem. I was probably the only one present who paid particular attention to his being there and one of the very few who knew he had a problem. As a body, we "happened" to be sharing Scripture with one another. To my amazement, one after another, people shared verses that had a direct bearing on this man's problem. Those who shared, of course, knew nothing of this man's moral problem. But the Holy Spirit did and I was allowed to see God at work in a dramatic way through various members of Christ's body.

I firmly believe that this kind of experience should not be a rare one. Rather, our churches should be structured so that it can happen regularly. If we will only study the principles of Scripture and develop patterns that are biblically and culturally related, I believe God will do great things through His people. And this leads to our final step.

Step 3

Evaluate your churchstructures.

Many churches are not designed for "body function" but for "preacher function." Only the pastor or minister or some other teacher is delegated to share the word of God with others in the church. Some pastors insist on being the only interpreter of Scripture. The Bible teaches that every Christian must be involved in this process. All Christians are to "speak the truth in love." Don't misunderstand! It's very important for a pastor or teacher to open the Word of God through an extended exposition and message. I do this nearly every weekend. But it should not be the only means for communication. The Scriptures also place a strong emphasis on mutual and informal teaching.

Conclusion

Christians should meet together for the body of Christ to function- to encourage one another. This is why Paul wrote to the Colossians:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom (Col 3:16).

What about your church? What are the patterns like? Is there freedom for every member of the body of Christ to function-“to encourage one another," and "to build one another up"?

  • Are you personally taking advantage of such opportunities?
  • How?
  • What steps can you take this week to “encourage one anther”.