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June 22, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Exhortation without Error, Impurity, or Deceit Today

“For our exhortation does not come from error, or impurity or by way of deceit;”

1 Thessalonians 2:3, Page 1846        

        I heard a television preacher say that it costs him $80,000.00 per day to keep his program on the air.  He was asking for more money.  Personally, I am not persuaded that spending that kind of money produces the best results for $80,000.00 per day, or $400,000.00 for one Monday through Friday week of programming, or $20,800,000.00 per year.  How much does it take for one person to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with one more person?  How many people could be fed with those funds, or how many missionaries sent and supported?  My real point is that each of us has a duty to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, personally and daily.  Most people who profess to know Christ have never shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone, and have never prayed with anyone else to receive forgiveness of sins.  Furthermore, they have heard numerous messages encouraging them to share their faith, but they adamantly refuse to do so.  Why do you receive the gift of salvation freely, but refuse to share it with others?  Do you not believe that everyone will go to hell for eternal punishment unless they pray and believe in the forgiveness that only Jesus provides?   My “Christian” friends tell me they visit their friends in the hospital, with death near.  I ask them if they shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their sick, unbelieving friends and they look at me like I have the plague.  The most common response I get is that they have invited the person to come to a meeting of believers, but do not want to make the sick person uncomfortable.  I guess they do not think that hell with be “uncomfortable” for an eternity.  With the dismal truth that most people professing to know Christ will never share their faith, let me now focus upon Paul, who not only shared his faith, but did it as an example for all us to follow.  If you do not intend to share your faith, then why bother reading about Paul? Paul consistently shared the Good News of Jesus Christ, suffered persecution, and repeatedly acted to the glory of God in his ministry.

       In 1 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul talks about “exhortation.”  This word “exhortation” comes from the root meaning to call someone to stand beside me.  Depending upon the context, it means appeal, entreaty, encouragement, exhortation or comfort.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul was just talking about speaking the Gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness in God, and amid much opposition.  Therefore, you can see that Paul was referring to the way he came to the Thessalonians and spoke of Christ to them.  Paul emphasizes the way he presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Thessalonians with three separate, but related, words: “error,” “impurity,” and “deceit.”

       Error stands opposite the truth.  So many people do not share the Gospel of Jesus Christ because deep in their hearts they do not believe the truth that all unbelievers have the wrath of God abiding upon them, even though they are physically alive (John 3:36, page 1659).   They do not believe that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23, page 1766).  The truth is that only Jesus is the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  To preach anything else for salvation constitutes error.

       Impurity means something that has become dirty, or unclean.   When I go ocean fishing in the morning, I wade in the shore break and cast my plug beyond the small waves.  Inevitably, a wave breaks and splashes me all over with sea water.  The water dries, but leaves me with salt spread thinly over both me and my clothing.  I feel messy, and sometimes a little itchy.  Paul never preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ with any impurity.  He never left anyone with a thin coat of salt after speaking of Jesus to them.  Instead, when Paul exhorted people to receive Christ, and His forgiveness, the impurities began dropping out of their lives.  When I see television preachers begging for money, I wonder if they live in giant houses, fly on private jets, and have luxurious lifestyles, that have been generated from the ministry.  Impurity always means that the good has been mixed with the bad.  The clean has become smudged with the dirty.  Paul only preached in purity.

      Deceit means that you say one thing, but live another thing.  Deceit means that you tell people to live one way, but actually you intend for them to help you live in another way.  Deceit comes in many forms, but Paul never practiced any of them.  So many people get sick and tired of all the deceit on the Christian television channels.    You see men and women acting deceitfully, especially regarding finances.  How many times have you seen journalists expose the misdeeds and misapplications of funds by television preachers?  Paul made it a priority to call people to Christ, and only Christ.

        So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

      ●   Every believer should exhort people to come to know the forgiveness of Jesus Christ by sharing His Gospel regularly, without fear or shame.  Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ will bind you with  others who share their faith.  Strong bonds of fellowship form from seeing new believers grow up in Christ.

     ●   Strong bonds of friendship will grow when you act and exhort without error, impurity or deceit.  Those things will rip friendships apart, especially when people learn that you only spoke to them for your own selfish, evil motives.

Application for Today

        Today, I want to  exhort people to know Christ.  I want Jesus to remove any hint of error, impurity or deceit in the way I present the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Will you share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, without error, impurity or deceit,  today?

 

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