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Gospel Fellowship and Holiness

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (NIVUK)

The gospel is very good news. Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised so that we might be without blame or guilt (Romans 4:25). Everybody who believes in Him is born again into God's family to enjoy the privilege of two new relationships: with Him and with all His other children. The Gospel leads to fellowship, a true sharing of hearts and lives which gives believers a deep desire to be together as 'brothers and sisters' (as Paul writes 18 times in this letter) and to serve one another.
 
As we appreciate the love God has shown to us, He stirs up love in our hearts for other believers and those who do not yet believe. Genuine love always overflows into sacrificial giving and is one of the identifying marks of the Christian faith. Giving, fellowship, sharing, communion all come from the same Greek word. There is something wrong if we share in the Lord's Supper but do not share with our brothers and sisters.
 
This fellowship is all part of our worship of Father God and the Lord Jesus Christ who pour love into our hearts so that we can live holy lives. Holiness is not only Godward piety but is principally expressed in the way we relate with other people. Romans 12:1-2 puts it like this, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.'
 
When Jesus returns, there will also be a great reunion of all the believers we have encountered during our lives. The prospect of that day should encourage us to love them now as Christ has loved us. Practical love flows from the gospel but some have forgotten that the purpose of their sacrificial giving is to bring glory to the Lord (Matthew 5:16). It is an opportunity to explain the gospel (1 Peter 3:15). It is meaningless to show love and not explain where it comes from: tell them about Jesus, whose love you have received, so that others will be drawn closer to Him. So wherever you are today, at home or work or enjoying leisure, be a true gospel person. Love by giving sacrificially, and love by explaining why you are giving yourself.

Prayer 
God of love and author of the gospel. Thank You for pouring Your love into my heart when I repented and received Jesus. I am sorry for the times when I have not shown that gospel love in my relationship with others, or when I have been afraid to explain that the gospel motivates my lifestyle. Please help me to worship You in my heart and with my body as I serve others for Your sake, and taking the opportunity to explain the gospel motivation for how I live. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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