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Advent and Second Advent, Part 3

December 1, 2006

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Thinking much on this verse will also change the way you pray.  Notice first that Paul doesn’t pray for them to grow in holiness.  He prays that God would make them increase and abound in love so that they would be holy.  Growth in love produces holiness in our lives.  God supplies us with a love that purifies.   If you have been praying for a while for growth in personal holiness and haven’t been seeing it, maybe it’s because you’ve been asking, as we read in James two weeks ago, with wrong motives.  Perhaps you want holiness for selfish reasons.  You want higher self-esteem.  You want to be able to follow your selfish ambition, but a lack of personal purity is holding you back.   It is possible to desire a self-centered holiness where you want sin to leave you alone just like you want everyone else to leave you alone.  God won’t give it to you.   Try instead asking God to make you increase and abound in love.  Then holiness will follow. 

A second way that this verse will change our praying is that meditating on the certain purpose of God to make us holy will help us pray for ourselves and for others with greater confidence and faith.   God has ordained the end of the holiness of his people.   And he has also ordained the means to the end of the holiness of his people and one of those means is your prayer.  We will pray with more thanksgiving and less faultfinding when we consider that we are all not only a work in progress, but a work in inexorable progress.   And one day we will stand together before the Lord blameless in holiness. 

This progress is gradual in this world and it this transformation comes, we learned last year from 2Cor 3.18, as we behold more and more of the glory of Christ.  But our progress in holiness will be consummated in the twinkle of an eye when we see him face to face.  That beatific vision is what will complete our transformation.  1 John 3:2-3  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 

The more you hope for heaven, the more you hunger for holiness.  And the more you hunger for holiness the more you hope for heaven, for heaven is a place of holiness.  Heaven is being in the Holy of Holies forever.  Heaven is the presence of His holiness.  

In fact, this word translated “coming” is a word that means presence.   It was regularly used in NT times of a royal visit.  As in: The king will be present tomorrow at 10am, let all things be made ready.   What will be most wonderful about the coming of Christ is that then he will be present.  

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