1 Thessalonians 5:27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
This is certainly a verse I’ve never written on before! As I was reading all the rich content in the rest of the chapter I was wondering what the Lord would have me focus on, and then it struck me that none of this was secret teaching to a select few. Paul is here very clear that all the teaching is for everyone. Paul was very aware that not everyone could absorb everything at once, but we aren’t to go around deciding who is fit for what; that’s the Holy Spirit’s business. The Gnostics were already making trouble when Paul wrote this, and their spiritual descendants are still active today. They focused on “special knowledge” in order to create an “in crowd” of the “elite.” We certainly see that attitude today, with some people feeling they are fit to rule the world, in contrast to everyone else. Paul was all for openness and equal access to information. Again, that runs counter to the censorship of all kinds that we see all around us today. We need to work for openness in society in general, but we need particularly to be on guard against Gnostic tendencies in the Church. We are all equally in need of salvation, and God’s Word is to be open to all. That was a major element of the Protestant Reformation that often gets overlooked. Luther and others were all for worshiping God in German rather than in Latin. It is ironic that the Vulgate Latin translation of the Bible was originally created precisely so that more people could read it, without having to learn Greek and Hebrew, but then it in turn became a tool for keeping people of other languages from free access to the Bible.
This is close to my heart. I have had direct ancestors involved in Bible translation, and several who were active proclaimers of God’s truth. I work in both English and Japanese, and recently have wished I could handle Mandarin as well. The point is, God’s truth is to be shared, not bottled up somewhere. In Old Testament days, long before the printing press, when the majority of people were at least functionally illiterate, it was a big deal when a scroll of the Law was discovered and read to people. We have the opposite of that situation in terms of dissemination of information, but people are so overwhelmed with all sorts of information that major gifts of discernment are called for. I am to seek always to speak the truth in love, in terms that can be most easily understood and received by my hearers. I can’t force anyone to believe, but I can be faithful as a communicator of the Gospel. That should be my goal at all times and with all people, so that as many as will may repent and believe for their salvation, for God’s glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all You are doing in and through this church. Yesterday was magnificent! May each person recognize the privilege they have and rejoice to be Your agent, bringing a great harvest for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!