INCREASING AND ABOUNDING IN LOVE
In 3:12 Paul says, “And the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love to one another and to all, even as we also to you.” The church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ should be composed of those who are increasing and abounding in love to one another and to all men. No matter how many believers there may be in the church—fifty, five hundred, or five thousand—all the saints should love one another. Furthermore, they should increase in this love and abound in it. This kind of love is surely not of our human nature. As fallen human beings, we are not capable of such love. But the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is characterized by this increasing and abounding love. If we truly are a church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the love we have for one another will increase and abound.
BOXED IN TO GOD
In 4:7 Paul goes on to say, “God has not called us for uncleanness but in sanctification.” To be in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is to be in sanctification. The Greek word sanctification means separation. Only when we are in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ are we truly separated unto God from everything other than God. If we are not in the Triune God, we are still common. Instead of being separated from the world, we are still involved, mixed up, with worldly people and worldly matters.
I wish to say a word especially to the young ones. Even though you are still young, you need to realize that as those who belong to the Lord Jesus, you are part of the church, and the church is in the Triune God. If we compare God to a box, we may say that God is boxing you in to Himself. You all need to be boxed in to Him more and more. God has placed you into Himself as a spiritual, divine, and heavenly box. Being in this box separates you to God. In other words, this being boxed in to God, this separation, is sanctification.
God has called you in sanctification. In 4:7 the phrase “in sanctification” modifies God’s calling. God has called us in the “box” of sanctification. Now we all need to see that we are those separated unto God, boxed in to Him. We have no right to leap out of this box.
In 5:23 and 24 Paul says, “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He Who calls you, Who also will do it.” For the God of peace to sanctify us wholly means that He will completely box us in. No part of our being will be left out of God as the spiritual box. God as the divine box is not small. On the contrary, He is infinitely large and deep.
If a young person is tempted to indulge in a certain kind of worldly entertainment, this means that he is planning to come out of this heavenly box. However, many have testified that when they tried to get out of this box, they found that they were not able to do so. It seems that their arms were powerless to climb out.
According to these verses, God intends to box us in to Himself wholly, that is, entirely. Have you been completely boxed in by God? Verse 23 says that God will preserve our spirit and soul and body without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 24 says that God, the One who calls us and who does the sanctifying, separating, work, is faithful. He will do the boxing-in work until we are completely separated from the world. Wherever we may be—at school, at work, at home, or with our neighbors—we shall eventually be fully boxed in to God. Young people, if you are invited to do something worldly, you may need to say, “I cannot participate in that, for I have been boxed in to God. Because I am in a heavenly box, I am not free to go to that place.”
In 1 Thessalonians we have seen certain qualifications of the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. If we would be such a church in reality and in a practical way, we need to walk worthily of God and fulfill His calling into His own kingdom and glory. As we have pointed out, we should not regard the kingdom and the glory as only something for the future and not for our experience today. We need to be in the kingdom of God and the glory of God today. Furthermore, we need to increase and abound in love, and we need to be fully sanctified, entirely boxed in, by the Triune God.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)