Encouragement in the Last Days

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:25, NLT).

I need encouragement; we all do. What is encouragement?

The Greek word translated as “encouragement” is a derivative of the Greek word “paraclete.” Those who are Bible scholars (probably all Interruption fans) know that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “Paraclete.”

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper [Paraclete] to be with you forever (John 14:16, ESV).

The Apostle Paul lists the Spirit-gift of encouragement in Romans 12:8 (NLT)…

If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.

Yep, the word “encourage” in Romans 12:8 is “paraclete.” 

Let’s put it all together: Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit as Paraclete, the Spirit gives a spiritual gift called paraclete, and we are to be paraclete to one another, especially in the last days.

The encouragement we all need has been abundantly supplied, with only one requirement…

We go to church and participate in the body of Christ.

The Book of Hebrews (10:25) teaches, “Don’t forsake assembling together” because if we stop attending church, we forfeit the supernatural help needed to stand in the latter days.

Our understanding of encouragement can be trivialized to a type of elementary school reward sticker for attendance. It’s not going to church that yields life change but active and accountable engagement with other believers.

The New Testament most often uses three words to translate “paraclete”: helper, encourage, and exhortation.

Helper: We will all experience times when we are overwhelmed beyond our emotional and physical resources. Stand in faith because the God of the universe—our Paraclete—has all the resources.

Encourage: Paraclete literally means “para” for “alongside” and “kaleo” for “calling.” The body of Christ is called to walk alongside one another. Standing alone and often judging the church while doing so eliminates support from close and loving relationships.

Exhortation: The paraclete process involves speaking truth. In the latter days of false teaching and licentious behavior all of us need a paraclete (exhortation) reminding us of Biblical doctrine.

Eighteen years ago, my house was destroyed by fire. Having everything we needed when we went to sleep but by 8 a.m. the next morning—it was all gone. That first day after the fire, dozens of believers drove to our burned-out house, offering help.

I remember when an older brother encouraged me to attend Bible college to learn Greek. Can you imagine Interruptions without the OGV (my Old Guy Version of the New Testament)? 

After a leadership snafu at the church I pastored, an older brother came to town and gave me direct and confrontive exhortation. I didn’t like what he said, but I realize now that my ministry of 49 years in one location would have been considerably shortened if I hadn’t listened. 

The Bible weaves a cord of three strands that can’t be easily broken with the word “paraclete.” We get the help, encouragement, and exhortation necessary to stand in the last days.

Let’s encourage one another.

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