I ask you to open your Bible then to 2 Thessalonians. We have been looking at 1 and 2 Thessalonians for a number of months now. And we come down to the end of chapter 2, which really is the end of our series; we’re not going to go beyond that in 2 Thessalonians. But I do want us to look at verses 13 to 17 this morning and see what the Lord has provided for us in this really remarkable portion of Scripture.
Second Thessalonians chapter 2, and I’ll begin reading at verse 13: “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”
Unmistakably, this portion of Scripture looks at what it means to be chosen by God, verse 13, chosen by God from the beginning, the beginning of redemptive purpose, for salvation through sanctification to gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Consequently, the title, “Chosen for Glory.”
No doctrine is more loved and more resented at the same time than the doctrine of eternal election – divine, sovereign choice; predestination. In fact, there are those who suggest that this doctrine is actually devilish. Rationally and emotionally it seems unfair and destructive of free will and human autonomy and choice. And I can understand those feelings because they’re very human. We think everything should depend on us. This is part of the pride of our fallenness. But ultimately, according to Scripture, it’s not our reason, nor our sentiment, nor our feelings, nor our desires that determine what is true; God has already determined that. And it is further unacceptable to make God in our image, to design Him to fit our own ideas of what He should be, and what He should do, and what He should not do. Still there are those who are bold enough to be undisturbed by an all out attack on the doctrine of sovereign, saving grace, the doctrine of election.
Making your own, perhaps, more comfortable, more rational, more human god, twisting your own instincts about God, is essentially an assault on Him, and it misrepresents Him. And such misrepresentation of God, simply stated, corrupts our understanding; therefore corrupts our worship, corrupts our service, and can be not just ignorant, but even blasphemous. And since human reason fell with the rest of our faculties in Adam’s sin, it is flawed. While it still functions with a measure of residual effectiveness and sense of justice and morality, it is part of human flesh and must ultimately submit to divine truth in the unfallen, uncorrupted revelation that God has given us of Himself.
I don’t want to try to make a case for this doctrine of sovereign election, predestination by reason, because that would be to fall into the trap that I’ve just described. I just want you to hear what Scripture says. Scripture is unambiguous about this; and maybe even more importantly, it is unembarrassed about it. Scripture is pure and clear and relentless and repetitive that God saves by His own purpose and His own power and His own will for His own plan. So, listen to some Scriptures, and then we’ll look at some, and then we’ll make commentary on some others.
Hear Matthew 11:27, the words of our Lord: “No one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son will to reveal Him.” In other words, no one knows the Father unless the Son chooses to reveal Him to that person. Listen to Matthew 22:14, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Again, the words of our Lord in John 10:14 to 16, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And they will hear My voice and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” In the same chapter, verses 27 and 28, our Lord said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.”
A few chapters later in John 15:16, Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, I chose you.” And then in the seventeenth chapter of John, as we will see a little later, our Lord prays for those whom the Father has given to Him. He says it over and over again throughout that chapter, praying for those whom the Father has given to Him. And, of course, in John 6:44, our Lord said, “No one comes to Me unless the Father draws him.” In Acts 13:48 we read, “When the Gentiles heard that, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord”; – listen to this – “and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” That is an unambiguous statement. “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
Now I had you listen to those, but you might want to look at a few Scriptures as well. Romans chapter 11 and verse 4, “But what is the divine response to him? ‘I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’” That is the word of the Lord back in 1 Kings. The Lord has chosen seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
Verse 5, “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant” – that is a remnant of believers – “according to God’s gracious choice.” If there is a believing remnant – and there is – it is because God graciously chose them, and He did it by grace. “And if it is by grace,” – verse 6 says – “it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened.” Blunt, straightforward. Those who were chosen obtained salvation, the rest were hardened.
In Ephesians chapter 1, I want you to look at verse 3, and we’ll read down a little into this chapter. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” – then verse 4 – “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestinated us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” God is blessed because He is the source of all blessings in Christ. They came to us because He chose us before the foundation of the world, and in that choice that we would holy and blameless before Him. That choice was made out of love, and in love He predestined us to be adopted as His own sons, and all of it “according to the kind intention of His will,” – so that, verse 6 – “it would be to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us.” All of God.
Now we’ve been looking at 1 and 2 Thessalonians, so let’s look at 1 Thessalonians for just a moment, chapter 1, as Paul writes this opening portion to the church at Thessalonica. He says concerning them in verse 4 of chapter 1, “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; knowing His choice of you”; – How do you know that He chose them? – “because” – verse 5 – “our gospel did not come to you in word only, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
Here’s the proof: the gospel came. It came with power. It came with the Holy Spirit. It came with conviction. And as a result of it, “You” – verse 6 – “became imitators of us and of the Lord.” The gospel came and transformed them so that they imitated the behavior of the apostle and the Lord Himself. Verse 7 says, “so that you became an example to all believers.” God chose them in time. He brought that eternal choice to fruition by bringing the gospel to them in power through the Holy Spirit with full conviction, so that they were saved. Became imitators of Christ and examples to all believers.
In 2 Timothy 2:10, Paul says, “I endure all things for the sake of the elect. I do all things for the sake of the chosen to obtain salvation.” That’s how Paul defined his ministry. “My ministry, everything I do is to bring the gospel to the chosen, to the elect.”
James, it says, “Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?” First Peter chapter 1, verse 1, Peter says he is an apostle of Jesus Christ, “To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the predetermined knowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ,” chosen by God to be set apart from sin to obey Jesus Christ.
So verse 3 says, “Blessed be,” – sounds like Ephesians 1 – “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again.” Again, this is a monergistic work of God. According to His great mercy He caused us to be born again. “He regenerated us to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
You were chosen. You were regenerated. You believed. You repented. You were justified. You were adopted. You were reconciled. You were set apart from sin. Your sanctification began. And all of that so that you could receive an inheritance which God had already set for you before time began in eternal glory. That gives all the glory to God, which is why after Paul goes through eleven chapters of the book of Romans and unpacks the glories of salvation, he writes this in Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Everything is from God for God to God.
Now it’s not as if sovereign election is something new in the New Testament. Psalm 105, verse 43 calls Israel His chosen ones. Psalm 135, verse 4, “For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself.” Deuteronomy 7, verse 6, “The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples on the earth.” Sovereign, divine election is all throughout redemptive history, it is the way God operates. And we know this, we instinctively know this. All true Christians know this. No one congratulates himself for his salvation. We all thank God. We all give Him praise and glory for saving us. We all understand the wretched fallenness of our hearts prior to salvation that we were unwilling and unable to change. His power came upon us by sovereign decree, and made us willing and made us able to do what we were neither willing nor able to do. We all know this. We don’t congratulate ourselves, we thank God for our salvation.
Also, we pray to God for the salvation of others. This is something people do on their own. Why are we bothering to talk to God about it? Why are we pouring out our hearts in intercessory prayer for the lost? And even though it is the work of God, we were never forced. None of us was dragged kicking and screaming to the cross to the kingdom. God moved on our wills and we willed to abandon our sin, we willed to turn to Christ, we willed to repent. We willed to believe, we desired to believe; we desired to turn from sin. We desired from the heart to love Christ. We honestly felt the conviction of sin and righteousness and judgment, so that each of us desired to repent and longed to believe, and cried out to the Lord to save us and forgive us and give us eternal life.
But all that willingness and all that acceptance of the gospel was because God made us willing. He made us willing by giving us life, regeneration. That’s why Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it,” – or – “the gates of hades will not prevail against it. I will build my church. I know who they are; they’re chosen before the foundation of the world. I will gather them together. I will build My church. And the most powerful weapon in Satan’s arsenal, which is death, will not be able to alter it one wit.”
Now let’s go a little deeper. What’s this all about? The Trinity exists eternally. They’re existing, and they’re alone. There is no universe, there is no creation, there’s just the triune God. Why all this? What is this all about? Why this redemptive plan? Why creation? Let’s go a little bit deeper.
Turn to Titus chapter 1, and I’m going to take you into the grand plan of God, which, by the way, is not about you and me. Far more transcendent than that. Paul understood it, and at the beginning of the letter he writes to Titus. He says, “Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ.” He was both a slave of God in the largest, most defining sense. But in that sense of his direct ministry, he was a messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he preached that gospel, and he says why he did it in verse 1: “for the faith of those chosen of God.” He preached the gospel so that those who were chosen could hear it and believe it. Prompted obviously by the Holy Spirit under the preaching of the gospel, they would believe because they were the chosen.
So he saw his apostolic ministry as preaching Jesus Christ in the fullness of His gospel, so that the chosen could hear, and under the prompting of the Spirit, believe. And they cannot believe without the gospel. They cannot believe without the gospel. So the apostle says, “I’m preaching the gospel so that the elect can hear it and believe.”
And then beyond that, once the elect hear it and believe, then his ministry was “to bring the knowledge of the truth” – divine revelation – “which is according to godliness.” So he moves from salvation, in the initial sense, to sanctification. “My ministry is to preach so that those who are chosen can hear and believe. And then now that those who are chosen hear and believe, my responsibility is to bring to the chosen and the redeemed the truth that makes them godly.” And then the third dimension of his apostolic ministry was to provide for them, verse 2, the hope of eternal life.
So his goal was to preach things that related to salvation, the gospel and salvation; that related to sanctification, the revelation of God that leads to holiness; and then, as well, to preach about glorification, to preach about our eternal hope. So he was really caught up in all the dimensions of salvation. That was his ministry.
But what I want you to see is in verse 2, that this ministry of saving, sanctifying, and glorifying people was something God, verse, “who cannot lie, promised” – and I don’t know what your translation say, but the Greek says – “before time began.” This is something God promised before time began. God promised that He would save and sanctify and glorify people before there were any people, before there was anything but God.
So the question comes then, “To whom did He promise it?” There’s only God, the eternal God. So whom does God make this promise of a redeemed humanity? The answer is very direct. If you look back one book to 2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 9, Paul says it was God, the power of God, at the end of verse 8. “The power of God, the gospel and the power of God, who is God who by that gospel and in His power saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus” – and here’s exact same Greek phrase at Titus 1:2 – “from before time began.”
So Titus says God made a promise before time began. Here we go back to the same phrase “before time began” and we find out that God made a promise to His Son Christ Jesus. The promise was made then from the Father to the Son, that the Father would give to the Son a redeemed humanity of people who would be saved and sanctified and glorified. Perhaps the best way to understand this, and it’s faithful to biblical terminology, is that the Father out of love for the Son sought to give the Son a gift to express that love.
Look, you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. And the infinite, incomprehensible love of the Father for the Son brought the Father to the point where He wanted to give to the Son an expression of His love. And that expression was going to be a bride for His Son, a bride for His Son, a bride made up of a whole redeemed humanity that didn’t even exist in a universe that didn’t even exist. But from that very moment of the promise God determined that He would create. He determined who He would create and He determined who He would choose to be a part of that bride, and He wrote their names down in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world – the Father choosing a bride for His Son. That’s what redemptive history is about. It’s not so much about us. It’s not so much that God loves us as that God loves the Son, and places us in the Son of His love, so that we can lavish on the Son our worship as an extension of God’s love to Him.
So every believer, everyone who’s come to salvation is a gift from the Father to the Son as an expression of love. And we are all unworthy. It’s not about us, it’s not that we were so loveable, because we were chosen before we even existed. We haven’t been chosen since we were born, we were chosen before anything existed. This is how the Son understands salvation.
Look at John chapter 6, John chapter 6. He knows what’s going on. He knows what the Father is doing. Verse 37 of John 6: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.” That is a defining statement. You’re not going to come to the Son as part of the bride unless the Father gives you to the Son. This is how God expresses His love. Every redeemed person is a love gift from the Father to the Son. “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out, I will not reject,” not because we’re so valuable, but because there is in every soul given to the Son an expression of the Father’s eternal love. “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me.”
Down in verse 44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” So the Father chooses in eternity past, the Father draws in time. The one who is drawn comes to Christ. Christ received that one who comes, never turning him away. And then verse 39, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose none, but raise him up on the last day.” The Father chooses, the Father draws; the Sons receives, the Son keeps, the raises to glory. That’s the plan of salvation.
Chosen for glory. We’re not chosen for partial salvation that might be lost or forfeited, we were chosen for glory; and that’s exactly what we saw in our text in 2 Thessalonians. We were chosen for glory. God has chosen you, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every believer is God’s chosen one, given to the Son as an expression of the Father’s love.
Turn to the seventeenth chapter of John, and here we find the great illustration of our Lord’s intercessory ministry as our Great High Priest as He prays for believers, and He identifies believers repeatedly in a very familiar way. “Jesus spoke these things”; – verse 1 – “lifting up His eyes to heaven, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.” That is an unmistakable statement. All whom the Father has chosen He gives to the Son, and to them He gives eternal life.
Verse 6, I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world.” Verse 9, “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine.” And verse 12, “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition,” – reference to Judas – “ so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” Never lost one, except the one who was a fraud in the first place. Over and over He says, “You have given Me. You have given Me.”
Go down to verse 24: “Father, I desire that they also whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am.” There in one statement is the purpose of our Lord’s high priestly intercessory ministry. He is praying all the Father’s love gifts into eternal glory. It doesn’t happen just because God said it happens, it happens because Christ sees that it happens; He makes it happen. “I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have give Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
The whole thing is to bring a bride into heaven, to put a glorious Bridegroom on display. It’s really a staggering way to understand redemption and salvation. It’s not about us; we are simply those whom the Lord chose to give to His Son. He wrote our names down before anything existed, predetermined by love, to give us as love gifts to the Son. He calls us, draws us. The Son receives us, guards us, holds us, keeps us, loses none, and raises us at the last day for eternal glory, so that we can all go to heaven as the glorious bride of Christ in the bridal city of the New Jerusalem described in the book of Revelation; and there as the bride of the Son of God we will serve Him and worship Him and adore Him and honor Him and love Him forever and ever and ever; and that is the Father’s purpose in bringing us to glory.
We will not only be there with Him to honor and serve Him, but we will be made like Him, we will be made like Him. First John 3:2 says, “When we see Him, we’ll be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” Another insight into this incredibly wonderful truth is to look at Romans 8, Romans 8, and we’ll look toward the end of the chapter at verse 29 to start with. Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew,” – and that doesn’t mean He knew about people before they existed, it means He predetermined to set a relationship with them – “those whom He foreknew, He predestined to become” – here it is – “conformed to the image of His Son.” Not only will we be the bride of the Son, we will be like Him, as much as glorified humanity can be like incarnate deity then gloried, we’ll be like Christ, because that’s the goal.
The highest form of flattery is what? Imitation. The Father makes us as much like the Son as it is possible for a created, redeemed, and glorified being to be, so that we reflect His glory. That’s the plan. He predestined us, in verse 29, not just to be saved, but to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that His Son would be the prōtotokos among many brethren. He would be the premier one among many who were like Him and who worshiped Him and served Him. “And those whom He predestined,” – verse 30 – “He called; and those whom He called efficaciously, He justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified.” Is God going to make sure that the ones He chose are ultimately glorified? Absolutely.
Verse 31 asks, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who’s against us?” Who can thwart this plan? Only God is sovereign of the universe. Who can overthrow His power? No one. And by the way, “He already didn’t spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all.” In other words, He had to send His Son to pay the purchase price to buy us, the sort of dowry to make us His bride. He gave His Son to die for us.
“How will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” As Paul says elsewhere in Romans, “If He already died for us, He certainly will live for us. Will someone be able to bring a charge against God’s elect an indictment that will stick?” No. God is the judge, God justifies; there’s no higher court. “Can someone condemn us?” verse 34. No. “Jesus Christ is He who died, rather who was raised, on the right hand of God, who intercedes for us.” And the fact that He died, He died to pay in full the penalty for our sins. No accusation against us can stand because all sins have been paid for.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword?” All those things Paul had experienced. The answer is no. In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. And so, Paul comes to the crescendo, “I’m convinced neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He’s going to bring His bride to glory.
Then what happens? Turn to 1 Corinthians 15. When all the redeemed are together and complete, history comes to an end, the bride is gathered, taken to heaven, with the Bridegroom Christ. It’s described as, in verse 26, the abolition of death. And then in verse 27, quoting from Psalm 8, “He has put all things in subjection under His feet.” In other words, everything that the Father wanted to give to the Son, He’s given. He’s given a bride. He’s given Him, as we see in Revelation 6, the title deed to the universe. And He took back the universe from the usurper Satan. He has received everything that is part of His inheritance.
And when He says, in verse 27, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is accepted. There’s an exception. When all things are put in subjection to Him, there’s an exception. He is accepted who put all things in subjection to Him. The Father will not be subjected to Him. The one who put all things in subjection to the Son will not be in subjection to the Son. Why? Because the Son will reciprocate in an act of love a cosmic, incomprehensible act of love. Verse 28, “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”
The Father loves the Son, gives Him a redeemed humanity, brings them all to glory, makes them like the Son; and when that is all complete, the Son takes the bride and Himself and gives them back in a reciprocal act of love to the Father; and God is all in all. These are vast, far-reaching concepts. To make this happen, the Son became poor, that we might be made rich. The Son bore our sins in His own body. The Son was made sin for us, to pay the price. We were purchased, not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ to fulfill the Father’s plan. This is the glory of being chosen.
I don’t know how you respond to that doctrine, but only ignorance would hate that. The benefits of this doctrine are so staggering as to be beyond words, but let me make an attempt. The doctrine of sovereign election is the most pride-crushing doctrine. It is pride-crushing because it’s all of God.
Listen to 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 26: “Consider your calling,” – calling to salvation by God – “there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.” Why are there not many wise? Why are there not many noble? Why are not the elite and the powerful of the world believers? Because, verse 27, “God has chosen the foolish of the world to shame the wise. God has chosen the weak of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base of the world and the despised, God has chosen the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are.” Why are we not the powerful and the elite? Because God chose the foolish, the weak, the base, the despised, and the nothing. Why would He do that? So that no man may boast before God.
Then in verse 30 He says this: “By His doing” – God’s doing – “you’re in Christ Jesus. By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” It is the most pride-crushing of all doctrines.
Spurgeon said, “I know nothing, nothing again that is more humbling than this doctrine of election. I have sometimes fallen down before it when endeavoring to understand it. But when I came near it, and the one thought possessed me, God has from the beginning chosen you unto salvation, I was staggered by the mighty thought and from the dizzy elevation came down my soul, broken, saying, ‘Lord, I am nothing. I am less than worthy. Why me? Why me?’” Pride-crushing truth produces thanksgiving at its highest level.
Secondly, it is the most God-exalting doctrine. It gives all the glory to God. It declares that choice, regeneration, calling, faith, repentance, reconciliation, adoption, sanctification and glorification are all the work of God, who, according to Psalm 110:3, made us willing in the day of His power, so that we all say, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us; but to Thy name give glory.” It is the most God-exalting doctrine. And so, it fuels our worship, doesn’t it.
Thirdly, it is the most joy-producing doctrine. It brings the ultimate supreme joy. There’s no hope of salvation apart from sovereign choice by God. Psalm 65:4 says, “Blessed is the man whom You choose and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in your courts.” What joy that God has set His love on us from eternity past and guaranteed it into eternity future. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” This transcends all the petty disappointments of life. It is without question the most pride-crushing, God-exalting, joy-producing doctrine. It is the most privilege-granting doctrine. It grants us incomprehensible blessings, Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,” all spiritual blessings.
We should not be disturbed at all if we don’t have everything this world or this life has to offer. We have all spiritual blessings, and we have an inheritance undefiled, unfading, laid up for us in heaven. It is the most holiness prompting doctrine. It compels us to live holy. It is a holy calling. It is a holy calling.
Colossians chapter 3, verse 12, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
As those who are chosen of God, holy and beloved, “Wives, submit to your husbands. Husbands, love your wives. Children, obey your parents. Fathers, do not exasperate your children.” Slaves, obey your masters. Masters, grant your slaves justice and fairness. Devote yourselves to prayer.” Why? Because it’s a holy calling, it’s a holy calling.
Again, Spurgeon said, “Nothing under the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit can make a Christian more holy than the thought that he is chosen. Shall I sin” – says Spurgeon – “after God has chosen me? Shall I transgress after such love? Shall I go astray after so much lovingkindness and tender mercy? No, my God. Since You have chosen me, I will love You, I will live for You. I will give myself to You, to You forever, solemnly consent to do Your service.”
And finally, it is the most strength-giving doctrine. It makes us be at peace with every situation. And that’s sort of where Paul lands at the end of the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians. “We should always give thanks to God” – verse 13 – “for you, because God has chosen you for salvation, sanctification, calling,” – verse 14 – “to gain the glory of our Lord Jesus.”
Verse 15, he says, “So then, brethren, stand firm, hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth” – when the apostles were speaking – “or by letter from us,” when it was written down. And now there’s no more word of mouth, we have it in the word of God in Scripture. Stand firm, hold to the word of God. From the doctrine of election you receive the most magnanimous, wide, deep, high, all-encompassing motive for life. It should produce holiness, and gratitude, and endless joy, and good hope, and strength to know that God has chosen you for eternal glory.
And the benediction in verses 16 and 17, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” Amen and amen.
Father, thank You for meeting us on the pages of Scripture today. Thank You for engulfing us in this truth of Your sovereign love; we are overwhelmed by it. We are full of gratitude. We are privileged. We are joyful. We are committed to holiness. We stand strong on the rock of this incredible reality and promise. We live in good hope with nothing to fear.
Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians to remind them they didn’t need to fear the day of the Lord, the didn’t need to fear the arrival of Antichrist. They were not the people of the darkness, they were not the people of the night, there were not the perishing; they were chosen for glory, and they needed to live in the exhilaration of that act of eternal grace and love. So do we. And in it, may we rejoice and stand firm, and bring You glory.
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