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Loved, Chosen, Sanctified, Called, and one day...Glorified!

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2 Thess. 2:13-17  BBBC #727                 5/6/07

(Page 164, N. T.)                                             (3,500)

Loved, Chosen, Sanctified, Called, and

one day...Glorified!


     One of the more interesting aspects of being a Christian is how we deal with life’s difficulties.  The good times are no problem, but we certainly wrestle with the hard times.  Sometimes life runs over us like a freight train, doesn’t it?  And we pick ourselves up and wonder what in the world is going on. 

     Plus there are times when the difficulties call our faith into question.  Lord, are You sure this is the right timing for this in my life?  Lord, are You positive this is what I need to make me more like Jesus?  Lord, do You understand this is going to hurt me?  Whatever the hardship ¾ sickness, divorce, money problems, loneliness, friends who kicked you while you were down, death of one so dear to your heart ¾ whatever the hardship, if you know Jesus as your Savior, God has you in His hands and nothing shall remove you from His comfort and protection!  You are loved, chosen, sanctified, called, and one day you will be glorified. 

     The new believers in the little church at Thessalonica are in a hard place.  When they confess Jesus as Savior, they immediately face persecution, physical, mental, or both.  Some will die because of their faith.  The false teachers are all over the place and deception is the key word of the day ¾ the devil’s deception.

     When hardship lands on our doorstep we lean toward doing whatever we can to remove ourselves from such.  We think, “Surely God doesn’t want me to hang around and take this abuse.”  Dear ones, God doesn’t look at our issues and difficulties as problems.  He sees them as a part of His plan to make us like Christ.  And the hard times are just as much a part of God’s perfect plan as are the good times.  We don’t get excited about this biblical principle, but rest assured, it is a biblical principle.  Consider Isaiah 43:1-2...

  1    But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!

2    "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.

     God never says I will take you out of your troubles.  Three times He says I will take you “through.”  And He doesn’t say “if” you go through difficulty, but He says “when” you go through the difficulty.  Chuck Swindoll sees it in this light, “God does not guarantee a life that is full of sunshine and free from storms.  What God does guarantee, however, is His watchful eye over us as we go through the difficult times.”  This is the point the apostle Paul is making to the Thessalonians here in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17.  And I must add these five verses of Scripture ¾¾ are some of the most assuring and comforting verses in all God’s Word.  Let’s dig in starting with verses 13 and 14 and you’ll see what I mean.

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.

14   It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

     Paul wants to eliminate fear and worry by helping them better understand what God has done for them.  He knows they are dead-level serious when they profess Jesus as Lord and Savior.  He wants them to get a “good grip” on their eternal security.  He wants them to stand firm and look forward with confident hope that Jesus is coming again. 

     Their problem is three-fold: persecution, false teaching, and the temptation to go back to their worldly ways where things do not seem nearly as difficult as they do after you claim Jesus as Lord.  You and I are not facing physical persecution for Jesus’ sake; we may in the future, but not right now.  Yet we are surrounded by false teaching of every stripe and color.  And no one can argue that it is not tempting to fall into the ways of the world and glide on through. 

     Many Christians are doing this right now ¾ living like the world and just gliding on through.  Acting as if tomorrow will never come and if it does, God will simply forget how they turned their back on Him.  Anyone with this attitude has a critical problem with their standing in Christ.  I trust that you and I will benefit from listening to Paul as he tells believers how they are loved, chosen, sanctified, called, and glorified ¾ and how a believer makes it in a world dominated by Satan.

     In verse 13 Paul says, we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord.  He wants them to know they are loved.  When he uses the word “always” he is saying their life in Christ is consistent, therefore he always gives thanks to God for them.  He calls them brothers and adds you are loved by the Lord. 

     Wow!  What a testimony.  A consistent life for Christ ¾ under extremely distressing circumstances ¾ which generates overwhelming love from the Lord Himself.  I found only one other biblical reference using “beloved of the Lord.”  We hear Moses saying this to the tribe of Benjamin as he blesses them before he dies, May the beloved of the Lord dwell in security by Him, Who shields him all the day, and he dwells between God’s shoulders (Deuteronomy 33:12).  What comfort ¾ to be in the midst of the worst of circumstances ¾ and to know we are shielded by God and dwell between His shoulders.  You can sort of see us “riding on God’s shoulders” while enjoying the security and giving Him thanks.     

     And there’s no reason why we, like the Thessalonian believers, cannot live out our lives for Christ in difficult circumstances while still maintaining a strong Christian testimony.  No matter the circumstances, good, bad, somewhere in between, we do not cave into our personal passions and live only for ourselves.  All believers have been “snatched” from Satan’s grasp.  And the world needs to see and know we have been transformed.  Oh, the joy and wonder of being called the beloved brethren. 

     Verse 13 continues by telling us why the Thessalonians and all believers are loved by God.  It is because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation.  God’s choosing flows out of His predetermined love.  I trust you understand “that before you were born ¾ before anyone was born, for that matter ¾ before God made the heavens and the earth, even before the angels first praised their Maker, God was planning to save His people from their sins.  We were destined to salvation long ages before the world was ever created” (Ryken).

     And we must never forget the plan of salvation required the totality of the Trinity ¾ Father, Son, and Spirit as attested to in Ephesians 1.  Salvation is administered by God the Father, accomplished by God the Son, and applied by God the Holy Spirit (Ryken). 

     In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 it states God has chosen you from the beginning and it is to this truth we must humbly bow.  If you know Jesus as your Savior you were predestined for this by God.  You were chosen before the creation of the world.  Contrary to what some believe, even some evangelicals, God is not working things out on a day-by-day basis.  God is not changing His plans to fit the circumstances or the culture as some are so fond of thinking.  For Satan‘s purposes, modern Christianity has developed “a god” who does not even know the future, but He is open to all possibilities?  That’s not my God!  My God doesn’t have a contingency plan.

     To imply that God is not sovereign, or God changes His mind, or that God’s ear is tuned into our changing needs, is nothing but heresy.  Everything God does is according to God’s perfect plan whether He blesses the righteous or curses the wicked; when He answers prayer and converts sinners; or when He rules over nations and nature.  God’s activities are based on His purpose in eternity and those purposes never change because God never changes. 

     This means God’s grace is God’s choice.  This means we cannot be saved by anything we do.  If we are to be saved, God must save us.  Right before the great fish vomited Jonah out on the beach, Jonah said, But I will sacrifice to You Lord with the voice of thanksgiving...salvation is from the Lord (Jonah 2:9).  And dear ones, I know the doctrine of election bothers some, but let me give you some assurance.  There is no one who wants to be saved who will not be saved!  You did just wake up some morning and have your relationship with God on your mind.  Romans 3:11 states, There is none who seeks for God.  If you have the desire to know God, you can be confident He gave that longing to you. 

     Sometimes we become way too “human focused” in our evangelical churches and take the position that if we don’t have something to do with God’s saving people, they won’t be saved.  God is always the initiator.  God has taken the first move.  All we can do is respond to His offer of reconciliation ¾ and, even our ability to believe is ultimately a gift from God.  Jesus made this so clear in John 6:44, No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him. 

    In 1 Thessalonians 5:9 Paul told these persecuted Christians that God has not destined them for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Now he tells them they are beloved by the Lord and they were chosen by Him from the beginning.  Beloved and chosen! 

     Then verse 13 tells us they are being sanctified by the Spirit and their faith in the truth.  Do you believe the power in this one verse of Scripture?  This is why it is so important that we carefully examine the Word of God.  If we’re in a rush, we miss much of what God has to teach us.  Believers are sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit.  God, the Holy Spirit is charged with setting believers apart from sin and He directs them to righteousness. 

     When you come to trust Jesus as Savior and Lord, you are totally transformed.  You may not realize it at that moment in time, but God’s Word states this is fact.  2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  New creature means “totally transformed.”  Let’s also call 1 Thessalonians 5:23 to the witness stand regarding your total transformation: Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

     Of course, this does not mean we are free from sin.  We’ll only be free from sin when we stand in God’s presence.  But this transformation that takes place in a believer will lead us to live lives of progressive sanctification.  Sin should not rule and reign over us because we are on the road to Christlikeness.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18 this is explained to us, But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 

     Verse 13 closes with the trumpet call that we are sanctified by faith in the truth.  The truth that salvation is by faith is the only true Gospel.  The New Testament overflows with references to this truth.  We have faith in the truth of God which is the basis for the Christian life.  Without faith, we’re lost. 

     Loved, chosen, and sanctified.  That should be enough to fill our plates, but Paul doesn’t stop here.  In verse 14 he tells those who believe it was for this God called you through our Gospel.  It is through the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ that one knows God’s love, God’s choosing, and the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work.  We’re being moved through some deep theological waters at this point.  We’ve been chosen by God and now we learn we have been called by God through the Gospel, through His Word.  Romans 10:17, Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

     This is why I believe so strongly in our need to evangelize the commanded by Scripture.  Yes, I believe in election.  Yes, I believe God calls those to Himself whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Yes, I believe that it is essential that through the preaching of God’s Word we make Christ known to this lost and dying world.  I have never taken the position we should just stand by and watch God work.  God has saved us and God calls us to take the Gospel to the lost and to make disciples throughout the world.  We do not know who has been elected since before the foundations of the world, but God knows and God commands us to go and tell this world about Jesus.  Don’t say to me, “If God has everything already worked out, why do I need to tell anyone about Jesus.”  You won’t care for my response to that question.   

     The call of the Holy Spirit is irresistible according to Romans 8:30, these whom God predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  Dear ones, when we are talking about the call to take the Gospel of Jesus to the world we’re not just using words.  We’re joining our hearts with Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.  If you are born-again, if you have been transformed, God called you through the Gospel.  There is no other way.

     But hold on, there’s something more in verse 14.  Called through the Gospel for what you might ask.  Notice the verse: that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Are you believing that?  Loved, chosen, sanctified, called ¾ and now one day we who believe will be glorified!  Paul is telling us not to be satisfied with the present aspects of our salvation because we are moving on to glory.  And it’s not just some glory, it’s the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We’ve covered this early on in the Thessalonian letters but it continues to boggle my mind.  Jesus is going to share His glory with us.  We’re loved, chosen, sanctified, and called to reveal the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ ¾ forever and forever. 

     Paul wants the Thessalonians to understand this so well.  Why?  Because he wants them ¾ and God wants us ¾ to be secure in our salvation and not worried that we are going to face the Day of Judgment of the ungodly, the times of the great tribulation.  Listen, we were predestined for glory, not wrath.  It’s not a problem when I use the word “predestined” like that, is it?  And it’s all because we have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ.  John Stott sums up verses 13 and 14 like this...

Let the devil mount his fiercest attack on the feeblest saint, let the Antichrist be revealed and the rebellion break out, yet over against the instability of our circumstances and our characters, we set the eternal stability of the purpose of God.

     Dear friend, know the Lord will protect us.  Know that we have stability in knowing His Word.  We confirm this with Scripture by noting 2 Thessalonians 3:3, The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. This should make the saved fall down on their knees and say, “Thank you Father for loving, electing, and choosing me for salvation from the beginning.  Thank you Father for sanctifying me through the Spirit.  Thank you Father for calling me through Your Gospel.  Thank you Lord that I can look forward to that day when I will be glorified.”

     Now in verse 15 Paul gives a warning we all need to hear.  Then in verses 16-17 he prays.  Let’s read those verses...

15   So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

16   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,

17   comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

     God’s Word would have had the Thessalonians at a fever pitch ¾ just like His Word should have us at a fever pitch.  The truth of God’s Word shows us to be people who are thankful to be loved, chosen, sanctified, called and one day, glorified.  And now in verse 15 we are reminded we should be a people who have a desire to know doctrine, to know what we believe.  This means we keep a firm grip on God’s Word because a firm grip on God’s Word eliminates the instabilities in our lives.  It gives us courage to stand firm with loyal steadfastness. 

     How could we possibly have more assurance than what God has given us today?  Yet, Paul says we must be careful.  This is no time to relax, but rather it is a time to brace ourselves.  We must stand firm to the truth of God’s Word.  Did you ever stop to think that some day we would be stifled for our beliefs in Jesus in our “land of the free, the home of the brave?”  The day is coming dear believers and we must stand firm.  We must hold to the truth of God’s Word. This is not a suggestion.  This is a command. 

     The underpinnings of the Greek language here suggest a gale is going to blow in which we are in danger both of being swept off our feet and of being torn loose from our hold.  We’re to cling to something solid.  We are to hold on for dear life.  No doubt the reference is to God’s Word.  And we know the attacks of Satan could rage for a long time.  This means we cannot study God’s Word selectively, we cannot twist it or ignore it, we cannot supplement it or replace it, we cannot teach and preach it according to what we want it to say rather than what God’s Word says.  When this happens we have let the great deceiver deceive us with respect to the truth.  Dear ones, the only way we will resist false teaching and the ways of this world is to remain unmovable and to cling tenaciously to the doctrines of our faith.  This means we will hold fast to our Savior and the truth as we have been taught it and know it from God’s Word. We can never let our guard down ¾ never. 

     And now comes Paul’s benediction in verses 16 and 17.  Paul prays that God will give us eternal comfort and hope.  He prays that God will strengthen the church.  He wants believers to know we cannot do any of this in our strength.  We depend on God’s power working within God’s purposes. 

     God wants us to be stable and secure.  He does not want us wavering with every hard wind that blows our way.  And He is saying we should know we are stable because of His love, His choosing, the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, His call through the Gospel, and the assurance that believers will one day be glorified in His presence.  He has set His love upon us and His love will never let us go.  Should not our spiritual stability meter be “bumping against the peg?”  This is what we expect from the steadfastness, the surety of God’s love. 

     And to all this we repeat a glorious and comforting prayer ¾ one that should be in our hearts and on our lips...

16   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,

17   comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

     ...and all God’s people said.


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