God Has Chosen You
2 Thessalonians 2:13-15
"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. And it was for this that He called you through our gospel that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." (II THESSALONIANS 2:13-15).
This passage follows a discourse concerning a great and horrible apostasy that was to come upon the church. It would be a time of lawlessness as the authority of Jesus Christ was pushed aside by those seeking religious (and later even civil) authority of their own. Man would pridefully exalt himself seeking to place himself on God's throne. Many would be tragically deluded by the power and pretentious signs of the false one. All those who transgressed will ultimately pay the price for their rebellion against God when Jesus comes again (II THESSALONIANS 2:1-12).
From our own perspective we can accurately maintain that the prophesied apostasy indeed came in the following centuries thus fulfilling the Holy Spirit's words recorded here in the writings of Paul. We can also plainly see that the same prideful spirit is at work in mankind today as many seek to lead many others away from the God of truth. I am amazed at how many "believers in God" are willing to explain away plain Biblical teaching about a host of issues, doctrinal and moral. They insist that such "was fine in the first century, but we need to be more open to modern thought" or "The writings of Paul are his impressions of God's will and not the will of God itself" and so forth. I am not at all wrong when I say that that our nation is in a similar apostasy and decline to the one of which Paul spoke in the first part of II Thessalonians. What does a Christian do in such a world?
We have already given the Holy Spirit's answer at the beginning of this article. Let's now consider it more closely.
GIVE THANKS FOR THE FAITHFUL
"But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord..." (II THESSALONIANS 2:13). Often, in being upset at the godlessness of those who know not God, we forget the encouraging examples of faith which we see throughout the world today. To see God's grace at work in the lives of the beloved of God is compelling and powerful. To read or hear of successes of others, whether locally or in distant lands, ought to fill our hearts with thanksgiving. Satan thought that he might win this battle after all...but he was wrong! Don't ever allow yourself to dwell on the negative, complaining and moaning, while forgetting the positive influences exerted by God's people, the salt of the earth and the light of the world (MATTHEW 5:13,14).
GOD HAS CHOSEN YOU FOR SALVATION
"...because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation..." (II THESSALONIANS 2:13). From the beginning God had a plan to save those who were lost in sin. This plan is a part of His eternal purpose, Everything you read in the Bible about how Jesus saves us is a part of this eternal plan. As the Scriptures state "This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord..." (EPHESIANS 3:11).
By this plan we are chosen by God for salvation. No puny plan devised by mortal man whose existence on earth is but a vapor is worth putting your trust in. From the beginning, God has chosen to save us one way to the exclusion of all others. If that's not good enough for you, then one day you will have to take your place beside all the other rebellious souls and share their fate.
SALVATION THROUGH SANCTIFICATION
"...salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." (II THESSALONIANS 2:13). A part of being chosen by God is sanctification. This means "to be set apart". This is what happens when one responds to God's plan. He yields his will unto God's will. He places his hope and confidence in God's wisdom and provision. He obeys the gospel and becomes like Christ in that he follows the example of Jesus. Without sanctification, there is no salvation. If we are satisfied with the status quo and unwilling to follow Christ, then we will never get to where Christ is leading His people.
Two aspects of sanctification is also brought out by the phrase "by the Spirit and faith in the truth." As we allow ourselves to be led by the Scripture, we are being led by the Spirit because the Scripture was given to us by the inspiration of the Spirit. You cannot be led by the Spirit if you are disobedient unto the Spirit's revelation. Also, faith in the truth is a part of sanctification. Remember that Paul had warned of a troubling apostasy to come. There would be other doctrines and gospels taught. The truth would be abandoned by many, even as it is today. Those who are sanctified remain so by continued faith in the truth, even when the world provides many other choices.
CALLED THROUGH THE GOSPEL
"And it was He who called you through our gospel..." (II THESSALONIANS 2:14). God calls us through the gospel and we answer God's call when we believe and obey the gospel from the heart. This same gospel had been appointed from eternity before time began. Now it has become a part of time and creation. Through it the eternal God of heaven calls His creatures home. When we answer God's call and remain true to it, two things will happen; We will live our lives on earth for the Lord (sanctification) and we will go to our true, everlasting home in heaven and be joyfully free (salvation).
GAINING THE GLORY OF JESUS
"...that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II THESSALONIANS 2:14). The eternal plan of God concerning ourselves will find its climatic conclusion as we share with our Redeemer His glory around the Father's throne. The aged apostle John , inspired by God's Spirit, exclaimed that when Jesus appears again, that we "shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is." (I JOHN 3:2). Certainly John recalled how that many years earlier, on the night of Jesus' betrayal and arrest, our Lord comforted His disciples with the assurance that His Father's house contained many dwelling places and that He was going to prepare a place for us that "where I am, there you may be." (JOHN 14:1-3). Also, recall the promise that Jesus will "transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory..." (PHILIPPIANS 3:21). No human being is worthy to share in the glory that belongs to the Creator of the universe, and yet, that is exactly what is promised.
BRETHREN, STAND FIRM
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us." (II THESSALONIANS 2:15). So then, the answer for the faithful Christian as he faces the dilemma of living in a fallen world as it rebels against the God of heaven to its own misery and destruction, is to stand firm. We shall not be moved away from God's truth and swallow Satan's deceit. We see every day the pain caused by the world's careless disregard for God's truth.
The traditions of this verse do not refer to the traditions of men, but rather to the truths of God that had been handed down to them through the Lord's apostles as they were inspired to do so by the Holy Spirit. It may not always be easy to stand firm, but it is always possible and always the best way to deal with any situation in life. We are living parts of an eternal plan brought into force by Almighty God, born by His love for us. We shall not disappoint Him.
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 1.7; July, 1994