God is faithful and he will surely do it.

 

 

[1 Thessalonians 5:23-24]

 

 

It seems that many of us Christians who say that we believe in Jesus are not eagerly looking forward to the second coming of Jesus and are not preparing to welcome Him.  We can know this by looking at our lives where we are busy in the accumulation of earthly things, rather than busy storing up treasures in heaven.  Many of us, like the Israelites at the time of the Exodus, are looking back to this world, longing for the world things and pursuing them instead of looking forward to the Promised Land of heaven by faith.  This is not a life of faith and a life of hope.  How can we Christians who say that we wait for the second coming of Jesus are moving backward to this world, rather than heading toward the better Home?  We who live this kind of Christian life are bound to be reproved by the Lord.  It should never be so.  We must become all those who will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

                When Apostle Paul prayed to God for the Corinthian church saints, he had assurance that they would be blameless on the day of the Lord Jesus Christ and gave thanks to God as follow: “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8).  What a precious prayer of thanksgiving?  Think about I give thanks to God in my prayers for all of you when I pray for you because I know for sure that you will stand firm in faith and you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Isn’t his precious prayer of thanksgiving?  I want to off this kind of prayer to God.  How could Paul able to offer such a thankful prayer to God?  How could he be sure that the Corinthian church saints would be blameless on the day of Lord Jesus Christ?  I find the answer in 1 Corinthians 1:9 – “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”  The reason was because Paul looked at God who is faithful.  If he looked at the Corinthian church saints rather than looking at faithful God, he would not be able to pray with assurance and give thanks to God.  But when he looked at the faithful God, he was sure that He who chose them in love and called them would bring the salvation to completion.  Do you have this assurance?  Look at Philippians 1:6 – “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  He who began a good work is us is faithful God.  And our faithful God will carry the good work on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  It means that our faithful God who began the work of salvation in us will finish it on the completion.  It is because our Lord is a faithful even though we are unfaithful (2 Tim. 2:13).  I hope and pray that we look upon our faithful God in faith and wait in hope for His second coming.

 

                In 1 Thessalonians 5:24, Apostle Paul said “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”  Here, we can summarize what Paul said in three ways:

 

First, God called the Thessalonian church saints.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:24a: “The one who calls you ….”  Here, the meaning of God’s calling is that God who loved the Thessalonians and chose them (Eph. 1:4) called them to salvation (MacArthur).  The theological term for this is “God’s effectual call.”  This is what the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 10 says about “Of Effectual Calling”: “All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, (1) by His Word and Spirit, (2) out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; (3) enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; (4) taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; (5) renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power determining them to that which is good; (6) and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; (7) yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.(8)”(WCF).  I divided this confession into three parts and want to share some Bible verses:

 

(1)   “All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call”:

 

Look at Romans 8:30 – “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”  This scripture says that those whom God called to bring salvation, “he predestined.”  The theological term for this is "predestination".  ‘Predestination means that God already set our final destination, heaven or hell even before we reached there and even before we were born.  Predestination teaches that our ultimate destiny in in God’s hand (R. C. Sproul).  Look at Ephesians 1:4-5: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--.”  Look at Romans 8:29 – “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” 

 

(2)   “by His Word and Spirit”

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14: “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  This Scripture says that those whom God predestined and called to salvation are sanctified by the Spirit that is regeneration.  ‘All human beings are spiritually dead because the first man Adam’s sin was imputed to them (Eph. 2:1).  Therefore, no one can seek God (1 Cor. 1:20) or believe in Christ (Jn 1:12, 13) ​​and cannot do spiritual good (Ps. 14:3).  Regeneration refers to a change as a new creation that restores spiritual life from this state of spiritual death (2 Cor. 5:17)’ (Internet).  Following this inevitable consequence of the regeneration of the Holy Spirit is conversion and in conversion there are two elements: repentance and faith ["be saved ... through belief in the truth" (2 Thess. 2:13)].  ‘Here repentance is a passive element that recognizes one’s own sins by God’s grace of salvation and God’s mercy in Christ, and mourns and hates the sins and turns away from them.  On the other hand, faith is an active element of devoting the whole life to God and going to Christ after repentance’ (Internet).

 

(3)   “out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ”

 

Look at 2 Timothy 1:9-10: “who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  This Scripture says that God has saved us and this is completely God’s grace in Jesus Christ.  Look at Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast.” 

 

                Apostle Paul has already mentioned twice in 1 Thessalonians 2:12 and 4:7 about the "calling" in writing to the Thessalonian church saints.  First, in 1 Thessalonians 2:12 he said: “so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”  When we look at this verse, we can know the purpose why Paul exhorted and encouraged and implored each one of the Thessalonian church saints as a father would his own children (v. 11).  The purpose is so that they would walk in a manner worthy of the God who called them into His own kingdom and glory (v. 12).  In other words, Paul wanted the Thessalonian church saints to live in the manner worthy of the God who called them and who were saved.  That was why Paul encouraged them to live like the one who were in the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, and to live for His glory.  This is the life of the saved ones whom God is pleased with.  After exhorting the Thessalonian church saints like this, Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:7, “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.”  The reason Paul spoke to the Thessalonian church saints was because there were some among them who didn’t posses their own wife in sanctification and honor (v. 4) but purpose their lustful passion (v. 5) and stole the wife of another (v. 6) even though their sanctification was God's will (v.3).  That was why Paul told them “God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (v. 7).  I have summarized these two words of Paul’s exhortations to the Thessalonian church saints like this: ‘The God who brought you into the kingdom of God and His glory called you to live in the manner worthy of God and to live in sanctification so that you may please Him.’  In short, the purpose God called us is to live as saved holy people of the kingdom of God.  God called us to live like a saint.

 

Who are ‘saints?  Why do we call Christians the saints?  The meaning of saints is ‘holy people’.  The word holy is a translation of the Hebrew word ‘qodesh’ and the Greek word hagios’.  These words were originally derived from the words ‘cut’ and ‘separate’.  Therefore, holy in the Bible means ‘a special person or a thing was set apart for sacred use’.  So the things that were used in the tabernacle were called ‘sacred things’ and the priests who offered sacrifices to God instead of the people were called ‘priesthood’ (Internet).  The reason why the Bible calls us ‘saints’ is because we have been separated from sin and the world through Jesus and have been set apart to imitate Jesus Christ.  In particular, because God sent the Holy Spirit in us who are saved, we who received the gospel have received the Holy Spirit and we are now holy temple of the Holy Spirit.  That’s why we are called ‘saints’ or ‘holy people’ (Internet).  I hope and pray that we may please God by living as saints and God’s holy people.

 

Second, God who called the Thessalonian church saints has the sure thing to fulfill.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:24b: “…  and He also will bring it to pass.”  We can see Paul blessing the Thessalonian church saints as he finishes the letter from 1 Thessalonians 5:23 after he completed the exhortations from verses 1-22 (especially 16-22).  And in that blessing, what we see in verses 23 and 24 is that God would make the Thessalonian church saints to obey the exhortations from verses 1 through 22 and the ultimate purpose of the exhortations is sanctification (MacArthur).  Paul conclusively said that the sanctification would be accomplished by the faithful God (vv. 23-24).  Look at verse 24: “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”  Then, what is "it" here that faithful God would bring to pass in the Thessalonian church saints?  I summarized it in two ways:

 

(1)   The “it” refers to the Thessalonian church saints’ sanctification that faithful God would bring to pass.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:23a – “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely ….”  Sanctification is important to us.  This is because God, our Father, is holy.  So God commanded the children of God to be holy (Lev. 19:2).  This command means that we must be set apart as God is set apart.  This is sanctification (Internet).  This is what the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 13 says about sanctification: “They, who are once effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.  This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part: whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” (Section 1, 2) (WCF).  In this confession of faith, we can know that God chose us in love before the foundation of the world for us to receive God's effectual calling, regeneration, and recreation of the new hearts and spirits in us and we are being sanctified by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit through the merit of Christ's death and resurrection.

 

The Scripture 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says that “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely.”  What does it mean?  The one who sanctifies us entirely is the God of peace.  It is the God of peace “Himself” who is sanctifying us entirely.  In a word, the sanctification is the work of the God of peace Himself.  Why does the Scripture say that the One who sanctifies us is "the God of peace”?  God is the source of peace and the giver of peace.  This God of peace enabled us to hear the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15) and reconciled us to Him through the dead of His Son when we were God’s enemies (Rom. 5:10).  We, who are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, are enjoying the peace that God has given us because our Lord Jesus Christ who is our peace (Micah 5:5) dwells in us and the Holy Spirit is sanctifying us.  In short, the reason why the God of peace is sanctifying us is because our sanctification is a necessary condition for peace (Phil. 4:6-9).  After all, we will enjoy His peace completely and the God of peace will be with us forever (v. 9) because the God of peace is sanctifying us and will sanctify us entirely (1 Thess. 5:23).

 

(2)   The “it” refers to the fact that faithful God will preserve the Thessalonian church saints’ souls and bodies completely without blame at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:23b – “…  and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  In theology, there are two different theories.  One of them is “trichotomy” and it is a term which signifies a division into 3 parts: body, soul, and spirit.  Another theory is “bichotomy” and it refers to the view that a human being is a composite of two distinct components, body and soul (Internet).  Our Presbyterian church follows the bichotomy theory.  In other words, we believe that human beings consist of two parts: body and soul (Mt. 10:28; 1Cor. 2:14-15; 15:44, 46).  This is what the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 13 says about "sanctification": “In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail, yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (WCF).  Although in this world where we have this body we may have a constant spiritual battle, but in the end, God will accomplish our sanctification completely.

 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul blessed the Thessalonian church saints by saying that the God of peace Himself preserve their spirit and body without blame at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is what Park Yoon-sun said: ‘When the Lord returns, it is impossible for man’s power to preserve our spirit and body without sin and defilement.  It is possible only by the God of peace, that is, the God who is the last victor.  He will accomplish this by cleansing us with the blood of Jesus Christ and by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Jn. 1:7 , 9).

 

Third and last, God who called the Thessalonian church saints is faithful.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:24 – “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”  Do you know that God, who has given us the word of promise, is faithful?  This is what the Bible Hebrews 11:11 says, “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age--and Sarah herself was barren--was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.”  Here the woman "Sarah" refers to Abraham's wife in Genesis.  She was past the age of childbearing (Gen. 18:11) and couldn’t have a baby.  So she had no pleasure (v. 12).  But God told Abraham “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son” (v. 10).  And when Sarah heard this at the entrance to the tent, she laughed (v. 15).  Nevertheless, God who has nothing hard for Him (v. 14) was gracious to Sarah and did for her what He had promised (21:1).  So Sarah became pregnant and she bore a child at the age of ninety (17:17) and gave birth a son Isaac to her husband Abraham (21:2-3).  Without weakening in his faith, Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good ass dead since he was 100 years old and that Sarah’s womb was also dead (Rom. 4:19).  “Yet he didn’t waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God” (v. 20).  He was being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised (v. 21).  This kind of conviction is faith based on the faithful God.

 

As the Scripture Hebrews 10:23 says, we must hold unswervingly to the hope we profess because He who promised is faithful.  We must believe in the faithful Lord.  And we must not be shaken by firmly holding onto the the promise of faithful Lord with this living hope that He who promised to us will fulfill it.  This is what Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:13 – “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  What does it mean?  It means that God is faithful even though we are faithless because God is faithful God.  So the faithful God will complete the work of salvation that he started in us even though we are faithless because He is faithful.  The faithful God will surely sanctify us completely and will preserve our spirit and body without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).  Therefore, we must live holy life of the saints faithfully with the assurance of salvation based on our faithful God.  The faithful God, who has begun the good work of salvation is us, and is now still working, will complete the work of salvation until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

 

God who called us is faithful.  That’s why our faithful God will surely accomplish it.  Our faithful God will sanctify us entirely.  He will preserve our spirit and body without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  May this blessing be upon you all.