Archive for the ‘1 Thessalonians’ Category

God Will Do It

October 24th, 2016

He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this. (1 Thes. 5:24 NET)

In the midst of the spiritual struggles we experience in this life, we can be discouraged and wonder if we will ever be fit for heaven. If the work was left up to us alone, or even us mostly, we would surely not become fit for heaven or worthy of its reality. We would become – sooner or later – a moral blemish in the community of those perfected saints.

But this truth applies not just to us as individuals but to every person, and we would all fail if our moral and spiritual perfection was left in our hands. Of the human community on earth it is said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and it would surely be said again of the redeemed human community in heaven IF our perfection was achieved by us, that all will sin again and fall short again of the glory of God. In fact, in such a case, heaven would not be heaven at all, in fact, it would be worse than life here for the simple reason that we could not die to get out of it.

But thank God that is not the case. Thank God that, just as He took on lostness and called us to faith in Christ, just as He sent the Christ while we were still sinners, so He likewise assumes the responsibility to bring us to maturity and to moral perfection. We read, “And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). Albert Barnes wrote:

There is a connection between justification and glory. The one does not exist without the other in its own proper time; as the calling does not subsist without the act of justification. This proves, therefore, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. There is a connection infallible and ever-existing between the predestination and the final salvation. They who are subjects of the one are partakers of the other. (Albert Barnes, New Testament Notes)

The use of the past tense “glorified” paints a picture of the sureness of this happening, though it has not yet happened to us as we are still upon this earth.

The apostle does not explain all the means by which God shall achieve this, but we are not left entirely in the dark on this subject. We can glean from other passages some of the tools that God will use in eternity to bring us to this perfect level of glorification.

Completeness of knowledge: Here we know in part, not in fullness or completeness. It is good to learn and grow in knowledge, but we all still dimly grope our way through life in some way – even the most learned and devout Bible scholars. But the apostle wrote that in eternity, “Then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12). The truths that puzzle and perturb us here will be clarified. We will know the depth of our sinfulness and the greatness of the redemptive love of God.

Perfected in love: In heaven we will understand and experience the fullness of the love of the Godhead. Christ taught that eternal life is a life of knowing God (John 17:3). He prayed on the night of His arrest:

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17:24)

So the nature of this personal knowledge of God is to be in the presence of pure love, and to become intimate with the One through whom it comes. To know that we as individuals are loved and accepted in Him, that this love is secure and eternal, will be a revolutionary thing in our hearts. This is, by the way, an experience that the Spirit wishes to give to us in part today.

The two alone are precious truths to our hearts – that in heaven we will have full knowledge and unhindered closeness to Christ.

And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever. (Rev. 22:3-5)

The destruction of the tempter: We should also remember that in eternity Satan will be destroyed and there will be no more tempter.

The healing of our hearts: What about the wounds and hurts that we feel in our souls? One of the most precious images of heaven is in Revelation 22:2, that in heaven there will be the tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Whatever memory of sin and hurt that may arise in our souls in heaven will be immediately and for all eternity healed. Just as we experience full forgiveness of our sins, so we share full forgiveness with one another.

There is no lost man who is so vile and sinful that God cannot save him. And there is no Christian who is so weak and unsteady in his faith that God cannot bring to maturity. The apostle said, “Faithful is the One who calls you, and He will do it!”

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Preserved Blameless

October 21st, 2016

Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes. 5:23)

What is our best hope in this life?

Is it success, friendships, respect, and health?

Is it power, control, dominance, and even, perhaps, vindication or revenge?

The common indicators of success in the world relate to the three baser fallen human instincts: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – all of which are passing away (1 John 2:16). Yet we still are drawn to these unholy three in many ways. The book of Proverbs, by the way, provides a wonderful description of a truly successful person, and how to keep financial rewards in the proper perspective. While a good person may be financially successful, financial success has a way of distracting us from God, so much so that God said, “The love of money is a root to all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10 – see also Matt. 6:19-24).

The cause of so much unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and worry in the world is that we focus too much on money and possessions. To provide for the safety, well-being, and advancement of our families, of our loved ones, is a worthy goal, what we should do (1 Tim. 5:8). But true success is more than just this or mostly this, and we should pass along to our children not only the value of hard work but also the much superior importance of holiness and love of God.

In the closing words of 1 Thessalonians, Paul expresses his hopes and wishes for the believers, and in so doing he provided for them and for us an inspired aspiration for God’s people. The desires is that we may be kept entirely blameless in our entire being until the coming of Christ, or until our going to meet Him through death.

The greatest aim for our personal success should always be that we are focusing on the things of God, upon our obligations toward Him, upon His works of grace within us, upon our eternal destination. What people think of us here on earth is important to us, and rightfully so to a limited degree. A good and godly reputation was an important factor in the choosing of church leaders (Acts 6:3). Though this fallen world’s value system is never what it should be, and though we may be misunderstood and misjudged by this world (Heb. 11:38), it is still of some consideration to our hearts (Prov. 16:7), but only in a limited way.

But what God thinks of us, and how His holy people assess us, are of supreme importance to our souls. Our aspirations should first be heavenly – to be blameless in our lives, to live by the ethics and priorities of God’s eternal kingdom, to be obedient to His Word, to follow the leading of His Spirit, to fulfill His plan for our lives, to run well the spiritual race marked out for us.

It is worth noting that the verbs in this verse all point to God as the one who does the action: He makes us completely holy and He preserves us blameless. His Spirit works to draw us increasingly closer to His heart, to lead us in increasing fashion to find joy and peace in obeying Him. It is not that we have nothing to do in this matter – we must surrender, obey, and follow Him – but the work is essentially His to begin and to complete (Phil. 1:6 and 1 Thes. 5:24). The Christian faith is about God changing our hearts and not just about us trying to be outwardly obedient to do what we don’t want to do (Phil. 2:13).

Oswald Chamber’s devotion for today (Oct. 21) stressed the importance of doing this every day, of being exceptional in ordinary things, not just doing exceptional things:

Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on the water is easy to impulsive pluck, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he followed Him afar off on the land. We do not need the grace of God to stand crises, human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

Have you chosen the more important matters as your life goals? Have you placed as of first importance to your heart to know Christ? (Phil. 3:8) Have you desired, more than wealth, power, and prestige, to live blameless before Him? This is the measure of true success in life. Only His kingdom is eternal.

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