Thanksgiving for Salvation
2 Thess. 2:13-17
From talking about prophetic events that would happen in the future, Paul now focusses his letter about Christian living. Truths about salvation, including thanks giving and prayer were included, so let’s take a look at it.
I. His Thanksgiving (2 Thess. 2:13a)
A. The reason for the apostle’s joy and gratitude to God was His choice of the Thessalonian believers for eternal salvation.
1. God loves them. He calls them “brethren”. The Thessalonians are his brothers and sisters in Christ. As brethren, they are beloved by the Lord, and they are God’s children, though they maybe hated and persecuted by their unbelieving neighbours,
2. God hath chosen them the beginning for salvation. It is not love alone that saves us, for God loves the whole world, and yet the whole world is not saved. The word “chosen” is the synonym for the word “elect”. It is a word misused by the Calvinist. The Calvinist teaches that God unconditionally chooses who will be called to salvation. Calvin believed that God also chooses who will go to hell. This can easily be refuted by God’s Word. In Jn. 3:16-18, it says that God loved the world and sent His Son to save the world. The word “world,” which is used three times here, is never used for the elect. The “world” here is the whole world of lost sinners. God loved them, all of them, and gave His only begotten Son to save those who believe. If I am in the world, salvation was provided for me and I can be saved. Any sinner in the world can believe and be saved. “Whosoever” does not mean whosoever of the elect. John 3:16-18 teaches that the elect are those who believe in Christ. That is a fundamental doctrine of election. That is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Any sinner can be saved and can be the elect of God. God’s elect are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. God’s elect are chosen when they believe, as we see so clearly in this passage. Those who are cursed are those who “believed not” (2 Thess. 2:12) and those who are beloved are those who believe (2 Thess. 2:13). When the gospel came to Thessalonica, God’s call came.
3. God set them apart (v. 13 c). The word sanctify means “to set apart.” There is a progressive sanctification that makes us more like Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23). But the sanctification Paul mentioned here refers to the Spirit’s work in leading the unbeliever to faith in Christ. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit” (1 Pet. 1:2). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to the sinner (Jn. 16:7-11). Though I did not realize it at the time, as I look back I can see how the Spirit led in bringing me to faith in Christ; and this is the experience of every believer.
4. The elect are “chosen to salvation through … belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). The belief of the truth is the means of election. Those who hear the gospel and
yield to the Spirit’s work of sanctification (enlightening, drawing, convicting, calling) and believe savingly are the elect of God. As already noted, that is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Any sinner can be saved and can be the elect of God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
5. The elect are “called by our gospel” (2 Thess. 2:14). In this present age, God is calling sinners to salvation by the gospel. Those who hear the gospel and receive it by repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are saved. This speaks of the urgency of proclaiming the gospel. Christ has commanded that it be preached to every individual (Mk. 16:15). Every believer is an ambassador in this great work.
6. To the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 2:14b). Points us to the ultimate goal—sharing in the glory of eternity with the Lord Jesus. Here we see what began in His past eternal councils finds its ultimate fulfillment in eternity future. However, as seen in 2 Thess. 1:10, sharing in the glory of Christ will begin with His parousia when He comes with the church to be glorified in His saints (1 Thess. 5:9).
Illustration 1: Know Your Election
Many people want to know their election before they look to Christ. But they cannot learn it thus; it is only to be discovered by ‘looking unto Jesus.’ Look to Jesus, believe on Him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for as surely as you believe, you are elect. If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust Him, then you are one of God’s chosen ones. Go to Jesus just as you are. Go straight to Christ, hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election.
Christ was at the everlasting council. He can tell you whether you were chosen or not, but you cannot find out in any other way. Go and put your trust in Him. There will be no doubt about His having chosen you, when you have chosen Him. – Charles Spurgeon
II. Stand fast (2 Thess. 2:15)
A. The idea of “stand fast” is to take a firm stand on something (1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Thess.
3:8), to be steadfast. Here it is to take a firm stand on the Word of God. In view of their calling, the Thessalonian believers were to maintain their present position of faith in God, care for the brethren, and hope in the imminent return of Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 1:3). Christians are in constant danger of being carried away by modern, and worldly things current. They are also prone to let the truths they know and the relationship they enjoy with God grow cold. They need to vigorously hold to what they have been taught by God’s servants. The Thessalonians were in danger of letting go on the apostles’ teachings which they had received (2 Thess. 3:6) in person from the missionaries and from their letters. They were in danger of slipping backward in their Christian experience because of the pressures of their trials and the daily negative influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Illustration 2: Eternal Life
Have you ever had to wait in line in traffic, at the bank, or at the grocery store? Which line do you get into? The personal challenge is to make the best guess on which line will move the quickest.
If you guess wrongly, you might get impatient and disgruntled. But if you picked the quickest line, a feeling of great relief and satisfaction fills your mind—as you look at all the people who are still waiting.
Fortunately, when it comes to life, there is no guesswork about which line to choose. God picked the right line for you to stand in—the redemptive line of salvation, the line of eternal life that is rooted in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Practical Illustrations
III. Prayer for Strength (2 Thess. 2:16-17)
A. Paul prayed that God would give them everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. Though the Son and Father are both mentioned, They are regarded as One. God’s love and grace is the foundation for everlasting consolation. Consolation is comfort or encouragement. God and Christ are called the God of all comfort; and if there be any real consolation, it is in, by, and from Christ; and it is the gift of God, an instance of his grace. Also, God gives hope for the future. And that hope is good for it assures believers of the return of their victorious Savior.
B. Paul had two desires for the Thessalonians:
1. The Thessalonians needed comfort and encouragement in view of their recent anxiety created by false information concerning the day of the Lord.
2. They needed God’s grace to make them firm and steadfast in every good deed and in every word they spoke. In other word, they must walk the talk, as a good testimony to all the people around them.
Illustration 3: Believer’s Work
Pray – Praise – Preach
Pray unceasingly 1 Thess. 5:17; Eph. 6:18
Praise continually Eph. 5:19–20; Heb. 13:15
Preach unwearingly 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Cor. 15:58
— 10,000 Sermon Illustrations
Paul gives thanks to the Lord for the salvation of the Thessalonians. He wants them to stand fast for what have been taught to them and not be carried away by the negative influences by the flesh, the world and the devil. The Thessalonians were in the midst of trials, and Paul prayed that they might have the full consolations and hope through grace