Summary: This sermon looks at the faithfulness of the Thessalonians and how we can learn from it in our confidence with the Lord.
October 23, 2005 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10
"We know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia - your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."
Dear fellow believers having been chosen by God,
Paul begins his letter to the Thessalonians by thanking God for all of work and love and endurance of the Thessalonians. The very fact that he thanked GOD for the work and love of the Thessalonians shows that God was the initiator of the faith and actions of the Thessalonians. This is also very clear from today’s text.
He tells the Thessalonians, “We know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.” If people weren’t so willingly blind to the Scriptures - they would clearly see that salvation and coming to Christ is not dependant on the power or decision of man. It is from the power of God who does the CHOOSING. He chooses from eternity when and where He is going to bring you - the dead sinner - to faith. (Eph. 1:4)
Paul is a clear-cut example of this. He had nothing to do with his conversion. If it were up to him, he would have persecuted Christians until the day he died. But God chose to convert him on the way to Damascus and show him the light(Acts 9:1-6). The choice was not Paul’s. The choice is not yours. It is God’s.
This is offensive to a great majority of those who live in the world. So, I guess I could just ignore the doctrine. But then what about the Word that talks about this doctrine, like TODAY’S text? Should I skip over the offense and not talk about it? No. God’s Word is built to be offensive. We still need to preach it. One thing that offends people when they think about the teaching of predestination is, “how do I know if I’m chosen or not?” This is the question that we can answer from today’s text. It can be answered - maybe not with reason - but with the Scriptures. That Word is found in God’s Word for today. It answers the question -
Do you Know if You’ve Been Chosen?
I. Look at the commitment God has made with you in Christ
When you’re making a choice - for instance - when you choose to marry someone - there can’t be any doubt about it. Think about, for instance, the way that couples attempt to be committed to one another nowadays. They’ll buy promise rings. They’ll sleep together. They’ll live together. They’ll have children together. But in the midst of all these things, they never really make the commitment and actually get married. The children grow up with insecurity not knowing what the status of mom and dad is. Mom and dad don’t even know the status of each other - feeling the pressure to “measure up” so the other one doesn’t leave. The same is even true of many married couples - who don’t look at marriage as a lifelong commitment. So here we are in America, living in the middle of this mess of so called “committed” and yet uncommitted relationships.
When God chooses us, He doesn’t leave any doubt about it. He doesn’t just commit Himself half way with a “promise ring” and a promise to make a promise at some future time. He jumps in, both feet - head first - no reserves. This is absolutely clear from God’s Word. The Thessalonians KNEW they were chosen, because Paul clearly told them about the love of God. That word for love is the unconditional love - the agapaw love. This is defined wonderfully by Paul in Romans 5:6-8
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."