Evidence of Salvation
Evidence of Salvation
Words of Faith 3-4-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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1 Thessalonians 1
 For 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.
The Apostle Paul began his letter of encouragement by calling the believers in Thessalonica by two exceptional names-- brothers and chosen. Now, remember, these were largely Gentiles, for heaven's sake! As a Jew, rabbi, and Pharisee, how could Paul call these people brothers? The word means literally "from the same womb," but a better translation here might be "from the same birth."
Not only this, but Paul used a phrase for those at Thessalonica that Judaism had always used just for itself-- chosen. The Greek word is ekloge from which we get the word "elect." Paul named those in Thessalonica as chosen or elect because of the remarkable response to the preaching of the gospel while he was there. He had seen and heard it himself. He had no doubt. He was witness to the way that the Gospel had come to them with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction.
But this was not just some whimsical remembrance of a great night of revival. Paul also saw the transformation that God brought about in the lives of the people at Thessalonica. He lived there long enough to disciple the people and see that they became imitators of Christ as He lived within the missionary team. The people continued to welcome the message of God with a joy that was given by the Holy Spirit. The believers at Thessalonica became a model for believers on this new venture all across Europe. This was all proof of their "election" by God.
It is remarkable to think that the proof of God's love for the Thessalonians was that He chose them for salvation, but also that the evidence of that choice was seen in the response of the Thessalonians. Such is the mystery of election.
“Election” is one of those "big questions" we often wrestle with yet come away scratching our heads. Many places in both the Old and New Testaments teach that God has chosen to bless some individuals with eternal life (Deut. 4:37; 7:6-7; Isa. 44:1-2; Rom. 9; Eph. 1:4-6, 11; Col. 3:12; 2 Thes. 2:13). But it is equally clear that God holds each individual personally responsible for his or her decision to trust or not to trust in Jesus Christ (John 3; Rom. 5). Hence the head-scratching.
The difficulty in putting divine election and human responsibility together is in trying to understand how both can be true. Both are taught in the Bible. How both can be true is apparently incomprehensible to finite human minds. No one has ever been able to explain this scriptural paradox satisfactorily. It is a mystery that transcends human mental powers. God chose the Thessalonians, and their response to the gospel message proved that God had chosen them for salvation.
Rather than conclude a devotional time with head-scratching, it is perhaps better to just be in awe of the wonder of God. After all, Paul's letter was not intended to perplex. He was thrilled with what he saw and heard about the church in Thessalonica.
I love the way that Paul concluded his own wrestling with the issues of election Romans 9-11. He did so with a doxology—an expressive moment of worship—a burst of praise before God who is always bigger than we will ever be.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
Father God, I rejoice in the wonder of Your plan. I rejoice in knowing that You have everything in control, but also that You call me to respond to You. Show me how to be an imitator of Christ Jesus. Reveal to me the way of a disciple. Give witness in my life of Your saving power with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. May I eagerly await the message You bring to Your people and receive that message with joy. In Jesus' name.
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