From the Beginning, God Has Chosen You to Salvation
© 2023 C. O. Bishop
2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17
13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
There are several key points in this passage. We need to address them one by one: to begin with, notice that this is addressed to believers: “Brethren beloved of the Lord.” If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, then, again, this is to you!
But what about the next phrase: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” How can we understand that, in light of what we know about how people are saved individually, by Grace, through Faith?
How can it be that God has “chosen us to salvation” from the beginning? Have we not already learned that we were born sinners and we were headed for Hell? Are some people “predestined” to Salvation, and others “predestined” to Eternal punishment? (Some people teach exactly that!)
The Doctrine of Election:
The noun phrase, “the elect” means “the chosen.” As a verb, “elect” means, “to choose.” We will run into this idea in several places in the New Testament. So, what, exactly, was the choice that God made before the creation of the World?
According to 1st Peter 1:19, 20, Jesus was “ordained before the foundation of the world” to be the Savior. The word “ordained” means “appointed.” Revelation 13:8 agrees with this, saying that he was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” But how does that affect us?
In Ephesians 1:4, we see that God chose us “in Him, before the foundation of the World.” So, before the world was created, Jesus, as “God the Eternally Existent Son,” was chosen to become a man. He was sent to die as a sacrifice, providing the full satisfaction of God’s righteousness and holiness.
He was chosen before humans existed…and before sin had entered the world. And those in Him were chosen at that same time! But we were not born “in Him,” originally: we had to be reborn to be placed into Him.
Where did We Start Out?
Ephesians 2:1-5 says we were all dead in our sins. It says that we were all the children of wrath, just like the rest of the world. That is where we began. But we can read in Ephesians 1:12-14 that when we believed the Gospel, placing our trust in Christ, we were sealed in Him by the Holy Spirit. And God sees us as being completely identified with Jesus Christ: He sees us as being holy, blameless, and already dead to sin. We are dead to the Law, and resurrected to a new life in Him.
God’s choice, before the foundation of the World, was that all those who believed His Word concerning Jesus, would be born again as children of God, and placed into the Body of Christ, never to be separated from Him again. He chose us in Him.
Does that mean that some are “predestined” to end up in Heaven, (regardless of what they might choose in life?) While that is commonly believed, it would also require us to believe that the rest of humanity is “predestined” to spend eternity in Hell (regardless of what they choose!)
So, How Can it Be Both Ways?
How can Jesus offer the invitation to “whosoever believeth” when so many people teach that either God chose you to be saved, from eternity past, or He didn’t: and if He didn’t, then you are just without hope and destined for Hell? (“Aw, too bad! You lose!”)
But, you see, the truth is revealed in 1st John 2:2…”And He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
The word “propitiation” means “satisfaction,” in terms of a legal settlement…a satisfaction of a judgment. In this case, it means that the Holiness of God, and His righteous Judgment was completely satisfied by Jesus dying in our place…but that His death covered the sins of the whole human race, not just the “elect.”
Jesus stated the promise this way: “For God so loved the World…” (meaning, “In this manner God loved the World”) “…that He gave His only Begotten Son…” (The Greek word “monogenés” which is translated “only begotten son,” carries the same idea as the English concept of “crown prince:” The eternal heir…the One who has the eternal relationship of Son to Father, from eternity past. That’s the One whom God gave!) “…that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
You see, that promise of eternal life is offered to “Whosoever!” The sacrifice was offered for the sins of the whole world.
Belief of the Truth
Romans 1:16 very clearly lays out the explanation for this verse. It says that “the Gospel of Christ is THE power of God unto Salvation to everyone that believes…” The “Good News” of Jesus’s death and burial and resurrection for our sins, being believed in, is the only thing God claims as His power to save sinners.
No one has ever been saved apart from the Word of God. 1st Peter 1:23 says that we have been born again “by the Word of God which lives and abides forever.”
So, the “belief of the truth” in 1st Thessalonians 2:13 is in regard to one specific truth: The fact that Jesus shed His Blood for you, personally! This concept is reiterated throughout the New Testament.
What Does Jesus Say About it?
Jesus addressed this idea in John 3:17-19 “17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
Did you see the dividing principle? It was faith! “He that believes” versus “He that does not believe.” He said, “they who believe are not condemned,” and “they who do not believe are condemned already, because of their unbelief.” That is the dividing line!
Then He explained the underlying principle: “Light has come into the World!” (He is the “Light of the World”) and people prefer darkness to light, because their deeds are evil. That is the status of the whole human race! That is our original position. We reject Him as a matter of choice. But, He has now called us to a new position…in Him!
Romans 3:25 makes it even more specific: it states that He is the propitiation… (Remember, that word “propitiation” means the “satisfaction of God’s Holiness and His Righteous judgment”) “…Through faith in His Blood.” It is not just a general statement that “I believe in Jesus:” It means faith in His completed Work at the Cross, as it applies to me, personally!
Sanctification of the Spirit (v. 13)
To “Sanctify” a person (or an object) means to set them (or it) apart for a holy purpose. The vessels in the temple were sanctified for that use, and that use only!
When the Holy Spirit placed you into the Body of Christ, the moment you trusted in His blood sacrifice for your salvation, He also set you apart as God’s private property…for His personal use. He bought you, and you belong to Him. You were permanently sanctified to His use.
He has chosen you to be his personal property as well as the object of His love. He calls us to reflect His holiness in our choices…in our daily lives. That kind of sanctification requires that we set ourselves apart to His service as well. We agree with Him concerning our lives. He calls us to do so continually! How did He call us?
“He Called you by our Gospel.” (v. 14)
No matter who you are, or when or where you are born, ultimately, you were called to God by the Gospel. Someone told you, or perhaps you were reading something that included the Gospel.
What do I mean by the phrase, “the Gospel?”
I mean the same thing that the Apostle Paul meant, when he cited the “Gospel of Christ” in Romans 1:16, and explained it,in 1st Corinthians 15:3, 4, and it is repeated through all the rest of the epistles. It is the Good News that Jesus Christ died for our sins, in fulfillment of the prophecies and that He was buried, and that He rose again after three days and three nights…and that He is returning for His Bride!
This is what Paul and Silas preached in Thessalonica, and the people heard that call and they believed! That produced a new position! A new Location! And Paul says they were called to “the obtaining of the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is your new location! You have been placed into the Body of Christ, and you are permanently bound to Him, anticipating an eternity of Glory with Him.
What Should the Result Be? (v. 16, 17)
He says we are to stand fast, and to hold to sound doctrine and be obedient to the Word of God as we have been taught by the Holy Spirit and by Christ Himself, and by whatever teachers He has sent to us.
Ephesians 4:14, 15 says we are to “grow up into Him!” We are to grow to be like Him!
And Ephesians 5:1-20 tells us what that “looks like:” We are to leave behind our old ways, along with all the “unprofitable works of darkness,” as we now are “children of the light.”
He says that because we are children of the light, we are to walk as the children of light. Behave like a child of God because you have become one, through the new birth; through placing your full trust in His blood alone for redemption. Behaving that way as an unbeliever will not save you, but if you really are a child of God, then the results should begin to show.
And (v. 17) as we continue to learn to walk with Him, we can expect that He will “comfort our hearts and establish us in every good word and work:” The result will be that our work and our words will all prove to be to His Glory.
Lord Jesus, we desire that our words and our works should be to Your Eternal Glory. Please transform our lives from the inside, by the renewing of our minds through Your engrafted Word. Glorify Yourself in Your people.