1 Thessalonians One: How do you know this, Paul?

Posted: June 1, 2012 in 1 Thessalonians

It wasn’t my intention this morning to find a springboard in I Thessalonians one from which I could launch myself into the ever-controversial doctrines of grace, but at the same time it’s the focal point of this chapter. I mean, how else do we take it when Paul says “we know,  brothersloved by God,  that he has chosen you”? God is clearly the active component in Paul’s declaration. He didn’t say, “we know, brothers, that you have chosen God…” No, God chose them. Paul echos this in his second letter to them as well, as 2 Thess. 2:13 reads, “But  we ought always to give thanks to God for you,  brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you  as the firstfruitsto be saved,  through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”

And then Paul gives his reasoning behind his certainty that God has chosen to save the believers in Thessalonica. He knows this because they responded to the Gospel message of salvation, to the news that Christ on the Cross bore the sins of whomever would trust in Him alone as their means of salvation. When the gospel went out, it proved powerful among the Thessalonians. Furthermore, their lifestyles changed radically. Though persecuted for their faith, they began to become increasingly Christ-like in their words, thoughts, and deeds. In fact, news of their change had gone out into the world around them, that they had turned from their idols and were now serving and awaiting the return of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

I have to sit here and wonder what Paul would think if he heard about the church in America. I wonder what he’d say if he heard that the majority of professing Christians in this country do not believe that Satan is real? Or even more shocking, that almost 40% of American Christians believe that Jesus was a sinner? Worse yet, almost 60% of self-proclaimed Christians in this country do not believe that the Holy Spirit even exists. Don’t take my word on this- read Barna’s article.

I don’t think that Paul would say to the “church” in America, “I’m ever thankful that God chose you.” I think he’d say, “You guys need to find a new name for yourselves.”

What would he say about you?

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