Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 9
Thesis: The evidence of "election" is what happens when the Gospel is proclaimed.
Introduction: In our last study, we looked at Paul's concept of "election" and saw that it has to do with God making choices before the foundation of the world on the basis of "grace". In Paul's words, "the purpose of God according to the election of grace stands, not on the basis of works, but on the basis of God's call" (Romans 11:5 and 9:11). In Paul's logic, this is the only way God's purpose has any "hope" of fulfillment and, since 1 and 2 Thessalonians are all about keeping "hope" alive and vibrant, we are not surprised to see him making it a part of his argument. According to 1 Thessalonians 1:4, there are three major realities that are united: God's "election" of men; their subsequent state of being "beloved"; and their ultimate identity as "brethren". Since "brethren" are the major fulfillment of the promise of Eternal Life in regard to the soul, this is no small matter. Since being "beloved of God" is the major fulfillment of the promise of Eternal Life in regard to the spirit, this also makes the issue no small matter. Thus, we are looking at a major issue for keeping hope alive and vibrant.
This evening we are going to look into Paul's rationale for making the claim that he "knows" of the "election" of the Thessalonians: his claim is that the evidence of "election" is what happens when the Gospel is proclaimed.
February 16, 2014
- I. Paul's Grammatical Link.
- A. The claim is significant, especially in the light of his ambivalence toward the Galatians (Galatians 4:20) in light of his extraordinary confidence in the Thessalonians.
- B. The key is the "oti" that begins verse 5.
- 1. This word is typically a causative conjunction that is often translated "because".
- 2. It simply means that Paul is going to explain his rationale for his claim that he knows that the Thessalonians are a part of those who will absolutely inherit the Kingdom of God with all of its blessedness.
- a. This is key because absolutism is the foundation of vibrant hope.
- b. The idea is that Paul's absolutism will generate the same thing in the Thessalonians.
- II. Paul's Argument.
- A. In a nutshell, he knows of their election because of their response to the Gospel as laid out in the trilogy of 1:3.
- B. In regard to the particulars...
- 1. "Our Gospel" is of crucial importance.
- a. From Galatians we know that any vacillation in regard to this "Gospel" is suggestive of the kind of vacillation that can lead to the double accursedness of Galatians 1:8-9.
- b. At issue in "Our Gospel" is not ...
- 1) Whether Jesus is the Christ.
- 2) Whether Jesus was put to death "for our sins".
- 3) Whether Jesus was raised on the third day.
- c. At issue is what "for our sins" means.
- 1) As Galatians reveals, one can "believe" that Christ died "for" our sins and still contend that salvation is only available to those who make and keep certain behavior commitments.
- a) Paul's Galatian terminology is "receiving circumcision" (Galatians 5:2) as a basis for being justified before God.
- b) For Paul, "circumcision" is an umbrella term that means "committing to obedience across the board".
- 2) But, the biblical concept of Jesus' death "for" our sins is that His death addressed the inherent requirements of the Justice of God so fully and absolutely that this "Justice" is totally removed from any and every application to the one who "believes".
- a) There is really no point to the insistence that God only "justifies" those who make and keep certain behavior commitments if, in fact, the only reason for such commitments is "to be justified" by God.
- i. "Justification" is a "legal" doctrine wherein God declares a person to be sinless and guiltless in the light of His Justice.
- ii. People who make behavior commitments and attempt to keep them in order for God to evaluate their success according to His Justice are doomed.
- b) Christ's death "for our sins" was for one intent: to remove us from the realm of the application of the Justice of God.
- 3) Thus, the meaning of "for our sins" is "to remove us from the domain of the Justice of God".
- 4) Therefore, anyone who "believes" what Paul called "Our Gospel" cannot also "believe" that he/she is in danger of divine retribution arising from God's sense of what is "fair" (just).
- d. The impact of "Our Gospel" for Paul's rationale is that it forms the precise "content" of the faith to which God responds with a decree of "justification".
- 1) The importance of this "content" issue is that "content" is one fourth of the concept of "faith".
- a) "Faith" is always in view of some "content".
- b) "Faith" is always in view of a "conviction of truthfulness".
- c) "Faith" is the positive "cessation of resistance" response to the conviction.
- d) "Faith" is the root of what I have called "an equivalent, commensurate, response of behavior" (Paul's "the work of the faith" concept in the Big Three of 1:3).
- 2) Thus, "Our Gospel" is the declaration that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, that He died to remove us from the realm of the Justice of God, and that He arose from the dead as proof positive that His death as the Christ was effective.