Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6
Thesis: The "Hope of Salvation" is absolutely sure.
Introduction: As we have worked our way through 1 Thessalonians, I have argued that getting believers to absolutely rest in the hope of Jesus' return is Paul's fundamental intent. Such hope directs our thoughts and behavior and gives a very practical emotional stability to those who are invested in it. But, for most people, there is a pretty significant block to having such a hope: the thought that, though God has made some particularly significant promises, they are only good for "good" people. The "nothing shall pluck them out of my Father's hand" is turned into a "but I can get out of that hand by my own failures," or the "nothing shall separate us from the love of God" is turned into "nothing but my own choices can separate me from the love of God."
It is at this very corrupting thought that Paul aimed the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, and we are going to look into them this evening.
February 22, 2015
- I. The "For" Introduces the Reason(s) For "Hope".
- A. At issue is the exhortation to "be sober" that includes putting on both breastplate and helmet.
- 1. It is indisputable that the "heart" needs to be protected because it is "out of it" that all of the issues of life proceed.
- a. What is deemed valuable by a person is crucial to the quality of life because all of life centers around the emotional reality of "joy" and no one can be joyful who is denied what he/she deems most valuable.
- b. What is deemed true by a person is just as crucial because it is "truth" that gives us a "way" to obtain what is "valuable" (no one can be joyful who does not believe that he/she will be given what he/she deems most valuable).
- 2. But it is also indisputable that the "head" needs to be protected because all "thought" about what is valuable and what is true originates in the "head".
- a. The helmet is called "the Hope of Salvation" for a reason: no hopeless person is able to function by his/her love/faith complex (hopelessness fundamentally denies both faith and love).
- b. Thus, "being sober" is most critically focused upon the issue of "hope".
- B. The "For", therefore, introduces the foundation for "hope".
- II. The Bottom Line of Hope is God and His decisions.
- A. Paul's use of "etheto" is deliberate.
- 1. The verb is so widely used in both biblical and extra-biblical Greek that Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon gives it a full four columns in the attempt to give all of the shades of meaning.
- a. This means that trying to get a handle on what Paul's particular meaning is in this text is a major struggle.
- b. This also means that we will be strongly tempted to choose the particular shade of meaning that fits our theology rather than adjusting our theology to Paul's actual meaning.
- 2. However, the precise form of this verb is only found in seven other New Testament texts.
- a. The Father has "put" the "times and seasons in His own power" so that human beings are not to "know" them (Acts 1:7).
- b. Herod "put" Peter in prison, intending to put him to death as he had James (Acts 12:4).
- c. Paul "purposed" in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem (Acts 19:21).
- d. The Holy Spirit "hath made" the elders "overseers of the flock" (Acts 20:28).
- e. God has "set" the members, every one of them, in the body as it has pleased Him (1 Corinthians 12:18).
- f. God has "set" some of these members in the church to be apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. (1 Corinthians 12:28).
- g. Our current text (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
- 3. Summary: When this particular form is used, it indicates a decision of intention that is followed by the taking of particular actions to attempt to fulfill that intention.
- a. There is a kind of "sovereignty" involved in that the person making the decision does so on his/her own without regard for what others may, or may not, think.
- b. When God is the one who is attributed with the decision and action(s), it is pretty much a done deal.
- 1) His wisdom and power are irresistible by any/all others.
- 2) Only two of the seven instances are not references to God's decision/actions.
- 3) This precisely fits both Paul's theology of promise (the One who makes the promise is the One Who is responsible to fulfill it: Romans 4:21), and Paul's immediate context in our text (protect your head; you are in a battle over the quality of your life).
- B. Consistency argues that Paul's use of "etheto" was made to emphasize that "Hope" is rooted in God alone, not anything "human" or "angelic".
- 1. This "not anything" includes the believer's response to God's words.
- a. The previous exhortation is an exhortation to sobriety and action.
- b. The only possible stumbling block to one's hope, then, is the question of whether a person is being submissive to the exhortation.
- c. But Paul erases that concern in 5:10 by using the very words of his prior exhortations in his "regardless of whether we wake or sleep".
- d. In other words, one's "hope" is sure because it ignores the human response issue.
- 2. God wants us to trust Him to do what He has declared He is going to do whether we find ourselves particularly "faithful", or not.
- III. What Was God's Decision?
- A. That "we" will not be subjected to "wrath".
- 1. The "wrath" issue is all about why Jesus "died for us".
- 2. The "why?" issue was introduced in 1:10 with the first mention of our "hope" and it is the issue of our current text.
- 3. "Wrath" is fundamentally the application of "law" to a person's conduct.
- 4. The only real question we can raise is this one: Is Paul's reference to "wrath" a reference to The Great White Throne or to The Day of the Lord?
- a. To inject the Great White Throne into this text and context is illegitimate.
- b. The only thing in this context that retains legitimacy is that Paul is writing of the "wrath" of the Day of the Lord.
- B. That "we will be subjected to the "acquisition of salvation".
- 1. The use of "salvation" does allow us to consider another large umbrella (which aspect of salvation is in Paul's mind?).
- 2. But the context is, again, established: deliverance from the events of the Day of the Lord.
- IV. The Point: God has declared that He is going to deliver His people from the events of the Day of the Lord without regard for how they have made their decisions and taken their actions.
- A. This "point" has a "point": our decisions and actions should be allowed to arise from God's unilateral decision to deliver us; a response of "love", "faith", and "hope".
- B. Interestingly, only by taking man's penchant for failure out of the picture does man obtain an ability to not fail.
- 1. On the one hand, he cannot fail because, as to this decision by God, there is nothing for him to do so that there is no way he can fail.
- 2. On the other hand, in those areas where he can fail, he is shored up by love, faith, and hope so that he does not tend in that direction.