For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
In 1 Thessalonians 5, we have studied Paul’s view of the Christian’s sanctification as we wait on the Lord to return. Paul also discusses how God made His choice to separate us from the world of unbelievers. In the message today, we take care to emphasize God’s divine selection and the infallible purpose of Christ’s death on the cross. We are not strangers to Paul’s explanation of these doctrines having spent many weeks on the subject in our Romans class discussions of chapters 7 and 8.
The question I pose in this article is this: Did another apostle confirm Paul’s teaching or is he out on a limb by himself? You and I know this could never be since all the scriptures are Holy Spirit inspired. Let us consider the apostle Peter and his affirmation of Paul on these subjects.
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2)
Most of you that know me well know that I am drawn to this verse in which Peter mentions one of my favorite subjects of scripture, the doctrine of election. Proper understanding of this doctrine is what I would call a sea change. It radically alters our view of self. The heart of man is naturally against it. We will not come to it easily and yet when God gives understanding it begins to sink into the soul and overwhelms us with His graciousness. It is not popular doctrine because it is designed to take away our bragging rights. It removes any thoughts that in any way we have part in our salvation.
The second verse also contains the doctrine of sanctification. Not only is the sovereign God singularly responsible for His choice of lost sinners, but it is also His work alone to make them fit to enter fellowship with Him. The scriptures teach that we are vile and wicked while God is perfectly righteous and holy. If I could put it this way, we cannot sit in the same room with God. His holiness cannot allow any sinner to approach Him. For this, we must be changed. We must be made holy in order to come into His presence. This is what the Holy Spirit does in our sanctification.
A third doctrine taught in this verse is the end to which we have been chosen. We are chosen to obedience. We are chosen to follow Christ and produce good works for His kingdom. We are chosen to obey the commandments of Christ which is the evidence of our salvation. The absence of these good works reveals that sanctification has not taken place—that we have not been purged from our sins. All those that are chosen, called, justified, and sanctified will be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30).
A fourth doctrine found in this verse is the means by which all of this is accomplished. It is by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. It is by His sacrifice on the cross that our sin debt to God is satisfied. We are released from the guilt of our sins and justified in God’s sight by this once for all offering that Christ made on the cross. All the doctrines of God’s word are centered on this all-important fact. If not for Christ’s blood, our election could not result in salvation. If not for the cleansing of His blood, we could not be sanctified in order to fellowship with God. If not for the power of His blood to change our wicked hearts, we would never have the desire to obey God.
Though Paul and Peter have different purposes in their letters, we find the support for their teachings are the same underlying doctrines of the faith. They preach the same Christ; therefore, they are in perfect harmony concerning the Father’s selection of His people, the Son’s vicarious suffering for them, and the Holy Spirit regenerating work to bring them to repentance and faith. Since the apostles agree, why shouldn’t we?
Pastor V. Mark Smith