This past Sunday we completed our study of the book of 1 Thessalonians. Interestingly, after about two-and-a-half chapters of exhortations and commands the Apostle Paul’s closing prayer and benediction was focused on God’s work in them and His faithfulness to them rather than their own ability to obey.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
So after all of that exhortation to holiness, to right relationships, to regard for the Word of God and on and on it goes, we are told that it is actually God at work here. Some people, even Christian people cannot get their minds around this idea. They feel that it robs them of either responsibility or ability. That God cannot possibly be the efficient cause of their choices or actions. Yet we see this model again and again in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. Paul tells the Philippians, Philippians 2:12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” That is that simultaneously they are working out their own salvation or living it out to its expected end and yet it is God who is causing them both to will (to want to) and to do (to perform) what they are doing. In Romans 8:28-39 Paul is teaching the same thing.
God is at work in His people and He is ultimately in charge. He is Sovereign over every event in the world. He knows how many hairs are on our heads and every sparrow that falls to the ground. He governs every thing that happens according to the good pleasure of His will. Ephesians 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,” He works all things according to His will. This is not something to be resisted or denied by the Church. It is actually the guarantee of our success as individual Believers and as the corporate body called the Church.
Ask yourself, “Why would Paul spend two-and-a-half chapters expounding the duties of Christians and then suddenly say “[God] who has called you is faithful and He will do it?” Certainly not to remove responsibility for their actions. That would be counterproductive. Certainly not to remove motivation to live for Him. Rather to encourage them to the task! This is all heavy responsibility, a responsibility that surpasses human power and ability. Yet “God is at work in you to do and to will.” “He who called you is faithful, who will also do it!” This is the the encouragement to the task that makes victory certain. It is motivation that pushes us forward in an otherwise impossible task. Like David’s battle with Goliath we are are called to a seemingly impossible task, to live a life of love and self-sacrifice in the midst of a crooked and perverse culture; to be brave in the face of apparent defeat and yet we are more than conquerors in all of it. Only because God is the one that is doing it in us and through us. It is His sovereign plan and action as He brings it to pass in us and through us that makes us more than conquerors. Don’t sit their defeated, remember that “He who called you is FAITHFUL, who will also bring it to pass.” Get up and get busy! Do what you know is commanded of you in God’s Word. Trust the He will indeed bring it to pass.
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He Will Do It! – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28