International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 18, 2010
Purpose: To discover what it means to be chosen by God and sanctified by the Spirit
Scripture Text: 2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17 (NRSV)
2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
(13) But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. (14)For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (15)So then, brothers and sisters stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
(16) Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope,(17)comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
It is impossible to understand our text without reading the preceding verses of this chapter. Paul is responding to a new and erroneous belief that the day of the Lord had already taken place and the Thessalonian believers had missed the return of Christ. Paul begins our lesson text with reassurance to the Thessalonians that they had not missed anything, and that they were chosen by God to receive the message that Paul and others delivered to them in person and in letter.
God's choice is that everyone would respond positively to the word of God when they hear it, but that does not always happen. When Abraham was called by God to leave his home and go to a place that God would show him, it was Abraham's faith that made him the chosen one of God. Even today when we are called or chosen by God it is our faith that leads us to salvation and sanctification by the Spirit. That is what Paul is telling the Thessalonian church. Paul had proclaimed the good news to them so that they could respond to God's call to them. Today we call this an act of grace; it is what we refer to as Prevenient Grace, that grace that we experience before we are even aware of God's grace. It precedes our salvation and is with all of us from the beginning. Some refer to it as a God shaped hole in our heart that only He can fill. In this technical world we live in today it is like a GPS signal that is trying to direct us to our proper destination. God wants us to obey the signal and find our way to Him.
Jesus said “many are called, but few are chosen,” the call or signal goes out but only a few hone in on that signal and recognize that it is from God. And even those would not recognize the signal except they received the word by way of a messenger or by way of the written word.
God's grace works for us and through us, while it is Prevenient Grace that calls us prior, it is Justifying Grace that allows us to be forgiven, and for both our sins and our quilt to be washed away. Then another grace, we call Sanctifying Grace, helps us to become more Christ like in our daily lives. Sanctifying Grace encourages us, and deepens our love for both God and man. Then comes God's Perfecting Grace, which both enables and encourages us to grow stronger in our commitment and more perfect in our love, not that we can become perfect, for that is reserved for God alone, but we can love more and sin less as we progress toward the final grace which is Glorifying Grace, which is reserved for those that get to an eternal home and assume the likeness of Christ after His resurrection. One thing I should point out, even in Glorifying Grace we will not know everything God knows or be as perfect as God, those qualities are reserved for the God Head.
Have you responded to God's call on your life?
Do you need “eternal comfort” and “good hope” in your life? How does Paul say we can help comfort and strengthen ourselves?