Gospel For Life

Training and building disciples for Christ

The Perseverance of the Saints, Part 2: Our Response to the Spirit’s Sanctifying Work, (2 Thess. 2:13-15)

INTRODUCTION – The world has a definition of freedom and happiness that is divorced from holiness in the Lord. Since the Fall of us all in our first parents, the human race has worshipped and served the creation instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:25). At salvation, we become new creatures with new desires. We were changed from worshippers of the creation, to worshippers of the Creator. As a result, salvation is sanctification. For sanctification means that the believer is set apart for God. The Christian is set apart for God, and set apart from the world to be a worshipper of God (1 Cor. 6:13-20).

Therefore salvation entails a new relationship with God and a new relationship toward the world. As the reality of our salvation relationships is lived out, we areprogressively sanctified by God’s Spirit. To the degree that the believer cooperates with God’s purposes in sanctification, he will experience joy, peace, assurance, growth in grace and perseverance.

A Christian’s devotion to God’s purpose in sanctification is referred to in Romans 12:1 as his “reasonable” or “rational” service of worship. It is “rational” to devote oneself to sanctification because we were saved for the purpose of enjoying God. And it is impossible to enjoy God without holiness!

At our justification, we received the perfect status of adoption before God. Every barrier that blocked the reception of God’s love was removed at justification. We ought to regard sanctification as taking our justification seriously, for sanctification prepares us to live with God forever.

Application – Discuss the reasons why holiness in the Lord is the only true happiness. Note the following connections between holiness and happiness.

1.) Humans were made for God. Salvation restores that created purpose. An idol or “false integration point” cannot bring joyful unity to the soul of man.

2.) It is unspeakable joy, pleasure and peace to possess a conscience that is clear enough to reflect the face of the Creator. It is only the clear conscience that possesses a boundless capacity for the reception of God’s love.

3.) Truth and beauty are joined. The highest beauty is God’s holiness. When the 

 creature is holy, he is able to look upon God’s holiness and be ravished by it.

4.) Holiness is to be lifted out of self-consciousness, self-concern and selfishness.

 To be perfected in holiness is to possess a limitless for passion for God’s glory.

5.) The Lord is the habitation of righteousness. Gospel holiness brought to full

fruition involves being an eternal partaker in the righteousness of God.

Holiness rejoices that God shares His own righteousness with His redeemed

creatures.

6.) It is the holy individual who becomes an unhindered channel of God’s love.

The “wine” of heaven is to endlessly experience God’s love passing through

one’s soul as it is expressed to others.

SALVATION IS A COMPREHENSIVE WORD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13, all Scripture citations from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1996.

 

In modern Christianity, the term “salvation” is often used only to mean deliverance from eternal judgment. By contrast, Scripture emphasizes the completeness and comprehensiveness of salvation. God saves us from sin, misery, guilt, pollution, wrath, death and corruption. In the Bible, the person who is “being saved” manifests a liberty from the dominion of sin. Eternal life is the OUTCOME of a life of overcoming sin and serving righteousness through Christ (Rom. 6:22,23).

As with every true believer, the Thessalonians were CHOSEN by God for salvation. The decree of election connects the ends (salvation), with the means (sanctification). The saints are elected unto holiness. God has chosen us that we might be holy. Those who are truly the elect of God will not fail to achieve that end by God’s grace (Eph. 1:4).

Believers are “beloved by the Lord.” They owe their preservation to Christ’s effectual love in shepherding and preserving their souls. They owe their stability in persevering to the election of grace.

Application – God will not forsake the work of His hands! Where He has begun a work, He will perfect unto the day of salvation (Phil. 1:6). Those who are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit will persevere to the end.

GOD BRINGS ABOUT OUR SALVATION BY MEANS OF SANCTIFICATION BY THE SPIRIT AND FAITH IN THE TRUTH.

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Those chosen for salvation as the end and goal are prepared for it by sanctification. Sanctification is the necessary means to obtain that end. This salvation which becomes our possession, is THROUGH sanctification by the work of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is a process. It causes the believer to be increasingly detached from the world and increasingly devoted to Christ.

Application – Sanctification is never offered as an option. Sanctification is the will of God for all Christians (1 Thess. 4:3-8).

SANCTIFICATION IS A GIFT BY CHRIST AND HIS WORK ON OUR BEHALF.

BUT THIS GIFT PLACES A HEAVY OBLIGATION UPON US AS BELIEVERS.

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

 

Christians are under obligation to be active in the power of God (Rom. 8:12-17). They are to put to death the deeds of the flesh and reckon themselves alive to God and dead to the misdeeds of the flesh (Rom. 6:11-13). This obligation is in total agreement with our new nature. For God has quickened our reason, wills and affections that they may be put to work in sanctification.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. He communicates the benefits of Christ and His death to us. The power of the cross is active in both justification and sanctification. Faith accepts Christ’s work as the ground of both (See Romans 6, 1 Cor. 1:30, Heb. 2:11; 12:2).

Application – We are dependent upon Christ for our sanctification. We are to cry to Him as our merciful High Priest. He willingly gives us new measures of mercy and sanctifying grace (Heb. 4:15,16). Jesus told His disciples, “apart from Me you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5).

Sanctification is born out of union with Christ. Sanctification is so related to Christ that one cannot receive it but by communion with Him. (When we exercise faith in the truth of Christ we are communing with Him.)

THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKS UPON US SO THAT OUR WILLS, OUR MINDS AND OUR AFFECTIONS GIVE VITAL, ACTIVE CONSENT TO THE TRUTH REVEALED IN CHRIST.

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

 

Just as we received justification by faith in Christ, so also we receive sanctification’s progress by faith in Christ. It is ongoing faith in the truth of God’s Word that sanctifies us (Jn. 17:17). When the truth is believed and loved, it dominates exceptionally in all areas of one’s life.

The believer’s relationship to God’s truth goes far beyond assent and admiration. The true Christian loves the truth so as to be transformed by it. The truth becomes central in his thoughts, meditations, affections and decisions.

Application – The saints are commanded to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12,13). But this is not to suggest that our activity in sanctification is a legal or law work. Actually, our progress is purely evangelical. That is, it is gospel based. All of our advancement in holiness flows from the cross.

The “fear and trembling” has to do with the awesome proposition that the God of the universe is intimately at work in our thinking, desiring and willing. It is a fearful and wonderful thing to recognize that He is constantly willing to animate our obedience. It is also as cause for fear and self-watch to consider that our flesh may resist the operations of the Spirit. We are warned not to place ourselves in peril by neglecting the means of grace (Heb. 2:3; 10:22-25). Review the duties commanded of all believers (attention to the Word, prayer, the Lord’s Supper and fellowship).

THE EFFECTUAL CALL OF THE GOSPEL IS UNTO HONOR, HAPPINESS AND THE GLORY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:14).

 

It is the gracious will of our Savior that the glory He possesses and the glory He has purchased be communicated to those believe in Him and obey His gospel. Those who believe and repent shall be with Christ to behold His glory and they shall be glorified with Christ and partake of His glory. The everlasting life we possess now will have its fulfillment in the redemption of our bodies. God calls us to heaven. He expects us to run the race set before us with endurance.

Application – Consider the relationship between our progress in holiness and the level of our desire to be with the Lord (see 2 Cor. 4:16-5:10; Rom. 8:23-25; Phil. 3:20,21; 1 Pet. 1:3-9; 1 Jn. 2:28-3:3).

THE LORD EXHORTS US TO “STAND FAST” AND NOT TO WAVER. MANY OBSTACLES STAND IN THE WAY OF OUR SANCTIFICATION.

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

 

We must lean heavily upon the Lord in order to lay aside our doubts and fears and stand fast (Rom. 14:4; 1 Cor. 16:13). God’s election is NOT a ground for inaction on our part. God’s choice of us is the strongest incentive to action and perseverance. Scripture always joins privilege and duty. (You have an anointing, nowabide in Him, 1 John 2:27,28.) Since life and favor are assured to us in Christ, then we are to live for Him, depending upon His promised installments of future grace. (Review the privileges of 2 Thess. 2:13-15.)

Application – The Christian is justified that he might be sanctified. Now that he possesses righteousness in Christ and is assured of immutable love and favor, he can pursue sanctification with complete abandon. There is no cause for fear of failure.

Unlike the believer, the unregenerate man possesses no such position or status before God. He or she is yet in a state of moral paralysis. Their sins remind them of their liability to judgment before God. Their moral failures stir up their enmity toward God. Their guilt presses a sense of God’s disfavor upon their consciences. As a result, they have no incentive or power to pursue holiness. They need to see the beauty and preciousness of Christ, the Friend of sinners. Every unbeliever is a stranger to grace. Therefore the pursuit of God’s holiness sounds to him like trying to build a ladder to the moon.

A SUMMARY OF REASONS WHY THE SCRIPTURES CALL FOR PERSEVERANCE.

1.) Perseverance is necessary because the Christian life is a fight (James 1:12; Heb. 3:6; Acts 14:21,22). We are called to be overcomers. We are to live out Christ’s victory in our life and walk (1 Pet. 2:21).

2.) Perseverance is a necessity because it is a vital safeguard against presumption. Those who profess Christ are warned against the prospect of self-deception (Eph. 5:1-6).

3.) Perseverance is necessary because hypocrites walk for a time, become careless, then fall away (Matt. 13:18-23). God uses exhortations to perseverance to admonish and awaken diligence and holy fear in the saints. It is God’s way of instilling sober-mindedness.

4.) Perseverance is necessary because it such a revealer of your relationship with God’s truth (Col. 1:9-14).

5.) Perseverance is necessary because it is genuine faith in action. Perseverance is the opposite of a mystical, privitized religion that remains locked in the corner of one’s soul. When Christ returns, He will find His people pressing along the path of duty and using the means of grace (1 Pet. 4:7).