Lesson 19: For God has Appointed Us to Salvation Through our Lord Jesus Christ - Page 1 - (series: Lessons on 1 Thessalonians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Tom Lowe

Lesson 19: For God has Appointed Us to Salvation Through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9-11)

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (NIV)

9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

These words by the Apostle Paul are an appeal to the whole church of Thessalonica, to comfort and edify one another. Though the ministry (the church in Thessalonica) is charged with doing this, yet private Christians are to practice it on one another; the former does it through the authority granted to them by Christ, the latter as an act of charity.

Lesson 19

(5:9) For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath destruction and ruin, the effect of wrath — the primary purpose of God in sending His Son into this world, was not to condemn the world but to save it. He did not reveal the gospel so that sin might aggravate more, and so be punished more; but the motive was love, and the purpose was so that He could show more mercy: and He hath selected none to receive wrath, except for those who willfully and stubbornly refuse to believe and obey the gospel. They are rightly called vessels of wrath reserved for the day of evil; but there are others who are equally children of wrath, and are deserving of the wrath of God, who are not appointed to it; which, to them is an occasion of wonderful and distinguishing grace.

The truest parallel to this expression― “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath”― is these words of Peter (1 Peter 2:8{1]), where he speaks of the disobedience of the rejecters of Christ, and adds, “whereunto also they were appointed,” set apart, as it were, in the purpose of God to this end. This end was also the eager choice of their own will. Paul speaks confidently of the election of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:4{2]), because he had witnessed the fruits of it, in their turning from idols to serve the living God. The “wrath” spoken of is the manifestation of the Divine anger against sin in the coming and judgment of Christ.

But to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. It was evident from their having believed in Christ that the Thessalonians had received salvation. Those who believe in Christ and obey his commands show that they are elected to eternal life and are heirs of heaven.

SALVATION IS AN OVERALL PROCESS. It starts when we first believe in Christ and have been ‘saved’ (Ephesians 2:8), that is when we experience the work of the Holy Spirit and believe, and are deemed righteous before God through the sacrifice of the cross. It goes on as the Holy Spirit continues His work within us, changing us from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18), as we continue to grow in faith and are “being saved” (1 Corinthians 1:18), becoming more and more like Him. And it reaches its final accomplishment when we are presented before God holy and without blemish (Colossians 1:22; Ephesians 5:27), and made like Him (1 John 3:1-2).

(5:10) He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

He died for us so that, ― that is, He died to redeem us. The elect of God, who are not appointed to wrath, but to salvation by Christ, which required that He die for them; not merely as a martyr to confirm His doctrine, or only to serve as an example, but as collateral (guarantee) for His people; as a sacrifice for their sins, to make atonement for them, and save them from themselves; so that his death lays a solid foundation for hope of salvation by Him. He intended by His death to ensure that we would ultimately live with Him, and this result of His death could be possible only as a result of His atoning sacrifice.

Whether we are awake or asleep, whether we live or die, whether we are in this state or in the other world, we shall live together with Him; shall enjoy His life, and the consolations of his Spirit, while here; and shall be glorified together with Him in the eternal world. The words show that everywhere and in all circumstances, genuine believers, who walk after God, have life and communion with Him, and are continually happy, and constantly safe.

And this is also true whether we are found among the living or the dead when he comes. The object here is to show that one class would have no advantage over the other. This was designed to calm their minds as they pass through their trials, and to correct an error which seems to have prevailed in the belief that those who were found alive when He returned would have some priority over those who were dead; see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Paul may have intended to address these words to the recurring anxieties of the Thessalonians regarding their deceased friends and family members, hence he reminds them that the very object of Christ in dying was to secure a life for His people which no death could interrupt or destroy. Those who have died before His return suffer no disadvantage, for He has insured for us that whether we are awake or asleep; that is, whether we live or die, we can be certain that we will live with Him.

There is a truth to learn here; it is that eternal life and salvation by Christ does not depend on our watchfulness, thus it shall not be hindered by the sleepy, drowsy frame of spirit, the children of God sometimes fall into: but rather natural sleep and waking are intended; and the meaning is, that those for whom Christ died are always safe, whether sleeping or awake, whatever they are doing, and in whatever situation and condition they are in, in this world. However, it may be best of all to interpret the words, of life and death; and they may have a particular regard to the state of the saints at Christ's second coming, when some will be awake, or alive, and others will be asleep in Christ, or dead; and it does not matter which they are, whether living or dead. “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone” (Romans 14:7). It is not only his food that the Christian consecrates to God (or rather, immediately, to Christ, and through Christ to God), but his whole life, to its very last moments; and then in death, we continue to worship and serve Him.

We may live together with him. Christ died for His people, who were dead in trespasses and sins, so that they might live spiritually a life of sanctification from Him, and a life of justification on Him, and by Him; and that they might live a life of communion with Him; and that they might live eternally with Him, in soul and body, in heaven, and reign with Him there, and partake of His glory; and this is true of all the saints, whether they are dead or alive at His coming; for the dead will immediately arise, those that sleep in the dust will awake at once, and they that are alive will be changed, and both will be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and be with him forever. Now the consideration om, and faith in Him, and an earnest expectation of His second coming.f the death of Christ serves greatly to encourage hope of salvation by Hi

The apostle, however, may refer to the doctrine he has delivered in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, concerning the dead in Christ, rising first; and the last generation of men not dying, but undergoing such a change as shall render them immortal. On that great day, all the followers of God, both those who had slept long in the dust of the earth, and all those who shall be found living, shall be acknowledged by Christ as His own and live together forever with Him.

The word rendered “together” is not to be regarded as connected with the phrase “with him”; the meaning then becomes that he (Christ) and they (the Thessalonians) would be “together.” “Together with him” refers to those who “wake and those who sleep”―those who are alive and those who are dead― meaning that they would be “together” or would be with the Lord “at the same time;” there would be no priority or preference.

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