Proof of Love
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of II Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 13, where we read:

I Thessalonians 2

13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I would like to reread these verses with you because they are packed full of tremendous truth, truth that some people can live a whole lifetime without actually understanding or realizing. Notice them again:

I Thessalonians 2

13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification…

Let that phrase, “because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation,” sink deep into your hearts today. Notice He has “chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit,” and notice the phrase “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” In verse 14:

I Thessalonians 2

14Whereunto he called you *f1[notice that little word ”called”] by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ [notice the phrase, ”the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”].

Those of you who have been able to be with us in these studies will remember that we have been discussing Paul's second Thessalonian letter, verse by verse and chapter by chapter, and in our last lesson we talked about the conditions that are going to prevail in the Tribulation that is going to come upon the earth. You will remember that the Tribulation is that period of time that is prophesied in the Scriptures as occurring on the earth after the Lord Jesus Christ has come and taken His Church out from the earth, and the world feels the brunt of God's hand in wrath and in judgment.

One of the conditions that we noticed which will prevail upon the earth at that time is described in verse 12, where we learned that people who live in this age and refuse to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior are going to find it very difficult in that age to find the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior because of what we find in verses 11 and 12. Glance at those verses with me, please:

I Thessalonians 2

11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

These verses of Scripture say that there is a time coming upon the earth when God will let men be deluded because they choose not to believe the truth. Because they are deluded, they will miss the way of salvation; and because they miss the way of salvation, they will be eternally condemned.

As the Apostle Paul taught about this terrible state of affairs, his mind came back to the present in which he lived, and he noticed a tremendous contrast out of which came these two verses that we are looking at today. I would suggest, so that we might have something upon which we can hang our thoughts as we leave here today, three words around which these verses, I believe, are written. The first word is the word “contrast.” The second word is the word “call,” and the third word is the word “climax.” If you use these three words as mental pegs upon which you can hang some of the thoughts which I hurriedly give you today, you will have something which you can carry away with you and which I trust will be a blessing to you.

Present Age Contrasted With the Tribulation

I have already hinted at the contrast that is suggested. As I said, as the apostle was thinking about the sad state of the people who will be living in this future age called the “Tribulation,” his heart was moved with thanksgiving as he considered the people who were living in his day and time and the people to whom he had ministered the Word of God. And, of course, it would follow that it is the people who are living in this day and time as well. Notice, please, in verse 13, where he said:

I Thessalonians 2

13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you…

What he was saying is, “We are obligated to thank God for you Thessalonicans.” You will remember in the very first chapter of the very first letter he said, “I am always thanking God for you people from Thessalonica because I see the wonderful things which God is doing in your hearts and in your lives.” He says here once again, “I find it necessary to thank God for you because of the things which have occurred in your particular life.” As you look with me at the things which have occurred in the lives of these believers in Thessalonica, recognize that they occur as well in your life and in mine because we belong to the same group of people and we belong to the same Age of Grace.

Chosen From the Beginning

The first thing that is brought to our attention in verse 13 is that these Thessalonican believers were chosen for salvation from the very beginning. They were chosen for salvation from the very beginning. Does that alarm you today? Does that frighten you? Does that cause you to question the wisdom and the love and the understanding of God? It causes some people to be alarmed, and it causes some people to question the wisdom and the love of God; but before we look at what it means to be chosen for salvation from the very beginning, I would have you notice a few things about verse 13.

The first thing that I would have you notice is that this decision of God is based on His love. Notice the phrase, “brethren beloved of the Lord.” Brethren beloved of the Lord. Before God says a word about choosing people for salvation, he talks about how He loves the mortal man. He talks about how He loves individual souls. Actually, this phrase, “brethren beloved of the Lord,” literally is, “having been loved of the Lord,” and the suggestion of the phrase is that before we even had an opportunity to love God, He loved us. Before we even had an opportunity to understand the love of God, God showered His love upon us.

The teaching of the Word of God is not that we love God, but that He loved us, and because He loved us He wanted to do something wonderful for us, and that wonderful thing that He wanted to do for us was choosing us for salvation, even from the beginning. Remember, this is a tremendous contrast to the people who are described in verse 12, because in verse 12 those people “were sent a strong delusion that they might believe a lie, that they might be condemned.” But we, beloved of God, have been chosen for salvation before the foundation of the world, as we shall see.

This word for “chosen” is a very unique word in that this is the only place in the New Testament in which it is used in this particular sense. It is the Greek word *ULhairetos*UL and it doesn't mean choosing an individual because he is better than someone else, or choosing an individual because he has more ability and talent than someone else. Rather, it is the idea of choosing an individual for whom you want to do something really good.

Based On God's Love

Turn in your Bibles, please, keeping a marker here in II Thessalonians because we will be coming back to it, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 7, as I remind you that there was a time when the Old Testament was translated into Greek by seventy Greek scholars, and some of the words from Hebrew translated into Greek throw light on some of the words that are used at the present time in our Greek New Testament. If you have your Bibles open to Deuteronomy, chapter 7, verse 6, you will find an illustration of this about which we are talking at this very moment. In verse 6, God addressing the nation of Israel, said:

Deuteronomy 7

6For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

Look at that word “chosen.” It is the very same word in the Greek translation of the Old Testament that is used in this one other place–II Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 13. Now, notice the explanation of this act of choosing as it is presented in verse 7:

Deuteronomy 7

7The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
8But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharoah king of Egypt.

Notice in the first part of verse 8 that “because the Lord loved you, he hath chosen you in this fashion.” Go back to II Thessalonians, chapter 2, as I remind you that this choosing of which we speak today had its roots in the love of God. And if you are looking at something today that perhaps you have heard for the first time, or if you are looking at something today about which you have heard something you do not fully understand, I beg you, do not put it out of your mind today because you are afraid of it, because you don't understand. Recognize that this wonderful, tremendous truth has its roots in the love of God. And let me ask you, if anything is founded in the Word of God, do you need to be afraid of it? Do you need to back off from it? Do you need to question it? If it has its roots in the love of God, you don't need to be afraid of it, and you don't need to question it. You can accept it even though you may not understand everything that you would like to understand about the election of God that made possible the choosing of a human soul from the very beginning.

That word “beginning” intrigues us. We ask ourselves, what beginning did the Holy Spirit have in mind when He used it? Someone says, “That is simple. It just means from the beginning of your Christian experience.” Someone else says, “Oh, no. I don't believe it is that. I believe it goes father back than that. I believe that it goes back to the beginning that is mentioned in the book of Genesis, the beginning of the creation of the world.” And someone else says, “No, I don't believe it is that. I believe it goes even farther back than that. I believe it goes back to the very beginning of beginning.”

Chosen Before Creation of the World

All of those suggestions are logical, because those three beginnings are mentioned in the Scriptures. We would like to know today to what beginning the Spirit of God refers when in verse 13 he said, “…we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the LORD, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation…” We do not need to spend a lot of time in empty discussion. All we need to do is notice what the Word of God has to say, so will you notice with me the very first chapter of the Ephesian letter as we hear the Spirit of God give us the answer to the question that is in our minds today when we talk about the beginning that he must have had in mind when he mentioned this fact. We read in Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 3:

Ephesians 1

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Notice in verse 4: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…” That answers the question. When did He choose us as an act of love for the great gift of salvation? Before the world was ever created. Before I was ever born, God chose me. Before you were ever born, God chose you to be the recipient of His love, to be the heir of salvation.

You say, “Oh, I can't believe that because I can't understand it.” Well, let me suggest to you today, Beloved, that I can't understand it either. My little old finite mind that I think sometimes is overworked to the point of exhaustion cannot begin to fathom how before God ever created the world, He could chose the people whom He was going to put on the world to be the recipients of salvation. I can't understand that, but I believe it because God's Word says it. And if God's Word says it, I have to believe it.

Someone says, “Well, that frightens me. I can't imagine anyone thinking that God would do a terrible thing like that–choosing some people to be lost and choosing some people to be saved.” Now, wait just a minute. If you feel that way, you are guilty of a very grave error into which many of us fall when we read the Word of God. We read into the Word of God instead of reading out of the Word of God as we are instructed to do in the Scriptures. There is nothing in the Scriptures that says anyone is chosen to be lost. There is nothing in the Scriptures that says that God looks over the world and says, “Let's see, I believe I will make that fellow go to Hell. And I believe I will make this fellow go to Heaven.” There is nothing in the Scriptures that even faintly teaches that. When we talk about this thing that we are speaking about, we are talking about a God who loved us so much that He did not leave anything undone so that at the last minute He would have to have an emergency measure to accomplish His purpose.

You know, there are some people who believe that God created the world, and He put a perfect man on it, and suddenly that man sinned and God said, “Oh, my, what am I going to do now? I've got my beautiful handiwork all messed up here.” He went around scratching his head, so to speak, and He said, “Well, I believe I will do something a little better than that. I will let My Son die on the Cross so that man can be saved.” And the act of crucifixion was an afterthought of God in the minds of many people. That isn't true. God, because He is God, knew everything that was going to happen; and He knew that man, when he had a chance to exercise His free will, would turn against God. God said, “I love him so much, I love him so much I can't let him go to Hell, so I will have to make some provision for him before it is ever necessary.” And He did. He made provision through the death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God's Call

And that leads us to suggest to you, as we turn back to our original text, the second word that I wanted to mention to you–the word “call.” You must never talk about God's choosing without talking about God's call. If you talk about God's choosing without talking about God's call, then you are going to find yourself all confused and you are going to find yourself believing something which the Bible does not teach. If God's choosing was to materialize, then certain things had to be done or that choice of God could never become a reality. And the first thing that had to be done if God's choice was to materialize was that a call had to be issued. Look at verse 14, where we read:

I Thessalonians 2

14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What is Paul saying? Paul is saying, “God chose you before the foundation of the world, and He gave us the privilege of preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ so that you might heed the call and in heeding the call, the choice of God might be fulfilled in your life.” The apostle issued the call to these Thessalonican believers as he preached the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ just as I have issued the call in this building many, many times to those who are chosen for salvation by telling you that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures. If you will accept the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the Cross for you, you will become an heir of salvation as the Word of God plainly indicates in the text at which we are looking today. The call has to be issued.

From time to time, when I mention this glorious truth concerning God's choice of people for salvation, someone will say, “Well, if you believe that God chooses people for salvation, what is the point in preaching the Gospel? They are going to be saved anyway, aren't they?” That is not what the Bible says. The Bible says that God chose them for salvation, and because He chose them for salvation, someone has to deliver the call. Instead of the truth of God's choosing people for salvation circumventing a missionary program, it ought to be the greatest incentive to a world-wide missionary program there can be because people cannot be saved without being called. That is what the Word of God plainly says. And Paul said, “God has entrusted to me the call, the preaching of the Gospel.”

Sanctification of the Spirit

But now wait; it isn't enough for a call to be issued. Something else has to be done. And I believe, Beloved, that because this thing that I am about to mention is not emphasized any more than it is, is the reason many people sit under the sound of the Word of God and there is no change wrought in their lives. That is the reason that many of us witness for Jesus Christ and we do not see the results of our witnessing as we should.

If you will glance at verse 13, I am referring to that work of the Spirit that is referred to as the “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Notice II Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 13, where he said:

I Thessalonians 2

13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Notice the phrase, “through the sanctification of the spirit and the belief of the truth.” I say to you today that individuals cannot be saved without this work which is described as the sanctification of the Spirit of God. It is absolutely necessary if people are going to be saved. An individual said, “Well, I have always believed that after you have been saved you ought to be sanctified.” Well, Beloved, this is not talking about that. As strange as it may seem to some of you, sanctification in the manner in which we are talking about today happens before you are ever saved. It doesn't come after you are saved; it happens before you are saved, and you cannot be saved without it.

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the first epistle of Peter, chapter 1, that you might see that what I am saying to you has its roots in the Word of God. I Peter, chapter 1, verse 1:

I Peter 1

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Notice the phrase in verse 2, “through the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” The sanctification of the Spirit of God comes before an individual can even obey the message of the Gospel. If is impossible to obey the message of the Gospel without the sanctification of the Spirit.

Conviction of Sin Necessary

Turn with me now, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 6, that you might see yet another evidence of this that I am speaking about today. In I Corinthians, chapter 6, the apostle is talking about the people who are not going to go to Heaven. He says, in verse 9:

I Corinthians 6

9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Did you notice that before a man is justified, he must be sanctified? There is no way for a person to experience salvation without the sanctification of the Spirit. I say this to you reverently today, without detracting from the omnipotence of God. God made His choice, but God's choice cannot be fulfilled unless men are called, and the Holy Spirit of God sanctifies them for salvation. Now, what do I mean “the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience?” What do I mean about the “sanctification of the Spirit unto eternal life?” Will you turn in your Bibles, please, to the Gospel of John, chapter 16, verse 8. The Lord Jesus Christ made promise that He was going away, the Holy Spirit was going to come, and He said:

John 16

8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

These four verses, Beloved, describe the sanctification of the Spirit unto eternal life. These four verses describe the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience of the sprinkling of the Blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit of God, when the call is issued, must convict the heart of the individual who listens of the things that are mentioned in these verses or the call will never be answered. The sanctification of the Spirit represents, then, the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God upon the hearts and the lives of sinners. I say to you that because this truth is so little emphasized, many times when we witness we have no results while witnessing. Many times we recognize that people sit under the sound of the Word of God and apparently are not changed thereby.

Let me briefly emphasize to you what the Holy Spirit does when He sanctifies the sinner, what the Holy Spirit does when He convicts the sinner. The first thing that He does is convict them of sin, s-i-n. Now, notice, not s-i-n-s. You may become conscious of the mess that your life is in, and you may try to straighten up your life, and you can straighten up your life and go to Hell a perfectly normal person. You can go to Hell a good person. You can go to Hell a righteous person. But the Holy Spirit of God is going to convict you of s-i-n, and that s-i-n is that you never received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. That is the sin that sends men to Hell. And if men do not realize that they need a Savior, they cannot be saved no matter how many times the Gospel is preached, no matter how many tears are shed, no matter how many prayers are prayed. If the individual does not realize that he is a sinner because he has not received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, that individual is never saved.

That is the reason, when we issue the call, that we must depend upon the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to convict the individual of his need of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit amplifies that original conviction by convicting also of righteousness because the only righteous person in the world has left the world. He isn't here any more. The Lord Jesus Christ was the only righteous person that ever walked the face of the earth. The Holy Spirit convicts men of what righteousness actually is, and the Holy Spirit convinces men of judgment–not that someday they will be judged, but of the fact that the Devil has been defeated by the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ and there is victory for that person who is born again and has become a new creature in Christ Jesus. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is an absolute necessity if people are going to be chosen for salvation.

Climax of Shared Glory

One last word would I leave with you. I said I wanted to leave three: the word “contrast,” the word “call,” and the word “climax.” The climax I merely suggest for your meditation as it is found in the last part of verse 14 of II Thessalonians, chapter 2, where we read:

I Thessalonians 2

14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Very literally that means that you and I were chosen before the foundation of the world that we might share in the glory that belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ at a future date. That is the thing which the Lord Jesus Christ prayed about in chapter 17 of the Gospel of John. It is the thing which the Holy Spirit promised in chapter 8 of the book of Romans, that we are heirs with Christ, joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ, and when the Lord Jesus Christ receives His glory we shall share in that glory with Him because we have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

Conclusion

I would say to you, then, as we bring this message to a close, God loves you. He chose you not for Hell; He chose you for salvation, and if you go to Hell, you will go of your own accord. God loves you today. God chose you for salvation, and that is the reason that the call goes out consistently in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Heed that call. Don't be so foolish as to turn a deaf ear to it for if you do you may find yourself in the class of people to whom we referred to in our last lesson who will be sent a strong delusion that they might believe a lie. God loves you. God chose you before the foundation of the world, and He sent the Holy Spirit into the world to make you conscious of the fact that you cannot save yourself and you must depend upon the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation if you are saved. I would beg of you today to heed the call, if you have not already heeded it, that has gone out to a lost world. And if you have heeded the call, I would beg of you to use every means at your disposal to get the call out to all the other people who are chosen of God for salvation.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org