We all love to be loved. It is almost as if we were created with a capacity, a desire to be loved. It seems that we are hard-wired to want love from others. Many people seek love wherever they can find it, often settling for cheap substitutes. Others find frustration and isolation when the ones they seek love from withhold it. When we come to our text today, Paul tells the believers that if they are truly believers in the saving work of Jesus, they are “loved of the Lord.” They are loved by the one Who created the desire to be loved inside of them, a desire that can only truly be fulfilled when they receive His love. In 1 John 4, John tells us that we can only love Him, “because He first loved us.” All love in our relationship with God starts with Him.
And this is not a generic love. This is a very specific love. It was unsolicited. It was uninstigated. It was uninfluenced. He of His own sovereign plan chose to love us before we were ever born. He chose to love us before He even created the entire universe. Paul says in Ephesians 1 that it was this same love that led Him to choose us “before the foundation of the world.” Again in today’s text we see this played out when Paul writes that “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification.” This is a crowning characteristic of God’s love. Even before we were lovable, seeing that He could work in us and purify us, He chose to extend His loving grace to us. Which brings me to the third point of today’s text.
God loves us. Because God loved us, He chose us. Finally, God loved us, and chose us so that we might grow in sanctification. Sanctification is the natural process whereby the Spirit’s power and assistance we systematically kill sin in our lives. In 1 Peter 1, Peter put it this way, “As He which has called you is holy, so be ye holy.” We don’t accept the uninfluenced love and acceptance of God and then remain indifferent to our sin. Rather we see that He loved us, and we return that love by mortifying (killing) the very things that displease Him. We see this as a theme in Scripture. Starting with the family of Noah, then of Abraham and the subsequent nation of Israel, God continually worked in Scripture to call people to himself. In Deuteronomy 7, God clarifies this special choosing of Israel. He chose them so that they would be a holy people unto Himself. That they would leave off their pursuit of sin, and pursue knowing Him and living pure lives before Him.
Similarly, we see in 1 Peter 1, that God has chosen His people “according to foreknowledge…unto obedience.” It is His desire that all who believe in the saving work of Jesus become holy, obedient, and purified Christians. Knowing that it is His love and His choosing of us that accomplishes our salvation, should leave us not just pursuant of holiness, but also with a great confidence that if He accomplished it, we can’t lose it. It would take a large measure of arrogance to say that we keep ourselves saved. Our fallen nature would certainly prevent that. Instead we realize that He which “hath begun a good work” in us will see it to completion one day in heaven.
Food For Thought: What three things did Paul teach the Thessalonians about their relationship with the God who saved them? How should these things bring assurance not frustration?