The Faithfulness of God and the Completion of our Salvation.
1 Thess. 5:12-24.
“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”
Sometimes the Christian life seems like a never-ending climb up an impenetrable mountain. We desire to grow in Christ and live in obedience to him, but we fail continually and miserably. At times, as we face the struggles of life, the promises of God seem hollow and unattainable. Not that we abandon our faith, it is just that we are overwhelmed by the struggle. Paul was not any different. In 2 Corinthians 7:5 we read that “Even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side; conflicts without, fears within.” What is striking in his confession, is not that that they faced many conflicts, for certainly Paul continually faced opposition from his persecutors. The surprise is in his confession of the struggle of “fears within.” This statement echoes what he had previously stated in 1:8, that “we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.” In these words of Paul, we find that he was no different than the rest of us. The mighty Paul, who is seen as one of the great champions of the faith, was not above struggling with the same discouragement, depression, and anxiety that grips us when life seems to collapse around us. These are words we easily identify with as we face our own outward and internal battles. Like Paul, when we are going through difficulties of life, we can easily feel overwhelmed as fear replaces faith in the uncertainty of the circumstances surrounding us.
So how did Paul rise above these things? What kept him going when he encountered these periods of his life? The answer lies in the passage before us today. In verse 23 Paul prays that that the God of peace Himself would sanctify us entirely and that he would preserve our spirit and soul and body completely so that we would obtain the full and final completion of God’s redemptive purpose. In this verse we see the full scope of our salvation. God did not just save us to give us eternal life. He saved us to completely transform our total being; our spirit, our emotion and even our physical body. God desires that his holiness and purity would encompass our total existence so that we are radically and completely transformed.
But this is what seems so impossible in our daily struggles. The Christian life often seems like the proverbial statement, “One step forward and two steps back,” as we struggle to find this transformational power in the daily realities of life. This is where Paul brings clarity and hope. In verse 24 he gives us the promise that God is faithful and that this transformation is not the work that we do in ourselves by our own resolve and strength, rather it is the work God himself achieves. Even as we struggle in our faith, God remains faithful working as the unseen hand bringing about our complete transformation so that in the end, when we stand before him, we will stand sanctified entirely. This is what enabled Paul to rise above the challenges he faced. His confidence was not in himself, but in God who remains faithful to continue to work in our lives. Even when God may seem distant, we have the assurance that he remains ever present to guide us and strengthen us and, because he is faithful, he will not fail. When we find fear and discouragement enveloping us, we can rest in a faithful God who is continually working in our lives to bring us to the point where fully attain what he has promised us and desires for us. Today, as you are confronted with the challenges of life, remember that God is faithful and these challenges are his instrument to achieve his purpose in us.