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Thessalonians 5 v 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Our text this morning is verse 24 of 1 Thessalonians 5 –

24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

It has been said that a central theme of the Bible is the “Faithfulness of God in spite of the faithlessness of man.”

We are looking at a prayer of the Apostle Paul. Prayer involves approaching God and asking Him for certain things. Paul has asked the Lord God to preserve his brothers and sisters in Thessalonica blameless right up to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory to judge the world. As he continues to pray he makes a statement. Do we find this strange? Perhaps we interpret this end of his prayer as being something like this – “I am utterly confident that the Lord Jesus will keep you safe and that you will be sanctified right through to the end – because I am praying for you – and prayer changes things – prayer is powerful!”

Was this Paul’s confidence? Confidence in his faithful prayers for the believers?

No – that is not what this verse is saying.

Paul’s confidence was rooted and grounded not in anything to do with him – but in the faithfulness of Almighty God. We do not, as true Christian believers who have been saved by grace, persevere in the faith because we have people praying for us; nor because we have an extraordinary staying power; nor because we live in comfortable conditions that enable us to believe fairly easily! No! We persevere because of the faithfulness of God. We will be preserved blameless because God is absolutely reliable and He keeps His promises.

So we will think about the ways that our great God the Lord Jesus Christ is faithful this morning.

And He is faithful in three ways – Past, Present and Future.

1. In the Past – God is Faithful – He has Called us.

24 Faithful is he that calleth you,

As we have seen so often in the New Testament our salvation is rooted in the election and calling of God. Our Lord God is a God of CHOICE. Before the foundation of the world He chose, from among a whole human population who were condemned to hell by virtue of their relationship to Adam the sinner – a choice number of souls who would be rescued – saved from eternal damnation. This was all arranged in covenant between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – the Covenant of grace.

So God chooses and then He CALLS according to that choice. God has bound Himself in the Covenant of Grace to call His elect! Does that not thrill us? Not one of those chosen will fail to be called by the Lord God at an appropriate time. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ was saying when he spoke words recorded in John 6 v 37

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

The elect and chosen men and women are bound to be called – and it is therefore perfectly logical that those who have been called will never be turned away. Therefore it is only those chosen who will be saved – only those chosen who will be called out of the deadness and darkness of their sins, whatever they have done, and God will keep the Promises made before the world began.

Jesus also said –

44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

What a wonderful arrangement this is! What certainty this is. The elect and only the elect will be called – and those who are called will come! They will be given the desire to come. They will be given the conviction that they have sinned and do not deserve anything from God. They will be given the clear call of God to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you know not everyone believes this Biblical teaching! That is not surprising because there were those in Jesus’ day who did not either – in verses 64 – 65 of John 6 Jesus said –

64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

The Lord God graciously and effectually CALLS individuals to Himself, even supplying them with the faith to repent and believe. Paul claims this in 2 Timothy 2 v 25

If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

There are those who believe that when they were converted the choice was theirs entirely. They believe that they could have refused the Lord God when He called.

My friends the truth of the matter is this – the sinner cannot even HEAR God’s call without the Lord supernaturally opening the ear of the soul!

No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. (John 6 v 65)

These are the words of the Son of God! Ephesians 2 v 8 – 9 confirms this –

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

In the past then God has made an arrangement to call His precious people to believe in Him through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. God is FAITHFUL in this – He is keeping His promise to save a vast number of the human race – as vast as the stars in heaven and the sand on the sea shore – this is how He described it to Abraham when He revealed His promise to the patriarch. The quality of God’s Faithfulness is perfect! He stated that He would keep His promise, His covenant –

Isaiah 46 v 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

But my friends – there is another dimension to this call and it is this. When God calls he makes it seem that we ourselves have a major part. He calls us to call on him! He commands us to cry out to Him for salvation – even though it is he who calls and enables us to believe.

The Lord God said through Jeremiah these words –

Jeremiah 29 v 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD:

How amazing! The God who calls us under the terms of His covenant directs us to call on Him for mercy, pardon, and forgiveness.

Have you done this yet my friend? Do you have the desire to call upon the Lord? Could it be that you are beginning to realise and to hear His call right now.

Have you heard the voice of Jesus Softly pleading with your heart? Have you felt His presence glorious As He calls your soul apart, With a love so true and loyal, Love divine that ever flows From a saviour, righteous, royal, And a cross that mercy shows? (William Vernon Higham, Christians Hymns 473)

My friend – this is how you know that God is calling you – He reveals His love to you and fills you with a desire for Him and His mercy and salvation.

For us who are saved we can give thanks to God that He has called us – God is the Faithful God – faithful to His promise – and He has called us so effectually that we could do no other than to come to Him.

How faithful God is!

He is Faithful in the Past.

2. In the Present – God is Faithful – He is Sanctifying us.

The same Faithful God who calls us is doing a great thing in us. We have spent three weeks thinking about Sanctification and it would be good before we leave this part of Paul’s prayer to simply look at 6 principles that we need to remember concerning the Process of Sanctification in the life of the Christian believer.

1. The Experience of sanctification is Negative and Positive.

It is Negative in that it involves purging away of sin.

Romans 6 v 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Romans 8 v 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live

2 Timothy 2 v 19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Sanctification does not remove the presence of sin, but it purges the believer from his or her love for sin and decreases sin’s frequency in the Christian’s life.

Titus 2 v 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

It is Positive in that it involves the renewing of the mind.

Romans 12 v 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Sanctification positively means putting on the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ –

Colossians 3 v 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;

As the word of God is continually used by God the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life then these negative and positive changes occur. Are they occurring in our lives my friends? Are we becoming less like the sinners we used to be and more like the Lord Jesus Christ that we should be?

2. Sanctification occurs mainly in the inner being – the heart and the mind.

Some people think that sanctification is merely a change in one’s outward behaviour; they think that it is an adjustment of one’s attitudes and code of ethics. But sanctification involves a dynamic change of heart which is an inward grace. The Apostle Peter gave an illustration of this change in 1 Peter 3 v 1

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Of course sanctification affects our outward actions – Ephesians 2 v 10 says that –

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

But the outward change in behaviour is an out flowing of the inward change of the heart.

3. The Bible calls Sanctification a beautiful reality.

Psalm 110 v 3 says this

Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness.

God is holy and he desires us to be holy too, because we will reflect the divine perfections of the Lord Jesus Christ when we become like Him – what a noble experience it is – to become like the saviour, to have the image of God restored in us, so marred by sin. Holiness has been called the beautiful crown jewel of the Godhead. And we are to display a measure of that beauty and majesty in our changed and changing lives. What a challenge this is!

4. Sanctification is an ongoing reality.

When we are converted God plants the principle of divine life – like a seed, into our hearts – Peter explains –

1 Peter 1 v 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

By this a new pattern of holy living emerges and a discontinuation of the old pattern of sinfulness is broken.

John also has something to say about it in 1 John 3 v 9

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin (habitually any more); for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin (habitually), because he is born of God.

This does not mean that we will never sin again – but it does mean that the old regime is conquered within us!

5. It is possible to COUNTERFEIT sanctification.

Any thing that is good and godly can be forged. There are a number of ways that this can happen.

1. Outward profession as a Christian can appear to be genuine sanctification.

Jesus warned of this in Matthew 23 v 27

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

A piety which is merely superficial can deceive others into thinking that a person is genuinely saved. Even worse than this it can deceive the person himself. Sadly I have known of several professing Christians who have appeared to be walking with the Lord and seemed to be useful to Him in witness – yet in a short time be totally different. I saw this in the mobile society of service personnel. A man would profess faith, go to church, seem to have a changed life – yet when he moved to another station all that piety went out of the window and he was just as much the worldling as he had been before. Such counterfeit sanctification can do much damage to the cause of the Gospel and the reputation of true believers.

2. Religious activity can appear to be genuine sanctification.

It is a sad fact that there are many devout people who have spent years avoiding the most heinous of sins and have sought to please God by adhering to their churches and following dutifully all of the rituals required of them – and self righteously getting involved with many good works. The tragedy is that they are doing it all because they are afraid of God – they believe that by doing all that they can earn God’s forgiveness. But they are not God’s genuine children who sincerely love Him for His grace towards them! Notice in Luke 18 an example of genuine and counterfeit religious experience –

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

3. Moral virtue can substitute for true sanctification.

I am sure that we have heard the expression “Oh, he or she is a real Christian!” We can hear people say this every day. What do they mean? They will point to such characteristics as fair mindedness, civility, politeness, loyalty, generosity, kindness, hard work and philanthropy in an individual. Indeed we can confess that there are many of these kinds of people about today. They are pillars of society some of them. Yet at heart they are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Most will actually tell you so and believe that their quality of life owes nothing to the belief of their heart. Yet there are others who expect to be rewarded by the Lord God for their virtuous life. It is a counterfeit sanctification – and the Lord God sees right through it.

4. Fear of the consequences of sin can appear to be sanctification.

Some people are genuinely afraid of what might happen if they sin against God – and this fear restrains them from gross sin. They fear sin’s negative physical, psychological or even legal consequences. They may have grown up in a Christian family where they learned Biblical principles; and in their minds a doctrinal foundation has been established that informs their consciences and they have real moral convictions. Such friends are fearful of a guilty conscience bothering them – so on the exterior they appear to be righteous. But it is not a saving love for the Lord Jesus Christ that motivates them – instead it is human fear and a sensitive conscience. This is not true sanctification!

Is your sanctification genuine my friend – because it has its root in a personal living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Be sure today that you are a child of God through genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. The Experience of sanctification is Negative and Positive.

2. Sanctification occurs mainly in the inner being – the heart and the mind.

3. The Bible calls Sanctification a beautiful reality.

4. Sanctification is an ongoing reality.

5. It is possible to COUNTERFEIT sanctification.

Finally we must remember that

6. Sanctification is God’s priority for our lives.

Sanctification is the result of the Lord Jesus’ death on our behalf. We are those who as Paul says in Titus 2

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

It is God’s will that we should be sanctified –

1 Thessalonians 4 v 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification,

Hebrews 12 v 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

There should be no other goal in our lives than to be like the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 2 v 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

The Lord Jesus Christ by His Holy Spirit is faithfully sanctifying us day by day. It is His present work to do this in us. May we know the power of God as we become more like the Saviour!

1. In the Past – God is Faithful – He has Called us.

2. In the Present – God is Faithful – He is Sanctifying us. Now

3. In the Future – God is Faithful – He will Preserve us.

We considered this last week – how the Lord God provides the grace for us to persevere all the way to heaven. Heaven is that ultimate sanctification – where we will be perfect, like our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. We are so familiar with Jude 24

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Not only is the Lord God able to keep us from falling – but He is faithful in His promise to keep us from falling away from the sure and certain hope of heaven, where we will be without blame – blameless. What a word this is! I understand that in ancient Thessalonica archaeologists have found Christian tombs from the Christian era. When believers wanted to identify the grave of a deceased member or other loved one who has a believer, they inscribed the word BLAMELESS on his or her headstone!

That is what Paul has been praying for – that the believers will be sanctified by the Lord God and preserved – safe for ever and ever.

Oh what a glorious prospect we have as Christians my friends!

But notice more as we close who is responsible for this glorious prospect – the faithful God – the trustworthy God – the one who has promised to prosper us His children – the One who can be depended upon completely because He knows how to keep His promises!

24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

May we have confidence in the God who is faithful to us, who has called us, is sanctifying us and will preserve us – the Lord Jesus Christ.

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