We know that God loves you, dear brothers and sisters, and that he chose you to be his own people.1 Thessalonians 1:4(NLT)
Following his initial greeting, Paul plunges into praise and thanksgiving to God for the faithful works and loving deeds of the dear believers in Thessalonica, and for their continual anticipation of Christ's return for His people: "We know that God loves you, dear brothers," he continues, "and that He chose you to be His own people."
I am sure that Paul had a special place in his heart for these brothers and sisters in Thessalonica who received the message of salvation with joy and peace, who believed despite the severe suffering they were undergoing, and whose exemplary faith was talked about across Greece and beyond: "Brethren, beloved by God," he wrote "we recognise and know that He has selected you - He has chosen you. We know you are the elect of God."
Paul did not pull rank or claim to be superior to these believers. They all belonged to God, our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ Whom He sent to be the propitiation for our sins. By faith in Him, they were all equal members of the Body of Christ. All were chosen before the foundation of the world. All were the 'elect of God'.
Paul refers to the believers at Thessalonica as 'dearly beloved brothers'. Like Paul, his readers had abandoned their respective belief systems and placed their trust in Jesus as Saviour and thereby become members of God's family. God was their Father. They were 'one-in-Christ' and brothers in the faith. They were chosen - 'eklogen' in Greek, which comes from the English root 'election' and often translated 'the elect of God'.
God loved the Thessalonian Christians for they were His 'elect'. They had been selected by God to belong to Him, and His gift of eternal life to the 'elect' is clearly taught in the Bible. Some choose to ignore, question, dismiss, or challenge our 'election', because they consider it conflicts with the doctrine of human responsibility and man's volition, while others reject the doctrine of man's freewill choice in salvation and teach that salvation depends on God's sovereign will alone, without any free-will option for man, but the Bible teaches both - God's sovereign will AND man's free-will choice.
God holds every man responsible for the choices he makes: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." To believe or not to believe is man's choice: "Those who believe are not condemned, but those who do not believe are condemned already."
God is also sovereign over all His creation: "He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."
Both the sovereignty of God (predestination/God's election) and man's sovereignty (free-will/ man's volition) are taught in the Bible, but those who hold to one without consideration of the other (Calvinism vs Arminianism) are correct in certain aspects of their teachings while being wrong in others. Both teach part of the truth but neither teach the whole truth.
May we be careful not to become so biased towards one viewpoint that we inadvertently contradict the truth of God's Word and risk believing and teaching a false gospel.
Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You for the wonderful truth that I was chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world, to be one of Your elect. Thank You that everyone born of woman, has the opportunity to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. I praise You, that You do not exclude anyone who truly turns to You for salvation, that it is not Your will that anyone should be lost, and that Your Holy Spirit continues to convict man of sin, righteousness, and judgement. May we who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ, be ready and willing to be a good testimony to all with whom we come in contact so that others may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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