“…even your sanctification…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3a)
The Apostle Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, sets the time and reason for his instructions in the following chapters (4:1-18; 5:1-24).
“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:” (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
“To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
The Apostle Paul’s central theme was the Parousia of Christ; or as it is often called, The Second Coming of Christ. Knowing of His soon Return, Paul was instructing the believers in the Church of Thessalonica to do these things:
“To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming (the “parousia”) of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
The Greek word “parousia” means literally, a presence (para, with, and ousia, to be); it denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with.
The Apostle Paul continues in 1 Thessalonians 4:1: “Furthermore,” or to continue my previous thought of being established by Christ unblameable in holiness. Paul continues his thought, saying:
“…then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.”
Paul continues, in verse 2, that they knew what commandments of the Lord he had previously delivered unto the Church. Then Paul said in verse 3, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…”
In the previous devotions, it was noted that the saved man’s Sanctification is in three major areas: the Position; the Practice; and now, the Perfection in Sanctification.
Paul returned to his theme of Christ’s Second Coming in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 5:1-11. But for the purpose of this devotion – to bring out “The Perfection in Sanctification” – note 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11:
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
“Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:10)
“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
The key is to see that the end (the result) of Christ’s death for His Chosen Sheep is, “we should live together with him” (verse 10b). The word “live” indicates now and in the future. (See Romans 14:8-9; 5:10, 17; Galatians 2:20.) That is, Christ living His life in us, and through us, here on this earth, from Regeneration by God the Spirit.
Paul assures the believers in Thessalonica that, as His Sheep, they would be preserved blameless until His Second Coming (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, 23-24); because “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Also he says, not only, “we should live together with him” in this life, but in the life to come.
In John 17:21-24, John relates that Christ’s prayer is for His Sheep to be One with Him now, and in the world to come. Note:
“And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they (those in verse 2) also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:19)
That is, the given ones (the chosen ones in Christ; see verse 2) are sanctified in Christ’s Sanctification. He is the Truth; and in Him, we are Sanctified, or set apart.
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Christ’s prayer in John 17 was for the Sanctification of all the Elect, both Jew and Gentile.
“Neither pray I for these alone (the Apostles and the Elect Jew), but for them also (the Elect Jew and Gentile) which shall believe on me through their (the Apostles’) word;” (John 17:20)
What was the content of Christ’s prayer for them and for those who would in the future come to believe on Christ as Substitute, Sacrifice, and Savior, even as King?
“That they all (all the Elect) may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they (the Elect) also may be one in us: that the world (this shows it to be on earth) may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21)
Note two things in this verse:
1) Christ prayed for the Oneness of all Elect in Him; as He and the Father are One.
2) Christ prayed “that the world” (where the believers lived their daily lives) may believe that Jesus was God in the flesh.
Christ explains, in John 17:22, His definition of the Oneness of the Elect with God:
“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:” (John 17:22)
Therefore, Christ declares that the key to them becoming one with Him was the glory being given them, as the Father had given Him.
What was the glory Christ received from the Father? “…the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). Verse 22 proves that the Apostles and the Elect also had the same glory.
What was that? Oneness.
Verse 6 says, “I (Christ) have manifested thy name unto the men (which is regeneration) which thou gavest me out of the world (the Elect)… and they have kept thy word.”
Verse 7 says, “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee (revelation).”
Here is the key (verse 8): “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and…
1) “They have received them,
2) “And have known surely that
a) “I came out from thee,
b) “And they have believed that thou didst send me.” (So they believed that Jesus was God in the Flesh.)
c) This is confirmed again in verse 14b, “and the world hath hated them”
d) “that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (verse 13c)
So the glory for the believers is the “Oneness” in Christ; which, for the believers, is revealed to them in Regeneration and Revelation.
The first reason, “…that they may be one, even as we are one” (verse 22b). This Oneness is Perfection (as Jesus explains in verse 23a), “I in them, and thou in me, that they (the Elect) may be made perfect in one…”
Christ prayed that His Apostles (save one) had been ordained to be one; and they were, in Regeneration (on the Day of Pentecost), and in Revelation, as God inspired them to write the New Testament during their lifetime on earth.
Christ continues, “…and that the world (where they, the Apostles, lived) may know that thou (1) hast sent me, and (2) hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (verse 23b).
This is the second reason, for them to be a witness to the world; for the world to know by their testimony that Christ was God in the flesh; and that the world might know the Father loved them as the Father loved Christ.
First Christ prayed that the Apostles, and all those who shall believe in His Name in the future, would come to the knowledge of their Oneness with Christ in Regeneration and Revelation. And this was the Glory in them; for His Words dwelled in them (verse 8a).
Then second, Christ prayed for the believers to “be with me where I am.” Why? “…that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me” (verse 24).
Even though, in Regeneration and Revelation, God has placed Christ in them in this life (Galatians 2:20) – Christ also prayed that those ones “be with me where I am” (in His Everlasting Kingdom; in His Presence; in the Church); “that they may behold my glory,” (and continue forever and ever); “which thou hast given me.” Not only now, in this life, but for all eternity.
Christ prayed that His Elect come to the full knowledge of the Oneness; which includes the knowledge of their Position, Practice, and Perfection in Him; which reveals their Perfection in Christ; their Preeminence in Him; and their Power to Perform (or to operate, or to live) in His Love.