“God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our lord Jesus Christ”
(1 Thessalonians 5:9 ESV)
We should remember that Paul’s letter was not written to the population of Thessaloniki in general but to the church, the community of believers, and thus not wonder if his remarks are a little off base and he’s offering salvation to everyone?
Paul is beginning with the assumption of the Thessalonians faith in God. Unlike the unbelievers who have no hope of anything beyond the grave and await whatever superstitious horrors might be lurking there, the believers have nothing to fear because they are destined for salvation and not the wrath of God at the second coming.
In this chapter Paul refers to the difference between believers and unbelievers – in light or in darkness, ignorant of the impending judgement or eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus, being children of light not living in the night/darkness.
There is a difference between being a believer in Jesus Christ and an unbeliever – does the Christian body fully accept that it refers to them? Can Christians ‘own’ that they are different and that they “belong to the day” and unbelievers “belong to the night”?
It’s not a matter of ‘one-upmanship’ or being ‘better’ than another in and of ourselves– it is to take seriously our redemption through the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the simple fact that ‘by grace you have been saved’.
Should this be sufficient encouragement to move us, by whatever means we are enabled through the Holy Spirit, to encourage as many people as possible to come into the light and have that same reassurance of not being destined for wrath/judgement but for salvation through our Lord Jesus?
But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5: 4-11 ESV)
We always thank God for all of you. We keep on praying for you. 3 We remember you when we pray to our God and Father. Your work is produced by your faith. Your service is the result of your love. Your strength to continue comes from your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV)
You were living in your sins and lawless ways. But in fact you were dead. 2 You used to live as sinners when you followed the ways of this world. You served the one who rules over the spiritual forces of evil. He is the spirit who is now at work in those who don’t obey God. 3 At one time we all lived among them. Our desires were controlled by sin. We tried to satisfy what they wanted us to do. We followed our desires and thoughts. God was angry with us like he was with everyone else. That’s because of the kind of people we all were. 4 But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. 5 So he gave us new life because of what Christ has done. He gave us life even when we were dead in sin. God’s grace has saved you. 6 God raised us up with Christ. He has seated us with him in his heavenly kingdom. That’s because we belong to Christ Jesus. 7 He has done it to show the riches of his grace for all time to come. His grace can’t be compared with anything else. He has shown it by being kind to us. He was kind to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. 8 God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. 9 It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it. 10 We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good works. Long ago God prepared these works for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV Readers’ Version)