[dropcap3]T[/dropcap3]he “Green Lace Lion” is an artsy shop being opened by a young lady from our church, wherein she will be displaying and selling items that have been rescued from the dump and redesigned as creative art. She writes “the walls will be decorated with books, fabric, maps, beans, lampshades, and shoes,” all of which are for sale along with “chairs I have made out of shutters, and cups with doorknob handles.”
What Ellen is doing is in some ways similar to what God does with His human “recreations.” Having rescued us from spiritual death and eternal destruction, He presents us as “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph 2:10). It’s this potential which excites Paul as he writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:14, “It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This passage appears to be Paul’s central thrust as he deals with the three problems the Thessalonians were facing. In Chapter 1 severe persecution and afflictions threatened to unnerve them. In Chapter 2 false teaching about the day of the Lord threatened to confuse them. In Chapter 3 the undisciplined lives of some threatened to derail them. Paul’s words, about gaining the glory of Christ in 2:13-17, seem to be his primary and unifying exhortation to them.
First he reminds them that, “God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2Th 2:13). This “salvation” is much more than simply being “born again.” It’s “deliverance” from the entire realm of their wasted pre-Christian lives. This is evidenced by the fact that this “salvation” is “through the sanctification of the Spirit and faith in the truth.” Indeed, the Greek allows these two phrases to be rendered, “spiritual sanctification,” as in the setting apart of one’s spirit or life, and “truthful (genuine) faith.” Either way, this “salvation” is more than just the salvation from sin “by grace through faith” of Ephesians 2:8-9. It’s a “deliverance” from certain death and destruction unto this marvelous eternal position and purpose which God has intended.
Paul focuses their attention on this ultimate purpose when he adds, “It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2:14). He reminds them that God’s intention is that believers should “acquire” the glory which was secured by his Son.
[/blockquote]Paul focuses their attention on this ultimate purpose when he adds, “It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2:14). He reminds them that God’s intention is that believers should “acquire” the glory which was secured by his Son. In Luke 24:26, Jesus said that it was “necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into his glory.” In John 17:5, he prayed, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” In Philippians, Paul wrote, “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (2:9), because “he emptied himself,” and “being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:8). Apparently an even greater glory was bestowed upon Jesus because of His humble obedience in fulfilling His Father’s plan.
Amazingly, God’s intention (Heb 2:10) is that all those “born again” into His family should acquire the glory which He has granted to His firstborn son. Paul has already written that they should, “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Th 2:12). In 2 Timothy 2:10, Paul wrote, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.”
With this knowledge that we have been called by God to gain the glory of Christ, Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to secure this glory by overcoming their circumstances. To those distraught by suffering such severe persecution and suffering, he says, “Stand Firm” because God will judge everyone in righteousness. To those disturbed by false teaching, he says, “Seek Truth” because two things must happen before the day of the Lord can begin – the “departure” (of the Church from the earth, 2:1) and the “revealing” of the Antichrist. To those distressed by the undisciplined lifestyle of believers around them, he says, “Serve Christ” faithfully until the day he returns, regardless of what others do. Paul’s thesis in 2 Thessalonians is “Gaining Christ’s Glory Governs Christian Grit.”
As professors at Cairn, like Paul, we long for our students (and ourselves) to gain Christ’s glory. For some inspiration as to God’s transforming of your life, you might like to visit the Green Lace Lion, in Allentown, NJ, or a shop like it.
[framed_box]Dr. Dick Emmons is a professor in the School of Divinity. He has taught at Cairn since 1985. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scripture in this article is taken from the New American Standard Bible.