1 Thessalonians 5:9
The apostle is now led to illustrate the hope of salvation.

I. ITS SOURCE. "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation."

1. The calling is according to the purpose. "Whom he predestinates, them he also calls." The security of the believer depends, not upon himself, but upon God's unchangeable and loving purpose.

2. The purpose is not to wrath, but to salvation. Though believers were once '"children of wrath," they are now reconciled to God, and saved from wrath to come.

3. God's purpose of mercy toward us does not free us from the necessity of being watchful concerning the means of salvation.

II. THE CHANNEL OF SALVATION. "By our Lord Jesus Christ."

1. The covenant was "ordained in the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19.)

2. His death, not his doctrine or example merely, was necessary to our salvation. Who died for us."

3. His death was substitutionary. It was "for us."

III. THE END OF THIS SALVATION. "Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live with him together." This was "the joy set before him" for which "he endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2) that we might live to him in order to our living with him.

1. It is life with Christ. Not merely life in him, but life with him in glory. "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better" (Philippians 1:23). It is the greatest joy and glory of heaven (Romans 14:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 5:9).

2. It is life with all believers. They are to live with him, unsevered from one another; for whether they "are alive and remain," or whether they are of those who "have fallen asleep," they will be together, in Christ's society. Thus the great salvation is the "common salvation."

IV. THE CONSOLATORY ASPECT OF THESE TRUTHS. "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. These truths afforded a grand basis for mutual comfort and edification. The Thessalonians ought, therefore, to dismiss their despondency and alarm, and encourage each other with the blessed hopes of the gospel. - T.C.







For God hath not appointed us unto wrath
I. GOD'S PURPOSE is —

1. That we should not be lost. We all deserve wrath. All have sinned, and every sin the Divine indignation will avenge. The longer we live in sin, therefore, the greater the amount of wrath our iniquities are treasuring up. And yet, although we are daily provoking the Divine anger, God has not appointed us to wrath. He willeth not the death of a sinner.

2. That we should be saved. The kingdom He has prepared from the foundation of the world.(1) This should comfort us in trial. God's purpose none can frustrate. "Fear not, little flock," etc.(2) Don't distress yourselves about election. God has told you that His will is that all men should be saved , and, therefore, if any one perishes, it is not because of God's secret purpose, but His own want of inclination. "Ye will not come."

II. ITS ACCOMPLISHMENT.

1. There is only one way in which God's purpose can be effected: "By our Lord Jesus Christ." "Neither is there salvation in any other." The grand subject of Christianity is Christ; and those who do not make Christ all in all are like those Jewish builders who refused "the headstone of the corner," or like the foolish man who built on the sand.

2. In what respect salvation is through Jesus Christ is plainly told us: "Who died for us." Christ's death rescues us from wrath. That which our sins provoked was borne by Christ.

3. How sad the mistake of those who think little or nothing of Christ's atonement, on which hinges our salvation. "He that believeth," and he only, "shall be saved."

III. ITS EFFECTS.

1. Life with Christ on earth. "Whether we wake." "To me to live is Christ." To this end Christ was called Emmanuel. This life is in union with Christ. Wherever you go, Christ goes. He never leaves or forsakes you.

2. Life with Christ in heaven. Our bodies sleep, but not our souls. "Absent from the body," etc. "This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise." This association will be —

(1)More intimate than that on earth.

(2)More blessed.

(3)More enduring.Conclusion: We hence perceive —

1. The nature of our present existence. If we are Christians, this life is only the porch to a better; if not, a porch to a worse.

2. The readiness of God to save. "He willeth not the death of a sinner."

(C. Clayton, M. A.)

God is pleased to day to put up before your eyes the white flag of mercy, calling you to come to Jesus and live. But recollect, if you do not yield to it, He will put up the red flag of threatening, and then the black flag of execution will not be far off. Perhaps some of you have been suffering under bodily disease — take that as a warning. When our vessels of war would stop a suspicious vessel, they fire a shot athwart her bows as a warning. If she does not haul to, perhaps they give another; and if no notice is taken of this, the gunners go to their business in real earnest, and woe to the offender. Your affliction is the gospel's warning gun. Pause awhile, I beseech you; ask the Lord in mercy to look upon you, that you may be saved! As I think upon some of you here who are not saved, I feel some thing like the boy I read of yesterday in the newspapers: Last week there were two lads on the great rocks of Lundy Island, in the Bristol Channel, looking for seagulls' eggs; one of them went far down the cliff, and lost his footing, and when his brother, hearing a faint voice, looked down, he saw him clinging to a jutting crag, and striving in vain to find a place for his feet. There stood the anxious brother, alarmed and paralyzed with dread, quite unable to help the younger one in so much peril below, who soon relaxed his hold and was dashed to pieces far beneath. I feel somewhat like that alarmed brother, only there is this happy difference: I can hope for you, and bid you hope for yourselves. You are clinging now, perhaps, to some false hope, and striving to find a rest where rest is not to be found; but the strong-winged Angel of the everlasting gospel is just underneath you this morning, crying, "Drop now; simply, drop into My arms; I will take you and bear you aloft in safety." That Angel as the Angel of the Covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ. You must be dashed to pieces forever unless you rest in Him; but cast yourself upon Him, I pray you, and then, as you are carried in safety far off from every fear, you will magnify the grace of God and extol the glorious gospel.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

More exactly watch. So popular a motto of early Christian life — caught as it was from the lips of Christ (Mark 13:34-37) — that it took the form of a name — Gregory. It has been said that there are three sleeps for man — those of nature, sin, and death; and three corresponding awakenings — those of nature, righteousness, and life eternal. It is of the second that Paul speaks here. Salvation is through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us for this purpose, in order that, whether we keep life's long toilful watch, or fall asleep in what is called death, we should have our true life together with Him.

(Bp. Alexander.)

Salvation: —

I. It is LIFE We shall live. This is the common Scripture designation of all we include in Spiritual and eternal life. All that is opposed to death; the holy, happy, and immortal existence of the whole man, soul and body.

II. LIFE WITH CHRIST. Association or communion. Companionship with Christ.

2. Participation of His life, its power, holiness, blessedness, glory.

III. THE LIFE OF ALL. We shall all — all the redeemed, all those dear to us who belong to Christ, all in every age and nation who love Him, are to be made the subjects of this life.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

The Thessalonians had groundless fears for their departed friends (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

I. GOD'S PURPOSE.

1. We are not appointed to wrath.

2. We are appointed to salvation.

3. We are appointed to salvation obtainable by our Lord Jesus Christ.

II. NOTHING CAN FRUSTRATE THIS PURPOSE.

1. Because Christ has died for us. A continent of truth is spread out in this one fact.

III. OUR SALVATION IS ASSURED TO US.

1. In this present existence — "whether we wake."

2. In death — "or sleep." Salvation has two parts — that which is present, or the state of grace; and that which is future, or the state of glory.

IV. WE ARE UNITED TO CHRIST, and our life is joined to His life; and thus, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. It should be noticed, however, that the glory and chief hope of the Church are not to be realized at death (of the individual), but at the Lord's coming: one is not to anticipate the other, but all are to be glorified together at Christ's coming (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; Colossians 3:4; Hebrews 11:40). Death affects the mere individual, but the coming of Christ, the whole Church. At death our souls are invisibly and individually with the Lord; at Christ's coming, the whole church, with all its members, in body and soul, shall be visibly and collectively with Him."

V. HERE IS AN ENDURING BASIS FOR HOPE AND COMFORT.

1. Salvation is sure — as sure as Omnipotence can make it in view of Christ's death.

2. Salvation will be complete. The body shall be raised in im mortal strength and beauty, and the soul shall be sinless and happy in the service of God.

3. Grief over the dead is natural (John 11:31-35; Philippians 2:27); but, with the hope of resurrection and recognition hereafter, it should be moderated.

4. In all this we perceive the immense benefits revelation and grace have conferred upon us.(1) In contrast with heathenism. The Greeks believed in the immortality of the soul, but knew nothing about the resurrection of the body. Their dead were called "shades." Even the Egyptians did not believe in the resurrection of the body, unless the return of the spirit, as it was believed, to inhabit the mummified body, can be called a resurrection.(2) As culminating in the Gospel. The Old Testament presented the two doctrines as counterparts to each other — the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. But these two doctrines were not so clearly understood in the Old Testament times as in the New. That they were revealed is evident from such passages as relate to Enoch and Elijah, the raising of the dead, and from Psalm 16:9, 11; Psalm 17:15; Psalm 73:24; Proverbs 14:32; Isaiah 38:18, 19, etc. These doctrines were made illustrious by the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by explicit statements in the New Testament. Hence, in its clearer light, there is more of hope, joy, and comfort than was possible before the coming of Christ. He is the first fruits of them that slept.

(L. O. Thompson.)

How all-inclusive the passage is! The whole of that grand purpose for which the Bible was written is contained in these few lines. What have you not in this verse? You have Christ, His death, His substitutionary work, His resurrection, the fact of His present life, the assurance of His return, the saints' salvation, the saints' eternal glory. This text is also a window through which we look into the heart of Christ, and behold the Saviour's great desire that all His people should live together with Him.

I. LOVE'S DESIRE. That we should live together with Him.

1. Viewed from one stand point, this is only natural. Grant love, and you are necessarily compelled to grant something else — desire for the presence of the object beloved. I cannot imagine it possible for the two ever to be separated. Love is always restless until the object of affection is close by. In proportion as the love is pure and intense, so will the delight in the nearness of the object become intensified; and Christ finds His greatest happiness in having His people near Him. Have you joy in communion? He joys more. As you look up to Him, do you feel constrained to sing? He, too, when He looks down on you, feels that He must sing; for "the Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty: He will joy over thee with singing."

2. And yet it is very marvellous.(1) Where did the love spring from? Why did He love me at all? Has any friend on earth treated any of us half so ill as we have treated Christ? And yet His choicest desire is that we shall live together with Him. Is it not strange that, though there are some people who would not care to have you in their house, yet Christ wants to have you in His home?(2) Mysterious? More so still when I call to mind the fact that I do not like to live with myself. Self is my plague. And yet how strange that, though I want to get away from self, Christ wants me to go and live with Him.

3. How all-inclusive the desire is. It is that we should not only live with Him, but together with Him. What is that?(1) Take it as including all His people, and then it teaches us that Christ is not content for one to be absent. He wants to see all the members of His family brought round the table. Is it not always so when there is love to all? What is the bliss of heaven? All His people together. Fathers united once more to the children who went before, husbands reunited with wives, friends with friends — all together; and then all together with Him. To Christ's eye that is the most beautiful picture that heaven itself can present — Christ and all His numerous family, without an absentee.(2) Or does "together" apply to Christ? And, if so, there is a beautiful thought in it. You may live in the same house with a person, and yet not live together. "Together" implies a certain amount of intimacy. When Christ brings His people together He brings them to a home. He does not merely collect a multitude of people. No; in heaven there will be holy familiarity.

II. LOVE'S METHOD TO OBTAIN ITS DESIRE. Christ's was most costly. "Greater love hath no man than this," etc. If you would measure Christ's love, you can only do so by the Cross. Here is the explanation of Calvary. If you say that Christ died in order to satisfy Divine justice, to make an atonement for sin, to deliver from hell — all that is true. But now put it in a more beautiful way: that I might live together with Him "who died" not on a soft bed, but hanging on hard timber; not with loving friends around, but a hooting crowd; not with death lit up by His Father's smile, but crying, "Eloi," etc., out on a felon's hill. And He died in my place. If He had not, I must. Now there is no room for doubt. If, when you were a sinner, Jesus loved you enough to die for you, do you not think that now you are one of His friends, He will love you enough to bring you home?

III. THE ONLY CONDITIONS THAT CAN SATISFY CHRIST'S DESIRE. Christ is not going to be disappointed. Any way, whether we wake or sleep, He means that we shall be with Him. What is intended by these words?

1. Take them literally. Sleeping or waking, conscious or unconscious, the saint and the Saviour are never far apart.

2. "Awake or asleep" means living or dying. Christ will have our company living. Christ would not be satisfied merely to have our company in the glory. He wants it down here. His delight is to commune here with His ransomed ones. And suppose we fall asleep in death. Death is but the Lord's black chariot that He sends to bring His darlings home. The billow of death never washed a soul from the Saviour's arms. It washes the soul from a thousand other hands that try to retain it, but it only sweeps the spirit away to its eternal home.

3. The chief meaning is that, whether by resurrection or translation, we shall be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Then there are some who will fall asleep in death, and there are others who will be alive and awake at Christ's coming. Will He be satisfied only to have one of the companies with Him.? No; He died for us that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. We shall pass either through the portals of death, or over them as did Elijah; but, either way, the goal reached will be the same.

(A. G. Brown.)

A well built stone gets to be one with the foundation. In the old Roman walls the mortar seems to be as hard as the stones, and the whole is like one piece; you must blow it to atoms before you can get the wall away. So is it with the true believer; he rests upon his Lord till he grows up into Him, till he is one with Jesus by a living union, so that you scarce know where the foundation ends and where the upbuilding begins; for the believer becometh all in Christ, even as Christ is all in all to him.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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