A Study of 2 Thessalonians 2:13
2 Thessalonians 2:13
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
The instrument or the means by which God the Holy Spirit brings a regenerated (quickened) sinner to conversion is God’s truth revealed, heard, and understood. The specific truth He uses is the Gospel which is God’s promise of salvation conditioned on the Lord Jesus Christ based on His righteousness imputed.
2 Thessalonians 2:14
Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
The “gospel,” the “word of God,” and the “truth” mentioned in the above verses do not refer to any and all truth set forth in the Bible. These words and phrases refer to the specific truth wherein God’s way of salvation is revealed to sinners by the Holy Spirit. It is God’s message of grace to guilty, defiled, condemned sinners who owe a debt to God’s law and justice they cannot pay and who are in need of a righteousness they cannot produce. This specific message reveals to such sinners the “righteousness of God” provided in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Representative, Substitute, and Surety for sinners. This righteousness is the entire merit of His whole work of mediation (His obedience and death) to satisfy God’s law and justice for His people and to establish a righteousness whereby God can justify the ungodly. Without the preaching of this righteousness, there is no Gospel, and without the Gospel, there is no new birth, no true conversion.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
The Bible is clear that before hearing and believing this specific message, sinners are lost and servants of sin.
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
The Apostle Paul stated that the nation Israel was lost because they refused to seek righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus but rather sought by works of the law.
But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
In conversion God the Holy Spirit convinces sinners of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8-11). He does this by God’s Gospel revealed, heard, and understood. He slays sinners by the law and drives them to Christ as He is revealed in the Gospel message. Sinners believe the truth when they see that God can only be just to save them based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. They repent when they see that every effort at obedience, morality, and religion before hearing and believing this truth was dead works and fruit unto death. A convinced sinner evidences a love for that truth when he refuses to speak peace to sinners who are either ignorant of or not submitted to the righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel.
A person might ask, “Am I one of God’s elect?”
The answer can only come from God’s testimony. God the Holy Spirit gives spiritual life to all of God’s elect. He quickens them. He then brings them to conversion — saving faith and true repentance — by the preaching of the Gospel. This regeneration (quickening) and conversion together make up the new birth.
Those, such as the Primitive Baptist, who try to put a distance of time between regeneration and conversion, as if to say that sinners could be regenerated and not believe the Gospel, are in direct opposition to God’s Word and God’s glory. They themselves do not love the Gospel because they claim that God’s elect are saved without it, and they speak peace to multitudes where there is no peace based on God’s testimony. The Bible states plainly that the wrath of God abides upon all who do not believe the Gospel.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Any who claim salvation for themselves and/or for others without believing the Gospel and without true repentance do not having saving faith and do not love the truth. They claim salvation under “another gospel,” a false gospel, and this is evidence of being lost (Galatians 1:6-8). Without a saving knowledge of the true Christ and without belief of the Gospel, there is no salvation (2 John 9). God’s elect will be brought to salvation by the Holy Spirit in regeneration and conversion.
So, how can I know if I am one of God’s elect?
How can I know if I have been born again by the Spirit of God? Do you believe God’s Gospel?
Have you repented from dead works and idolatry?
Will you speak peace where sinners are not submitted to the only ground of peace — the imputed righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel?
Do you walk by the rule of the Gospel (Galatians 6:14-16)?
The first evidence of divine election is sanctification of the Holy Spirit and belief of this truth. God’s elect are set apart by the Holy Spirit in the new birth, and this is evidenced by belief in and love of the Gospel. This is what divides God’s elect from those who remain in unbelief (1 Corinthians 1:18-22).