Faithful Is the Caller (1 Thessalonians 5)
- Liturgical Date: Third Sunday in Advent – December 14, 2014
- Order of Service: Prayer & Preaching
- Hymns: LSB #346, 342, 781, 515
He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
God is faithful. And He gives faith to His followers. He gives you the faith to rejoice always. He gives you the faith to abstain from evil. He completely sanctifies you. Because God is faithful, you are faithful to fulfill God's will.
You fulfill God's will when you rejoice in any and every circumstance. You rejoice in God because the Holy Spirit is upon you. He has anointed you to bring the good news of the Gospel to the poor. He has sent you to bind the brokenhearted. To proclaim liberty to those captive in their sin. To open the prison of those bound by the cares of this world. Jesus proclaims these things being fulfilled in Nazareth. It began in Nazareth with Jesus preaching. It continues today also by His preached Word.
Rejoice because the year of the Lord's favor has come upon you. He has clothed you with the clothing of rejoicing. The beautiful headdress of the sign of the cross upon your forehead in your Baptism, sealing your salvation through Jesus' blood. The oil of gladness that anoints you with the patience to await the Day when faith will become sight. The garment of praise which is the robe of Christ's righteousness. In this holy clothing, you cannot but rejoice that you will rejoice forever in Heaven.
You bear your cross and sufferings while you walk the earth, but God has shortened the days of your suffering. These dark days will not be long. Then you “shall live and reign forever when sorrow is no more.” God will rebuild the ancient ruins of Eden. He will restore the Paradise we have lost in our sin. Rejoice in this restoration. You see the firstfruits in this life, but the bulk waits for you on the Last Day.
You fulfill God's will by rejoicing in His gracious work in your life. He has given you the Great Commission to bring your rejoicing to the whole world. God's will for you is to rejoice in His work in you.
In this rejoicing, you pledge to abstain from all things evil. “It has been prescribed … that we should see and consider the distress which ought to urge and compel us to pray without ceasing.” Paul encourages the Thessalonians to remember their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope.” In this abstinence of evil, the Christian must also face the evils around us. Paul says, “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” God loves justice. He will recompense everyone according to their deeds. To those who promote and participate in evil He will give the fires of Hell. To those who abstain from evil He will give everlasting life. Rejoice that He has called you to faithfully abstain from the evils of this world. Rejoice that He has given you the faith that overcomes. Through this faith, you will overcome this world to receive the glories of the world to come.
This overcoming is accomplished completely by God. God completely sanctifies you. Nothing you do. He does everything. And everything is done in His faithful call. The call to faith. The call through the Holy Spirit. The call to be His child.
The Gospel call comes to everyone. In those who hear the call, the Gospel is not only words. It is power and conviction in the Holy Spirit. The Gospel calls you “to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.” This manner abounds in love for other Christians and for all mankind. Establishing your heart blameless in holiness before God. The Gospel calls you for purity and holiness.
The Gospel calls you because you have been destined to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. Through our sin, we've destined ourselves to God's wrath. But the Gospel calls us out of darkness and into God's marvelous light.
The Gospel call goes out to every man, woman and child. The great good news that Jesus died for you. The Thessalonians worried about those who had already died. That they were going to miss out on Heaven. Someone had perverted the Gospel until they taught that only those who are alive at Jesus' return would go to Heaven. So Paul has to say twice that God completely sanctifies everyone, whether you are alive or dead when Jesus returns.
Everyone sanctified by God will be in Heaven. They will realize the prayers of the Psalm, “When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.” But it will not be a dream. It will be more real than anything you can understand in this life. It will be real life. The life you were created to live. Life everlasting with your God. Rejoicing forever. Your mouth will be filled with laughter. Your tongue filled with shouts of joy. Because the LORD has done great things for you.
“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.” Righteousness and praise sprout up from the seeds of faith. The same faith He gives you. The faith to believe that Paradise will be restored. That you will be led past the cherubim with the flaming sword. That you will walk through Heaven's open door. We walk in this overcoming faith because we know that Jesus will appear. He is our hope. He is our expectation.
He is why we wait in Advent. Waiting for the “Sun so longed for” to brighten “this benighted sphere.” Brighten it with His holiness. We wait for the Day when He returns. In the season of Advent, we have a muted expectation. But not as muted as in Lent. Because today we light the pink candle. The candle of hope and rejoicing.
God is faithful. He has called you in faith. He has called you to rejoice in Him. To abstain from evil. To live His completely sanctified life. Amen.