1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
This whole section is loaded with dearly-loved practical instructions, but from the middle of verse 23 through the end of verse 24, the Japanese translation I use has been set to music verbatim in a way that really blesses me, so I can’t read it without that echoing through my mind and heart. That said, verse 25 is an absolutely vital statement of faith that applies every time we read the Bible, and for that matter, live as a Christian. With this assurance, we can weather any storm. Without it, we are devastated by essentially trivial things. I am a member of a Missionary Kids group on Facebook, and believe me, we who were raised on the mission field run the whole gamut. Some have come through with unshakable faith, whereas others seem to be in the group just to try to tear down the faith of others. It is at turns encouraging and sad. I think the problem comes when we define what “God needs to do” to “prove Himself faithful.” The very fact that we think that way displays our foolishness! We need to be like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking to be spared the cross but still submitting Himself to the Father, whatever it meant for Him personally. In that moment He was just as human as we are. That’s why, as it says in Hebrews, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) In the middle of our trial it can be hard to believe that the joy is coming, and it might not even be on this earth, but when our focus is on God Eternal, we can have peace and joy even in the trials.
I have had moments of wondering if my faith was just a philosophical/emotional construct, but I have also had times of being more sure that God was real than that I was. I have learned through experience that I’m not trustworthy in myself, but God is, and as I abide in Him I become more and more trustworthy too, as it says in verse 23. Back when I was first aware of the Charismatic Movement a famous saying was going around: “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” I have come to the conviction that it is better to say, “God said it. That settles it.” God is faithful whether I believe Him or not! I need to believe in order to enjoy the benefits of His faithfulness, because He is also faithful to fulfill His warnings to those who refuse to believe and obey. As I deal with others, I need to communicate God’s faithfulness in every area, helping them see that their choices have set them on the road to hell, which is not what God wants. It is because God is faithful that the universe exists and we have reliable laws of physics and the like. I need to maintain that perspective, and communicate it as God gives me opportunity.
Father, thank You indeed for Your faithfulness. May I indeed allow You to work in and through me to manifest Your faithfulness, drawing many to You for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!