You did not choose God out of your own free will. God did not give you a new heart because you decided to have faith and repent of your sin. Your righteousness was given to you by Christ because you were chosen by God from eternityâ€”he is the only perfectly righteous personâ€”and not because you decided to invite Jesus into your heart.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-24; OT reading: Deuteronomy 6:4-7
March 6, 2011
O God, command what you would, and grant what you command.â€
This was the prayer that launched a huge debate in the early fifth century A.D. between Augustine, the great theologian and Bishop of Hippo (in modern-day western Algeria), and Pelagius, a British monk. Pelagius said the first part of the prayer, â€œO God, command what you would,â€ agreeable to God’s all-powerful sovereignty. But the second part of the prayer, â€œgrant what you command,â€ that set Pelagius off into madness.
Was Augustine really saying that God commands human beings anything that he desires, but then human beings are incapable of obeying such commands? Why would a righteous, holy God require a person to do something that he has no ability of doing? That would be gross injustice on God’s part? How then did Augustine answer Pelagius’ charge?
This is also what we face in our text today. Previously in Chapter 4, Paul explains to the Thessalonians the manner of Christ’s Second Coming and what happens to believers who have died and those who are still alive on that day. After both explanations, Paul writes words of encouragement to them, â€œTherefore encourage one another with these words,â€ (1 Thess 4:18) and â€œTherefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doingâ€ (1 Thess 5:11).
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