Ray of Hope Shining on the Face of a Child

A daily devotion for March 25th

Thumbnail Theology

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

I doubt Paul was ever worried about whether or not he had an academic degree, but I would endow him with the MTT degree, which stands for Master of Thumbnail Theology! He excels at stating truth in highly condensed forms. In these verses are found several aspects of truth that these Thessalonians needed to steady them in perilous times.

First, standing firm in a troubled world begins with the love of God for mankind. He calls us, loved by the Lord. We often resist believing this, despite the fact that the Bible says much about God's love for us. Although we hide from others the mess we have made of our lives, we know we have not even measured up to our own hopes and dreams, let alone God's. Thus we have a hard time believing that God could love us. But Scripture everywhere begins on that basis. How amazing to know that God loves us even though he knows everything about us!

Because God loves us, says Paul, he chose us. He began to call us individually, drawing us to himself. No one knows why God chooses one and not another. This is a mystery that exercises theological minds. If you struggle with this, do not feel bad because many do. However, Jesus put it plainly when he said, No one can come to me except my Father draw him! (John 6:44). These words clearly express the fact of God's call.

The purpose of God's call is that we might be saved. Salvation is his objective. That word includes conversion, regeneration, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But fundamentally salvation means that our relationship to God has been altered. He no longer looks upon us as aliens and strangers, but rather as dear children through faith in his Son.

And the process is through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. Theologians debate whether this should be translated with a capital S, referring to the Holy Spirit, or a small s, referring to the human spirit. It does not make any difference, for when you come to Christ your human spirit is invaded by the Holy Spirit. This is what the Bible calls regeneration, being born again. What a change that makes in us!

The step that brings us to this is to be called through the gospel. This refers to the teaching and proclamation of the good news. Somewhere along the line we must hear what God offers to do. You hear what God promises to do for Christ's sake, and you believe what you hear. Thus you are changed by the Spirit.

God's goal is that you may share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a promise! That we should share the triumph of the cross with Jesus himself! What a staggering promise of Scripture! One day God will unveil before the universe what he has been doing in bringing together a people who will share his glory.

Thank you, Father, that through your great love you have chosen me for salvation, given me new life through your Spirit, and destined me for glory.

Life Application

Look at each point in this "thumbnail theology," and chose one to meditate on and thank God for.

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Stand Firm

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