Got questions? Are you struggling with the assurance of your salvation? Have you family members that are a bit confused and troubled? Do you have friends whom you would like to encourage and embolden? Are you an elder seeking to help brothers and sisters ascertain their position with or without Christ? Are you still troubled by the sin that still, after all these years, plagues your wicked flesh?
Well, on this Thanksgiving weekend, I would like to encourage some while enlightening others.
In writing to struggling believers in the church of Thessalonica, Paul writes:
We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction …. (1 Thess. 1:2-5)
Do you see it? Paul constantly prays for his brothers and sisters. He offers forth prayers of thanksgiving to God for them, and specifically he is thankful for their work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope.
He then continues writing to embolden their hearts. He wants his readers to rejoice that they are the decreed, elect, predestined, foreordained, foreknown, and foreloved friends of God. They are the chosen ones.
And how does Paul know his readers recipients of God’s eternal and sovereign grace? He knows because they had heard the Gospel, they were impacted by the Spirit, and they responded with full conviction.
Fellow sinners, how do we know who are transformed by the Spirit, identified with the Son, and adopted by the Father? How do we know we are perfectly reconciled to God? And how do we help others assess their own hearts? According to Paul:
Those who repent, they are reconciled.
Those who sorrow after sin, they are saved.
Those who are chosen, they are fully convicted.
Therefore, on this Thanksgiving weekend, some need to be enlightened. Have you no conviction for sin? Then consider yourself still at enmity with God. If this is the case and the Spirit is still leaving you be, this paragraph and your fallen condition will not trouble you. However, if you find yourself sensing that spiritual twinge on the inside, and if you are convicted of your rebellion and just desserts, then run to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and find him standing there saying, “Welcome home my child!” This Thanksgiving season will be the best holiday of your life, for on this weekend you who were lost have now been found. He who chose you from the beginning has collected you in life. Repent and rejoice!
And, on this Thanksgiving weekend, as the rest of you are troubled by your sin, rejoice! The humbled, convicted, and repentant heart is an incredible sign and seal of the Holy Spirit. Increased conviction proves progressive sanctification. Jesus says to you, “Blessed are those who mourn over their sin.” Paul says to you, I give thanks for your full conviction, for this shows you are the chosen of God.