1 Th 1:4-5. Paul says he knows something that many theologians say is impossible for one person to know about another: Paul knows "that he [God] has chosen you." How? "Because (ESV) our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction."
Calvin concurs with this idea in his commentary, I'll show. Nevertheless, it which rings so odd to us: can we really know that God has chosen somebody by how the gospel came to them? Yes! In a surprising statement, when Calvin says "the election of God, which in itself is hid, is manifested by its marks--" we would expect him to then describe the visible marks upon the lives of those "elected." But the surprise is how he describes "its marks." He goes on, "--when he gathers to himself the lost sheep and joins them to his flock, and holds out his hand to those that were wandering and estranged from him. Hence a knowledge of our election must be sought from this source."
What source? The source he just described! Is Calvin serious, in saying that what God did at the time, the gathering and the joining and the holding out of his hand, are marks?
In order to not be too assertive about God, we think that of course God will testify to the truth of the gospel, and that's it. But Paul describes how the gospel came to the Thessalonians as an act of God as well!
Calvin, in commenting under "in power, and in the Holy Spirit" says that too is an act of God, "as though God had strewn from heaven that he had ratified their calling."
What??!!!! This is very, very odd to many modern evangelistic efforts. To think that God would actually do something, among those who hear us bring the gospel, that tells even us, that God has chosen the very people to whom the gospel came "in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" -- is anathema! We keep thinking we have to wait until the days of their nursing home experiences to see how they'll turn out in the end!
However, the nursing home is not the end -- for anyone! But that's another post. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
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