SERVING AND WAITING
1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 Princeton Christian Church 17 November 2021
Did you ever stop to think – “What am I doing here?” ‘What is my reason for existing?” “What am I to be doing now that I am a Christian?”
These questions and many more can be answered as we look at what the Apostle Paul tells the Christians at Thessalonica. Look at 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10.
“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” NIV
Turning to and Serving God
To have rejected and turned away from idols is one thing. But it is not only what you turn from that is important. Of greater importance is what you turn to, and what you do after you have turned.
The Christians in Thessalonica had turned from worshipping and serving the idols of their day and became servants of the One true and Almighty God. The word used here for servants is the same word used for a slave. We live in an age that prefers to think of God as a partner rather than as a slave-owner. We may grant Him chairman of the board status, but to give Him absolute, unqualified authority over our lives meets resistance. But the God of the Bible is the God who made Himself known on Sinai as “the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. You shall have no other gods before Me. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” --- Deuteronomy5:6-9.
This means simply that God will not tolerate divided allegiance between Him and any other god we may choose to serve. He is not the senior partner, the man upstairs, Big Daddy, nor is He our co-pilot. He is God. We find our meaning in becoming His servants.
In contrast to the idols from which they had turned, He is “The Living and True God.” He is Living in contrast to the deadness of all idols. He is true in contrast to the falsity of all idols. A common characteristic of all idols is that they promise more than they can deliver. Idols are neither vital nor are they true.
Whether the idol someone worships is money, government, sex, self, or whatever, you will discover this flaw in every one of them. Only God is living and is True.
So Paul teaches these new Christians in Thessalonica that they must turn away from, abandon their idols, the false gods they have been serving.
In addition, Paul teaches these new Christians to wait for Jesus, God’s Son from Heaven whom He raised from the dead, and who will rescue them from the coming wrath.
The final dynamic of their influence was their view of history. They were living with the assured conviction that Jesus would return. This, in fact, is why the letters to the Thessalonian Christians were written. This had been the promise after the resurrection (Acts 1:11), and it was His victory over death that made the promise credible.
This doctrine of the Second Coming is sadly neglected in many churches today and even rejected in some. Unfortunately, in yet others, it is majored upon in the form of predictions. The recovery of a dynamic view of the Second Coming of Christ must be a matter of high priority for us.
The technical term for the Second Coming is “eschatology”, from the Greek word meaning “last” or “last things.” What is at stake in eschatology is not how to predict the end of the world, but how to understand what history is all about.
The Second Coming of Christ means that history is moving to a particular conclusion. That conclusion centers on the coming of Christ as King to establish eternally the Kingdom of God which began with His First Coming. The Kingdom will be complete when, and only when, He comes again.
The inclusion of the concept of deliverance from the wrath to come is troublesome to those who are uncomfortable with the idea of a God of wrath. Such an idea is offensive to those who want only to focus on and see God only as a God of love.
But the wrath of God is too prevalent throughout Scripture to be dismissed. God’s wrath is not to be regarded as the anger and ire expressed in human temper tantrums. Rather, His wrath is the other side of His love. It is the necessary proof corollary of His love, reminding us that our choices do indeed have significant consequences. God’s love and wrath are best seen as two sides of the same coin.
----- Gary’s Wednesday Word