All of Christ for All of Life
Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone

23 September 2020 – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

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. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and 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 delivers us from the wrath to come. – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 (ESV)

In verses 9 and 10, Paul gives a three-fold description what the conversion of the Thessalonians looked like – which is a pattern for all true conversion. Leon Morris writes:

First, they had turned to God from idols. … In the first century this was a very important evidence of true conversion. Indeed, in every age it is a mark of the true Christian that he has turned from contemporary idols.

Secondly, they had come to serve the living and true God. A negative attitude is not enough. The word rendered serve basically means “serve as a slave’ and reminds us of the way that Paul is delighted to call himself a ‘slave of Jesus Christ.’ It underlines the wholehearted nature of Christian service. Notice that God is spoken of as living, which contrasts with the dead idols. The conjunction of these two terms gives emphatic expression to Paul’s essential monotheism.

Thirdly, they awaited the second advent. The word wait for means ‘wait expectantly.’ This is the only place in the Thessalonian epistles where Christ is called Son; the title is used elsewhere in Pal, but its connection here with the second advent is ‘unique.’ For Paul the Parousia is very important and its neglect in many quarters today is a great loss; its rediscovery is sorely needed, for, as J.E. Filson says, ‘it is precisely that kind of conversion which the church as well as the world needs today, and which only the rediscovery of a living eschatological hope can produce.’

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 49
Q. 49. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.