I Thessalonians 1:8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
Today, we will begin our devotional with a bit of a personal touch. My wife and I are currently in a town about 8 hours from home. On August 5 our daughter came to visit us for a week. On that day we also had a family gathering on my wife’s side of the family. At that gathering we saw all of my wife’s brothers. One of them had travelled about 9 hours to the gathering. We could see that he was not well, but did not know what was wrong. His name is Jack. Three days later, Jack’s wife took him to the doctor for help. That began the current journey that we have been on. Jack was diagnosed with terminal cancer and they gave him about a month to live. That brings us to where we are now. He is now in palliative care and unable to eat or drink. It seems that his life is very near the end. This has all come about very suddenly for us.
God is in charge of our lives and He knows things we do not know. As we study God’s Word, we can see the benefit of truly knowing the Lord. It is not enough to talk of Him occasionally. He is the God who is real and He wants a personal relationship with man.
Paul was directed to write the letter to the Thessalonians to encourage them. He was directed by God to deal with various issues that man faces. Paul was directed to begin with the necessary introductory remarks. He then moved to other matters that man needs to know. It is so important to know the Lord personally.
In today’s text, Paul continued his words of encouragement to the Thessalonian saints. They were faithful in their witness of the Gospel. The Gospel is called the word of the Lord. It was not a different message depending on who was giving it. There was a false gospel in Paul’s day and there are many false gospels today. The Thessalonians were saved by responding in humility to the truth and then they could not help but tell others the good news. Their testimony spread beyond Macedonia and Achaia, and in every place the faith was spread abroad. Notice again that their faith was to God-ward.
True faith is always to God. It is trusting in the true God that saves. It is trusting in the true God that guides the true child of God along life’s journey from the moment of salvation.
It is sad to listen to lost people talk. They get themselves into such messes and they do not know how to get out of them. They try to find their own way out, but they just dig the hole deeper. Occasionally one of them will realize they are in trouble and they will cry out to God for help.
In our adventures of the past few days, we needed to find a parking place at the hospital my brother-in-law is at. We parked in a parkade and later on we did not know how to get back to where we had parked. It was all a strange place to us and we asked the security guard to help us find our way out of the building. He led us to where we thought the vehicle was, but it was not the right place. We finally figured out where we needed to be and then we could not find the exit out of the parkade. There were no arrows showing where it was. We retraced our path and went slowly and there it was. Of course as we were trying to find our way we were praying for God’s direction.
It is important to trust in the Lord in all things. Those who are saved need to be able to demonstrate that their faith is in God. The Thessalonian saints did such a good job spreading the Gospel that Paul did not need to add anything to what the people beyond Thessalonica had heard. Jesus commanded:
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
There are some religious groups that believe they need to lead the lost person in a “sinner’s prayer.” The Bible does not teach that. The Bible teaches that we need to teach the lost person of their need to be saved and Who the Saviour is. While we teach the lost person properly, the Holy Spirit is working with the Word of God to impress upon the lost person their need to be saved. Those who listen to the work of the Holy Spirit in their heart, will repent toward God and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation. They will know how to pray to God regarding their salvation. If they do not know how to pray, we need to continue to teach them. If they do not want to be taught, they are not ready to be saved.
In verse 9 Paul spoke of the impact the Gospel had on the saints. Those who testified to the impact that the Thessalonian saints had on them, were able to give a clear testimony of salvation. The saints in Thessalonica proved that they understood Biblical salvation and they could pass the Gospel on to others. Paul could see that and they also testified to that fact.
They had turned to God from idols. That is a clear definition of repentance. It is a turning to God from idols. That is what the lost sinner must do. He cannot come to God with his idols and ask God to sanctify them. He has come to the realization that his idols are nothing. Whether that be drugs or alcohol or some other vice, the person who is ready to be saved realizes that all they have tried in the past is useless. They now want to know God’s forgiveness and have His peace in their heart. They have been taught Who God is and they also know Who Jesus Christ is.
Paul stated that the saints were saved to serve the living and true God. The true God is not an inanimate object that was carved out of stone or wood, etc. The true God is living. That is why He can save. He is the true God. There is nothing fictitious about Him. Everything the Bible says about Him is true. He proves Himself to be true in the heart of the saved person. He is also proving Himself true in the world.
As we look at what is happening in our world now, those who are saved can see the hand of God at work. Rather than listen to the fools who want to scare us with “climate change” or some “pandemic”, the wise person looks at God’s Word and sees how God is working to show lost humanity that they have no answers. They can make trouble, but they cannot make good.
In verse 10 we see that the saints were waiting for Jesus Christ to come from heaven. That is where Jesus Christ is today. God raised Him from the dead. We see the progression of thought in verse 10. First Paul called Him “His Son from heaven”, then he spoke of God raising Him from the dead, and then He calls Him Jesus. There is no mistaking Who Paul was talking of. There is no mistaking Who the only Saviour of mankind is.
Jesus Christ delivered “us”, the saints, from the wrath to come. That is why the true born again Christian does not go through the Tribulation time. There is tribulation today, but not as it will be in the seven year Tribulation time. That time is different. That time is the time of God’s wrath. His wrath will be expressed primarily toward Israel at that time, but it will also be expressed toward the rest of the world as well.
As we read of torrential rains and hurricanes and earthquakes, etc. we are reminded of the fact that there is “something” bigger than man at stake here. As we witness the corruption in our own government and in that of the U.S., we can see the depravity of man on full display. Those who are saved know that “something” is actually “Someone” and that Someone is God. Those who are saved are waiting in anticipation for Jesus Christ’s soon return. In the meantime we want others to come to know the forgiveness of sins that is only available through repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is a privilege to be able to bring this good news to lost people’s ears. God, the Holy Spirit, will bring that to bear upon their hearts as they hear the truth being given to them. Let us be busy giving people the good news they so desperately need, but are blinded from seeing.