Are You Serving And Waiting?
In I Thessalonians 1:9-10, Paul speaks of how those in the church had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom God raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to co me.” To be a Christian, Paul tells us we must turn away from the idols of the world so that you can serve God. The word “turned” was an expression used throughout the book of Acts for conversion. For instance, Acts 11:21 says, “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” In order to face toward God we must turn our backs on the sinful idols and attractions of the world. This is what true repentance involves; certainly turning to God, but also turning our backs on, or away from sin. What many don’t get today, because the pulpits are silent on it, is that no genuine conversion has taken place until both are done. Turning to God means more than just acknowledging Him—it involves facing into the light of personal moral accountability to Him, as well. Notice what happens when real repentance or real turning takes place. It shows itself positively in a twofold way: to serve, vs. 9, and to wait, vs. 10. These are both things that many who call themselves Christians today are not doing. “To serve” suggests total surrender, the service (although loving) of a slave. So, when real turning takes place, we “serve the living and true God”. Secondly, when real turning takes place, we find our self “waiting on (the return) of His Son from heaven”. This sounds like Titus 2:11-13: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” As we serve the Lord in this present world, we await in certainty the glory of the next. Real Christians don’t just serve the Lord with no hope of what lies ahead, nor do we just drop everything and huddle up in a corner waiting for the coming of the Lord. We serve while we wait, but we do both. We live righteous, holy lives while at the same time we look for the “blessed hope”. But many who call themselves Christians today do neither; they certainly aren’t serving the Lord in any way, nor are they even looking for, or even desiring the coming of the Lord. Jesus is also said to have “delivered us from the wrath to come”. God’s nature involves both His love of righteousness and His hatred of all things unrighteous. Again, even though many pulpits are silent on the subject, stressing only God’s love for us, there is such a thing as “the wrath of God”. When the Pharisees came to John the Baptist’s baptisms, he said to them in Matthew 3:7: “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” How could God love what is good unless He hated evil? The two are inseparable. Either He must do both or neither. When we repent of our sins and believe on Christ and trust Him as our Savior, He delivers us from the “wrath”, or punishment we deserve for our sins. If you’re living a life of victory over sin through the power of His shed blood, then you need not worry what is ahead for you. We have heaven to look forward to and all that God has prepared for those who love Him. But if you are shaking your fist at God, ignoring His pleas to you to repent and be saved, then you will discover the truth of Hebrews 10:31, when it says: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Jesus will deliver you from your sin and from the wrath of God you deserve for it if you will just repent and call upon Him. What’s keeping you from doing it, if you already haven’t? Revelation 6:17 tells us there is also an approaching “day of wrath”. That refers to the time we refer to as the 7 year tribulation period, a time when God’s wrath is unleashed upon the planet and sinful men. It says in I Thessalonians 5:9: “God hath not appointed us to wrath.” I believe in the “blessed hope” of the pre-tribulation Rapture. I believe God’s true church will be taken out of this world by means of the Rapture before what is described in the book of Revelation as “the wrath of God” , begins. I may have to deal with tribulation, or persecution before that happens, but I don’t believe God’s wrath is going to be dished out upon me during that time because I believe I will be gone by means of the Rapture. Many mock the very idea of the Rapture today, but I still look at it as my “blessed hope”, and God’s means of delivering me from “the wrath to come”. I hope you too will be a part of that great event because you’re serving and waiting for Jesus, and not left behind to face God’s wrath.