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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 29 - 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10 - The Turning to God and the Waiting for Christ Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Index

XXIX.

 

The Turning To God And The Waiting For Christ.

 

     "For they themselves show 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, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."-1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10.

 

 

     Paul's gospel (verse 5) had found its way into Thessalonica. He was himself the preacher. It had come 'in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance;' and from Thessalonica had sounded out the word of the Lord, not only through Greece, but over the world. The spiritual work was a very decided one. There was no semi-Christianity; no half-and-half discipleship; no languid and lifeless and second-rate religion. The results of the gospel were beyond all mistake; and the Christian life was bold and without compromise. In this Church we have a bright specimen of primitive Christianity and discipleship. The line between the believer and the unbeliever was drawn deep and sharp. These Christians were out and out what they professed to be. The world might hate and malign them, but it could not misunderstand them. They were, beyond all doubt, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

     There are here two main features given us of these Thessalonian conversions,-the turning and the waiting.

     I. The turning.-Conversion is here exhibited in its fullest and largest aspect; for, in the case of these Gentiles, everything had to become new,-creed, conduct, worship, religion; not a particle of their former selves remained. Old things passed away; all things became new.

     1. 'They turned.'-Yes, they turned; and no one could mistake their turning. To themselves, as well as to all others, it was equally plain. 'They turned,' and yet it was God who turned them; they turned, and yet there was an invisible and supernatural power at work within them, working in them both to will and to do. God's entreaty to them, as to all, was, 'Turn ye, turn ye.'

     2. They turned from idols.-Idolatry was their chief characteristic. They had 'gods many,'-idols without number. These they cast aside. They forsook Jupiter and his altars; flung down their Lares and Penates; turned their back on idolatrous temples, as temples not only of idols, but of devils (demons, 1 Corinthians 10:20). For what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? And what concord is there between Christ and Belial? What sympathy between the theatre and the sanctuary, between the Lord's table and the ballroom?

     3. They turned to serve the living and true God.-(1.) They 'turned to God,' setting their faces God-ward. (2.) They 'turned to serve God,' quitting all idolatrous service, and dedicating themselves to the service of God-of Him who alone is entitled to that name; the living God, in opposition to the dead and dumb idols; the true God, in opposition to their false and fabulous divinities. How total the change of service! What an elevation, what an expansion, what an ennobling! Their old religion, how vile and material and earthly; their new religion, how lofty, how spiritual, how heavenly!

     This is the true revolution, whether in a nation or a man; the reversal of our whole life, the transformation of our whole being, the renovation of heart, creed, principles, character, and aims. This divine revolution or reformation is the only one that can avail;-the new creation; the new being; the new soul and life.

     II. The waiting.-It is not mere turning from our former selves; for it not only alters our feelings as to the fast, but as to the future also. A new future is given, as well as a new present. To these Thessalonian idolaters the future was all a blank, or filled up with gloom. Now, after their turning, it is filled with glory. The special object of that future is the Son of God Himself. Many things cluster round Him; but He is Himself its special brightness. He has gone into heaven; and there He now is, at the right hand of God. But He is not always to remain there. He is to come again; and it is this advent that fills up the future of the believing man. There are several expressions used in reference to it.

     1. Loving it (2 Timothy 4:8).-In turning to the living and true God, we love the appearing of His Son. It appears to us so desirable, and the meeting between Him and us, when we shall see His face, so blessed. Loving Him and knowing His love to us, we love His appearing.

     2. Waiting for it.-The word (?ναμενειν) refers to passive expectation; sitting still, and abiding till the expected one arrives, as the disciples tarried ad Jerusalem till Pentecost; patient waiting or endurance.  Not indifference, but still simple waiting, the happy, tranquil expectation of a believing, loving heart.

     3. Looking for it.-We are not, however, to be content with this passive expectation.  We are not to sit quietly in the house till the knock comes to the door; we are to be looking out at the windows and along the road, to see if the beloved one be not coming.

     4. Watching for it.-This rises above all the rest. It is more than loving or waiting or looking; it is that feeling (we call it nervous and eager) which arises from the uncertainty of the time.  When we greatly love a person and long for a visit, but are quite uncertain as to when he may come, we watch.  This was the special word of our Lord Himself.  He has commanded us to watch.

     Of Him for who we are to wait, the apostle proclaims three things.  (1.) He is the Son of God.  (2.) He was raised from the dead. (3.) He is the deliverer from the wrath to come.  These are three special things on which our faith rests, and in believing which we are saved; and these are three special things on which our hope rests, on which it builds itself in anticipating the glory to be revealed.  He who is coming, and for whom we look, is the Son of God, the risen Christ, the deliverer from the wrath to come.