Friday, September 16, 2011

Paul described the conversion of the Thessalonian believers in these words: 1 Thessalonians 1:9 αὐτοὶ γὰρ περὶ ἡμῶν ἀπαγγέλλουσιν ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων (for they themselves report concerning us as to what kind of entrance we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols).

Paul speaks of conversion as a "turning" (ἐπεστρέψατε). The verbal form shows that it views the action of regeneration as a "whole". This is what happens at salvation. God so works in the sinner's heart (cf. Acts 13:48) that the sinner then turns (ἐπεστρέψατε) and repents.

Note there is a 2-fold aspect to this change:

(1) Turning TO God —
True believers are those who are characterized as turning to God (πρὸς τὸν θεὸν). This is not only an initial turning at the moment of salvation but this walking with God, communing with God, delighting in God, repenting before God, glorifying God continues through the life of the believer.

(2) Turning FROM idols Paul also records that believers turn from idols (ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων). This means that by default all humans are idolaters. We need to turn to God from idols. No one is by nature a worshiper of God. At the same time, everyone is born a worshiper. Everyone worships someone or something. But the believer is one who turns to God away from idols.

Have you experienced this regeneration and turning in your life? Have you turned to God? Have you turned from your idols?

Two effects that will result from this conversion as written by Paul include:

1) Serving the LORD - The first effect is that believers now will serve the Lord—the Living and True God (δουλεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ). The Christian is enslaved (δουλεύειν) to the Living and the True God! The Christian is privileged to serve the LORD in his life. Are you?

2) Looking for the LORD -
The second effect Paul specifies here is that believers wait for the coming of Christ (καὶ ἀναμένειν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ [τῶν] νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης). Believers are to wait for Christ (ἀναμένειν). Christ is the Son of God who now resides in heaven, he is the one whom God raised from the dead, He is Jesus of Nazareth, and He is the one who rescues us (ῥυόμενον) from the coming wrath. No other god or man-made idol can rescue sinners from the wrath of God. Only Christ can rescue from the wrath of Almighty God. Are you looking for the coming of Christ with great anticipation?

Here is a sermon I preached last week on this text explaining this more fully.

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