By Justin Edwards
It is my privilege to share with you a 5-part series from my pastor, Loran Livingston, which began September 26, 2010. Pastor Livingston noted that each chapter in the book of 1 Thessalonians concludes with a reference to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. These chapters exhort us to be confident the Lord will deliver us from the wrath to come upon the earth, to cling to the hope and joy found in anticipating the glorious appearing of Christ, to increase our love for the brethren, to encourage one another that He is coming for His Bride, and to be sanctified completely by the Spirit whereby we put off the works of darkness and yield to righteousness so that we will be found blameless at the coming of this Mighty King! This first message was very powerful and I'm excited for what lies ahead as God prepares His Body for His glorious return in these last days. The links to the video and mp3 are at the end of this post.
We find in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 three proofs of salvation: work of faith, labor of love, and endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Because salvation is a work of God by which He brings Himself glory, all born again Christians will exhibit in some capacity service to the Lord that is rooted in love and spurred by faith. It is not possible to be saved and not be involved in the work of the ministry because when He saves us, He charges us to carry on the work He started. In fact, God ordained us for His service long ago:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10
This work includes serving within the Body through the local church, within our homes, or within the community by living and proclaiming the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We work together as one Body to edify one another and to fulfill the Great Commission. We all have work to do for the Kingdom and none of us are exempt from this duty.
We must work when we don't feel like it and when no one appreciates it or notices. Our work is unto the Lord and not unto man. He rewards us for our faithfulness towards Him. Whatever our calling is, our sole purpose is to make Jesus known to the ends of the earth - and that includes your backyard. Jesus said it best what we are to do with our time on earth in Matthew 6:19-21:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Verse 21 is so profound - the desire of your heart will be clear by the location of your treasure. In other words, what do you spend your time doing? Upon examination of yourself, are you working for God or for yourself? Are you serving Him with your life, or are you pursuing riches, pleasures, and material things? Are you more concerned with the cares of this world, or do you consider yourself dead and surrendered to the work of God? Is your life defined by temporal things or eternal things? These are essential questions to ask ourselves. Where are you storing your treasure? In heaven or on earth? That will determine where your heart is - whether you a child of God or a child of wrath.
Not only were the Thessalonians praised for their faith, love, and enduring hope, but their eager obedience to preach the Gospel was known everywhere. 1 Thessalonians 1:8,
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.
And where did they learn to spread their faith? From the Lord and those from whom they first heard the Gospel as we see in verse 6,
And you became followers of us and of the Lord...
Every born again believer must be an example to the brethren. It is how we grow in maturity by studying the Word of God and being examples amongst each other. This is the duty of every believer, so we must examine ourselves to see what example we are leading. Do we share our faith, or not? Do we love the brethren? Do we love our enemies? Do we love our neighbors? Remember, the Great Commission is not an option - it is a mandate from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Perhaps most remarkable of the Thessalonians was their obvious repentance. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 provides us a clear picture of what biblical repentance looks like:
For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
There are several things going on here. In this one verse, we see how they
- Turned to God
- From idols
- To serve the living and true God (as opposed to dead idols)
That is repentance! This presents a radical change in the Thessalonians as they turned their backs on the idols they served and turned to the one true God to serve Him in faith and obedience. Every believer had an idol(s) before they came to faith in Jesus Christ. It is impossible to continue serving these idols and serve the Lord. We must turn from them. No man can hold on to his sins and lay his life down at the cross. He must lay down his sins with his life if He is to be born again. What he is laying down is a lifestyle that served himself, and he is committing himself to a lifestyle of serving God. You cannot serve two masters and you must deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ daily. This is forsaking it all, and it's the only way we can be a disciple of Christ.
The evidence this repentance has taken place will be found in the whole of the life of the believer. There will be a radical change that contrasts the new life against the old life. Your life will be marked by obedience to the Word of God, rather than obedience to your flesh and its desires. Sin is no longer your master for you have become a slave to righteousness. If you have not had a radical change in your life that separates you from the world, it's time you get back to the alter and find out what went wrong. Giving mere lip service to God will fall short of His righteousness. The Christian life is 24/7, not just on Sundays. If you're acting and talking differently on Sundays than you are the rest of the week, you must come to repentance. You're either a Christian, or you're not a Christian - James 1:22,
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
For those that are found in Christ Jesus, we have much to look forward to. The Lord is coming and He is coming soon! No matter what we are faced with we can always turn to Him and declare, "but Jesus is coming!" If you are not looking for the return of Christ, if you have no hope that He is coming, if this fact brings you no joy, or if you dread that Day - what do you think that means? We must be looking for Him as Hebrews 9:28 says,
so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
And there is a crown waiting for those longing for His appearing - 1 Timothy 4:8
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
And those who are longing for His appearing, can have confidence they will be saved from the wrath to come. The Apostle Paul makes this clear in 1 Thessalonians 1:10,
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Jesus affirms this truth in Revelation 3:10
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
We must be longing for Christ to come for us. This is to be our joy! Our hope! Does this dominate your thinking? If Jesus does not dominate your thinking and His return does not consume you with this enduring hope and everlasting joy, then you must examine yourself. No born again believer thinks like this - we are all eager to see His face! Do you?
If you find yourself in a predicament, what are you waiting for? Haven't you gone long enough in trying to serve two masters? Isn't it time to repent from your idols and turn to God in faith? Can you not see that this world is passing away, and those who love it are passing away with it? Aren't you ready to store your treasures in heaven? Aren't you ready to serve the One who paid such a great price for you? Isn't He worthy? Did your sins not nail Him to that rugged cross? Won't you fall on your knees? Won't you give your life to Him today? Even now?
Turn to Christ and be healed. Come with nothing in your hands, and submit your life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Escape the wrath to come, for it might come today, and I promise you do not want to be here when it does. Just listen to the description Pastor Livingston gives in the message below.
This could be the last message you read or hear before you see Jesus, or before you feel heat. If this might be you, don't wait any longer. Lay down your pride and make your calling and election sure. Today is the day of salvation! If you are indeed a believer and there is a besetting sin in your life, confess and repent before the Lord so He can cleanse you of all unrighteousness.
Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. - 1 John 3:3
Please click on the following links to watch or listen:
The Coming of the Lord Video
The Coming of the Lord mp3