HOLY PEOPLE LIVING A HOLY LIFE
We have pointed out that the books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians are concerned with the church life. From the content of these books we know that the church life depends on a holy life. Many San Franciscans may be evil, but those San Franciscans who compose the church in San Francisco are holy. Praise the Lord that among today’s San Franciscans there are a number of holy people living a holy life! The same is true of the church in Los Angeles. The Lord can boast to the demons and the evil angels that in such an immoral city as Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood, the Lord has a church composed of holy people living a holy life. In the local churches today, we are living a holy life for the church life.
We all need to see that 1 and 2 Thessalonians are on the church life. Not long ago, while I was working on these two Epistles, I was looking to the Lord that he would show me the main subject of these books. Eventually, I became impressed with the matter of the church life in these Epistles. I believe that impression came from the Lord. Apparently 1 and 2 Thessalonians are not related to the church. However, if you touch the depths of the truth in these books, you will see that they truly are concerned with the practice of the church life through the living of a holy life. Now we must go on to see how it was possible for people from an immoral city such as Thessalonica to become a holy people living a holy life for the church life. If we would understand this, we need to ask a very important question: What is the source of a holy life for the church life?
THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
The title of this message is “The Triune God Embodied in the Word to Produce a Holy Life for the Church Life.” Those who are thoughtful may wonder why this title uses the term “The Triune God” when this expression is not found in 1 Thessalonians 1. Furthermore, such careful readers may wonder how we can speak, again from 1 Thessalonians 1, of the Triune God embodied in the Word. This chapter clearly mentions the word, but what about the Triune God and the embodiment of the Triune God in the Word? Let us consider this matter carefully.
First Thessalonians 1:1 speaks of God the Father. Moreover, in verse 3 we have the words “before our God and Father.” In verse 10 Paul speaks of the Son: “And to wait for His Son from the heavens, Whom He raised from among the dead—Jesus, Who delivers us from the wrath which is coming.” Twice in this chapter Paul refers to the Holy Spirit. Verse 5 says, “Because our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance.” In verse 6 Paul points out that the Thessalonians “accepted the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, in this chapter we have the Triune God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, 1 Thessalonians 1 is a chapter on the Triune God.
Actually, the entire New Testament is related to the Triune God. The Triune God is the element for the construction of the New Testament. In preparing meals, sisters use various groceries as the elements of their cooking. Likewise, certain elements are the “ingredients” used in the composition of the New Testament. What are the elements found in 1 Thessalonians 1? The most basic element is the Triune God. Just as meat is an important element in the diet of many Americans, so the Triune God is the most important element in Paul’s spiritual cooking. Hence, it is not surprising that in 1 Thessalonians 1 we can clearly see the Triune God. In this chapter Paul explicitly speaks of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
Both 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2 Thessalonians 1:1 speak of the church of the Thessalonians. This indicates that the church is composed of saved and regenerated sinners. From history we know that the cities of ancient Macedonia, where Thessalonica was located, and Achaia, where Corinth was situated, were evil and immoral. Those cities may have been worse than today’s San Francisco. The Thessalonians in particular did not have a good name; instead, they had a reputation for sinfulness, uncleanness, and immorality. But some of these Thessalonians were saved and regenerated, born of God, through believing in Christ. As a result, in that evil city there came to be a church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In reading the New Testament, it is easy for us to take terms such as in Christ, in the Lord, and in God for granted and not pay much attention to them. We need to be deeply impressed by the expression “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The utterance is marvelous. It is a tremendous matter for people to be in God! Suppose some very sinful people hear the gospel, receive the Lord Jesus, and are saved. They become Christians and are now in God the Father. We need to realize that this is a matter of great significance. Do you know where we are as believers? We are in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ!
According to 1:1, the church is not only in God the Father, but also in the Lord Jesus Christ. The church has such a marvelous location in the Father and in our Lord. Actually, God the Father and Jesus Christ are one. They are the Father and our Lord. The Father is the first of the Trinity, and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son, is the second. However, we should not regard the Father and the Son as separate persons. God is triune, that is, He is three-one. Yes, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three; yet They are one. This is beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend. Oh, our God, the Triune God, is wonderful! This Triune God is revealed in 1 Thessalonians 1. Furthermore, the church of the saved ones is in this wonderful God who is the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)