THE ORIGINATION OF A HOLY LIFE FOR THE CHURCH LIFE
The book of 1 Thessalonians is concerned with a holy life for the church life. In 1:1-3 we have the structure of this life. This structure includes the work of faith, the labor of love, and the endurance of hope. This means that a holy life for the church life is constructed of faith’s work, love’s labor, and hope’s endurance. In 1:4-10 we have the origination of this holy life for the church life. This life originates through the preaching of the word and the acceptance of the word that is preached. Thus, we need to help new believers by presenting them the word of God in power, in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance, matched by our manner of life. Then the new believers will accept this word and follow us to follow the Lord, thereby becoming a pattern for other believers. This is the way a holy life for the church life originates.
THREE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
In verses 9 and 10 we have the details of such a life: “For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entrance we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 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.” In these verses we have three details as the contents of a holy life for the church life: turning to God from idols, serving a living and true God, and waiting for His Son from the heavens. To turn to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from the heavens are the three basic substances of the Christian life viewed from another angle. To turn to God from idols is not only to turn away from false gods, with the Devil and demons behind them, but also to turn away from all things other than God. This is by faith infused into the new converts through hearing the word of the gospel. To serve a living and true God is to serve the very God who is triune—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—processed to be the believers’ life and life supply for their enjoyment. They should experience Him not only as the object of worship, but also as the all-inclusive Supplier who lives in them. This is done by love produced within them by the sweet taste of the rich supply of the Father through the Son in the Spirit. To wait for the Son of God from the heavens is to look for the One who has passed through incarnation, human living, and crucifixion, has entered into resurrection and ascended to the heavens, and who will come back to receive His believers into glory. This is the hope that strengthens the believers to stand steadfastly in their faith.
Turning to God from Idols
The first characteristic of the Christian life is that we turn to God from idols. Some people claim to be atheists. They say that they do not believe in God or worship Him. Actually, every human being worships something. Everyone has a spirit, a spiritual stomach. In our physical stomach we are hungry for food, and in our spiritual stomach we are hungry for God. We would not have a physical stomach if it were not necessary for us to eat in order to live. Our spirit, our spiritual stomach, is for worshipping God, contacting Him, receiving Him, and containing Him. Both our physical stomach and our spiritual stomach were created by God. During the day we must eat a number of times to satisfy the hunger of our physical stomach. In the same way, everyone worships something in order to satisfy the hunger in his spiritual stomach, the spirit. For this reason, all people worship something. Whether we worship a false god or the true God is another question. The point we are making here is that everyone, including atheists, worships something. Whether the food we eat is proper or improper food, we all eat some kind of food. In the same principle, everyone worships something, even if it is a false god.
Do you know what atheists worship? They worship themselves, for they are their own god. In Philippians 3:19 Paul speaks of those whose god is their belly. Others worship education, fame, or position, all of which are idols. God alone is the proper object of worship. Any person, matter, or thing that we worship other than God is an idol.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)