Friday, February 25, 2011

Those That Don't, Won't

As we charge along through The Word it continues to be exciting to complete one letter and start another. It also continues to be encouraging that Paul makes the same basic points with each one of his letters. They say repetition is the mother of learning, and as we read Paul's letters we are being warned and encouraged with each one.

I "pre-read" 1 Thessalonians chapter one last night before bed and I was thinking that this is one of those chapters that would be fun to work backwards. The chapter is only 10 verses, but as usual, Paul makes his points quickly.

For example; Paul makes it clear that the Wrath of God is coming:

1Thessalonians 1:10b
the wrath to come.

He also makes it clear Who is able to deliver us from the wrath to come:

1Thessalonians 1:10b
Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Paul also makes the extremely important point that Jesus was raised from the dead. Also notice that Paul says to the Thessalonians (and to us) that He is coming back and we are to wait for Him:
1Thessalonians 1:10
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Romans 10:9
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

John 14:1-6 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going." 5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This begs that crucial question. Who does the wrath of God abide upon? And, who is Jesus going to bring in to His Kingdom and give eternal life? Answer: Those that trust in Jesus alone for salvation and repent will have eternal life; those that don't, won't:
1Thessalonians 1:9
For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

This is the very definition of repentance. Turning from anything that is sinful and/or anything that you put ahead of God. Whether it be in the form of sinful nature and lust of the flesh, or religion, and everything in between; we need to repent of it and turn to God.
John 6:29
Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."

Verse 6 of 1 Thessalonians seems to be a strange contradiction and is, no doubt, confusing to those that are not born-again. Paul speaks of the Thessalonians receiving the Word with joy, yet with affliction. Followers of Christ were under intense persecution (which still goes on today in many nations), and as we know, Paul was one of those that used to brutalize followers of Christ. Yet, this persecution did not deter people from giving their life to Jesus, in fact, they embraced Him with joy and became examples for others, just as Paul did:
Thessalonians 1:6-7
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

2Timothy 3:12-13
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

A logical question would be, how is this possible. There is no other time or "movement" in history where brutal acts on a group of people actually had the adverse affect of what you would think. Instead of fizzling out and coming to nothing, people were giving their lives to, and for, Jesus Christ! How is this possible? It is possible because it is entirely a work of God, not of man:
1Thessalonians
because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

This message of repentance is not unique to Paul, it has been preached throughout the ages:
Matthew 3:21
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 

Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Acts 3:19
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

Acts 11:18
When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life

Acts 8:22
Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Jesus said:John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

John 3:36 (Jesus Words)
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

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