When Paul wr0te to the Thessalonians who had ‘turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven’(1 Thes 1:9-10), he amplified each statement:
- A work of faith (v. 3)
- A labour of love (v. 3)
- Patience of hope (v. 3)
- A word in power and the Holy Ghost (v. 5)
- Received the word with affliction (v. 6)
- Joy in the Holy Ghost (v. 6)
- Serving the living God (v. 9)
The Thessalonians were newly converted. They had not received much teaching, but their lives had been totally changed. No doubt they had not been satisfied with those idols from which they had turned, but now they had a hope and were happy. They knew that wrath was to come on the earth, but they were assured that the Lord had delivered them from it. They were really free.
What it means to us:
There are three ways in which scripture shows how our souls are affected by Christ’s return:
- As a fulfilment of our hope. Our bodies will be raised and we will be changed to be like Him. Christ will have the church with Himself and His government will later be set up.
- As having the Holy Spirit. Gifts have been given now, but the result of God’s work will be seen in display.
- As enjoying the embrace of His love – not His outward government, but His intimate presence. See John 14:3 ‘I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also’.
We are caught up into the Father’s house, and bear the image of the Heavenly One. We come into the Father’s delight – loved as His Son is loved . We enjoy His presence: ‘ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thes 4:17).
When He comes forth, the church, armies in heaven come with Him (see Rev 19:14). They must have been raised first in order to be with Him. It will be a display in power, and everything will be set in order.
Darby said: We love His appearing, but we love Himself better. Therefore we wait for Him to take us to Himself. If our hearts have known what Himself is, we cannot confound His taking us to Himself, with His appearing. We are ‘members of his body’ (Eph 5:30). ‘Your life is hid with Christ’ (Col 3:3). He is to take us up to the Father’s house, the fullness of His own blessedness – with Christ; the blessed outshining of His Father’s love connects itself with the church’s position. All through there is an identity of blessedness with Christ in life, hope, object, all. If this hope is let into the heart, there must be a break with the world. I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am expecting wrath; and I cannot be waiting for God’s Son from heaven if I am linked up with the world. If this world is the scene where my heart is building itself up, if I have an object in this world, Christ will spoil it all.
If He came tonight, would this be what we wanted?
This is a summary of paper written by John Nelson Darby. It is entitled The Freshness of Faith 1 Thessalonians 1 published in Collected Writings Volume 21 (Evangelic 2) page 358.