Turning, Serving, Awaiting
To stand firmly for the Lord today
we must be awaiting His second coming.
In his first letter to the believers in Thessalonica the Apostle Paul reminded them of how they began their life in the Lord. Today, his word is a healthy reminder for us of how we can stand for the Lord in these dark times, when it seems the corruption of the world is stronger than ever before.
As Paul said, the Thessalonians had such a strong testimony that it was reported throughout Macedonia and Achaia, and even beyond:
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, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
— 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; cf. 1:6-8
First, they turned to God from idols; second, they served the living God; and third, they were waiting for the Lord’s return.
How crucial it is for us to have all of these aspects in our Christian life! Yet, while many believers appreciate the need for the first and second aspects, it seems that few in these days care for the third; that is, few have a view of the Lord’s return that compels them to see themselves as nothing more than pilgrims on the earth. Instead, they settle down to enjoy their life, especially here in America, and are gradually overcome by the attractions of the world.
Regarding this, G.H. Pember (1837-1910), the great 19th century student of Bible prophecy, points out a key shortcoming and weakness of the Reformation, namely, that while the Reformers forsook the idolatry of the Roman church and recovered much of the Biblical truth related to the Lord’s first coming, they failed to see the truths related to His second coming. That is, unlike the Thessalonian believers:
…They “turned to God from idols to serve a Living and True God,” but not “to wait for His Son from the Heavens.”
— G.H. Pember, the Great Prophecies, Volume Four, page 592
As Pember also points out, this failure to see clearly what the Bible reveals about the Lord’s return—especially in the book of Revelation—was a great factor in the failure of the Protestant churches in the centuries after the Reformation:
The past history of Protestantism has repeatedly shown, that a general knowledge of Scripture, without a spiritual apprehension of the Apocalypse, is insufficient to check the gradual inroads of worldliness and unbelief, or to detect and meet the stealthy approaches of a Pagan Catholicism.
— Ibid., page 448
May we ourselves learn the lesson from this, that while it is very good to turn to God and away from all the idols of the earth, and even to begin to serve Him, these things by themselves are not adequate! If we truly desire to be firm in our stand for the Lord, we must also be those who are awaiting His return!
Those followers of Christ who take seriously the prophecies in the Bible regarding His return tend to be despised by the world, and frankly, quite often by other believers as well; let it be so. May we nonetheless exercise ourselves to study and meditate upon the Lord’s return as it is presented in the Scriptures (cf. 1 Tim. 4:7), and allow Him to impress us with the truth that this world is soon coming to an end. Then all our hope will be in His coming again, and we truly will live as pilgrims on the earth.
At that time, blessed indeed will those be who have put their trust in Him!
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— 27 July 2021 —