Intro: Acts17:1-10 gives the historical account of how the Gospel came to the city of Thessolonica for the very first time. Paul and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi but God had delivered them in a mighty and supernatural way. They were asked to leave and went on to Thessalonica. For three weeks Paul preached in the local Synagogue. Luke records that some of the Jews believed but then he states that a “great multitude of Greeks” believed and a number of the chief women of the city. The Jews who refused to believe the Gospel, started a riot and Paul and Silas had to leave in the middle of the night.
Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica for a short time to strengthen the new believers and help them organize their local assembly. When Timothy rejoined Paul in Corinth and gave him the report of new converts in Thessalonica, Paul was thrilled by the great report and wrote them this first epistle; not only the first to them but the first of all the epistles he wrote.
These two verses (9,10), state briefly the Proof that these Thessalonians were Genuine Christians, even though only a short time had passed from when they had their first exposure to the Gospel of Jesus.
“How you Turned to God”
That’s what Conversion is! It is a Turning to God.
Turning to God with your Mind; turning to God with your Will; turning to God with your Heart, your spirit, your innermost being; turning to God with your life.
When someone claims they have become a Christian but their life does not Turn To God; they show that they have not been genuinely Converted! So Peter preached in Acts 3:19- Repent and Be Converted! In Acts 15:3 Luke states that when Paul returned to Jerusalem after his Missionary Journey, he “declared the conversion of the Gentiles.” They had Turned TO God.
But there is another part of being converted: They turned “TO God FROM idols.” Just as there was a Turning TO there was necessarily a Turning FROM. How could someone really turn To God without Turning From idols? It’s clear from Scripture that no man can worship idols and still be a true worshiper of the Almighty God. This was an obvious proof that these believers were Genuine Christians, for they Turned From their idols; they stopped worshiping idols; they removed any from their home; they no longer went to the Idolatrous Temple in their town; they did not practice any of the old idolatrous ceremonies anymore.
So it is that when a person becomes a Genuine Christian, they are Converted! They Turn TO God and they Turn FROM Sin, From the world and its pleasures; From the world’s associations and activities; from the desires of the flesh that are directly opposite of God’s holy Word.
The Thessalonians had been Converted.
They had turned to God from idols “To Serve the living and true God.” To Serve!
This was not just an emotional experience that lasted for a week or two and then faded. This was not just a temporary conversion. They left their idols behind and turned to the Lord, To Serve Him.
They dedicated their entire life to the Lord; they consecrated themselves to Serve Him for the rest of their lives. Now, it was no longer about ME, MYSELF and I; not about what I want to do but What does the Lord want me to do? Now life had a new Master and a new Motivation. Jesus was their Lord and the Holy Ghost was their Power.
There are three Greek words that are translated “serve” in the NT.
- One means to Worship as Lord and Master
- One means to Render any form of service for someone; to minister to someone.
- One means to be a bond servant and to serve in such a capacity.
So Genuine Christians will “serve the living and true God” by worshiping Him; by rendering acts of service to Him and for Him; and by being as a bond servant to him and serving him with total surrender and submission. Paul wrote that every Believer is to “present his body a Living Sacrifice to God;” such a surrender is only our Reasonable service; it is not too much for God to ask of us; it’s just what we Ought to do. We need to be diligent in this matter of Serving the Lord. We need to serve him with our Sincere Worship; both privately and in public in the house of God. We need to Serve Him by ACTS of devotion; to the Lord personally; to his work on the earth; and to his people! We need to Serve the Lord as a bond servant who is totally submitted to Him and to his Will. “Not MY will, but Thy will be done.”
They turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, AND “to Wait for his Son from heaven...”
A final proof of their Genuine Christianity was that they were Looking For Jesus to Come in the clouds.
They were Expecting his return.
They were Anticipating his return.
They were Watching for Him and Waiting for Him.
This speaks volumes when it comes to measuring our true devotion to the Lord. Every True Christian will be CAREFUL about how they live here on the earth. Every time the coming of the Lord to take away his church is discussed in the NT, it is coupled with an Exhortation to Righteousness and Holy Living. We cannot be truly Waiting for Jesus to come from heaven if we are not living a holy life here on the earth.
John stated clearly that EVERY Man that has the hope of seeing Jesus Christ come in the clouds and the hope of being changed to be like him, Purifies Himself even as Jesus is Pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
Oh, brothers and sisters, we are living in a very Sinful world; we are living in a very Selfish world. We must not be conformed to this world but we must be Transformed! Transformed by the Blood of Jesus; by the Holy Ghost; by the Word of God.
We must be Converted- Turn to God from Idols;
We must be Committed- Serving the living and true God;
We must be Careful- Waiting for the Son of God to come from heaven.