A Study of 1st Thessalonians 1:10
“And to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1st Thessalonians 1:10)
A living hope and a sanctified walk!
Always these two accompany each other. Inseparably they are knit together, intertwined; essentially they are one.
Without the one the other cannot be. Reciprocally they motivate each other. Each is the other’s stimulant. Where the one fades the other pines. Where the one flourishes the other is strong.
Be the friend of God in Christ, keep your garments clean, fight the good fight of faith in the midst of the world, deny yourselves and consider it grace in the cause of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer with Him,—and your attitude will be that of the living hope, to which you look for the Son of God from heaven, assured, longing, waiting. And, on the other hand, look for the Saviour from heaven, with steadfast longing and patient waiting, and the longing and urge to be Hike Him at His coming will be a strong incentive to keep yourselves pure and strive to keep His commandments.
Be the friend of the world in much of your actual life, seek the things that are below, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, refuse to suffer with Christ and carefully avoid the cross,—and hope will pine away, there is no Christian joy in your heart and no song of glad expectation on your lips. Or, again, let hope be weak and wavering, the flame of hope’s yearning be quenched, the strong assurance of hope too lacking in your soul,—and gone is the power to be patient in tribulation and to endure even unto the end.
Inseparable are they: hope and sanctification.
Mutually they effect each other. They live together and die together. They flourish together and languish together.
Thus it is in the chapter at the end of which occurs the text of this meditation.
It contains a beautiful testimony concerning the Christian life and walk of the saints in Thessalonica. They had received the Word of the gospel in the midst of much affliction, with joy in the Holy Ghost; and they had become followers of Paul and of the Lord. They had become ensamples to all believers round about, in Macedonia and Achaia. The Word of the LORD sounded out from them, and their faith to God-ward was spread abroad. For, by the power of grace they had been called, and they turned away from idols. . . .
To serve the living and true God. . . .
And to wait for his Son from heaven!
Always these two: serving the living and true God and waiting for His Son from heaven!
It is: both or none!
We wait for Him!
For the Son of God from heaven.
For Jesus, whom God raised from the dead.
For Him, who delivered us from the wrath to come.
There, in a few words, you have the entire gospel of our salvation!
For, what is the gospel, if it is not God’s message concerning His Son?
Or what is this message of God concerning His Son if it is not, first of all and chiefly, that He is, indeed, the Son of God? He is the Son, not by virtue of any title or honor or grace or glory or power that was bestowed upon Him, but in Himself, eternally, in coequality with the Father and the Holy Spirit, essentially God, infinite in all His virtues, almighty, all-wise, sovereign, the LORD of all, God adorable above all!
This, indeed, is the heart, the quintessence of the gospel. Deny it, and there is no gospel of salvation possible.
Yet, this Son of God is “even Jesus,” the historical Jesus of Nazareth, who tabernacled among us. And what else does this mean than that the Son of God also became man, came in the likeness of sinful flesh, so that, while He is and remained the infinite and eternal Son of God, He also became like unto us in all things sin excepted. The incarnation of the Son! God also became man; the Creator also became creature; the Infinite became finite; the eternal became temporal; the LORD became servant; He, whose alone is immortality, also became mortal. And yet, withal the Immutable did not change! He is and abides forever God, Creator, Infinite, Eternal, LORD of all, the Immortal!
And again, this Son of God, even Jesus, is said to have been raised from the dead by God! But what else does this imply than that He first died and descended into the nethermost parts of the earth? Yes, indeed, the Son of God died! True, He died in human nature, for how could the eternal and immortal God die except in mortal nature? But, nevertheless, it was the person of the Son of God that, in human nature, was nailed to the accursed tree, that laid down His life, that tasted death for every man, that voluntarily went down into the depth of hell. And it was our death He tasted. For it was our sin He bore. And, therefore, it was for our justification that He was raised from the dead. For, God raised Him up! And that divine act of God whereby He raised His Son, even Jesus, who had died for our sins, from the dead, is the divine response to Jesus’ outcry on the cross: “It is finished!” It is the divine testimony that He, as the Head of His church, had fully satisfied and obtained righteousness and eternal life for all that are in Him!
For Him we wait from heaven!
For, to heaven the Son of God ascended!
He was with us, in our flesh, on our earth, in our life, but a little while. He lived our life. He spoke through our mouth, face to face with us. We saw Him and heard Him and confessed that He is the Son of God, the only Begotten of the Father, and that with Him are the words of eternal life. But He left us. Even His resurrection was no return to us, though occasionally He appeared that we might know that He lives. But finally He definitely left us. For, He was taken up as we saw it, and a cloud of glory took Him out of our sight. On other occasions, after that He had risen from the dead, He also came and was gone; but we expected Him to return. But this time, on Mount Olivet it was different. We know that He has gone into the heavens, and that here we will see Him no more. . . .
To heaven He went!
And heaven is another part of God’s wide creation. It differs from our mundane existence not only locally, but also in its nature. For, while here we have only a reflection of God’s face and see in a glass darkly, there is the very face of God. Heaven is as close to God’s heart as creature can be! Thither He went, the Son of God, in human nature. From thence He reached down and took hold of our humiliated nature, descended with it into the lowest parts of the earth; and thither He returned taking our human nature with Him into highest glory, close to the heart of God. . . .
And there He was glorified with the glory He had with the Father, before the world was!
He, the Son of God, even Jesus!
Whom God raised from the dead!
He was taken up into the highest heavens!
Leaving us the promise that He will come again, with His reward!
To give unto every man according as his work shall be!
For Him we wait!
Assured we are that He will come again!
True, He did not leave us orphans. He did come again. Even as He promised before He ascended up to the Father, so He sent unto us the Comforter, that He may abide with us forever. And in that Spirit, He Himself returned to us!
And, indeed, we know that at the end of our earthly course and battle He will come to us, even through His servant death, and take us to Himself, in the House of many mansions, where He prepared a place for us, that we may also be where He is.
Yet, with all the saints we still wait for another coming.
For, He will come again from heaven! He will appear, not again as the suffering Servant, but in glory, with all the power and might the Father has bestowed on Him, as the Lord of Lord’s and King of kings, the heir of all things! And we expect that in that day He will subject all things unto Himself and make our humiliated body like unto His most glorious body. He will make all things new, and will give into our possession the incorruptible and undefilable inheritance that never fadeth away. He will appear as the Victor over death and hell, as the One Who stood for the cause of God’s covenant in the world, and His cause shall be publicly justified before every creature! And in that day every tongue, in heaven and on earth and in hell, shall forevermore confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
For that day we wait!
We wait for Him, for His coming!
No, this waiting attitude does not imply that while we look for Him we neglect our earthly calling. On the contrary, because we wait for Him it is our earnest desire and strife to be found faithful at His coming. We know that He called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, in order that we might represent the cause of that Son in this world. And we fight the good fight, conscious of the victory in Him. Nor does it imply that we expect Him at any moment. For we know that all things must be ready. And even though we feel assured that the end of all things is near, and though we see that end drawing nearer every day with astounding rapidity in the events of today, we know that the end is not yet. Yet, we wait for the coming of the Son of God from heaven. We expect nothing of this world apart from His coming. All our expectation is concentrated on His coming. Would you like to make this world better, to see the perfect world? Wait for Him! Would you like to be delivered from the body of this death? Wait for Him! Do you suffer and are you killed all the day long, and do you see the cause of the Son of God suffer defeat? Wait for Him! You are in sin, in death? The enemy persecutes? The mighty men of this world rage and rave and appear to have the victory? Wait for Him! He will set all things straight!
And this implies, too, that we long for His coming. To be sure, we wait patiently, fully assured that He will come. But this only means that the hope of His coming makes us strong to endure even unto the end, not that we do not earnestly and fervently long for the day of His coming.
We wait in earnest expectation!
For, in this we groan!
And the Spirit and the Bride say: Come!
Yea, come quickly!
Earnestly we wait!
For, we who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body!
How could it be different?
Already He delivered us from the wrath to come! And this deliverance is the power of our waiting, the impetus of our longing!
More than one reason, indeed, might be given in explanation of that attitude of expectation of the people of God in the world. They wait, because they have His Word, that He will come again, and that Word they believe and is the sure ground of their hope. They long, because, though they see Him not, they love Him and they look forward to the glorious day when they shall see Him, for whom their soul yearneth, who loved them even unto death.
But here it is said, that He delivered us from the wrath to come!
And this deliverance is not complete!
He must come again, fully to grant us the joy of that deliverance!
Wrath is coming! Wrath, the terrible wrath of God, is already, is always upon the world outside of Christ. And that wrath is manifest in all the confusion and suffering and death, in all the corruption and shame, in all the blindness and rage and fury, whereby men seek their own destruction and the destruction of the world. But that wrath is still coming! The day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God is at hand! Fully His wrath, as His wrath, will be manifested. It will be poured out! And it will result in the world’s destruction and the eternal desolation of all the ungodly. . . .
From that wrath He delivered us!
Legally He delivered us from it, for He bore it to the full in our stead. All the vials of that wrath were poured out over His head! They were emptied! There is no wrath of God left for His Church! We were justified, an eternal righteousness is imputed to us. We are the objects of His eternal favor! We are heirs of eternal life! But we are delivered from that wrath also in spiritual reality. For He regenerated us and called us out of this present world. We know and taste the love of God poured forth into our hearts by the Spirit He has given us!
Yet, all this is true only in principle!
We are delivered, yet not delivered!
For, we are still in the body of this death! And we are still in this world upon which the wrath of God abideth and shall presently be poured out! We suffer, we groan, we die!
And thus, knowing that we are delivered from the wrath to come, yet in the midst of this world of wrath, having the first fruits of the Spirit, yet only the first- fruits, we long for the full harvest of glory!
For the final and perfect deliverance!
He must come! For His coming we long!
We wait for the Son of God from heaven!
The Spirit and the Bride say: Come!
Come, Lord Jesus!
We wait. . . .
But are we?
Ah, does it not seem in the Church of today, as if the Bride had abandoned her waiting attitude?
Let us recall the relation and mutual influence of hope and a sanctified walk! The more our life in general is of this world, even as it is in the world, the less we will assume the attitude of waiting for the Son of God. Is this not the reason why so little of true waiting and hoping is witnessed in what is known as the Church of today ?
Let us watch and be sober!
And, girding up the loins of our mind, let us hope perfectly, for the salvation that is to be revealed!
Waiting for the Son of God!
With the Spirit and the Bride!