(Article for publication week of 10-3- AD 2013
“….Ye turned from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1:9b).
I continue to blast the trumpet of warning against false profession. For several weeks I have been writing to you from our Lord’s warning found in Matthew 7:21-23. Last week I showed you that one of the defects in the false professors in that passage was that they had missed the gate of conversion. The characters addressed in Matthew 7:21-23 are not unlike many of you. They were as religious as all get out, but were unconverted. Dear reader, if you come to the Final Judgment unsaved, you blood will not be on my hands, for I am faithfully laboring for your soul and warning you of the wrath to come.
Now, we have previously noted that conversion is illustrated by our Lord in Matthew 7:13. True conversion is like a ‘strait” gate. True conversion is necessary, urgent, difficult, agonizing, and rare. After urging us to enter into the narrow way by means of the difficult gate of conversion, our Lord goes on and describes many who missed that gate. And this is exactly where the majority of professed Christians and church members are in our day and in our county. There are multitudes that have been close to the gate, but have never entered in. Multitudes have tumbled over the wall supposing to be in the way, but they did not get in the right way. To be sure that you understand what true conversion is, we shall now devote at least a few articles to the subject.
Our text today in I Thessalonians describes for us true conversion. Paul would write to the believers in the Church at Thessalonica and tell them he knew they were of God’s elect (see I Thessalonians 1:4), because they “turned from idols to serve the living and true God.” If you care to do a simple word study, get your Strong’s concordance and compare “turn” with “convert”. You will see they are generally translated from the same Greek word. And so you see, conversion is a turning from idolatry to the only true God. Dear reader, does this describe you? Have you turned from your idols to serve the God of the Bible? Have you ever admitted that you have been an idolater? Some of you are so ignorant as to suppose that because you have not bowed to a statue of a heathen “deity” that you are not an idolater. But go read Colossians 3:5 and you will see that covetousness is idolatry. If you have something or someone that you love more than God, you are an idolater. Some of you have made money your god. Some of you have made pleasure your god. Some of you have made your base lusts your god. Some of you have made your children your god. Some of you have made your religion your god. Ultimately, a lost man worships himself. You are not saved, because you have never turned from your idols to serve the living and true God.
Now God’s word is clear. “Idolaters… shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8). Dear reader, unless you turn this moment from your idols, and turn to God, you will spend eternity where the fire is not quenched, and the worm never dies. Sinner, turn or burn!