Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church is a portrait of a God-centered church. We have great need to rethink and reform our broken churches upon this model in our own day. If anything, the church has a tendency to be self -centered and man centered. This is, of course not unique to our own age, for this has been the constant struggle of the church ever since she was born on the day of Pentecost. The Galatian and the Corinthian churches are examples of this. The pull is ever downward – as indicated by the law of gravitation. The tendency is always towards decay, towards disorder – towards a state of entropy – as illustrated by the second law of thermodynamics . So too it is with the church.
One of my favorite poets is T.S. Elliot has expressed himself powerfully on this subject :
Of all that was done in the past, you eat the fruit, either rotten or ripe.
And the Church must be forever building, and always decaying - and always being restored.
For every ill deed in the past we suffer the consequence:
For sloth, for avarice, gluttony, neglect of the Word of God.
For pride, for lechery, treachery, for every act of sin.
And of all that was done that was good, you have the inheritance.
For good and ill deeds belong to a man alone, when he stands alone on the other side of death,
But here upon earth you have the reward of the good and ill that was done by those who have gone before you.
And all that is ill you may repair if you walk together in humble repentance, expiating the sins of your fathers; And all that was good you must fight to keep with hearts as devoted as those of your fathers who fought to gain it.
The Church must be forever building, for it is forever decaying within and attacked from without;
For this is the law of life; and you must remember that while there is time of prosperity
The people will neglect the Temple, and in time of adversity they will decry it.
T.S. Elliot says that the church is in need of constant reformation, for she is constantly subjected to sin and decay. Every generation of believers must understand this, and every generation of believers must rebuild her walls that are being constantly assailed. We cannot live on borrowed capital. We cannot presume that our fathers yesterday have done a good work. We must work today and contend for the faith as it was delivered to us by our Lord Jesus today (Jude 3). This is why I must preach the Word to you. The first letter to the Thessalonians is an example of a God centered church, and I must hold this model before you to imitate.
Previously we have seen that a God centered church is a church which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1) and in the Holy Spirit (1:5). It is a church “loved by God, and chosen by God” (1:4). This church had its origins in the preaching of the Gospel, which came to them in “in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1:4). The characteristic marks of a God centered church are seen in “their work of faith , and their labour of love , and their steadfastness of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). It is seen in their imitation of Paul as he followed Christ, and also by their joyful embracing of the Word despite much affliction (1:6). It is seen in their desire to share the gospel in the region of Macedonia and Achaia (1:8). It is seen in a demonstration of biblical repentance as they turned from idols to serve the true and living God (1:9).
Here is yet another aspect that is characteristic of a God centered church, and it is found in verse 10 : The Thessalonian church was waiting for God’s Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath that is to come!
he word translated as “wait” in the ESV (Gr. anameno - ana - “up” and meno, “to remain”) indicates an expectancy concerning a future event, which is eagerly anticipated or waited for. Think of a parent who “waits up“ at night , eagerly awaiting the return of a child from a late night event. The Greek tense is present, which indicates a present and ongoing waiting! This church was waiting diligently.
In Matthew 25: 1- 13 Jesus told the parable of the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom and his bridal party to arrive for a marriage feast . He is, of course talking about His second coming. The bridegroom took his time, and so they had to wait for a long time. Five were prepared for his coming and the other five were not. The five that were not prepared (who did not ‘ remain up’) for His coming missed the marriage feast and were not admitted to the marriage feast. Jesus frequently reminded His disciples (and therefore His church) in the Olivet discourse (Matt 24 & 25) that they had to stay awake, be ready , and watching for His coming.
he Bible for this reason sometimes calls believers pilgrims, aliens, strangers, or sojourners because they are not going to stay here! They are on their way to their heavenly city.
We need to compare this to the attitude of those who do not have this view. There is a category of people in the book of Revelation who in the Greek text are literally called “earth dwellers” . Their whole lives are centered on this life on this earth without any thought of the future. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples about being overly anxious with respect to their “earth dwelling needs”, such as clothing or food. He warned such that excessive attention paid to the pursuit of food and clothes was tantamount to accumulating “ treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal”. He exhorted them to accumulate treasures in heaven, … “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:19-21). Where is your heart rooted? What is your future desire? These questions will tell you much as to whether you are waiting for God’s Son from heaven or whether you are an “earth-dweller” .
The Bible has much to say about the future state of man. Jesus regularly spoke about man’s eternal prospects in one of two destinations : heaven and hell. We must take Jesus’ teaching very seriously and prepare ourselves accordingly. The Thessalonian Christians were waiting for His Son from heaven… who delivers us from the wrath that is to come!
In the incarnation He is both God and man in one person. These two natures of Christ are important to understand. As a man He could experience manhood. He could represent us on the cross and die for our sin. As a man He could be tempted, but as God He could not give into temptation and therefore He would not sin. As man He could experience the pain of death and the agony of soul in his separation from God , but as God death could not keep Him in the grave. As a man He was raised, and He is the basis for a living hope () for in His resurrection is the hope of our resurrection to eternal life. As a man He went to heaven because He was the eternal God. In heaven He sits as our representative and from heaven He comes again to judge the living and the dead.
The wrath of God will be poured out on all who have not trusted in Christ in this life . The great white throne judgment will be that occasion ().
In our day one of our greatest needs is to disengage ourselves from being mere ‘earth dwellers‘ and to live in greater anticipation of our meeting of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether by our death or by His second coming. This is a vital part of being a God centered Christian , and it follows the long history of the church in which faithful men and women have longed for the return of Jesus in their own generation , and have said, “ Maranatha” – Even so , Lord Jesus , come ! This is a normal Christian desire , and if it is not there , you have every reason to question yourself as to whether you are “in Christ”.
 The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth, by Henry Morris: (p. 14) All processes manifest a tendency toward decay and disintegration, with a net increase in what is called the entropy, or state of randomness or disorder, of the system. This is called the Second Law of Thermodynamics. ; Scientific Creationism, edited by Henry Morris: (p.25) The Second Law (Law of Energy Decay) states that every system left to its own devices always tends to move from order to disorder, its energy tending to be transformed into lower levels of availability, finally reaching the state of complete randomness and unavailability for further work.
 T.S. Elliot : Chorus from the Rock
 See the definition of the Council of Chalcedon ( 451 AD)