“For 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…“
to serve the living and true God
Two results came of the Thessalonian conversions. First, they served the living and true God (instead of idols). The word “serve” is in the present tense. Even as Paul speaks, the Thessalonians serve God. The word “serve” means to serve as a bond slave. The sham and shame of paganism did not fulfill them. They turned to a fruitful life of service.
We cannot become Christians without some impact on our lives (Ephesians 2:10). Lip and life go together.
“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:20-24).
Service here has to do with worshipful adherence to the true God. Christian service is vital because it relates to a “living and true God.” The word “living” stands in contrast to dead idols of paganism. The impotent, dead gods of paganism cannot change lives. The essence of Christian service is personal service. We serve a person, not a religion.
“…how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)
The word “true” means real. Christians worship a genuine God. There is nothing false or counterfeit about the God of the Bible.
We worship a living and genuine God.
If Christians seek fulfillment in anything other than the “living and true God,” then they will end with some void in their lives. If we serve the living and genuine God, we will live a fruitful life of service.
God transforms us not to make us ornamental but to be functional. He saves us to serve, not sit. Churches are full of religious spectators who do not involve themselves with eternal issues.
“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
”Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).
“And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?’” (Daniel 6:20).
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
“…serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews…” (Acts 20:19).
“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers…” (Romans 1:9).
“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6).
“…not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…” (Romans 12:11).
“For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men” (Romans 14:18).
“…not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men…” (Ephesians 6:6-7).