Rev. Slopsema is pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”
I Thessalonians 2:12Paul has just reminded the Thessalonian saints of his labors among them during his second missionary journey.
Evidently the unbelieving Jews of Thessalonica sought to undermine the cause of the gospel by attacking Paul’s behavior. They claimed that Paul’s moral character left a great deal to be desired. They charged that Paul was interested only in temporal gain and personal advancement.
Paul counters these charges by reminding the Thessalonians of his labors among them. He had behaved himself holily, justly, and unblameably among them. He had exhorted and encouraged them as a father does a son.
And now Paul expresses what he had exhorted and encouraged the Thessalonians to do. He had exhorted them to walk worthy of God, who called them unto His kingdom and glory.
We call attention to this passage as we begin a new year.
What awaits us in this New Year? We have plans for this year—plans for our children and their schooling, plans for our work, plans for vacation. Things will also happen for which we have not planned—both good and evil.
It is important that in all our activities we walk worthy of God, who has called us into His kingdom and glory. This was God’s exhortation to the church of Thessalonica through Paul. This is also God’s exhortation to us for the New Year.
God has called us unto His kingdom and glory.
Let’s begin with God’s glory. God is the God of all virtue and perfection. He is the light in whom is no darkness (I John 1:5). The virtues of God include His holiness, goodness, righteousness, wisdom, and power. God’s glory is the revelation of these virtues. Whenever we see the virtues of God on display, we see His glory.
We behold the glory of God in His works.
This is true, for example, of His work of creation. Out of nothing God made the heavens and the earth. And He left His mark on the creation. The creation reflects very wonderfully His beauty, wisdom, majesty, and power. This is the glory of God. And so we read, in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”
We behold the glory of God especially in His work of salvation in Jesus Christ. In the work of salvation God reveals the excellence of His virtues to the highest degree. In the work of salvation God rescues a people from sin and death and hell. He transforms them into His own likeness so that they reflect His own perfections. He also brings them to the bliss of heaven, to live with Him eternally. This is a work that far surpasses His work of creation. In this work of salvation, all of God’s excellent virtues are fully displayed. This is His greatest glory.
Closely connected to God’s glorious work of salvation is His kingdom. This kingdom is called in Scripture the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven. The foundation of this kingdom was laid with the atoning work of Christ on the cross. The kingdom was actually established at Jesus’ exaltation into heaven. In this kingdom Christ rules as King under God. The elect of God, redeemed in the blood of Jesus Christ, are the citizens of this kingdom. In this kingdom the people of God enjoy their great salvation in Jesus Christ. Under the gracious rule of Christ, the elect of God find the forgiveness of their sins. They are empowered to overcome temptation. They are led in the paths of righteousness. They are adorned with the virtues of God. They also enjoy sweet communion with God and with one another. Great are the blessings of salvation for the redeemed in God’s kingdom!
And so the work of God speaks of God’s kingdom and glory. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of glory—more glorious than any other kingdom. The glory of this kingdom is the glory of God’s salvation, which the elect of God enjoy in that kingdom.
Into that kingdom and glory of God we have been called!
This call is the saving, efficacious call of God through the gospel. God calls all who hear the gospel to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to salvation.
That call often falls on deaf ears and hard hearts that do not heed the call. But when that call comes to the elect of God, it is made effective through the irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit, so that the elect of God believe and turn to Christ.
When the elect of God are so called to faith in Jesus Christ, they are by their very faith translated into the kingdom of God to enjoy the glorious salvation of the kingdom.
And so the word of God speaks of being called into God’s kingdom and glory.
What a wonderful blessing!
We are to walk worthy of the God who has called us into His kingdom and glory.
Our walk is our manner of living. It includes our innermost thoughts, desires, and even our motives. It includes our speech and outward behavior. It also includes the various relationships we maintain in our life. It is all-comprehensive, including all the activities of life—our work, recreation, entertainment, learning….
We are to walk or live worthy of God.
The word “worthy” has the idea of something that is of equal weight, of like value. It speaks of that which is worth as much. Picture a scale or balance, where both sides are of equal weight.
To walk worthy of God, therefore, means to live a life that is of equal weight and value to the God who has called us into His kingdom and glory.
We walk worthy of God when we reflect in our life the work of God that has called us into His kingdom and glory. Consider a family in which parents have labored hard to raise their children in the fear of the Lord. The children walk worthy of their parents only when they reflect in their lives the work that their parents did to raise them. In like manner, we walk worthy of God only when our life reflects the work of God to call us into His kingdom and glory.
We reflect the work of God to call us into His kingdom and glory when we live our lives as the citizens of the kingdom of God. To live any other life is to live a life unworthy of our God.
To live such a worthy life requires that we separate ourselves from the kingdom of Satan.
We ought to say a few things about the kingdom of Satan. Satan has his kingdom that stands opposed to the kingdom of God. It is a kingdom of darkness. This is because it is a kingdom ruled by the Prince of darkness, Satan. Included in Satan’s kingdom is the world, the ungodly, who are ungodly because they are ruled and controlled by Satan himself. In this kingdom are found every evil and vice imaginable. This kingdom is not a glorious kingdom but a kingdom of shame.
We have been called out of that kingdom and into the glorious kingdom of God.
We do not walk worthy of God when we follow after the evils of the kingdom of darkness. Sadly, we are often inclined to such an unworthy walk. Easily we yield to the temptation to follow after the evils of this world in our entertainment, our dress, and our language. This is called worldliness. There is no excuse for this. There is, however, a reason. The reason is that the work of God’s salvation is only begun in us. Yes, God has renewed us by the Holy Spirit. But there remains in us much evil that carries over from the fall. Yes, one day the work of God’s salvation will be complete, so that we are freed from all of sin’s power and influence. But for the present we must struggle against much sin that is within us. But let us not forget. When we live as the world around us, we do not live worthy of the God who called us into His kingdom and glory. And then God is ashamed to be called our God!
We walk worthy of God only when we separate ourselves from the evils and vices of the kingdom of darkness to live the life of the kingdom of God into which we have been called. This life is the new life of salvation. It is the life in which we reflect in all we do the virtues of God to which we have been saved.
This must be our goal and intent for the new year.This is accomplished only in the power of the word.
In the verse we are considering for this meditation, the apostle Paul expresses what the content of his preaching was in Thessalonica. “As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory” (vv. 11, 12). Notice, Paul had exhorted, comforted, and charged the Thessalonians. He did this with the word of God. And that word of God was that they should walk worthy of God, who had called them into His kingdom and glory.
To this must be added the truth that the very word of God that charges us to walk worthy of God is also the means God uses to empower us to live such a worthy life.
And so if we will walk worthy of God this year, we must come under the power of God’s word. We must frequent the house of God to hear the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom. We must study that word in our own homes. We must admonish, encourage, and comfort one another with the word in the communion of the saints. We must instruct our children in the word in our homes and provide for instruction in that same word in the catechism room.
This is the power of God to lead us to walk worthy of Him.
Let us devote ourselves to the word of God, so that in its power we may this year, and so long as we live on the earth, walk worthy of God, who has called us into His kingdom and glory.