“Ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God.” That is the first stage of the Christian life. Now, although they were pagans formerly, in a pagan world with all its system of idol worship, and you might think that it is not quite right and hardly fair to compare people of a ‘Christian’ country with those pagans and to class them all together, I want to point out that in principle and in fact the classing of all unsaved people with those pagans is quite right. “Ye turned unto God from idols to serve” or “to worship”, for that is what the word here means “a living and true God”. Now, the principle here, a principle which has many forms in many different times and ages and parts of the world, is just the same. These people had been giving the “worthship”, for that is the meaning of worship, of their lives to other objects than God. Who is getting the worth-ship of your life – God, or… whatever else it might be? If you are not giving it to God, then you are giving it somewhere else, to something else, and that is idolatry. So the first stage of a true Christian life is this: the realization and recognition that God is worth your giving everything to Him. He is worthy of having the worth-ship of your life, of having laid at His feet all that you have and are.
Now, when Paul and his companions – you notice he speaks in the plural, “we give thanks” – came to these people, he set forth in the first place the worthiness of God to have their lives, and to have them and their all; and as he set forth the true and living God, they perhaps suddenly came to realize – “Oh, how different from what we have been doing! How unworthy has been the way that we have been going in comparison with this!” It is the seeing of the worthiness of God in Christ. We sometimes sing, as we seek to emphasize and reiterate the all-captivating worthiness of the Lord Jesus –
“Marvel not that Christ in glory
All my inmost heart hath won.”
That is where it begins. Anything less than that, anything other than that as a beginning will find us out sooner or later. Here is One who, by reason of His self-manifestation and of the great work that He has done for our redemption and salvation, is worthy to have everything that we count worthwhile in life. That is very fundamental.