Summary: God’s Word provides growth in our lives and our faith must be lived out in the context of relationships. When Jesus comes back, find your joy in Him and in the changed lives of your friends.
A small factory had to be shut down because their most important piece of machinery had stopped working. The company mechanic couldn’t get it running, so they called in an expert. The man looked over the machine for a few minutes. He then picked up his hammer and gently tapped it. Amazingly, it started running again.
He submitted a bill for $1,500 and the owner hit the roof! He yelled at the mechanic over the noise of the machine: “That took you less than five minutes! I demand an itemized bill!” The expert sat down and scribbled out the following charges:
· For tapping the machine …………$10
· For knowing where to tap ……$1,490
As we come to the last part of 1 Thessalonians 2, we’re moving into the warmest section of any of Paul’s writings about the love and affection he felt for his fellow Christ followers. He begins by establishing that the basis for those relationships is the Word of God. The Bible is God’s hammer that sometimes gently taps on us and other times it pounds away at our stubborn pride. This passage gives us 5 facets of Christian growth, a few of which have some pain associated with them.
1. The Word of God Within You (13). Follow along as I read 1 Thessalonians 2:13: “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” To “receive” literally means, “to take up with the hand.” It communicates the idea that the Word of God is to be taken by us. The word “accept” goes a step further. It means, “to welcome eagerly.” When we receive the Bible, we’re saying that we acknowledge its authority. When we accept it, we’re allowing it into our hearts so that we can be changed by it.
If the Bible is the Word of God, then we must bow in submission to it. We should never say, “I know what the Bible says, but…” If we know what the Bible says, then there’s no ‘but.’ We should say, “I know what the Bible says, ‘period.’”
It reminds me of the story of a church that was going through a difficult controversy. No one could agree on anything. At a business meeting one night the various factions were arguing about the minutes of the last meeting. When the pastor read a passage of Scripture, an older man stood to his feet and said, “Mr. Chairman, I move that the Bible stand approved as read.” So it must be for you and me. The Bible stands approved as read, without correction, without change, without deletion, without addition.
If you’re doing something right now and you know what the Bible says about that activity, you already have God’s answer. It’s not up for a vote. If you’re waiting for God to let you know something different than what’s in the Bible you’ll be waiting a long time. He speaks to us today through Scripture. Will you accept that? Have you received it? Do you believe it?
Paul takes this one step further in the last phrase of verse 13: “…which is at work in you who believe.” The power of the Word of God is tied to a believing heart. The Word “works,” which is where we get our English word “energy.” The word is energized within us, as we believe it. It’s like farmland that bears a bountiful harvest. When we hear the message outwardly, and welcome it inwardly by faith, it will rejuvenate us and produce a harvest in our life. Romans 1:16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
That’s why Stella Wong has published a Bible Study on the Gospel of John in Chinese and posted it on the Internet. The Gospel is the power of God! Stella has also just finished taking the sermons that were preached on Colossians and prepared 15 lessons in Chinese. These are now being edited and will be on the Internet soon. We can pray that this process is expedited so that the project can be finished quickly. Stella did this because the Bible changes lives! And, as people study the Bible in their own language, it does its work in those who believe.
Stella is one of the writers for the Women’s Bible study that meets here on Thursdays. Teaming with three other writers, Susan Carrion, Susan Russell and Kathy Marley, these studies are so good that should be published as well! Women, I hope you’re taking advantage of this opportunity to learn the Bible in a way that will speak directly to your heart.