Summary: We can grow spiritually and enjoy God’s life when we receive His words and allow them to change us! Let’s look at some ways God’s words can help us grow.
Growing through God’s Word
Intro: There’s an old story of a missionary in Africa who gave a Bible to one of the African men. When it was given to him, the man hugged it close and expressed great appreciation for the precious gift of God’s Word that the missionary had given him.
-But when the missionary saw him a few days later he noticed, much to his dismay, that the Bible looked like it was already falling apart, and that many of its pages were missing. The missionary asked him, "What happened? What did you do to your Bible? When I gave it to you I thought you considered it to be a treasured possession."
-The man replied. "Indeed, it is a very precious possession. It is the finest gift I have ever received. It is so precious that when I returned to my village I very carefully chose a page and tore it out and gave it to my mother. Then I tore out another page and gave it to my father. And I tore out another page and gave it to my wife. Finally, I gave a page of God’s Word to everybody who lives in my village."
-The human response to God’s word has been varied throughout history. However, everyone eventually falls into one of two categories when it comes to responding to God’s word: they either believe it and it changes them, or they reject it and remain unchanged. God’s spoken word is our source of life! Not only did it bring about everything in creation, but it gives us the keys to enjoying the life of God now! As both Moses and Jesus said, “Life is not found or sustained by eating bread, but by receiving every word that comes from God’s mouth!”
-We can grow spiritually and enjoy God’s life when we receive His words and allow them to change us! Let’s look at some ways God’s words can help us grow.
1. God’s Word should be accepted
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…
-Even though God uses human means to carry His message, it is still His word! God still speaks today – to us and through us. Throughout the Bible we read about God speaking through angels, through creation, through signs and wonders, through dreams and visions, and more. But more personally, God often speaks to people through other people. Hebrews 1:1-2 “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.”
-So God has used prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to speak His words to mankind. But he also uses people without titles to speak His truth and encouragement to others.
-When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, they did not have Bibles as we know them. They had access to the Old Testament Scriptures and quite possibly some of the teachings and sayings of Jesus had been circulated among them. Perhaps some of the creeds and hymns of the early church were recited and sung as well (Philippians 2:6-11; 1 Corinthians 15:3-7).
-So what did Paul mean by the phrase, “the word of God?” Paul didn’t hand out Gideon Bibles when he stopped in at Thessalonica. The word of God to which he refers is the gospel, the good news about Jesus, the message that Paul and his team were proclaiming to the Gentiles.
-And how did these believers know that it was God’s word and not just Paul’s word? We have to look back to chapter 1 for that answer. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 “… our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.” The Holy Spirit carried God’s words from the mouths of Paul and his associates to the ears and hearts of the Thessalonians. Something undeniable was happening on a spiritual level. God’s word was coming alive to those who were listening! They knew this was so much more than being stirred by a good orator. God was speaking His words to them through Paul! And they received the words as being from God, not simply from Paul.
-Many people struggle with this in our day and age. The truth claims in the Bible are up for debate by many. Not only that, but they are up for private interpretation. Whatever it means to you is okay. But if we are going to accept the Bible as God’s own words, then we cannot redefine, reinterpret, or change what He has spoken to us! Scholars often focus on the human side of the biblical writings (which can be helpful and is important); however, some scholars of the Bible fail to focus on the Divine side.