Summary: The word "accept" means more than to simply intellectually agree with or affirm the truth of the Word of God; it means to "welcome" God’s Word into our hearts and lives.
"The Life-Changing Word"
Mililani Community Church
Pastor Rick Bartosik
September 19, 1999
Rosario Rivera was an embittered Marxist living in Lima, Peru. She had been an associate of Che Guevera before he was killed. She hated Christianity. Luis Palau, the great South American evangelist, took his ministry to Lima and was involved in radio and television outreach. Rosario heard Luis preaching over the air and determined that she was going to kill him!She went to the bullring where the evangelistic meetings were being held–and when the invitation was given, she went forward. Not because her heart was open to receive Christ, but because she had a weapon and she was going to kill the evangelist!
As she walked with the others toward the platform, a woman stepped over to her side and said: "May I be of some spiritual help to you?" And that further infuriated her. She struck the woman and then became panic-stricken, fled the grounds and disappeared among the crowd. But she could not get away from the message she had heard that night in the bullring. She could not escape the message of the gospel of Christ. And she received Christ as her personal savior!
News of her testimony spread around the world–and her work in Peru and throughout South America in testifying for Christ and seeking to improve the economic and social conditions of the people. Word even reached Europe where Luis Palau first heard about this woman–her desire and attempt to assassinate him, and then her remarkable conversion to Christ.
Later Luis returned to Lima, Peru where he met his former enemy, now a partner in the gospel of Christ! A radical transformation of an embittered, angry, Communist–an enemy of Christ and Christ’s servants, now serving the Lord in South America.
Rosario Rivera’s story illustrates again the power of the gospel to transform lives. As Paul declared in Romans 1:16: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes…"
This morning we come to chapter 2 verse 13, where Paul states that the gospel he preached–was not his own message, it was God’s message–it was the Word of God, not the word of men: "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" (2:13). Paul’s drive and forcefulness in preaching the gospel did not come from some thought that he was keeping up with the latest trends in philosophy or religion or science, but the deep conviction that he was sharing a message that originated with God.
Basically there are only two religions in the world:
First, the religions of man, which are composed of men’s theories and men’s ideas as they search for God. These religions are compilations of the reasonings and the philosophies of men as they look for answers to the problems that all thinking men face: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is the purpose of life?
The other religion is revealed religion–the religion that God has revealed to man. Only two religions: What man has conceived of, and what God has revealed. In the Bible we have the religion God has revealed. The Bible is like a solid rock in the midst of a desert of shifting sand. It is the most precious object on the earth today. Abraham Lincoln called it "God’s best gift to man." Daniel Webster said, "If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper. But if we or our posterity neglect it and its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity." Those were prophetic words for our times.
Paul says, "When I came to Thessalonica, I wasn’t coming with another man-made religion." Thessalonica was full of them. Honolulu is full of them–man-made religions. "But I came to you with the message from God. You accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ for what it really is–the word of God."
The word "accept" means more than to simply intellectually agree with or affirm the truth of the Word of God. It means to "welcome" God’s Word into our hearts and lives.
What happens when we truly accept the Word of God?
I. GOD’S WORD PRODUCES CHANGE
As Paul preached the gospel in Thessalonica, the Thessalonians welcomed it into their hearts and lives and it changed their lives! The real Word of God always changes people and makes them different. To merely mentally accept it does not change anyone, but when we welcome it into our lives and act on it and obey it, we will be permanently changed; the Word of God will make us into different people.