Summary: The impact of the Word of God at Thessalonica
Just after Janet and I had started to date she went to live in France for a year. One day while I was at UUJ I was standing at the bus turning circle at the Loughshore when I noticed this girl coming towards me. I thought she looks very like Janet but it can’t be because she is in Bonnville in France. Sure enough it was Janet and as you can imagine she was warmly welcomed. In verse 13 of this second chapter Paul speaks about the Warm Welcome that the Word of God received from the Thessalonians. And that is the title I want to give to point 1: A Warm Welcome.
Verse 13 – A Warm Welcome. Once again Paul praises God for the Thessalonians. We have read in chapter 1 the reasons for these thanksgivings – namely their conversion and perseverance in the gospel. They had become a gospel church because Paul had a gospel ministry amongst them. They are a changed people. They had been transformed by the gospel from dead religious worshippers to spirit filled believers. Paul goes on in this verse to cite their wholehearted welcome of the Word of God. They had welcomed it not as the words of men but as the Word of God. They heard Paul and Silas preach and they heard not their words but God speak. They did more than actually listen with their ears, they listened with hearts and minds and so they heard God speak.
Illustration: Advertisement for business men. Title: There is a lot more to listening than hearing! Do you realise that the brain can think 4 times quicker than anyone can speak? Therefore we are easily distracted when we listen to preaching. We need to actually discipline ourselves to listen. Yes the preacher has his part to play in making the message come alive but the hearer has his part to play also – to truly listen, to concentrate, to evaluate and to respond. Listening to the Word of God is not a passive thing but an active thing. We must work at it – just as I have to work at putting the message across so you must work at listening to the message. Paul commended the believers at Thessalonica because they did the following:
Appreciated the Word of God – they realised it was not just Paul speaking but god speaking. They appreciated from whom the message actually came. That is why Paul can say of them you accepted it as the Word of God and not the word of men. Can I say to you the way you treat the bible reflects your spiritual state. Can I suggest to you the way you treat the reading and preaching of God’s Word reflects the state of your heart this morning. Oh I know we preachers can be awfully boring – we never intend to be, contrary to popular opinion. Paul praises God that the Thessalonians appreciated the Word of God.
Appropriated the Word of God – these people not only heard the Word with their ears but with their hearts and with their minds and they lived it out in their lives – their wills were affected by it. May is say to you 95% of what I will say this morning you will hear only with your ears. It will go in one ear and out the other as we say. It is not that there is nothing in between to stop it – it is just that we have all gotten so use to hearing but not listening to the Word of God that we actually do not know the voice of God anymore. Our ears have become dull because our hearts and minds have become dull to the Word of God. Not the Thessalonians – they heard with their ears, they understood with their minds, they evaluated with their hearts and they responded with their wills to the Word of God which Paul preached to them.
Applied the Word of God– well you just have to go back to chapter 1 to see how they applied the Word of God to their lives. They were a transformed people. As James says in chapter 119-25 of his letter they became ‘doers’ and not just ‘hearers’ of the Word. They applied the Word of God to their daily lives. They lived it out. They heard the Word of God and they applied it to their daily living – that took time, concentration and effort – all of their faculties were used – hearing, understanding, response of heart, mind and will. The Thessalonians could answer ‘Yes’ to the question:
Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and do you love your neighbour as yourself? How? Because they applied the Word of God and were not just hearers of it.