The Necessity of Receiving the Word of God

I Thessalonians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:09
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This morning our primary text is I Thessalonians 2:13. In that one verse Paul says this to the Thessalonian believers.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV 1900
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
We are coming up on the thanksgiving season, and providentially God allowed us to think about this verse together this morning. Notice what Paul is doing in this verse. He said, “We thank God without ceasing.”
Paul was a great man of prayer. You get the impression that Paul prayed all the time. You know those times in your day when your mind wanders and you catch yourself day-dreaming? I think Paul didn’t day-dream very much because his mind was always burdened with the need to pray. Thus, we read here in I Thessalonians 2:13 that Paul prayed and thanked God without ceasing- that is he thanked God with unflagging resolve. Why? What was the cause of Paul’s thanksgiving? Or what did he thank God for?
“For this cause” what cause? “because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard from us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
The cause of Paul’s constant prayer of thanks to God was that the Thessalonian believers received the word of God. How did they receive it? Not as merely the word of man, but just as it is- in truth, the Word of God. Because the Thessalonians received God’s Word- Paul thanked God constantly?
Why? Why did Paul thank God constantly for this? Well, maybe he was grateful that the church in Thessalonica was doing so well.
Remember back to 1:8-
1 Thessalonians 1:8 KJV 1900
8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
So maybe the idea is every time Paul thought about the Thessalonians he also thought about their success in making disciples and because of their success he thanked God. I think that is a major part of it. But, I also think that Paul’s thanks to God goes to a much deeper theological issue.
W. Bingham Hunter, in his book titled The God Who Hears, says this,
“We persist in prayer primarily as an expression of our complete dependency on God for all aspects of our existence. Persistence and importunity affirm our recognition of the reality that apart from God we can do nothing. Persistence flows from the certainty of our creaturely helplessness and the logical conviction that God alone can help.”
He goes on and says this, “Persistence is an act of humility as well as an expression of faith. This attitude is diametrically opposite the popular notion that is we are importunate over a long enough period, God will eventually see the strength of our desire and respond. That is manipulation. It says, ‘Look at me, Look At Me, LOOK AT ME!’ while humility says, ‘I’m looking to you; I’m looking to You; I’m looking to YOU.’ The point? Great faith in God always expresses itself in humble acknowledgement of dependency.”
I believe this is exactly what Paul is doing in his prayer of thanksgiving- he is acknowledging his utter dependency on God. He constantly prays and thanks God because He realizes that without God none of this would be possible.
The success of Paul’s disciple-making ministry and the success of the Thessalonians in their disciple making ministry was utterly dependent upon God. Listen again to the reason for why Paul thanked God.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV 1900
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
What did Paul attribute the success of his ministry to? Why did the Thessalonians become so successful as a church in making disciples? Because of their own innate talent? Because Paul was such a persuasive preacher? Because they were an overly spiritually gifted church? Because of a great sweeping revival? No- none of those things. Why were Paul and the Thessalonians so successful in making disciples? Because they received the word of God- and they accept it as the word of man, BUT just as it really was- in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
They key to their success was the received the Word of God- and the Word of God effectually worked in the lives of the people that believed.
And that is the only way disciple-making works. We will only develop a disciple-making culture, we will only accomplish the Great Commission, we will only be able to walk worthy of God, who is calling us into his own kingdom and glory- if we accept the Word of God.
If you change your behavior because Pastor Jon said you should, or you change your behavior because you want to impress other people around you, or you change your behavior because it seems like the spiritual thing to do- it is doomed to fail. You must first accept that the imperative as a church to make disciples- that is we all get involved in following one, winning one, and leading one- you must accept this imperative for what it really is- the Word of God.
I am in complete dependence upon God. I can’t change your heart. I may be able to superficially change your behavior, but I can never change your heart- only God can do that- and God does that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.
I find myself in multiple different situations right now where I am studying the Bible with different people. Some are believers but there is a glaring sin problem in their life that we are trying to work through. Some I think are unbelievers who need to see their lost condition and trust Christ as their Savior. All I can do is plant seed and water seed. All I can do is to share with them the Word of God. But, I am utterly dependent upon God to bring real change. So, what do I find myself doing? Praying! I pray for them all the time, and I beg God to work in their heart, to cause them to accept the Word for what it really is- the Word of God that effectually works in them that believe.
And then there are those times when the light seems to go on in someones thinking- and they get it- and Holy Spirit takes the word of God and does Hebrews 4:12-13
Hebrews 4:12–13 KJV 1900
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
All of a sudden that person struggling with a sin problem sees themselves clearly in a way that they never have before. Why? Because I am such an influential person? No- it is only because they received the Word of God- they believed God’s Word. When that happens and I see change taking place in people’s lives- the only response I have is to fall on my knees and weep and thank God for doing what I could never in a million years hope to do on my own.
And every time I think God I am acknowledging my utter dependence upon God and upon His Word.
Folks, I begging God that we all here at Faith Baptist Church would receive the Word of God concerning disciple-making- for what it really is, not the words of man, but just as it is in truth, the Word of God.
As I have been thinking and praying through this verse this week, I began to ask myself the question- why doesn’t receiving the Word of God like this happen more often? What hinders us for accepting the Word of God? What keeps the Word of God from effectually working in those that believe?
And the Lord brought to my mind several reasons for why we do not accept the Word of God and I want us to think about those reasons this morning.

I. We do not receive the Word of God because we may be unregenerate (I Corinthians 2:14)

1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV 1900
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:15–16 KJV 1900
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

II. We do not receive the Word of God because we may be spiritually immature (I Corinthians 3:1-3)

1 Corinthians 3:1–3 KJV 1900
1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
Matthew 11:15 KJV 1900
15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Hebrews 5:11–14 KJV 1900
11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

III. We do not receive the Word of God because we may be hard hearted (Hebrews 3:7-13)

Hebrews 3:7–13 KJV 1900
7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

IV. We do not receive the Word of God because we may be spiritually lazy (James 1:21-25)

James 1:21–25 KJV 1900
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
2 Peter 1:5–7 NASB95
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
1 Timothy 4:7–10 NASB95
7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
My prayer, Faith Baptist Church, is that just like the Thessalonians received the Word of God-
1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV 1900
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
My prayer is that we would receive the Word of God for what it really is- not the mere words of men, but as it is in truth- the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe.
Ephesians 1:18 NASB95
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
What might be hindering you this morning? Unregenerate? Spiritually Immature? Hard Hearts? Spiritual Laziness?
None of these reasons prevented the Thessalonians from receiving the Word of God- and it was evident that it really was God working in their hearts through the Word because not even intense persecution slowed them down from being a disciple-making church.
1 Thessalonians 2:14–16 KJV 1900
14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
Followers = imitators = mimickers
1 Thessalonians 1:6 NASB95
6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
Mimickers of the churches in Judea (Interdependent churches!)
How? Suffered like things from their own countrymen- just like the believers in Judea suffered from the Jews.
Think about this- in the short time that Paul had with the Thessalonians (he had to flee the city prematurely because of this persecution), even so, this young church facing intense opposition doesn’t miss a beat! Why? They had every earthly reason to fail- but they thrived? Why? Because their disciple making ministry was not manufactured or man made. It was not something they checked off a list or they did in a legalistic manner. It was not something they did to impress men or to receive earthly praise or reward. Why did they faithfully obey the mandate to glorify God and to make disciples in their Jerusalem? And why did they continue to obey that mandate even when they suffered persecution at the hands of their own countrymen?
Because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
Paul realized this and he credited the success of his Great Commission ministry to God. Paul was absolutely dependent upon God in reaching and making disciples because he knew all of it was worthless unless people actually received the Word. And that is something only God can do. And when Paul saw the Word of God take root in the hearts of these dear people and produce spiritual growth and out of that growth spiritual reproduction even in the face of intense persecution- there was only one appropriate response he could make- he got down on his knees and wept and gave thanks to God continually. Because only God can do what needs to be done. He wants us to do our part right? We have to joyfully obey the mandates of Scripture. We have to put hands and feet to this. But when we do, and then when we acknowledge our utter dependence on God, He takes our small attempts of loving joyful obedience and He brings the increase. And we get to be part of it. And that makes us truly thankful people. That God might use us to reach people with gospel?? That is amazing?
But He cannot ever do that unless we received the Word of God for what it really is- the actual Word of God which effectually works in you that believe!
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