Monday, September 15, 2014

RECEPTIVITY (1 Thessalonians Chapter 2)

1 Thessalonians 2:13, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”

The word translated “work” in this verse is the Greek “energeo” from which our English word “energy” is derived.  It means “to be active, operative” and speaks to the ability of a thing to accomplish something.  “Energy” is something we are aware of, thought we tend sometimes to take it for granted.  Electrical energy heats and powers our homes.  We notice right away if for some reason it is disrupted.  An electrical lamp serves to light up a room, but only if it’s plugged in to a receptacle.  It needs to receive electricity from the supply in order to work.

What’s true in the physical realm holds true in the spiritual.  The energeo spoken of in this verse is ultimately traced back to God.  The omnipotence of the God who spoke creation into existence is fully invested in HIs powerful-to-save-and-transform Word.  The Bible is no ordinary book.  The believers in Thessalonica “accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).  “All Scripture is breathed out by God” and therefore possesses divine ability to accomplish that which He purposes (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Isaiah 55:11). 

The believers in Thessalonica were saved through inner working of the Word of God.  Paul visited their city and “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead” (Acts 17:3).  The gospel came to them “not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 5).  God’s word is powerful to save (Cf. Romans 1:16).  The Apostle Peter traced the miracle of new birth in Christ to its influence—“You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).  No power or entity on earth is able to do that which the Word can do.  The “living and active” Word alone possesses God’s ability to impart life to sin-dead souls (Cf. Ephesians 2:1, 5; Hebrews 4:12).

In their reception of the truth these believers “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).  In the pagan worship of dead idols they had been held captive in a futile manner of life (Cf. 1 Peter 1:18).  Through the working of the Word they were set free to worship God.

God’s powerful-to-save-and-transform Word is at work in the believer to enable him to serve and cause him to grow.  It is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-19).  We can “grow up into salvation” only through the influence of the Word of God (Cf. 1 Peter 2:2).

Paul was thankful for the receptiveness of the Thessalonians to the Word.  The term translated “accepted” in this verse means “to receive by deliberate and ready reception of what is offered” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).  Theirs was a “deliberate and ready reception” of the Word of God.  We might say “they purposed to put out the welcome mat” to the Word.  Receptivity is the key when it comes experiencing the working of the Word in our lives.  An electrical appliance cannot work if it is not plugged in.  We should not expect to experience the inner-working power of God’s Word if our hearts are not eager and ready to receive it.  The Apostle Peter likened the necessary response to the Word to that of a newborn baby with respect to its mother’s milk.  Newborns possess an instinctive desire for it.  The healthy newborn can’t go long without it and will loudly voice his or her displeasure if it is withheld.  Mother’s milk possesses all the necessary ingredients to cause a baby to grow.  The Word does the same for the believer.  There is power in the Word to save and transform, but it is availed to us only if we are plugged in—receptivity is the key. 

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