The Word at Work, 1 Thessalonians 2:13
July 21, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Turned Upside Down By the Gospel, Part 3
I have always come back to Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians as an example and inspiration for faithful gospel ministry. One of my first sermons I preached at Oak Hills as pastor was a prayer for our church based upon 1 Thessalonians. During this month we are looking again at this personal, pastoral letter, seeking to reaffirm on the gospel and the ministry of the gospel.
I believe that the things for which Paul thanks God are things for which Paul has prayed. The past two weeks we have been considering Paul’s thanksgiving in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, “we give thanks to God for…your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope…” Paul was concerned about their faith, love, and hope; he certainly would have been praying for this type of gospel fruit to be manifest in their lives. I have invited you to be praying for Oak Hills and the ministry of the gospel among us to produce such fruit. Let’s consider another word of thanks from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.
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.
Paul is concerned about how people hear the word of God. He is thankful that the Thessalonians accepted the word they heard from him as God’s word. Why? He states that God’s word “is at work in you believers.” Paul understood the power of God’s word to transform and renew lives. It’s not like the word of man. In his ministry, Paul went to great extents to be faithful to proclaim God’s word and not his own (see Acts 20:27, 1 Cor. 2:1-5, & Gal. 1:8). Perhaps this is how Paul has applied Jesus’ teaching on the sower and the seed (Luke 8:4-15). Jesus concludes with the exhortation, “Take care then how you hear” (8:18). Paul prayed for his listeners that they would take care and hear the word of God.
How does this guide our prayers for our church?
1. Pray that the preaching would be faithful to proclaim God’s word. The creative and intriguing words of man do not and cannot bring the change only the gospel of Christ can. Pray that the sermon preparation would be diligent and faithful in seeking to understand God’s word. Pray that the sermon illustrations and applications would help us understand and hear the truth of God’s word.
2. Pray that we would accept the word of God. This was Jesus’ application of the parable of the sower and, I assume, Paul’s chief prayer for the Thessalonians. To “accept” the word of God is to believe it to be true and life changing and then act on that truth. It is an act of faith and submission. The apostle James had a similar concern for his hearers: “be doers of the word, and hot hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
3. Pray that we would see the evidence of God’s word at work among us. When we receive the word of God in faith, it does not fail (Is. 55:11). It is a living and active word that produces mature fruit. The Thessalonians’ amazing conversion and faithful witness to the gospel are evidences that the word of God was at work in them. Pray that our eyes would be open to see the word of God at work in us so that we would delight in and trust in God’s word all the more!