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The Living Word of God
1 Thess. 2:13-16


We have seen how Paul and his companions worked and lived to show the Thessalonian people how sincere and faithful they are in preaching God’s Word to them. The Thessalonian people responded by listening to them and showing the people around them how they have changed. Truly, God’s Word changed them, the fruits of righteousness was seen in their lives.

I. The Power of the Gospel (1 Thess. 2:13)
A. Paul thanked the Lord, not only for the reception, but also for the result of God working through His word in the believer’s lives. Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving can clearly be seen in his letter to the Thessalonians.
B. The “Word of God” here clearly refers to the message spoken by Paul and his associates. It was the Gospel. The good news about salvation. When the Thessalonians heard their preaching, they realized that it was not simply the words of man’s wisdom, but a message that had its source in God.
C. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not merely another religion or philosophy. It is the
Word of God. It is absolute truth. It is the only way of salvation, and it must be received in your heart.
D. The word received speaks of an “open reception.” It carries the idea of readily and warmly welcoming God’s word into their heart.
E. I would like to emphasize here the importance of preaching the Word of God. When preaching is neglected, the people of God will suffer. No shepherd will have a healthy flock unless he feeds them properly. Every great work of God has been built upon preaching. The strongest Churches are built on preaching. The great revivals of the past were started with preaching.
F. The phrase effectually worketh speaks not only of an initial work, but an ongoing work. The phrase carries the idea of working effectively, efficiently, and productively on a supernatural level. The Bible is a supernatural book and it does supernatural work; a work that only God can do.
G. The result of course in simple words is the changed lives of the Thessalonians. They received God’s Word by faith and it went to work in their lives.
The Word of God has in it the power to accomplish the will of God. For with God nothing shall be impossible (Lk. 1:37). It has well been said, “God’s commandments are God’s enablements.” Jesus commanded the crippled man to stretch out His hand – the very thing the man could not do. Yet that word of command gave him the power to obey. He trusted the word, obeyed, and was made whole (Mark 3:1-5). When we believe God’s Word and obey, He releases power – divine energy – that works in our lives to fulfil His purposes.

Illustration 1: Good News
“Good news.” Our word gospel comes from two Old English words. There is no good news like the good news that God sent his Son to die on a cross to get rid of our sins. 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 summarizes the good news, or gospel, that the apostle Paul preached. The term emphasizes the truth that salvation is entirely of grace. From its use for the central Christian message, the word
came to be used as the title of each of the four books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) that tell the story of Jesus’ life and atoning death.
The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook, Walter A. Elwell, Editor, (Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, IL; 1984), p. 350.

II. It enabled them to Endure (1 Thess. 2:14-16)
A. Persecution and suffering for Christ’s sake are allowed by God because the reception of the gospel requires faith.
B. Paul uses the churches in Judea as an example to the Thessalonian believers. Having been the first founded, and that on the very scene of Christ’s own ministry. Reference to them is especially appropriate here, as the Thessalonians, with Paul and Silas, had experienced from Jews in their city persecutions (Acts 17:5–9) similar to those which “the churches in Judea” experienced from Jews in that country.
C. One of the greatest proofs that the gospel has accomplished something comes from being able to endure or persevere.
D. The Thessalonians were to learn from the adversity suffered by their countrymen. The word “suffered” occurs 38 times in the New Testament mostly concerning Christ’s sufferings and those of His people (Acts 9:16; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 1:12).
E. Suffering here has to do with suffering for becoming Christians. Suffering is a mark of those who follow Christ. Often our most bitter enemies are our neighbor because our lives stand in stark contrast to their lives
F. The persecution in that day came from the Gentiles and from the Jews (1 Thess. 2:14).
1. The Jews “killed the Lord Jesus.” That is a historical fact. The Jewish leaders arranged Jesus’ arrest, hired false witnesses against Him, and manipulated Pilate to crucify Him instead of letting Jesus go as he wanted to do.
2. They also killed their own prophets. Stephen also said this. “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52).
3. They “please not God,” though they thought they pleased God greatly. In truth, they rejected God when they rejected God’s Son, and they rejected God’s Word when they exalted their tradition.
4. They “forbid us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved.” Why should the Jews care if the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached? Jesus answered this in His rebuke of the Pharisees: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (Joh. 8:44). The world persecutes those who preach the gospel because the world is controlled by the devil. He is “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Anyone who resists the gospel of God is doing the work of the devil.
5. Paul warns that “the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” “Is come” is aorist indicative, which “does not specify the relative time of the action to the time of speaking.” God’s wrath on the unsaved already exists; it is ready to fall; and it can fall any time. God is allowing men to resist His work and to reject His Christ, but the time is coming when He will judge all rebellion.

Illustration 2: Keep Your Eyes on the Goal
On March 6, 1987, Eamon Coughlan, the Irish world record holder at 1500 meters, was running in a qualifying heat at the World Indoor Track Championships in Indianapolis. With two and a half laps left, he was tripped. He fell, but he got up and with great effort managed to catch the leaders. With only 20 yards left in the race, he was in third place—good enough to qualify for the finals. He looked over his shoulder to the inside, and, seeing no one, he let up. But another runner, charging hard on the outside, passed Coughlan a yard before the finish, thus eliminating him from the finals.
Coughlan’s great comeback effort was rendered worthless by taking his eyes off the finish line. It’s tempting to let up when the sights around us look favorable. But we finish well in the Christian race only when we fix our eyes on the goal: Jesus Christ. Source unknown

Illustration 3: Eusebius
When the Emperor Valens threatened Eusebius with confiscation of all his goods, torture, banishment, or even death, the courageous Christian replied, “He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow.” Source unknown

III. The Encouragement (1Thess. 2:14-16)
A. Paul encouraged the suffering Christians by assuring them that their experiences were not new or isolated. Others had suffered before them and were even then suffering with them. The churches in Judea had not been exterminated by suffering; if anything, they had been purified and increased. But the persecutors were filling up the measure of wrath to be heaped on their heads. Saints have been saved to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25), but sinners will experience wrath to the uttermost (1 Thess. 2:16).
B. Here is one of the great values of the local church: we stand together in times of difficulty and encourage one another. It was when Elijah isolated himself from the other faithful Israelites that he became discouraged and wanted to quit. One reason Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica was to encourage the believers (1 Thess. 3:1-4). A lonely saint is very vulnerable to the attacks of Satan. We need each other in the battles of life.

IV. Conclusion:
The living Word of God transformed the lives of the Thessalonian believers after they believed the Gospel that Paul and his companions were preaching. It enabled them also to endure hardships and persecutions. They also learned that in times of difficulties, they must stand together and encourage one another.

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