July 2, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
The Word of God Performing in You Today
“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13 Page 1846
I was talking with a friend of mine many years ago about spiritual things. He mentioned to me that he had prayed to receive Christ with a family friend, but had never done anything more about it for years. The family friend that told him about Christ never spent time imparting his life to my friend, so that my friend would grow up in Christ. I started spending time with my friend, and he developed an intense interest in reading the Bible, praying, and tremendous joy came into his life. For several months, we spent a lot of time together, but then he got a new job and moved away. Since then, we have lost touch with each other. I often wonder how he is doing.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul starts with the words “For this reason.” Paul uses these words to link his prayer life to the way the Thessalonians acted after the ministry team preached to them. Let me state that as a general principle. If you are serious about the ministry Christ has entrusted to you, then you need to focus your entire life upon believers who receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the word of God, with real faith and commitment on their part and yours.
As you go through life sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, some people will hear the message and not really give it a second thought. They may pray a prayer, but they lack saving faith in their hearts. They have received the word of God by hearing it, but they have treated it as the word of men. Faith is a gift of God, and not from the will of man (Ephesians 2:8-9, page 1828; John 1:18, page 1654). In other people, you will see in them a wonderful reception to the Word of God.
Let us focus for a minute upon the contrast that Paul draws in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 between the “word of men” and the “word of God.” People can be persuaded by persuasive human arguments, or clever speech. Paul determined he would never spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ using purely human powers of persuasion (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, page 1783). Are you living your life today as if you received the “word of men” or the “word of God?”
Paul also emphasized the role of revelation here. God reveals His purposes and plans for mankind through His messengers, the apostles and prophets, and more directly through the ministry of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. When Paul talks about the Word of God, he echoes the words of the disciples when they said: “You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68, 1667). Jesus did not commission His servants to go and spread the “word of men,” but rather the “word of God” (Matthew 28:18-19, page 1557). Revelation means that God has told us something we would not have known, except that God told us. The content of the revelation, in this case, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the “word of God.”
Finally, Paul also talked about the way the Thessalonians “accepted” the word of God. This word “accepted” means to receive or welcome. Paul said the Corinthians accepted the Gospel, and so also the Gentiles received the Gospel. I love the picture of Simeon taking the baby Jesus in his arms, and holding him, with the full knowledge from God that he was holding the Messiah of Israel (Luke 2:28, page 1598). Simeon “accepted” the Lord Jesus into his arms, and knew whom he held. He was not holding just another baby, but the Savior of mankind. We should all act like Simeon.
Finally, Paul talks about the word of God performing its work in the Thessalonians. When the word of God enters your life, with real faith that it came from God, and God has saved you and taken up residence in your life to stay forever, then you will begin to see the Word of God performing His work in your life. The Word of God comes into your life to change you into the image of Christ. God said that He created good works beforehand that we should walk in them. Our lives not only were saved by the Word of God, but also the Word of God continues to perform its work in us for a lifetime.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we accept the word of God, as it really is, into our lives.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we use our lives to minister to people who receive the word of God. We should remember them constantly in our prayer lives, and impart our entire lives to them.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we treat the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the word of men, and neglect using our lives in prayer and service to the people who accept the Gospel as the word of God.
Application for Today
Today, I will thank God for the people I know who have received the Gospel of Jesus Christ for what it really is, the word of God. I want to encourage them, and spend time with them today. How did you receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What will you do to encourage true believers today?