Sunday, October 24, 2010 am            Listen in MP3

1 Thessalonians 2:13

                 When you read the book of 1 Thessalonians you find a congregation of which Paul had much good to say.  One of the compliments he paid them was how they received the word of God.  He noted that they did not receive it, as the teachings of men, but as “it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

                In this statement, Paul not only praises these brethren, but he also speaks highly of the Word of God they had received.   The NKJV notes that this word, “effectively works in you…”.  The NASU says this word “performs its work in you.”  The KJV says it, “effectually worketh also in you” while the ASV says it “worketh in you who believe.”  A study of the word used here (energeo - ‎e)nerge/w‎, NT:1754), indicates energetic activity in accomplishing something.  That something according to our text is the word of God.  Paul is noting that the word of God can powerfully accomplish many things.  That idea is also borne out in other passages, some familiar.  Romans 1:16 describes the gospel as “the power of God unto salvation”.  Hebrews 4:12 says the word of God as living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword.   In 1 Thess. 1:5-6 Paul noted that the gospel he preached came to them “in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance…”  Also in 1 Corinthians 1:18, described as, “the message of the cross” it is said of those who accept it (are being saved) “it is the power of God.”   We could go on and on reminding ourselves of the power of God’s word.  It is my hope that we all understand and accept this.

                In my lesson today we want to take a closer look at the effective working word of God.  We want to notice some things that demonstrate how it is effective.  It is my hope that with this we will remind ourselves to not only study the word but have confidence in it to build us up.

 I.  It prevails mightily - Acts 19:20, 12:24

a.       In this context Paul is on his 3rd journey in Ephesus and teaching.  Some 50000 pieces of silver worth of books of magic had been burned.  We then read, “So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”  Earlier in 12:24 we read, “But the word of the God grew and multiplied.” 
As the Lord’s church was being established, there was great opposition to it.  Nevertheless, it could not be stopped.  In fact, it seems that the greater the opposition, the more its power and effect increased.   
In  Isaiah 55:11 we read, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

b.       From this we realize that it cannot be stopped.  Throughout history man has tried to exterminate or contain it in various ways, but with no effect.  It has been preserved and more available today than ever before. 

c.     This says something of the effectiveness of this Word.  And it can prevail in many other ways!  (cf. the remainder of this lesson).


 II.             It is able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart - Heb 4:12

a.    We are reminded in this familiar text that God’s word is NOT a dead message (living, quick). It is just a applicable today as when it was written.
Powerful (active – NASU, ASV) – effective as we are discussing in this lesson

b.    It is able to discern what is in the heart.  The idea of this is that it can sift through and reveal the REAL motives in one’s heart. One might ask how can the word of God do this?

                     i.            It is God’s word that will judge us in the last day – Rom. 2:2, “But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.”  Also 2:16, “When God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
John 12:48, “The word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

                    ii.            It can convict your own soul – man is often able to hide his true intents from others, but few can hide from themselves.  
Acts 2:37, they were “cut to the heart”
John 8:9, as Jesus wrote on the ground when the adulterous woman was brought to her, we are told these accusers were convicted by their conscience.
1 John 3:20 speaks of our heart condemning us (though God is greater than our hearts)

                  iii.            It can HELP one to determine another’s motives.  To a limited degree we can observe one’s conduct and often determine some things about his motives.  We do this by weighing their conduct to what God’s word actually says.  I believe this is what Jesus spoke of when He said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”  We can SOMETIMES tell whether or not he is sincere, etc.   We can SOMETIMES tell if one is honest.  Jesus in Matt. 7:16-20 that that we would know false teachers by their fruits.

                  iv.            Concerning this text, one author said, “it is perhaps just as well to view this verse as a heaping together of powerful terms for the purpose of showing the utmost ability of the word of God to penetrate the complex inward nature of man, to convict him of sin, to expose his hidden motives, and to judge the very nature of life itself.” (Coffman’s Commentary, Heb. 4:12)


 III.            It is instrumental in the new birth - 1 Peter 1:23

a.       When one obeys the gospel, it is in response to the message that has been taught.  We have noted in times past that EVERY example of conversion in scripture involved someone presenting the gospel to that person. 
Also we read of different reactions to the gospel.  WHEN one obeys the gospel, it MUST be because they were moved by the message preached.  Anything less will be inadequate. 

b.       In Peter we read that we are born again through the word of God.  Being “living and active” the word of God can give life to one who has died in sin (Rom. 6:23). 
James 1:18-21 notes that He “brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”  Vs. 21 challenges us to “receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls.

c.        So how does the word of God effectively produce the New Birth? In His word is revealed EVERYTHING we need to know to be saved (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3).  This includes: How much God loves us and why He did what He did.  We are introduced to sin.  We told how to obey the gospel AND we are told how to stay saved.  The word of God is KEY to our salvation. 

d.       This is more than superficial.  The word of God can actually CHANGE a person (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11, etc.) if they are willing to accept it into their lives.


 IV.           It can sanctify us - John 17:17; 1 Tim 4:5

a.    The word sanctify means to set apart or holy.  In the two texts under this point we note:
That it is God who sanctifies us through His word, even as Jesus prayed.
In 1 Tim. 4:5 where Paul is speaking of all foods being good if received with thanksgiving because “it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” 

b.    So HOW does the word of God sanctify food (and everything)?  Consider how God changed “the rules” for what we man could eat.  In Acts 10:9-16 Peter has a vision in which he is told to eat food that were unclean under the Old Law.  When Peter noted this, the voice spoke to him saying, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”  Peter eventually accepted this.  So what happened?  GOD spoke and His word became law.  Thus when we accept (and do) what He tells us, we are pleasing to Him and thus we are pure and holy in His sight (i.e. sanctified).  Therefore, his Word sanctifies us.

c.     Within the word of God it is revealed what we need to do to STAY in a holy state with the Father. 
1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
1 Peter 1:13-15 challenges us to be holy in conduct.
James 1:22-23 challenges us to be doers of the word and not hearers only.

d.    When we obey God by responding to His word, His word is sanctifying us.


 V.            It can expose and overcome error – Jeremiah 23:29

a.       In the above verse we read, “‘Is not My word like a fire?’ says the Lord, ‘And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’”  The context of this verse is a condemnation of false prophets who misused God’s word.  The message is that His TRUE word will consume them. 

b.       Such is equally true today.  Our best “weapon” against false doctrines and false teachers is the effective, working word of God. 
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 describes the weapons of our warfare (including the word of God – Eph. 6:17) as being “mighty in God for pulling down strongholds and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
2 Tim. 4:2-4 finds Paul admonishing Timothy to preach the word, to keep many from endorsing false teachers
Psalm 119:104 says, “Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

c.        How can the word expose error?

                              i.         By Identifying to true believers what is truth, and consequently what is NOT truth. 
2 Tim. 2:15 – with the word of God we can “rightly divide the word of truth.”
In 1 John 4:1 we are instructed to not believe every spirit but to test them.  This can only be done with the word of God.

                             ii.         By identifying those who are teaching error – two books are devoted primarily to warnings against false teachers - both 2 Peter and Jude expend a considerable percentage warning about what they are and how they operate.
Galatians 1:6-9 warns us against those who preach “another gospel”.

                           iii.         By converting those with honest hearts
David was convicted by Nathan the prophet who said, “You are the man” (2 Sam. 12:7).  Consider Apollos in Acts 18:24-28.  Here was a man who had almost everything correct.  He instructed people in the way of the Lord and taught accurately the things of the Lord.  BUT he knew only the baptism of John.  His learning was incomplete and his message concerning baptism was error.  HOWEVER, all he needed to be corrected was someone that “explained to him the way of God more accurately.”   And he responded.  His honest heart is what set Apollos apart from most of the false teachers we read of in scripture.  The word of God can CHANGE one in error.

d.       There is great power in the word to expose that which is false.


 VI.           It produces faith – Rom. 10:17, 1:17

a.       The word faith means “firm persuasion.”  We often equate this word with believing God and trusting Him.  But how do we know we can trust Him?  Because we have the word of God. 
We know we have to have faith (Heb. 11:6) and that faith is found in His word.

b.       So how does the word produce faith?

                              i.         Within its pages we learn about God, what He has done to save us, we know what He is capable of doing and we know what He wills for us to do.   We believe that all the scriptures say happened really did (and there is some proof of this).   Therefore we trust Him.

                             ii.         Because of the evidences we have of inspiration based on what it says, (such as the many proofs ahead of their time revealed within scripture, because of its inerrant cohesiveness even though it was written over 1600 years by some 40 authors on 3 different continents and in 3 languages, etc.) we believe.  Great efforts have been taken to discredit the Bible, but always without success.  In other words, the Bible testifies of itself.

                           iii.         Because of its ability to change our lives and give us real hope.  James 1:21, when we receive with meekness the implanted word, it is able to save our souls.
Rom 6:17 speaks of “that form of doctrine” that they “obeyed from the heart.”
Eph. 4:17, 20-24 speaks of the change that has taken place.  Note how Paul said, “But you have not so learned in Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.”  He then proceeds to explain how we change by putting off the old man of sin and putting on the new man.

c.        Truly, the word of God can produce faith in us.  But the real irony in this is that we have to take that “leap of faith” for it to effectively work within us.  In other words, we believe God’s word and in time it grows so much stronger and becomes the foundation of our life (cf. 2 Pet. 1:5-9).


 VII.         It can build us up – Acts 20:32

a.       In this context Paul is speaking with the Ephesian elders whom he had called to Miletus.  He challenges them to watch for wolves and to shepherd the flock in their midst.  He concludes by saying, “So now brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Ac 20:32)

b.       The remarkable thing about the word of God is how we never quit learning.  If we are truly studying and applying it, we will become increasingly stronger as Christians.  In time we will become mature in the faith.  Everything about our faith will be stronger.  There are so many passages that challenge us in this - 2 Tim. 3:16,17, 2 Pet. 3:18, Heb. 5:14, Eph. 4:13-16, etc.  As Peter said in concluding the “Christian graces”, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble…” (2 Pet. 1:8-11)


Truly, the word of God can effectively work within us.  We have seen some ways in which this is possible.  Many more could be added to these things.  Simply study His word and you will see that to be true.  So while the word of God IS effective, is it effectively working in you?  Think about it!