"Give Me the Bible"
In the verses before and after verse 13, we see how they were taught and what it means to accept the Bible as God's message. So how important is the Bible today?
Give Me The Bible
(1 Thes. 2:13-16)
A. One of mankind’s biggest temptations is to redefine and reinterpret the clear word of God. In Genesis 2:16, God told Adam, “You can eat from any tree that you want. But don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” But in the very next chapter, in verse two, the serpent says, “Did God REALLY say that? I don’t think that’s what he really meant!” And then the devil went on to give his spin on what God actually meant. The first sin in the history of the world was not taking God at His word.
B. Many in our country accept the Bible, but they don’t accept it AS IS. We are not talking about translations who seek to keep to the original languages, we are talking about people who refuse to accept the Bible teaching as authoritative in all matters. Is the Bible the final say in matters today or is it simply a guide to lean upon?
C. Paul was troubled by what was happening in the region of Galatia. In that region there were multiple churches that Paul helped to establish. But when he writes to those churches listen to what he says in Gal. 1:6-9. It was not the word of God they held to, it was a distorted gospel that no longer remained the Gospel of God.
D. The general truth is that at one time or another, we sought to wiggle our way out of the authority of the Bible in order to do what we desire. Some of us have said, “That’s just not my gift” when what we mean is “I don’t really want to do it.” Others have thought, “God understands my weaknesses, so he will forgive me.”
I. The Church in Thessalonica
A. But what about the church in Thessalonica that Paul wrote to? Paul’s declaration is something that needs to be said about us. READ 1 Thes. 2:13-16. When I read my Bible, do I receive the “word,” the “message” of God?
B. I want to quickly take you back to the beginning of the church. We read their story in Acts 17, but I want to jump to the after story for a moment. Many of you are familiar with this verse taken from the NIV (READ Acts 17:11). When I look at that verse, I often scratch my head at the verses we read in 1 Thessalonians. It’s the Bereans that were nobler than the Thessalonians, right? But context is everything. READ Acts 17:10-12.
C. Other translations add some words to help us stay in the context even in that verse. Luke was not writing about the Christians in Berea versus the Christians in Thessalonica, he was telling about the Jews in those towns. Jews who should have been receptive to God’s message, but the Jews in Thessalonica were not as interested in scripture. But the Christians in Thessalonica were top notch. They suffered persecution from their own, BECAUSE they received the word of God as it really is – God’s message. (1 Thes. 2:13)
D. This congregation respects the Bible. We many differ on interpretation of some passage, but we come at the Bible as it is – God’s message not mine, not the elders, not the Bible class teacher – but God’s word. With respect of hearing God speak to us, we humbly accept it as profitable for training and correction. We seek to know God’s will and repent when we do our will instead. We are not a perfect congregation, but I believe we are a church that desires God’s word of truth to be preached, taught and lived among us.
II. God At Work In Us
A. The church in Thessalonica received God’s word and it went to work in them as believers. Listen to what God says through Isaiah the prophet (Is. 55:6-11). Even hard hearts, if they don’t soak up the living water of God’s message are then without excuse when judgement comes upon them.
B. The Hebrew writer speaks of the power of message of God (Heb. 4:12-13). God’s word cuts deep in the heart of those who receive it as it is – God’s message at work in us. The question is not do you read you Bible, but do you hear God’s voice? When He speaks to you, you need to listen.
C. When God message goes to work in us, it calls us to take up our cross and follow him. For the Thessalonians, that meant physical persecution. Just as righteous Jews suffered from their own countrymen, so did these beloved Christians in Thessalonica. Paul said they became “imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus.” They did not let the pain of this life keep them from receiving the living message of God and bringing about an eternal change in them.
D. We see this same power at work in Timothy. When Paul wrote to him, he reminded Timothy of his journey of faith. Listen to Paul (2 Tim. 3:10-17).
A. I know I have thrown a lot scripture at you today. But it is because I believe you, like Timothy and the Thessalonians, received the word of God as it is – the truth of God. The Bible is for you a living, transforming, message from the eternal God who loves you and invites you to be in relationship with him.
B. Keep the Bible as your lamp unto your feet and light unto your path. Follow the statues and commands given. Trials come on many fronts, but joy comes in the morning.
C. DL Moody once said that “the Scriptures were not given for our information. But for our transformation.” I think he’s right. God didn’t give us this book just so that we could be more knowledgeable. He gave us this book so that we could be changed from the inside out.
D. Today you may need the prayers of fellow Christians because your walk, your journey, has faced some difficulties and slowed you down. Maybe you simply need to share a burden with your family. You are not alone, God’s message has made us a family, and if you need us, then come as we stand and sing.