1 Thessalonians 2:13
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when you received the word of God which you heard of us…
The population of Thessalonica consisted of two diverse classes — Greek and Jew — the one representing the philosophy of Paganism, the other being the custodian of the truths of revelation. Among the Hebrews, Moses was recognized as the head of their system, and his words were profoundly venerated; and the Gentiles were not less devout and ardent in their admiration of Plato. The gospel impinged on these ancient and revered institutions. The followers of Moses and Plato were compelled to admit the higher authority of the apostolic message. They formed a correct estimate of it when they "received it not as the word of men," etc.
I. THE GOSPEL IS SUPERIOR TO ALL HUMAN WISDOM. Human wisdom is —
1. Limited. The greatest mind is imperfect in its knowledge, and restricted in using what it knows.
2. Changeable. Aristotle said, "There is no difference between what men call knowledge and mere opinion; therefore, as all opinion is uncertain, there can be no certainty in human knowledge."
3. Unsatisfying. Another great thinker said, "Nothing can be known; nothing, therefore, can be learned; nothing can be certain; the senses are limited and delusive; intellect is weak; life is short."
II. THE GOSPEL IS ESSENTIALLY DIVINE.
1. It is authoritative. When God speaks, unbelievers may well be filled with fear. His Word comes with the majesty of its own innate power. It bends. the ear to attention, the mind to faith, the heart to reverence, the will and conscience to obedience.
2. It is immutable. It is "the Word of the Lord that liveth and abideth forever."
(1) Its promises are sure.
(2) Its threatenings will certainly be executed.
3. It is complete. There is nothing to add, nothing to subtract. It contains the fullest revelation of God, of man, of eternal issues, such as can never be found elsewhere.
4. It is worthy of universal credence. "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater." It is to the everlasting commendation of the Thessalonians, and of millions since their day, that when they heard the Word of God, they "received it not as the word of men," etc.
III. THE GOSPEL IS EFFICACIOUS IN TRANSFORMING CHARACTER. "Which effectually worketh also in you that believe." As the planet receiving the light of the sun is transformed into an imitation sun, so the believing soul, receiving the light of the Word, is changed into the image of that Word. Whatever the Divine Word prescribes, that it works in us. Does it prescribe repentance? — it works repentance; faith? — it works faith; obedience? — it works obedience; knowledge? — it enlightens to know. Its transforming power is continually demonstrated. It makes the niggardly generous, the profane holy, the drunkard sober, the profligate chaste. Faith is the vital force that connects the soul with this converting power.
IV. THE CORRECT APPRECIATION OF GOSPEL TRUTH IS MATTER OF CEASELESS THANKSGIVING TO THE PREACHER. "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing." No disappoint ment is keener than that of unproductive labour. Some of the choicest ministers of God have had to mourn over comparative failure. Think of the anguish of Jeremiah, when the Word of the Lord, which he declared, was turned into daily reproach and derision; and of Ezekiel, when he wept over rebellious Israel! But the joy of success is inexpressible; and the full heart pours out its thanks to God. "They joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil." Lessons:
1. The word of man, while it may charm the understanding, is powerless to change the heart.
2. The correct estimate of gospel truth is to regard it as the Word of God.
3. The Word of God is efficacious to the individual only as it is received believingly.
Parallel VersesKJV: For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
WEB: For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe.