I was in a conversation with someone the other day and the person said with slight tongue in cheek, “When I was young 2+2 = 4, today though 2+2 = whatever you want it to be.” Unfortunately there is some truth to his statement. Sadly the idea of truth in religion has become taboo because people who believe in one way are often likened to narrow minded bigots. Religious tolerance is preached across the globe and if you think about speaking up about certain teachings or beliefs being false; then you are immediately deemed a hateful, judgmental phobic who is afraid of change and tolerance. It is not uncommon for Christians to be looked upon as a group of people who are stuck in the dark ages simply because we choose to live our lives believing the Bible is truth and Jesus is the only way and without him you cannot have life.
We also live in a consumer age where we have a choice to shop wherever we choose this include restaurants, department stores, electronics etc. Many people cannot grasp the notion of only one choice in life; especially when it comes to faith.
Many years ago the queen of talk, Oprah was confronted by a member of her television studio audience in relation to her views of God. The woman speaking mentioned the words of Jesus being the way, the truth and the life. Oprah responded, “There couldn’t possibly be only one way… there are millions of ways that lead a person to the Light or what others call god!” In her mind there are millions of ways to finding your way to what one thinks is God.
With the millions of philosophical thoughts, ideas, teachings, religions, and theories out there today (and many more new thoughts being birthed every day), how is one ever able to discern or even embrace truth? How can you and I find truth amidst the piles of religious thought and belief’s that the world so lovingly embraces and pushes on us and our children?
The Truth Is In Here
“What is truth?” This was a question asked over 2,000 years ago by Pilate to Jesus. This question was asked in response to the statement Jesus made, “For this purpose I have come into the world- to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” If you are a follower of Jesus Christ then you are a person of truth. We are people of the truth. We bear witness to the truth.
Vs 13: The Church of Thessalonica was a Church of truth. According to the Apostle Paul they were a Bible believing and Bible teaching Church. How do we know this? Because this verse tells us they accepted the Word of God. They loved the Word of God. They received the Word of God. Paul thanked God continually for their love of the truth. In the Bible the Word of God is equal to the truth. This is displayed throughout the Bible. Jesus prayed (for you and me no less) in John 17:17, “Sanctify (set apart) them in truth; your word is truth.” The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 33:4, “For the Word of the LORD is upright (straight, honest, truth) and all his work is done in faithfulness.” Proverbs 30:5 states, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
When Paul and his companions came to Thessalonica years before he came proclaiming the Word of God.
Acts 17 shows us what happened prior to the Thessalonians embracing the Word of truth. Paul went to the synagogue in Thessalonica for three weeks, which was his custom, and he began sharing the Gospel with anyone who would here. Paul verbally spoke the Word of God. He proclaimed verbally the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ unashamedly. Why? Because the Gospel had impacted his life so much. The transformation in the Apostles life is nothing short of a miracle. He was once a murderous Christian killer who is now a redeemed follower of Jesus himself. Paul knew the reality of the transforming power of Jesus. He knew the power of the Word of God. It was his life, his passion and purpose and he was going to share it with whoever would here.
While he was preaching the Gospel he began to annoy some prominent men and he persuaded a group of others. The prominent were the religious Jew and the ones he persuaded were made up mainly of Gentiles. The Gentiles heard the truth and they responded to the truth and embraced the truth amidst all the turmoil that was beginning to go on around them. The Jews stirred up a riot and Paul and his companions had to flee for their lives to the town of Berea. One of the Gentile believers, Jason, home was attacked and he was dragged out with some other men and brought before the authorities (persecuted). The authorities took money from them and eventually let them go free. Paul and his companions had only spent three weeks with the Thessalonian Gentiles and they were so convinced of the transforming Word of God that they willing endured persecution and financial loss. These Gentiles were sold out followers of Jesus who lovingly accepted and embraced the Word of God, the Gospel.
Now get this. This was not a casual belief or even a response to the fad of the time. The people of Thessalonica accepted the words Paul proclaimed (the Gospel) as words spoken by God. These men were convinced that Paul was not preaching a man-made Gospel. He was preaching a divine, Holy Spirit inspired message from God himself. They were so convinced this was God’s Word that they were willing to endure persecution and potential death.
Vs 13b: “Which is at work in you believers.” This Church didn’t just listen to the Word of God… They were changed/transformed by it. It was at work in them as followers of Christ. The message they heard and embraced changed them; as it always should. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” What are some words that may stand out to you to show the Word of God is at work? It is LIVING – meaning that it has and contains life. God’s Word still speaks to the hearts of individuals today. It is ACTIVE and has power. The Word of God has the power to transform and change individuals for the glory of God. It is PIERCING which means it has the power to convict and correct.
Vs 14 - 15: Because they embraced the Word of God they also experienced the same trials, tribulations and persecutions that the Church of Jesus Christ was facing all over the world. The same people who had it out for Jesus had it out for his Church. These same men had Jesus killed. These same men had prophets killed. These same men inevitably opposed all mankind by hindering Paul, his companions and the churches by hindering them from sharing the Gospel on a grand scale. Because of this some were not able to receive salvation… But God will and does always have the last Word.
When we look at these three short verses today we can invariably ask, “How can these passages be applied to me/us today?” As followers of Jesus Christ everything we hold to be true must be rooted in the Word of God and in the person of Jesus Christ. We do live in a world where the lines of truth are clouded and even vanishing. Truth is now becoming about majority rule. If the majority agrees something is right or wrong then it is. So how does this affect us as believers in Jesus Christ?
- Receive the Word of God as inspired – It is important on a personal and church level to receive and believe the Word of God as divinely inspired. The words contained in the Bible are not words that were spoken by man or made up by humans. The Bible contains the very breathe of God. 2 Timothy 3:16,17 “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” When I speak of the Bible being the truth of God I am saying that everything contained in the Bible points to the goodness of God and the majesty of Jesus Christ. Our Bible consists of the Word of God spoken to humanity through the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God has given us his Word so that He may be revealed, embraced and glorified.
A practical way to receive the Word of God is to actually read and study it. God did not give his Word so we can go out and buy a copy at a local retail store and put it on our night stands or book shelves. He gave it to for spiritual consumption. When we read the Bible we have intimacy with the creator of the Word. His heart is spoken in the pages of his Word. We cannot know God if we do not seek him out. This is why it is important both personally and as a Church to read, study and learn the Bible together.
- Allow the Word of God to Transform – Studying, reading and learning the Bible are great ways to have intimacy with God. When we read the Bible we must allow it to shape our very lives. One question I ask myself when reading a passage is, “What does this mean for me and how can it transform me?” Here is a great example. Go to 1 Corinthians 13; I think this is a fairly common chapter that we are all familiar with (Read through 8a). Here’s a practical application…. read through it and replace the word “love” with your name. This should help us better understand how we are to love. This is a practical and transforming way of reading God’s Word. Let’s try another familiar passage; John 3:16… Now look at this passage and ask, “How much does God love us?” Answer, he loves us so much that he gave his most precious child as a Savior that whoever puts faith and trust in Him will be spared from death and given the ultimate gift of eternal life with our God and Savior. When you look at it from this perspective it SHOULD change the way you live. The passages go from being just a familiar passage to a life changing passage. You know God’s love for you is so great that you will dedicate your life to living for him and his glory. He gave everything for you so you should give everything for Him.
Since the Bible is divinely inspired it should also be powerful enough to divinely inspire you to live for his glory. God’s Word transforms; if transformation is what you seek in your life then God’s Word is where you need to begin and settle in. Set aside time every day to spend with Him. Ask Him to change you to become more like Jesus as you embrace and receive His Word.