“And we also thank God constantly for this ….” (2:13). Reading the letters of Paul sometimes feels like dropping in on a conversation between the apostle Paul and God. Paul’s letters are not only theology soaked in prayer, but the people to whom he communicates this theology are themselves taken up in his constant prayers to God. Let me show you this by taking you through a ‘quick tour’ of this letter:
Ø 1:2 : “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…” .
Ø In 2: 13 he continues to reveal to the Thessalonian Christians the prayer of his heart: "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
Ø In 3: 9-10 he continues : For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
Ø And finally in 5: 17-18 he exhorts the Thessalonians to be involved in this great work of prayer : “pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Ø Following this in 5: 23,24 he prays for them: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. “
Ø … after which he asks them to pray for him and the ministry which he is involved : “Brothers, pray for us.” 5:25 . Prayer begets prayer ! Prayer is a vital mark of a God- centered man, and a God centered man will do everything in his strength to export this attitude to the congregation (5:17). So much for Paul’s prayerful heart .
In verse 13 we see that the apostle Paul continues to give constant thanks for this new miracle – this new church in Thessalonica, a bunch of people who, as we saw, turned from idols to serve the living and true God (1:9) – thus becoming God- centered people! What a blessing , and what a joy when we see churches born that are filled with people turning from idolatry to the living God , and so we take note once again how thankful Paul is not only to see these people converted, but also obedient to the Lord in whom they had believed , and so he writes :
And we also thank God constantly  for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God , which is at work in you believers.
The reason for Paul’s thankfulness ( and we can learn much from this) is twofold : (i) They had received the word of God and (ii) they had accepted the word of God. The first refers to “the hearing of the ear” while the second refers to “the hearing of the heart.” Many hear, but not all hear with the heart. A changed heart leads to a changed life, a God centered life , in which God is loved and in which the people of God are loved , and in which a lost world is loved through active evangelism and missionary activity.
Notice the manner in which they received the Word of God into their heart . Paul says: “you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God , which is at work in you believers.”
The Thessalonians knew that the word that they had received was not a man- made message. Hear this! The Bible or the gospel is not a man -made message. Many treat it as such , and therefore the gospel never penetrates their hearts . Hear this ! The word of God is not a man – made message !
Paul makes this point firstly by stating it negatively - what the word of God is not! - “you accepted it not as the word of men . To the Galatian Christians Paul had said a similar thing :
· “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)
· Peter said a similar thing : “…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
Secondly he puts it positively : The word of God is truly (Gr. alethos) God’s word ! It is God’s trustworthy inspired, inerrant Word!
four reasons as to why he had called for this summit . I will repeat it here, because it will underline the importance of Paul’s statement :
First, the Scripture is attacked and we are called to defend it. Any reader of the Bible understands that Satan will always threaten to undermine the Word of God. What continues to surprise us is that these threats more often come from within the visible church than outside of it. Yet before God there is no greater offense than to cause people to question the veracity, inerrancy, or authority of Scripture. He (Mc Arthur) went on to do a brief historical survey in which he pointed out the major challenges to the authority of the Bible through sacramentalism, rationalism, liberalism, cultism, experientialism, pragmatism, and several other damaging philosophies. His point was this: Whenever the church abandons its commitment to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, the results are catastrophic. With eternity at stake, it is no surprise the Bible reserves its harshest condemnations for those who take away from God’s Words or who add to it.
Second, Scripture is authoritative and we are called to declare it. He went to 2 Timothy 3:16 and then several other texts to show how Scripture consistently claims to speak with the authority and voice of God. God’s Word is consistently pure and authentic, and not a word of it will ever be nullified or taken away.
Third, Scripture is accurate and we are to demonstrate it. While we can prove the authority of the Bible from within the Bible, we can also look outside of it to general revelation. MacArthur showed how the Bible accurately describes the universe and Creation and that it offers the only logical and compelling explanation as to why the world is the way it is. The Bible is always found to be accurate when it intersects with modern science. Everywhere you look in the Bible you will find consistency since, after all, this Author knows the way things really are in his world.
Fourth, the Scripture is active through the power of the Spirit and we are called to deploy it. The Bible is the means by which people are saved. ( The Thessalonians were saved by this means – 1:5) The power is not in the presentation of the preacher, but inherent in the text. The Bible is sharp and powerful—more powerful than anything else. So we are saved by the Word, but also sanctified, edified, comforted, and instructed by it. There are lots of books that can change your thinking, but only one that can change your nature and your eternal destiny. The simple fact is that when we preach the Word we deploy the instrument the Holy Spirit uses to do his supernatural work.
MacArthur’s final call was to the pastors attending, telling them , “You cannot be an expositor of Scripture if you have a weak view of the Bible.”
So Paul says that this “really is the word of God which is at work  in you believers …” When we receive God’s Word through personal Bible study, or group Bible study or hearing of sermons , and when we receive it by faith into our hearts , it brings the power of God to bear on our lives as the Holy Spirit makes the Word alive to us. This is the product of the miraculous work of the Spirit of God using the Word of God (see 1:5).
It was by means of this word of God that the Thessalonian received and accepted , that they became Christians and by which they “ became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea “ (2:14)
The same word of God that changed the hearts of Jewish people in Judea was changing the hearts of Gentile people in the gentile Greco-Roman world and here especially the Thessalonians. This was the work of God, and for this progress of the gospel Paul was deeply greatful and thankful . And we at Eastside Baptist Church are thankful today for this same word heard and received has changed our hearts !
I am saying this as we are gathered around the Lord’s table, and I must say the same thing to you : “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
Join us now in the celebration of our faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ as we gather around this communion table . Amen !
 See Acts 17:1-9
 “adialeipto” - an adverb which means “without interruption, continually, regularly.” See also 1:2, 5:17
 “isparalambano” - “to receive from another”
 “dechomai “ - to receive in the sense of “welcoming someone or something .”
 “energeo “ - from which we get our word energy