Finished up Colossians 2 this morning. Re-running some thoughts on this passage from 5 years ago . . .
How is it that two people can be sitting in the same pew (or row of chairs) . . . on the same Sunday . . . listening to the same sermon . . . and one comes away dry . . . and the other leaves the building jazzed? How is it that some people open their Bible and yawn their way through their daily reading . . . while others enthusiastically engage the Word as if on a treasure hunt? Probably a number of reasons . . . but one jumps out at me as I continue reading in 1Thessalonians this morning.
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.
(1Thessalonians 2:13 ESV)
What makes a difference, it seems, is the view we have of the Scriptures. While nothing changes the fact that the Word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12), it does seem that the Word’s effectiveness is related to how the hearer, or the reader, engages with it.
Paul says that the Word “is at work” or “puts forth power” in believers. Believers–less, I think, about what someone calls themselves, more about what someone brings to the Holy Scriptures . . . what they believe about the Book. Bringing a starting presupposition that to open the Word, or to have the Word open to them, is to stand on holy ground. Coming to the table with a forgone conclusion that the meal they are about to be served from Scripture is God breathed. Priming the pump with faith, believing that God’s word accomplishes God’s purpose because it really is the word of God.
The Word doesn’t become true because we want to believe it’s true. It’s already the Truth. But the power of the Truth gets unleashed when we receive God’s word with full assurance of faith that it is the word of God.
Paul brought the living, life changing word of God to the city of Thessalonica. He sowed material capable of divine combustion. Some of the listeners in the crowd brought ears to hear . . . hearts ready to receive . . . an expectation that they were listening to God Himself through the His Word. They brought faith–just a spark was all that was required. But enough to prime the pump.
Mix their spark with the divine material and, KA-BLAM! . . . the gospel explodes on the scene–“not only in word, but also in power and the Holy Spirit” (1Thess. 1:5).
Ordinary people receive the supernatural Word and they become children of God. They become imitators of Christ. Their faith grows. Their testimony shows. And it all starts with priming the pump with a bit of belief that God’s word really is the word of God.
Years and years ago, I was taught the importance of doing my part when it came to the word of God. That when the Word is preached, mine is to actively engage with the message and discerningly interact with it as the word of God proclaimed and explained. That when I open my Bible in the morning, I should come expectantly–less concerned about making headway in my reading plan, but anticipating a close encounter of the divine kind. That the psalmist’s prayer should express my desire, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Ps. 119:18).
I prime the pump with expectant faith. He fuels the fire with the living Word. And the Spirit illuminates the secrets of the kingdom with heaven-sent power.
And the outcome, by God’s grace, is a life a bit more transformed and conformed to the image of Christ . . .
For His glory . . .