The gospel found severe opposition at Thessalonica. After Paul proclaimed the good news there and presented the evidence that Jesus was the Christ, though persuading some of the Jews and a “great many of the devout Greeks”, the Jewish religious leaders of the city turned on Paul and the new church with a violent ferocity, driving Paul and Co. out of the city (Acts 17:1-7). Later, writing to the Thessalonian church, referring to such persecution, Paul would contend that not only was it displeasing to God but it was also in “opposition to all mankind” (1Th. 2:15).
In opposition to all mankind. Really? All mankind? Was Paul using hyperbole to make a point? Or was he speaking literally?
Noodle on it a bit and you realize that opposition to the gospel really is an affront to all mankind. That to hinder its proclamation is to hinder the salvation it can bring to those who have ears to hear (1Th. 2:16). For the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). Thus, to restrict the word of God is to restrict the work of God. To impede the proclamation is to impede the power. And that, because God has ordained that it is the word of God which does the work of God.
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)
Believers, it is the word of God which is at work in you. Chew on that for a bit.
Mere hyperbole again? Just Christian-ese? Or, a true statement? Fact. The way it is. The way it works.
That our Bibles are not the words of men, but really the word of God. Not mere literature, but a living and active two-edged sword able to work at a heart and soul level (Heb. 4:12). Not just a text for how to live, but the final word on how to have life and have life abundantly. Not just a compilation of to do’s and to don’ts, but a revelation able to transform us through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). And that, because it is the word of God at work in you.
If we really believed that, would it be hard to “find time” to read our Bibles? I’m thinking not. Unless, of course, we aren’t really all that interested in God doing His work in us. Instead, we’ve settled for the economy plan when it comes to salvation — enough of the word to get saved but not enough to get sanctified. Enough of the good news to avoid hell, but not enough to live for heaven.
But once you experience the living dynamic of the word at work in you; once you realize there is an encounter of the divine kind available, on demand, as you open your Bible and engage the Third Person of the Holy Trinity in the heaven-sent miracles of illumination and revelation; once you’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good, you can’t help but say, “Please Sir, I want some more!”
The word of God is the work of God in us as believers. It is, literally, the energeo, the energy of God. The operative power of the Omnipotent in lives of mortals who have been redeemed for immortality.
Let us receive the Word. Let us desire the Word. Let us engage every form of opposition which would restrict the intake of the power of God for salvation.
For it is the word of God which is at work in you.
A foundational blessing by His grace alone. The transforming reality which seeks to live for His glory alone.