Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
Email Preach Him with Dr. Jim

The Working of the Word
1 Thess 2:9-15 NAS

10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 13 And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,

Introduction
There is an interesting phrase in verse 13, Look in your copy of the scriptures and notice the phrase something like this: ". . . performs its work in you who believe."

This is saying that God causes His word to work in we who believe. I want to point out 3 ways I see Paul indicating or alluding to a working of the word in these verses.

The Working of the Word:
        Works In Causing . . Representation of the Word
                Works In Causing . . Reception of the Word
                    Works In Causing . . Rewards of the Word
 
 

1.    The Word Works In Causing . . Representation of the Word. v 10-12


10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

A.     Causing the . . Manner of the Representation. v 10
    "You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward
    you believers;

        1.    The O.T. Concept of Two Witnesses.
                a.    You
                b.    God
                        1)     Blameless etc.

B.     Causing the . . Method of the Representation. v 11
        "just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a
        father would his own children,

        1.    Exhorting.
EXHORT, EXHORTATION ". . . to admonish, exhort, to urge one to pursue some course of conduct (always prospective, looking to the future, in contrast to the meaning to comfort, which is retrospective, having to do with trial experienced), translated "exhort" (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

        2.    Encouraging.
COMFORT, COMFORTER, COMFORTLESS "to soothe, console, encourage," is translated, in John 11:31, "comforted", in v. 19, RV, "console." In 1 Thess 2:11 and 5:14, ( "Vine's")

        3.    Imploring.
CHARGE (NOUNS, ADJECTIVE AND VERBS), CHARGEABLE Notes: (1) Martureo, "to testify," translated "charged" in 1 Thess 2:11, KJV, is found there in the most authentic mss. and translated "testifying" ("Vine's")

C.    Causing the . . Meaning of the Representation. v 12
        "so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and
        glory.

        1.    Walk remembering the Call.
                a.    A Call to the Kingdom.

Illustration Title: Nothing Like the Book
When novels end up at the movies or on TV, the usual response goes, "Well, it was nothing like the book." Could the same be said of today's "media gospel"? Granted, the "core message" is simple, but the Book says so much more. When Paul called the good news a "mystery," he wasn't talking about "Murder, She Wrote." -- Philip Wiebe in the Christian Leader (Oct. 6, 1992).

Application

2 Corinthians 4:2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. NAS
 
 

2.    The Word Works In Causing . . Reception of the Word.    v 13


13 And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

A.    Causing . . Thanks for the Reception. v 13 a
        "And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of
        God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, . . . "

        1.    Paul was Thankful for those who received the Word.
 

B.    Causing . . Testimony for the Reception. v 13 b
        ". . . but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. "

        1.    Testimony from God.
        2.    Testimony from their lives.
 

Illustration
I want you to look at this stack of books I have. I have five commentaries and a Bible. Is there anything wrong with the way I have them stacked? In our congregation today there are those who will say the Bible is not on top and they have been taught that if you stack books always keep the Bible on top.

Do you know that I read that for the first time this week in a book by Warren Wiersby. Many of you know that Warren Wiersby was pastor at Moody Bible Church and then became the speaker for Back to The Bible Broadcast. He has many books out that are commentaries on individual books of the Bible. And in the one on  1 and 2 Thessalonians he says, "Always have the Bible one top." Now I don't know if it is a sin to not have the Bible on top. In fact, I would say that it is not. But when there is a proper order for the flag, it would seem it would also be good if there is a proper order for the Bible.

In the book I have here I want to read some comments some authors make about Abraham's testing from God concerning the sacrificing of Isaac.

First I will read some comments from Ralph Elliott.  Some of you will remember he was dismissed from MidWestern Baptist Theological Seminary over his theology printed in this book.   He said,   "To analyze the substance of the test is easier than a solution as to how the test came. From a negative standpoint, it certainly was not a literal command to sacrifice a life."   The Message of Genesis Ralph H. Elliott Published by Broadman Press 1961, Nashville TN page 144

Now I want to read from the words of a commentary Southern Baptist produced and such an outcry came forth it was recalled and rewritten.    It is the first Volume One of that series.  Listen as I read.

"Did God make, would God in fact have made, such a demand upon Abraham or anybody else, except Himself? There are those of course who would accept the command literally.  . . . Our answer however is no. Indeed what Christian or human conscious could regard such a command as coming from God? How then did this conviction arise in the mind of Abraham, since we believe that God did not put it there? The question can only be answered in part. Abraham's conviction that his son must be sacrificed is the climax of the psychology of his life."   Broadman Bible Commentary Vol. 1 (withdrawn)  Broadman Press 1969 general editor Clifton J. Allen. Genesis commentary by G. Henton Davies. Page 198.

"The discovery of the ram trapped in a thicket was the solvent of his own mistaken conviction and his release into the fullness of the God given conviction about himself. He was not called upon to surrender his blessing." Ibid.  page 199:

Now I will sight a remark from some conservative commentaries.    Henry Morris in his commentary on Genesis makes this kind of observation.   Abraham was given a tremendous test not for God to know what Abraham would do but so that Abraham would know he had stood up properly in the great test that was put before him. No other father has ever been given a greater test."    Henry Morris Commentary on Genesis.    page 381

Now listen to the Wesleyan Commentary.    "The purpose of the trial is immediately apparent to you. It would have been easy for Abraham to have loved Isaac, the miracle son of his old age, to such an extend as to permit affection for him to have replaced loyalty to Jehovah as the primary principle of his life. Now the Lord is pleased to examine Abraham to the fullest extend possible to demand a sacrifice of Isaac. It is true that human sacrifice was contrary to the will of God. But the heathen religion around Abraham practiced it, giving their best to their false gods, offering the bodies of their children upon the altar. God had not yet forbidden such by His expressed command as He did later with Moses. (Lev. 18:21). And there was no other way to test Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac in his primary obedience to God than to let him proceed on the basis of a physical sacrifice-and then stop him in the nick of time. This story in itself is one of the most beautiful in all of literature. But the Christian cannot help but see in it shadows of the great truths of the Gospel."   Wesleyan Bible Commentary Vol. 1 Genesis and Exodus Charles W. Carter, general editor. Lee Haines author of the Genesis Commentary.   1 page 80-81.
 

At this time listen as I read another conservative commentary. "In any case, God Himself proposed the test. Amazing thing was the obedience of the patriarch, even to the point of when the father's hand was stretched out to take the knife. By that time the proof was complete that Abraham would not draw back; he was fully committed. For Abraham the experience was summed up in a unique point of view, expressed in the name he gave the place, Jehovah-Jireah, "The Lord Will Provide." In an amazing way a substitute sacrifice was provided by the Lord, a provision that Abraham well and immediately understood. God there upon renewed His promise to Abraham."     The Biblical Expositor consulting editor, Carl F. H. Henry Vol. 1 A. J. Holman Co Philadelphia 1960 2nd edition. Genesis author H. C. Lupold. Page 73.
 

Question

Who is right?  All of these men are noted scholars.    If you say Genesis is wrong does that settle the issue? NO! Listen to these verses.

Rom 4:13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. NAS

Heb 11:17-19 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, "In Isaac your descendants shall be called." 19 He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type. NAS

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? NAS

One of the many reasons I believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture is;   the example I just cited.    You start messing with the Bible and you make a fool out of your self.
 

Application

I will stand before God someday and He might say Jim you made too much of my Word. It really wasn't inerrant. The copies of what you called the Bible had stories in it you took to literal. If that scenario is true I will have to say to God "I am sorry I took your word to literally and too seriously."

Friend do I think that is a viable reality? No! But I would much rather have to make that confession than the one I think the writer of the Broadman Genesis Commentary will have to make. I like these words from Paul:

Rom 3:3-4 NAS
3 What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? 4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, . . . "
 

The Word Works In Causing . . Reception of the Word.
 
 

3.    The Word Works In Causing . . Rewards of the Word. v 14-15


14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,

A.    Causing Rewards In the . . Example. v 14 a
        "For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, . ."

B.    Causing Rewards In the . . Endurance. v 14 b - 15 a
        ". . . for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they
        did from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out.. . ."

Illustration
When I was a young preacher boy at St. Louis Baptist College, which is now called MO Baptist College, Oliver Shank, a retired pastor, came and spoke to the preacher boys. Now Dr. Shank had been pastor at Fourth Baptist Church in St. Louis for many years and he stood and talked to us and he had tears in his eyes. And he said, "The Lord has enabled me to be faithful for more than fifty years and I urge you men to remain faithful. There are great rewards from standing for our Lord and for His Word. You know that made an impact on my life.
 
 
 

C.    Causing Rewards In the . . Enchantment. v 15 b
        ". . . They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, "

Illustration SEARCHING FOR AN HONEST MAN
A man entered my father's diesel-repair shop, said he was a driver from a trucking fleet and suggested, "How about adding a few extra parts to the bill? We'll let the company pay for it, and you and I can split the difference?"

Dad refused, but the customer was insistent. "I come through here a lot," the man continued. "We could make quite a bit of money." Dad said that wasn't how he operated.

"Everyone does it!" the man yelled. "Are you some kind of fool?" Burning mad, Dad asked him to leave and take his business elsewhere.

Suddenly the man smiled and extended his hand for a handshake. "I own a trucking company," he said. "I've been looking for a mechanic I can trust, and I'm not taking my business anywhere else!" January 1992 "Reader's Digest

Application

Hebrews 4:2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. NAS
 
 

The Working of the Word

Works In Causing . . Representation of the Word

Works In Causing . . Reception of the Word

Works In Causing . . Rewards of the Word
 


 
 


 

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