We have talked about "mystery" (Ephesians 3:1-11; I Corinthians 4:1-2). Now, let's talk about "Simplicity" - pure, unmixed, uncomplicated thoughts about our relationship with God through His Word. Busyness, distractions, and issues in life often create cluttered minds and hearts. It's like being in a room with so much stuff that there's no place to set something down. Or, trying to find something that is covered up by so much other "stuff" that you can't see it. Imagine cooking and you are trying to find a lid to put back on a container. You become so engrossed in finding it that you burn what's cooking in the frying pan. That's the feeling you might have when you are trying to read your Bible and pray, and do "Christian" things. Meanwhile you are trying to balance a full schedule of other activities, responding to the demands that life is making - or you think life is making. Consider Song of Solomon 1:6, "… They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept." Who are "they" that make all these demands in our life?
As Paul begins the first of two letters to the Thessalonian church, he spends a lengthy time discussing their relationship with each other and with God through the knowledge of the Scriptures. Before any issues or doctrines are discussed, Paul is going to make sure they understand and remember what is important: They are children of God and servants of God because they received the Word of God into their hearts. How the Gospel came to them and how they handle the Scriptures, along with how they handle other people, is to be sacred and a source of joy and motivation to them. How have you received God's Word? How are you receiving God's Word today? What message are you sending to others?
We are going to make two lists to consider:
- How was the Word of God delivered to the Thessalonian church?
- How was the Word of God received by the Thessalonian church?
#1 - How was the Word of God delivered to the Thessalonian church?
The Word of God was delivered with authority and power.
It was not just a bunch of talk. Prayerfully and carefully, it was spoken as the Word of God. An exemplary life accompanied this message (I Thessalonians 1:5; 2:10).
The Word of God was delivered sacrificially.
The work of spreading the Gospel was met with persecution and with much resistance (I Thessalonians 2:1-2 cp. Acts 16:9-40; 17:1-14).
The Word of God was delivered sincerely.
There were no false motives - no gimmicks or tricks. As unto the Lord, in the presence of the Lord, the Word was spoken for the pleasure of God - not for becoming popular with people. The Word was ministered with humility and without charge (I Thessalonians 2:3-6, 9-10).
The Word of God was delivered with gentleness and affection.
Genuine love for the people was the motive. That kind of love makes people selfless and fearless. Gentleness is the sensitivity to understand the needs and weaknesses of others and to behave accordingly. The needs of others motivated how Paul and his coworkers spoke to and behaved with the people who needed the Gospel (I Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11-12).
#2 - How was the Word of God received by the Thessalonian church?
The Word of God transformed them into servants of God.
They began to labor, motivated by faith, love and a sense of the presence (the reality) of God. They had endurance (patience) empowered by a positive sense of hope (I Thessalonians 1:3).
The mark of Divine intervention was upon them.
There was evidence that God had changed them by His Spirit. It was not the result of special evangelistic and psychological techniques (I Thessalonians 1:4-5 cp. Acts 13:48; John 3:3, 6-8).
They submitted to the authority of the Lord.
They became followers - not mere talkers. They followed the example of their teachers and directly followed the example of Christ in the Scriptures. They followed the example of other churches of like faith and worked together with them. (I Thessalonians 1:6-7; 2:14).
They shared the Word of God with others.
There was no need for Paul to tell others of what happened in Thessalonica. Their testimony was radiating from them, so that everyone could see it (I Thessalonians 1:8).
They turned from worldly and vain living so that they could be devoted servants of God.
That which is false and foolish was forsaken so that they could point others to Christ's cross, His resurrection and His soon return (I Thessalonians 1:9-10).
The Word of God was received as a message from the living God - not as the mere words and philosophies of men.
While it is important to have discernment when people speak in the name of God, there is a need to trust the Scriptures and receive them in expectation - looking to God to keep His promises and to mingle His power with our faith (I Thessalonians 2:13).
See Luke 8:11-18; John 6:63; I Corinthians 1:18 - 2:5; Colossians 2:6-8; 3:16; Hebrews 4:12-13; II Peter 1:2-4; I John 4:1-6.