By Caleb Faires
Sometimes I sketch and illustrate as I listen to podcasts. I like to hear folks explain how they built their business, artists discussing their craft, and one earnest naturalist navigating walks in the English countryside. It’s interesting and diverting, but the essential thing I need every day is Scripture. My heart is not truly satisfied with anything else. There is good news: we are not supposed to be satisfied with the changeable voices of other human beings. Even better than this, we are not left blind in this foolish world, but have been given the clear and unchanging word of God.
Paul’s commendation of the Thessalonians is both instructive and encouraging. He commends them, first, for receiving and welcoming the preached word. This was the word that God had appointed Paul and the apostles to preach, that those who hear might believe, call on the name of the Lord, and be saved (Romans 10:8–17). Like the good soil in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1–9), the Thessalonians had warmly received the word (1Thessalonians 2:13).
Not only this, but they received it for what it was: the very word of God. The word of men perishes and is often false. But the word of God gives no cause for doubt. It is a living and active word, discerning all things (Hebrews 4:12). It is unchanging and effective, an almighty word that does not return void (Isaiah 40:8, 55:11), bearing fruit in all who receive it.
Indeed, Paul notes how the received word has transformed the Thessalonians into imitators of God. Having welcomed the word, they became courageous even in the face of persecution, holding fast to the truth. Consider what a contrast is found in their persecutors; having rejected the word, they have become displeasing to God, hostile to everyone, and fill up their sins to the limit until wrath overtakes them.
There is no middle ground; we are either hot or cold. There comes a time when we all must either receive the word of God, or reject it. For some, as for the church in Judea and for the Thessalonians, this time of decision was marked by overt persecution. From Adam in the garden, to Abraham at Ur, to you and me living with our modern amenities—we will all either receive or reject the word. At all times, this is the crux of every issue.
If you find yourself dissatisfied with the voices of this world, good. We have been made for something far more enduring, far richer, far truer. If you are hungry for unchanging truth, for life-giving and heartening transformation, for light that pierces the darkness, for life that shatters the grave, good. Welcome the word of God, which works effectively and bears fruit in all who believe.
The word of God doesn’t just help us deal with a fickle and fallen world. It didn’t just help the Thessalonians endure persecution. It answers the world’s rumbling folly with the resounding fruit of courage, joy, and thanksgiving. It produces a harvest thirty, sixty, and even a hundred-fold. And this is why, like Paul, we give thanks to God wherever we see the word bearing its good fruit.