how to receive the word of Man as the word of God
One of key verses for us a foundational verse is Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
I want us to look at 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, 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.”
From all the things we could talk about here, I want to focus on the words “you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God.”
I want to point out three observations about this.
1) The apostolic word is the word of God. 2) When it comes to us objectively, we should accept it subjectively in the right way. 3) The way to do that is to embrace it as precious, pleasant, and practical, which means, in practice to memorize it, meditate on it, make music with it, minister with it, and mind it the (five M’s).
The Apostolic Word Is the Word of God
Paul says in verse 13, “When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God.” Paul claims that his apostolic teaching is the word of God.
The definition of the word “apostle” is one who is sent to represent another person with authority. I would like you to turn to Jn 16, Jesus said to the apostles in John 16:13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
“that are to come” future
The way this worked itself out in the Apostle Paul’s experience is described in 1 Corinthians 2:13, where Paul says, “And we impart this [wisdom] in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”
This meant that Paul’s teaching was in fact the word of God. It had divine truthfulness and divine authority. Two times in 2 Corinthians Paul refers to this God-given authority that the Lord had given him as an apostle.
2 Corinthians 10:8, “For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed”
And Also in Chapter 13:10 For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.
We can see this divine authority in action when Paul writes to the Corinthians about people who were claiming to have revelatory experiences. He puts his authority over against theirs and says that his teaching as an apostle is the measuring rod in 1 Corinthians 14:37-38 “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
In 2 Peter 3:15-16 Peter confirms Paul’s divine authority as an apostle by saying that his writings are in the same category with the inspired scriptures of the Old Testament. Peter says, “Our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.”
“The other Scriptures” shows that Peter put Paul’s letters in the category with God’s inspired and authoritative scriptures.
The point is to simply show that the Bible teaches that the apostolic word is the word of God. OK let’s go back to 1 Thess 2:13
1 Thessalonians 2:13, “When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God.”
I want to first point out, that the words for “received” and “accepted” are not the same. They “received” the word of God means that it came to them in objective form. It was handed on to them like a tradition. Paul preached it objectively.
It would have been the word of God whether they accepted it or not. There is an objective word of God. That’s one of the differences between an orthodox view of Scripture and a neo-orthodox view which says that the word of man becomes the word of God if we receive it as such. But it is not the word of God objectively until we receive it that way.
That’s not what Paul says in verse 13. Paul says that his preaching was “really” or “truly” the word of God and they “accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God.”
The word of man does not become the word of God because it is accepted as the word of God. We accept it because it is the word of God. The apostolic word really is the word of God, objectively, apart from our subjective attitude toward it. Our accepting it does not make it the word of God, we accept it because it is the word of God.
(What would prophecy be, again Jn 16 dreams visions the gifts of the spirit to edify the body would they not be also the word of God Ps 22:22 as it relates to prophetic singing , sing to the Lord a new song). OK
The word “accepted” means more than “receive” as we receive a tradition handed on to us. It means “welcome.” It means “embrace” as what it is.
In 1 Corinthians 2:14. We can see this word “accept” is used in this way
Right after Paul says that he teaches in words taught by the Holy Spirit he adds, “The natural person does not accept [same word] the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
So the point of 1 Thessalonians 2:13 is that there is a right way to accept or welcome the teachings of the Bible when we receive it. And the right way is to accept it for what it really is: the very word of God. We should embrace it and welcome it as the word of God, because it is the word of God. It is God’s truth and has God’s authority. It is the rule for all other claims to truth and the rule over all other authority. We should embrace it that way.
Now how do we do that? What does it look like to welcome the Scriptures as the word of God? I have a three-fold answer from the context of Thessalonians and a five-fold answer by implication based on what the Bible says elsewhere about how to use it.
The Way to Welcome the Word of God
Embrace it as 1. precious, 2. pleasant, and 3. practical,
which means, in practice (five-fold answer by implication) :to memorize it, meditate on it, make music/intercession with it (two side of the same coin), minister with it, and mind it. (five M’s).
But let’s start with the three fold answer from the context.
I want you to notice the link between the context of 1 Thessalonians 2:14 and the context of 1:6-7. Verse 14 says that the evidence that the Thessalonians accepted the word of God for what it really is was that they suffered for it. “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.”
Now compare that to 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 it’s the same context: “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” (uh-kay-ya).
Theres three things about how they received the word.
1.They received the word even though it meant “much affliction” (1Thess 1:6-7). From that I infer that they welcomed the word as precious. To have it and believe it and trust in it was worth more than comfort and safety. It was if I can say a treasure. They accepted suffering rather than give it up. So the right way to accept the word of God is to accept it as precious – more precious than possessions and life.
And we have the word of God Prayed taught and sung at our very disposal. How are we accepting receiving the word?
2.They received the word in this affliction with the “joy of the Holy Spirit.” From that I infer that they welcomed the word of God as pleasant. It produces joy. Precious and pleasant.
Its what Psalm 19:10-11 says about God’s words: “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.11more over your servent is warned by them” Gold is precious. Honey is pleasant. When we experience the word of God as more precious than gold and more pleasant than honey we will have embraced the word of God the way we should.
3.Third, they received the word as practical. It changed their lives in visible ways. I infer that from verse 7. “So that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. Uh-kay-ya”. This is what Paul’s word did when they received it as what it really was, the word of God. It was practical and life-changing. 11more over your servent is warned by them”
So the answer to the question, “How do you accept or welcome and embrace the Bible as the word of God the way you should?” is by accepting it or embraceing it as precious, pleasant, and practical. More precious than gold, more pleasant than honey, practical enough to change your life. To paraphrase Psalm 19:10.
Now let’s get as practical as we can for what we should actually do with the Word of God. If the aim is to embrace it as precious, pleasant, and practical, what would you do with it?
The way to accept to embrace the word as precious, pleasant, and practical is to memorize it, meditate on it, make music with it, minister with it, and mind it.
1. Memorize It
If the word of God is more precious to you than gold and more pleasant than honey and more practical than all human counsel, then you will want to memorize it. And the reason is that the preciousness of it is not mainly in having it in a book, but having it in your mind and in your heart – that’s where you experience its preciousness.
And the pleasantness of it is not that it lies in a book, but that it lies in your mind and in your heart so that you can taste it any time you want. Honey will not do you any good at all in a jar in the cabinet. It is good on your tongue. That is where the sweetness of Scripture is when you memorize it.
All the other ways of welcoming the word that I am about to mention are helped and advanced by this one. Memorizing the word helps you meditate on it day and night. Memorizing helps you make music/intercession with it. Memorizing helps you minister it to others in needs when there is no Bible to read.
It helps you to prophecy, a word of Scripture from your heart is more powerful in ministry. And memorizing helps you mind Scripture.
Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” So memorizing and treasuring the word in your heart helps you triumph over sin. John writes in 1 John 2:14, “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” When the word of God abides in us we have a tremendous advantage over sin and Satan. Jesus put Satan to flight every time in the wilderness by quoting memorized Scripture.
When you memorize scripture you are enriching your worship/prayers with the very word of God IE you are gathering oil. Romans 8:27: God hears the prayers of the Spirit on our behalf because he prays “according to God.”
A believer should distrust his needs and seek God’s word for what he really needs and pray for that.
2. Meditate on the Word of God
Psalm 1:2 says that the blessed man – the man whose life is like a fruitful tree planted by streams of water – delights in the law of the Lord, “and on his law he meditates day and night.” To meditate means to read it, ponder it, think about it, relate it to as many other truths as you can. Paul puts it this way in 2 Timothy 2:7, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” The Lord gives understanding, but we must think, that is, meditate.
And meditation is not just intellectual. It is emotional. Meditation is cherishing the gold and savoring the honey, to use the language of Ps 19. If you don’t feel this cherishing and savoring, ask the Lord to waken the spiritual taste buds of your soul. Taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps 34:8) He won’t do it apart from the word. The word is part of what creates the taste for the word. Put it on the tongue of your soul. He wakens your heart to taste Christ in his word. So take the honey of the word into your mind and ask him to create a taste for it.
Ps 119:103 “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
3. Make Music with It
I get this from Colossians 3:16. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Notice how the word is to dwell richly in you: namely, by “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Again worship/intercession sung prayers.
Sing the word to yourself. And sing the word in your family. And sing the word in church. Most good hymns and worship songs are permeated with Scripture. We will sing one in just a few minutes: “Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet,” which is based on Psalm 119:105.
4. Minister with the Word:
When I say “minister the word” I don’t have preachers in mind here. I have you all in mind and what the Bible says every Believer should do for other Believer (and unbelievers) day in and day out (on the phone, in an email, on the street, in the office, in small groups, in the hospital, in the living room with the family). Hebrews 3:12-13 a verse we looked at last week “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”. What do you exhort with? Not your wisdom. That is hopeless. We exhort with the word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. So speak it to help people in the fight of faith.
It is critical to store up the Word of God in your mind and heart if you want to minister to people and help them fight the fight of faith day by day. Parents for children, children for your friends, Friends to each other. Students to classmates. What we need from each other is the word of God. When I am confused, give me the word of God. When I am arrogant, give me the word of God. When I am lustful, give me the word of God. When I am frightened, give me the word of God. When I am suffering, give me the word of God. When I am angry, give me the word of God. When I am dying, give me the word of God. Minster to me. I plead with you. All who have any access to me, give me the word of God.
5. Mind the Word of God
That is, obey it. This is part of the great commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Right after saying that the word is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey Psalm 19:11 says, “Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” The word of God is not a burden to those who love God. Here is the great test: Do you love God? 1 John 5:3 puts the test plainly. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
This is my prayer for us all that we will welcome, embrace the word of God. That we will embrace it as more precious than gold and more pleasant than honey and more practical than all human wisdom.
And as an expression of that embrace and as a means to that embrace that we would memorize it extensively, and meditate on it day and night (24/7), and make music with it from our hearts, and minister with it to sustain each other’s faith, and mind it without it being burdensome.
One last observation from the text. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “We also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men.” He thanked God they embraced his message as the word of God. That means we can add one more “M” to our list of five. Embracing the Bible as the word of God is a “mercy” from God. It is a merciful gift. And for that I pray.