1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

     How do you receive the Word of God when you hear it or read it?  Often we sit in the pews listening to the Sunday message and only half listen.  We look attentive but our thoughts are far away.  We may be thinking about lunch and why is the pastor going on and on and on. We may be thinking about work and everything we have to do on Monday.  It looks like we’re listening but we’re not.

     When we do ‘tune in’ do we think – “I hope ‘so and so’ is really hearing this ’cause’ they need to listen.”   Or perhaps we say to ourselves – “Easy for you to say, why don’t you practice what you preach then maybe I’ll follow along.”  We’re not really there to listen but rather be seen in body.  We even think we can fool God by looking good on the outside.  We don’t really believe the scripture; “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10)  This is just some kind of figurative speech that encourages us to act ‘as if’ it was true. Everybody knows that.

     Or perhaps we accept ‘everything’ the preacher says because he’s charismatic and ‘larger than life’.  The only problem is, the preacher says a lot of unbiblical stuff that serves his own needs and just puts a little of the Gospel in where it ‘fits’.  But you just love him and the way he makes it all come alive in your life.  Anything he says is the gospel even if it isn’t the Gospel.  The Bible tells us that there are many who want their ears tickled because they love the feeling; “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.…” (2 Timothy 4:3,4)

     Matthew Henry says; “Nothing tends more to any person or people’s filling up the measure of their sins, than opposing the gospel, and hindering the salvation of souls. The pure gospel of Christ is abhorred by many, and the faithful preaching of it is hindered in many ways.”  When you have the Gospel half preached in a church that’s half listening you get a perfect storm of deception and disbelief.  The terrible result of this kind of reception of God’s Word is that it doesn’t go deep into a person working transformation  and healing.  Rather God’s Word goes in one ear and out the other leaving a person unchanged and worse because any lies, negative attitudes or judgements on others that may have been interspersed with God’s Word tend to remain because they are carnal in nature and their unbelieving heart loves them.  Fake preachers twisting Scripture creates crippled fake Christians.

     When God’s Word pure and simple is preached with conviction and purity of motive from the pulpit then the Gospel is preached. When the Word is received as God speaking directly to each one of us, into our lives right now then we accept it as a revelation.  It is then that God’s Word works in the church; people are encouraged, upheld, transformed, healed and sent out prepared to spread His Word in a world that doesn’t want to hear it.  Barnes Notes tells us; “It is only when the gospel is embraced in this way that religion will show itself sufficient to abide the fiery trials to which Christians may be exposed.”

     Why do so many people ‘fall away’?  They half listened and only accepted the carnal half of what was preached; “He who is convinced by mere human reasoning may have his faith shaken by opposite artful reasoning; he who is won by the mere arts of popular eloquence will have no faith which will be proof against similar arts in the cause of error; he who embraces religion from mere respect for a pastor, parent, or friend, or because others do, may abandon it when the popular current shall set in a different direction, or when his friends shall embrace different views . . . . ” (Barnes’ Notes)

     Why is there so little revival in our churches?  One writer makes an excellent observation; “. . . when the doctrine and preaching are examined and found to be wanting in holiness and true love, when the people are not called to repent of their wickedness and lack of sobriety, when there is praise being offered with a lot of noise and emotionalism but no accompanying reverence and decency, when there is no actual witnessing on a regular basis by the believers of that church by life and testimony at home, the neighborhood, at the workplace etc., then what kind of revival is that? No revival at all! The deception of self-aggrandizement will find many a candidate in the Lake of Fire unless swift and decisive repentance ensues on the heels of true confession of sin.”

     The Work of the Word in our hearts is awesome, dreadful and consuming were it not for the Holy Spirit we would wither under His Holy Fire;  “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28,29) .  Sutton Turner writes; “John 15:8–11 teaches us that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin to conform us to Jesus’ likeness. As we lean more on the Holy Spirit, sin becomes more apparent in our lives (Gal. 5:16, 18). This allows us to repent and seek change in Christ so that we can become more like Jesus. If you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit lives in you. Open yourself up to the power of the Holy Spirit.”

     Jesus said; “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63) And He promised; “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24).

     Praise the Lord!