While they were listening with human brains to human words, God acted on their minds and hearts. What did he do and how do we know that he did that? Here’s what he did: he enabled them to receive Paul’s words as God’s word. So, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 again: “when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men [they received it, they welcomed it, they embraced it] not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God.”
That’s what God did. God caused that to happen. It didn’t happen to everybody when Paul spoke. Some people stoned him. Some people beat him. Some people dragged him out of town. Others heard God. Why? Because God caused them to hear God. God worked in their minds. God worked in their hearts. God gave them eyes of the heart to perceive in human words, divine word. That’s what God did.
“You did not make yourself a Christian.”
Now, how do I know that you should ask? I know it because at the beginning of verse 13, Paul thanks God for doing it. “And we also thank God constantly for this.” What? When Paul thinks about what has happened in Thessalonica, that they heard his word as the word of God, what does he do? “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Not them. Let’s just make sure you see this. “We also thank God constantly for this.” Now ask yourself what the “this” is and then keep reading, namely, “that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as . . . the word of God.” That’s what I’m thanking him for. He did it. I wouldn’t thank him if he didn’t do it. It’s his work.
You should, right now, if God’s at work in you, feel rising up in your heart, a deep, deep gratitude that you’re a Christian. You didn’t make yourself a Christian. Once upon a time, you were reading the Bible, it was boring, it didn’t mean anything, you didn’t see anything beautiful, glorious, compelling, powerful. It was just nothing. And now you’re sitting there — if you’re a Christian — loving it. Loving it and saying, “It is more precious to me than anything in the world besides God himself. I love the Bible. I love the gospel. I love the word.”
Where did that come from? It came from God. God opened your eyes. That’s what he says. “I thank you, God, that when I spoke your word, they didn’t stone me or drive me out of town.” They received it. They welcomed it as the very word of God. Miracle of miracles. They saw, in human words, a divine word.
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