There are an abundance of teachings, beliefs, and religions all claiming to possess or know “the way” to God. They claim to have the keys to eternal life, nirvana, paradise, happiness, or etc. Some mix and match different theological and philosophical thoughts and beliefs to customize their own personal religion; it is personally designed individually just for you. Since time began humans have loved the idea of custom-made spirituality. The world loves the pluralistic religious culture it has created, resulting in society no longer holding to or knowing absolute truth. Truth has become relative.
I was in a conversation with someone years ago and I remember him saying, with slight tongue in cheek, “When I was young 2+2 = 4, today though 2+2 = whatever you want it to be.” Unfortunately, there is some truth to his statement. Sadly, truth in religion has become taboo because people who believe in one way to God or “The way” to Jesus are deemed as narrow-minded bigots. Religious and social tolerance is preached across the globe and if someone speaks up about certain teachings or beliefs being false; then you are immediately deemed a hateful, judgmental, and phobic person. Sometimes Christians are believed to be irrelevant and stuck in the dark ages, simply because we commit to living in obedience to God and holding to the conviction that the Word of God is inspired, it is absolute truth, and teaches that Jesus is the only way to God the Father.
We live in a consumer age where choice is king. We have the right to choose to shop wherever we want for whatever we want, eat at any restaurant we want, and they will make your meal the way you want, and if they don’t, we will go someplace else. We even have this mindset for the churches we attend.
Many years ago, the queen of talk, Oprah was confronted by a member of her television studio audience questioning her views about God. The woman speaking mentioned the words of Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life. Oprah responded, “There couldn’t possibly be only one way… there are millions of ways that lead a person to the Light or what others call god!” In her mind there are millions of ways to finding your way to what one thinks is God.
With the millions of philosophical thoughts, ideas, teachings, religions, and theories out there today (and many more new thoughts coming to light every day), how is one able to know, discern, or embrace truth? How can you and I find truth amidst the plethora of religious thought and belief’s that the world so lovingly embraces?
The Truth Is in Here
“What is truth?” This was a question asked over 2,000 years ago by Pilate to Jesus. This question was asked in response to the statement Jesus made, “For this purpose I have come into the world- to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are a person of truth. We are a church of the truth. We bear witness to the truth.
I Thessalonians 2: 13 – 15
Vs 13a: “We never stopped thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human. You accepted what we said as the very word of God- which of course it is.” The Church of Thessalonica was a Church of truth. According to the Apostle Paul they were a Bible believing and Bible teaching Church. How do we know this? because this verse tells us they accepted the Word of God. They loved the Word of God. They received the Word of God. Paul thanked God continually for their love of the truth. In the Bible the Word of God is equal to the truth. This is displayed throughout the Bible. Jesus prayed in John 17:17, Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is the truth.” The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 33:4, “For the Word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything he does.” Proverbs 30:5 states, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to all who come to him for protection.”
When Paul and his companions came to Thessalonica years before he came proclaiming the Word of God.
Acts 17 shows us what happened prior to the Thessalonians embracing the Word of truth. Paul went to the synagogue in Thessalonica for three weeks, which was his custom, and he began sharing the Gospel with anyone who would here. Paul verbally spoke the Word of God. He proclaimed verbally the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ unashamedly. Why? Because the Gospel had impacted his life so much. The transformation in the Apostles life is nothing short of a miracle. He was once a murderous Christian killer who is now a redeemed follower of Jesus himself. Paul knew the reality of the transforming power of Jesus. He knew the power of the Word of God. It was his life; his passion and purpose and he was going to share it with whoever would here.
While he was preaching the Gospel, he annoyed some prominent men, and he persuaded a group of others. The prominent were the religious Jews and the ones he persuaded were mostly Gentiles. The Gentiles heard, responded to, and embraced the truth amidst all the turmoil that was going on around them. The Jews stirred up a riot and Paul and his companions fled for their lives to the town of Berea. One of the Gentile believers, Jason’s, home was attacked, and he was dragged out with some other men and brought before the authorities and persecuted. The authorities took money from them and eventually let them go free. Paul and his companions had only spent three weeks with the Thessalonian Gentiles, and they were so convinced of the transforming Word of God that they willingly endured persecution and financial loss. These Gentiles were sold out followers of Jesus who lovingly accepted and embraced the Word of God, the truth.
Note, this was not a casual belief or a response to the fad of the time. The people of Thessalonica accepted the words Paul proclaimed (the truth) as words spoken by God. These men were convinced that Paul was not preaching a man-made Gospel. He was preaching a divine, Holy Spirit inspired message from God himself. They were so convinced this was God’s Word that they were willing to endure persecution and potential death.
Vs 13b: “And this word continues to work in you who believe.” This Church didn’t just listen to the Word of God… They were changed/transformed by it. It was at work in them as followers of Christ. The message they heard and embraced changed them; as it always should. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful, it is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” What are some words that may stand out to you to show the Word of God is at work? It is ALIVE – meaning that it has and contains life. God’s Word still speaks to the hearts of individuals today. It is POWERFUL. The Word of God has the power to transform and change individuals for the glory of God. It is CUTTING which means it has the power to convict and correct.
Vs 14 - 15: Because the Thessalonians embraced the Word of God, they also experienced the same trials, tribulations, and persecutions that the Church of Jesus Christ was facing all over the world. The same people who had it out for Jesus had it out for his Church These same men had Jesus killed. These same men had prophets killed. These same men inevitably opposed all humanity by hindering Paul, his companions, and the churches by hindering them from sharing the Gospel on a grand scale. Because of this some were not able to receive salvation… But God will and does always have the last Word.
When we look at these three short verses today, we can ask, “How can these passages be applied to me/us today?” As followers of Jesus Christ everything we hold true must be rooted in the Word of God and in the person of Jesus Christ. We live in a world where the lines of truth are clouded and even vanishing. Truth is now becoming about majority rule. If the majority agrees something is right or wrong, then it is. So how does this affect us as believers in Jesus Christ? How do we ensure that we remain in the truth?
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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