(Summary of Message Preached at Ebenezer’s 10th Anniversary)
Text: 1 Thessalonians 2:13

We rejoice with Ebenezer Youth Fellowship on her 10th Anniversary. This is only by the Lord’s grace and mercy. He has given Ebenezer ten good years of walking with Him.

Our desire for Ebenezer YF is reflected in 1 Thessalonians 2:13. “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” We hope that the youth of Tabernacle BPC may be true and faithful recipients of God’s Word.

Observe that the words “receive” appear twice in the verse. The first occurrence of “receive” (paralambanō) emphasises on the faithful teaching of the Apostle Paul. He did not preach his own ideas or opinions. Neither did he teach the philosophies and thoughts of other men. In his ministry to the Thessalonian Christians, he was wholly devoted in giving them the Word of God, just like he did in all other churches. “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27)

The Word of God is not like the words of men. The words of men are unreliable, untrustworthy and fallible. On the other hand, God’s Word is perfect. It is truth. In it there is no lie (c.f. Psalm 12:6-7). It is by the Word of God that man may find salvation. It is by the Word of God that man may find heavenly wisdom. It is by the Word of God that man may know how to live pleasing in the sight of God in this world of darkness. The Word of God is our sole and supreme rule of faith and practice.

From this we see the responsibility that church leaders have in ensuring that God’s people are fed with the pure Word of God. This is what we endeavour to do in Ebenezer YF. All the meetings are centered on God’s Word. We also do our utmost care to make sure that the speakers are well trained and gifted in handling the Word of God. We want the best spiritual feeding for the youth so that they may grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).

All who are called to teach God’s Word must make sure they give the Word of God and not the word of men. There must be no compromise in this area. This is our duty to the young people in Ebenezer.

Now to the youth. You have received good biblical teaching in the Ebenezer. What then should your response be? This is where the second word for “receive” (dechomai) comes in. This word emphasises how God’s Word must be grasped tightly and taken hold of in the heart. It speaks of a sincere submission to the preached Word of God which leads to a life that is fruitful for the Lord.

The Thessalonian Christians were such recipients of God’s Word. They did not just hear the preaching of Paul and dismiss it as some man’s opinion, but they truly received the faithful preaching as it is – the truth and the Word of God. The evidence of this was the transformed lives of the Thessalonians. This can only come about with the effectual working of God’s Word in them. This is what every true pastor desires – that people may know God’s Word, and live their lives for God in accordance to the truth. Thus, Paul was full of thanksgiving for the Thessalonian Christians. They were truly a joy to his heart.

Similarly, we wish the Ebenezer Youth to be of the same spirit as the Thessalonian Christians. We pray that you may be such faithful recipients of God’s Word. If a message is faithful to the Scriptures, then you must receive it as it is – the Word of God. It is not just an opinion, but God’ message to you. You ought to take heed to it and obey. When you humbly receive the truth, God’s Word will work effectually in your life. Your life can be a wonderful testimony for Christ, just like the Thessalonian Christians.

Sadly, we see a very different spirit present in Christianity today. Many may hear the biblical preaching. They may even commend the speaker for the message. But do they truly receive the message as the Word of God? Not so! They still go about their lives without caring for the message. To them it is just an opinion to hear, but they are free to pursue their sinful ways.

There are also some who seek for multiple teachers to hear God’s Word. But for what purpose do they seek multiple teachers? To gather multiple “views” and “opinions”! If this fits my view, I rejoice. If I do not like what is preached (even if it is according to God’s Word), I will seek another speaker till I get what I want. Such men are just seeking speakers to scratch their itching ears. They may receive the Word of God, yet they do not really receive it in their heart as the Word of God but as the word of men. Beware of such a spirit!

May God find the youth of Tabernacle BPC to be faithful recipients of God’s Word. Those who truly submit to faithful preaching will sure be blessed.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew

Thought for the week : How do we hear sermons?