“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” -1 Thessalonians 2:13
Paul mentions three things he is thankful to God for in regards to the Thessalonian church:
1 ) They heard the word
2 ) They received the word
3 ) They accepted the word
Paul’s thankfulness is not centered on the fact that they heard and received the word that Paul preached to them. Those were necessary requirements to fulfill that which Paul is most thankful for, namely, that they accepted the word “not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God.”
Paul’s thankfulness to God is rightly attributed. Who else could cause men to open their eyes to the truth that this word is divine, and not a formula of man’s conjuring? Only God can infuse awareness into the minds and hearts of man to awaken them to acceptance of this divine truth of the gospel.
Though Paul is expressing his gratitude to God for his work in the Thessalonians, he ends by hitting them with a hugely significant truth: once this word was accepted, it began to work.
The gospel, which is synonymous with “the word” in this text, is not just a one-time application of being justified. It is also a continuous work in the lives of believers. The gospel and the word are God’s means to not only save us, but to continually preserve us for eternity, as well as mature us into the character and righteousness of Jesus.
So, do not sleep on the gospel as if it were only some past experience. Every day you are engulfed by the work of the word as the power of the gospel enhances your growth in salvation (Philippians 2:12-13).
If this is cause for Paul to be thankful to God, then we also should pause every day and take keen notice of the power of the gospel that not only secured us for eternity, but sustains us for eternity. In this truth, thanksgiving grows, appreciation for God’s continual work grows, and the product is that you grow.