The Power of the Gospel
1 Thess. 1:4-10
The term in verse 1 which says “which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ” is for me solid evidence that the Thessalonian church is composed of saved believers. The thanksgiving and the spiritual virtues also support it. What I want to emphasize here is the power of the gospel to change lives.
I. Election (1 Thess. 1:4)
- The doctrine of election is a very controversial doctrine. However, the Bible does present election in the balance way.
- Election does not mean that God chose to save some while choosing others to Hell.
- God who says that He will save “whosoever will” did not choose a select few and arbitrarily foreordain and condemn the rest to Hell without a chance. Such is not the God of the Bible.
- God is a loving Saviour Who is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).
- The word election simply speaks of the fact that God made a sovereign choice to save the lost. God’s foreknowledge is a twin doctrine to election. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2). For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
- The immeasurable foreknowledge of God is the basis for His election. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. (Acts 15:18) God is timeless. Based upon anything except God’s foreknowledge, election would be fatalistic, depriving man of his free choice, which the Bible commands him to exercise. In eternity past God looked down the corridor of time and saw us. He saw that we were dead in trespass and sin and condemned to die. He planned to send His only begotten Son to this earth to die on the cross in our place. God saw us in eternity. He saw us one day presented with the choice of receiving Jesus Christ. He heard some say no to Christ and heard others say yes. Those whom He foreknew would say yes, God chose in Christ to be saved. This is where God’s sovereignty and man’s free will is reconciled.
Illustration 1: Know Your Election
Many people want to know their election before they look to Christ. But they cannot learn it thus; it is only to be discovered by ‘looking unto Jesus.’ Look to Jesus, believe on Him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for as surely as you believe, you are elect. If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust Him, then you are one of God’s chosen ones. Go to Jesus just as you are. Go straight to Christ, hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election.
Christ was at the everlasting council. He can tell you whether you were chosen or not, but you cannot find out in any other way. Go and put your trust in Him. There will be no doubt about His having chosen you, when you have chosen Him. – Charles Spurgeon
II. The Power of the Gospel (1 Thess. 1:5)
- They received the Word (v. 5). The Gospel came to them through the ministry of Paul and his associates. Many traveling preachers and philosophers in that day were only interested in making money from ignorant people. The word “in power” here means with great effect. In much assurance; with convincing evidence. It changed the lives of those who believe the gospel.
- The power of the gospel is “the Holy Ghost.” He came at Pentecost to fill the believers for the work of the gospel (Acts 1:8). When the gospel is preached, the Holy Spirit convicts (Joh. 16:7-11), enlightens (Jn. 1:9), draws (Jn. 12:32), and when the gospel is received, the Holy Spirit seals (Eph. 1:13) and sanctifies (2 Thess. 2:13).
- “Assurance” means entire confidence. The Word assurance is connected with the Doctrine of Eternal Security. The Bible confidence that every born-again believer has perfect, complete, eternal salvation in Jesus Christ. As soon as a sinner receives Christ, he possesses full, unending salvation. To have Christ is to have a secure position before God (1 Jn. 5:10-13).
- They followed their spiritual leaders (v. 6 a). The word “followers” is actually “imitators.” These new believers not only accepted the message and the messengers, but they also imitated their lives. This is another proof of the power of the gospel to change lives. The Thessalonians move to follow and imitative how Paul and his associates lived, cause severe persecution to them.
- It is important that young Christian’s respect spiritual leadership and learn from mature believers. Just as a new born baby needs a family, so a new born Christian needs the local church and the leaders there. “Obey them that have the [spiritual] rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls” (Heb. 13:17). It is not enough for us as mature believers to win souls; we must also watch for souls and encourage new Christians to obey God’s Word.
- They suffered for Christ (v. 6 b). In turning from idols to serve God, these believers angered their friends and relatives, and this led to persecution. No doubt some of them lost their jobs because of their new faith. Just as the Jewish unbelievers persecuted the believers in Judea, so the Gentile unbelievers persecuted the Thessalonian believers (1 Thess. 2:14-16). Faith is always tested, and persecution is one of the tests (Matt. 13:21; 2 Tim. 3:12).
- They encouraged other churches (v. 7). Christians either encourage or discourage each other. This principle applies also to churches. Paul used the churches of Macedonia as a stimulus for the Corinthian church to give to the missionary offering (2 Cor. 8:1-8). Even though they were new believers, the Thessalonians set a good example that encouraged the surrounding assemblies. Churches must never compete with one another in a worldly manner, but they can “provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24).
- In every way, the church at Thessalonica was exemplary. The secret was found in their faith, hope, and love; for these are the spiritual motivators of the Christian life.
Illustration 2: Good News
“Good news.” Our word gospel comes from two Old English words. There is no good news like the good news that God sent his Son to die on a cross to get rid of our sins. 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 summarizes the good news, or gospel, that the apostle Paul preached. The term emphasizes the truth that salvation is entirely of grace. From its use for the central Christian message, the word came to be used as the title of each of the four books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) that tell the story of Jesus’ life and atoning death.
The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook, Walter A. Elwell, Editor, (Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton , IL; 1984), p. 350.
III. Their good example (1 Thess. 1:8-10)
- This verse explains how the Thessalonians became examples to other Christians. Having received the gospel (v. 5) they passed it on to others. The word, “sounded-out,” refers to the sounding of a trumpet, the idea is, that the gospel was proclaimed like the sound of a trumpet echoing from place to place. The result is the gospel that was proclaimed “abroad” in lots of places. Indeed, their faith and the change in their life was clearly shown.
- Here in verse 9, the word turned here means to “revert or turn about.” This is one of the best examples of repentance in the Bible. They turned to God and at the same time turned from idols. Repentance requires change. Repentance says, stop doing what you are doing and start doing the right thing. The lost world, and unfortunately, many in the Church, do not want to be told that they are wrong. Some churches don’t even teach or preach about repentance anymore.
- Waiting for Christ from Heaven (1Thess. 1:10)
- The eminency of the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is frequently mentioned in this Epistle. The Scriptures continually tells believers to watch, be ready, and to expect His return at a time when ye think not. This imminent return was the hope of the early Church. Their popular greeting, Maranatha. (1 Cor. 16:22), expressed their belief in the imminent return of Christ, for the church. The imminence of His coming is what gives the message of the rapture its strength. It is the certainty of His return and the uncertainty of the time that gives His people the incentive to stay pure, to do His work, to watch and occupy until He comes.
- The wrath to come; it is future. It is referring to God’s future wrath upon the unbelieving and wicked world, once the church has been raptured Conclusion:
The power of the gospel was clearly shown in the changed lives of the believers in Thessalonica. The power of the gospel is the Holy Spirit who Spirit convicts, enlightens, draws the person, and when the gospel is received, He seals, and sanctifies the believer. Indeed, the Thessalonian believers made a good example to the surrounding places because of their testimony.