Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 3: Gospel

Day 3: Gospel

"For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere."              
1 Thessalonians 1:4-8

Paul's words to the Thessalonians about their faith in 1 Thessalonians 1:4 echo that of Moses in Deuteronomy:
"The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you..." Deuteronomy 7:7-8

God chooses His people because of His great love for them, and this has not changed from the Old Testament to the New. What has changed is the manner by which He calls them to Him. In the New Testament that manner is summed up in one word; the gospel.

The gospel, known by various terms in the Thessalonian letters (the gospel of God, the gospel of Christ, the Lord's message, the word of God), is "the good news of God's action to bring salvation to sinners" (Leon Morris). That good news is that we "receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 TH 5:9). Receive is key here. God'd gift of salvation through Christ is a gift of love, but it must be received.

Paul is confident that these Thessalonians are loved by God and have been chosen by Him because of the effect that the gospel had on them: They received it and they shared it.

Paul describes how they received the gospel in verse 5.
  • Not simply with words
  • But also with power
  • With the Holy Spirit
  • And with deep conviction
They had an intimate connection with the gospel that made it more than simply words. Verse 2:13 says  they "accepted it as the word of God". They "welcomed" (verse 6) it and took it to heart with the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit. They received it and embraced it wholeheartedly so that it changed their way of life.

The gospel they received impacted them so much that they became imitators of those who shared it with them and then became sharers of it themselves. Paul says of the Thessalonians that the message rang out from you". The Greek word used here for "rang out" is the word we get our English word echo from. It is literally that the Gospel message trumpeted or thundered from them.

We get a glimpse possibly of why the Thessalonians were so open to receive and embrace the Gospel message with such conviction and transformation. In verses 1:6 and 2:8 we see that Paul and his disciples did not simply come to town, share a message, and then move on. They lived among them, they shared their lives with them, and they showed them what life as Christ-followers looked like. They invested in the Thessalonians by building relationships with them, and thus, the gospel message was not just words they heard, but lives they witnesses and were able to imitate and share.The message of the gospel was visible.

"For the gospel to flourish people must share their own lives." ~John Piper
Let's make the gospel more than information we share. Be a living example of it in your home, your neighborhood, at your work or school. Love people, let them see God's love through you, and share the Good News.

Try "walking" through a passage again today. Getting the hang of this the tools used in this process can help you quickly see your way to understanding.

"You can see a lot just by looking." ~Yogi Berra

You just need to know how to look! 

I believe that we miss a lot in God's Word because we read too quickly, and then we simply rely on others - teachers, leaders, pastors, commentaries - to tell us what it means. Learning simple observation tools will enable us to see our way through a passage and provide us with more understanding. We then can turn to others when we come to the things we do not understand. Check out the new document on how to walk through a passage on the Bible Study Techniques page.

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