1Th 1:5-7 “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.”
Paul does not enlarge here upon the gospel that came unto the church at Thessalonica. However, if we go to the seventeenth chapter of Acts, we will find there the gospel that came unto them. The good message they received from Paul and Silas was that “Christ must needs gave suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus whom I preach unto you, is Christ (v.3).” This should be our message today, that this Jesus whom we preach is verily Christ.
Paul is careful to point out that this good message (gospel) did not (absolute negation) come merely in words. The gospel is not just words recited or read from a book. When the gospel of Jesus Christ comes to us it comes in power. Strong’s defines the Greek word translated here as “power” to mean “force (literally or figuratively); specifically miraculous power (usually by implication a miracle itself).” When was the last time we stopped to consider that the true preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a miracle of God’s grace?
It is beyond the ability or knowledge of men to preach the gospel. The preaching of the gospel is more than motivational speaking. Motivational speakers try to move us by encouraging us to improve our condition by our own strength. The good news of Jesus Christ tells us that our condition is miraculously changed by His love and mercy and we should live accordingly. Further, man is not the source of this wonderful message.
The gospel comes to us in the Holy Ghost. God Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit, brings this message of hope and joy to us. It comes with full confidence because it is from God and not man. Paul reminded them of his and Silas’ behavior and testimony while they were among them for that three week span recorded in Acts. He also pointed out that they were not willing to risk themselves for their own glory, but rather for the cause of Christ among the Thessalonians.
Paul and Silas were examples of selfless service in the name of Jesus. These brethren saw this and became followers of the Lord through the evidence of His life in Paul and Silas. They saw the willingness of these men to bear the persecution of the unbelieving Jews. More than that, this gospel came to them with such power that they themselves were willing to endure great tribulation in order to hear and walk in the word of the Lord.
Even though they had to suffer to do so, they had joy. It was not the fleeting happiness of self-help, but rather true joy from the Holy Ghost. What a wondrously simple truth: to truly preach and receive the gospel requires the work of the Holy Ghost. It is a simple truth with miraculous power! When the gospel comes to us in this manner, then we have the ability to be an example to other believers and encourage one another by our walk with the Lord.
May our gospel always be in power and much assurance with joy in the Holy Ghost!