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. 1 Thessalonians 1:5
My 40th High School reunion will be celebrated this weekend. I perused our FB page and came upon a list of classmates who are no longer with us. I remember many of those names and friends. I even went to church with a couple of them. All had died for various reasons. The unsettling thought for me. Did I share the hope and eternal life with Jesus with them when I was in highschool? If not me, I prayed again that someone would have made the message clear and the choice recognizable. At this point in my life, I am even more convinced that only Jesus has the words of life that impact our eternity with Him.
Francis of Assisi is attributed with the quote, “preach the gospel everyday and if necessary, use words”. This sounds honorable and inspiring, but it is not biblical. Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever considered a separation of words and deeds.
After his experience with the temptations of the devil, Jesus came preaching repentance and teaching the acceptance of God’s kingdom was at hand. Later He told the Pharisees that if they don’t believe His words, at least they could believe in the signs that He accomplished. Notice the signs were a validation of His words.
The apostle John paints another picture that encapsulates the unity of the message. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The life and power of God in the humanity of Jesus. 100 percent God and 100 percent man at the same time, yet He lived with full dependency upon the empowerment of the Spirit all the time. God’s words of love to the world was in full display as Jesus lived among us, died on the cross and rose again.
Paul told the Corinthians that he shared the gospel of Jesus that changed their lives, not with persuasive words only, but also with the demonstration of power of the Holy Spirit. God’s power was available to the least likely from the world’s perspective. The message looks and sounds foolish, but it has power to change lives instantly for good.
Words are the hooks that the Spirit uses to bring conviction. Power validates the authenticity of the message as from God. Jesus told the disciples to wait upon the Spirit, for He will fill them with power when He comes upon them. The day of Pentecost included the miracle of tongues and the preaching of the gospel. People were cut to the heart when they “heard” the message and the result was 3000 people were saved that day.
We will unpack this verse more next week. For now, here are some questions for us to contemplate.
- Are you knowledgeable enough to present the gospel message from beginning to end with giving a person an opportunity to become a Christ follower?
- When was the last time you shared the good news of hope and life with another person?
- Do you still believe the harvest is plentiful of those who need to hear the gospel?
- In what ways do you think people can be inspired more to share the gospel? What causes the hesitation?
- How would you define examples of “power” that could accompany the message of the gospel?
- What roles does the Holy Spirit have in the presentation of the gospel for the presenter? For the hearer?
- What is the difference between someone sharing the gospel and someone sharing the gospel with “deep conviction”?
I think a prayer is a fitting end for today.
Father God, thank you that someone shared the message of Jesus with me. Thank you for the faithfulness of church members, small group leaders, and those who personally discipled me. I am an extension of their service to you.
However, I also have a responsibility and a privilege to share the good news with others who need only hear in order to know how to respond. Jesus would you send me and others into the harvest preaching with words and with power. Thank you, heavenly Father, Amen.
I created a good news tract that you can access online here. It is designed to lead and listen as it is presented. Tools help us with confidence. May you find that which is comfortable for you to communicate God’s love to the world and be emboldened to share it.
Blessings Love y’all