Links Daily Devotional

Gospel Carriers

For we know, brothers 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 with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, NIV)

Talk all you want about golf, but you won’t convince a whole lot of your skeptical friends to take up their clubs and join you.

Get your friends out to the course, however, where the grass grows green, the air spans wide above them, and the game presents a challenge for every level of player, and you stand a pretty good chance of making believers out of them—at least enough to make a foursome!

In the same way, the Gospel is much better when it is lived in addition to being presented, when it leaps off the page, so to speak, and becomes as energetic as when it was first lived by Jesus Himself.

Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians is about as complimentary a note as you’ll find from the apostle. He spoke from his heart about missing his beloved friends and being personally fortified by the excellent report of the growth of their faith that had made its way to him. “Always we are thankful for you,” he began.

Immediately thereafter, Paul set to reminiscing, fondly remembering the days that he and his colleagues brought the Good News of Jesus to the Thessalonians. That message—what we call the Gospel—came not only in the form of words. Sure, the stories of Jesus were told, and their meaning set against the prophecies of the Scriptures. Paul probably even threw in some of the doctrine that had been revealed to him: the righteous shall live by faith, and they are only made righteous by the righteousness of Christ. But oh, was there more!

In addition to the words, Paul said, there was power. Miracle power? Perhaps, for this often followed the apostles as they relied on the Holy Spirit. But certainly there was the power of what we might call “infused truth,” where the Word of God sinks into people’s hearts and moves them.

More than that, there was the Holy Spirit Himself. The Spirit causing the apostles to say the perfect words, the Spirit giving urgency to the message, the Spirit leading the people to repentance and then to unity in the faith, and the Spirit demonstrating the practical love of God in healing and wonders.

There was “deep conviction.” This could mean a significant passion to the apostolic presentation of the Gospel. Or it could mean a powerful internal response in the Thessalonian hearers, hurt within by the realization of their sin, and a heartfelt repentant turning to the Savior, Jesus.

And finally, there were the lives of the apostles. The Thessalonians watched the way these men lived and recognized that the Spirit of whom they spoke was fully alive in them, enabling them to follow the demanding but life-giving Way.

If we today are to be true Gospel carriers in the way of Paul and his partners (read verses 6 and 7, and you’ll see that this is just what the Thessalonians did!), then we will want to learn the words of the Gospel, yes. But we will want so much more than that: God’s power, God’s Spirit, God’s conviction, and God’s life.

Jeff Hopper

October 5, 2011

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