How grateful are we for the gospel of Christ? The Christians at Thessalonica were thankful for the gospel they had received from the apostle Paul. They received the message of the gospel not as man’s message but as God’s message. The gospel tells us what Jesus has already done for us. He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. This message is adequate for our salvation and we should not tamper with it, add, or subtract it.
The believers at Thessalonica received the Word of God with gratitude and joy despite of knowing that they would go through persecution. As a result, they themselves became an example to all the Christians in Macedonia for their love towards God. These believing Christians sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but far and wide. The phrase sounded out actually means “to sound as a trumpet”. But the Thessalonians were not blowing their own trumpets; they were trumpeting forth the good news of salvation, and their message was loud and clear. Whenever Paul went, he heard about the faith of these believers.
This causes us to ponder our own response to the gospel. Do we speak loudly and clearly of God’s message of salvation to others? Unfortunately, not all who claim to be Christians accept the Bible as the Word of God. There are Christian leaders who have denied God’s Word as the Divine authority. Instead of teaching and preaching the Word of God clearly and loudly, they have replaced their faith in God’s Word with social programs. Entertainment becomes part of their main program of the church.
As believers in Jesus, we sometimes become frustrated when people who are not believers refuse to trust in Him. When that happens, we must remember that our role is to obey the command to tell others about Christ; the Holy Spirit’s work is to convict and save them. People need to be born of the Spirit; we can neither believe for them nor redeem them. We are powerless to do more – except pray. We witness faithfully and pray, and God performs the miracle of salvation. We plant the seed and God gives the harvest.
Paul taught the Scriptures to the teachable Thessalonians. His strategic ministry was to reason out of the scriptures with the hearers. This must also be our means to win others to Christ. Our responsibility is not to impress the lost without intellect. Our message is to present the Word of God in all simplicity.
God does not intend to give us His truth as a textbook to be discussed and debated. We accepted God’s truth for our daily living. We learn about God in order that we may live in fellowship with Him and in obedience to His will. The Bible gives the truth of God in life situations. We learn doctrine through Abraham’s life, through David’s struggles, through the warnings of the prophets to Israel. Even the doctrinal epistles in the New Testament are letters written to people to help them to live as Christians. Scripture is given to us that we may live what God wants us to be. Our belief will shape our behaviour.
What God requires of us is a teachable heart. He wants us to learn and go on learning. To understand the Bible truly we must be willing to respond to what God shows you of His will in the Bible. God’s truth calls for response to His message. When the truth is clear to the mind, then the will must respond. Knowledge and obedience cannot be separated. We learn in order that we may do, and we have not truly learned until we do. A closed heart means a closed understanding. An open heart finds the meaning of the Scripture opened. Remember that He also wants an obedient heart.
It is not enough to appreciate the Bible, or even to accept the Bible. We must apply by faith the Word in our lives. The Word of God has in it the power to accomplish the will of God. It has well been said, “God’s commandments are God’s enablements.” Jesus commanded the crippled man to stretch out his hand – the very thing the man could not do. Yet that Word of command gave him the power to obey. He trusted the Word, obeyed, and was made whole. When we believe God’s word and obey, He releases power – divine power that works in our lives to fulfil His purposes. The Word of God within us is a great source of power in times of testing and suffering. God will give us the victory if we take by faith His Word.
Although Apollos was a man of great intellect, we find him in Achaia successfully convincing the Jews by the Scriptures that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. What was the secret of his success? It was the Word of God that can make people wise unto salvation – 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 (1 Thess. 1:5). Paul is saying the Holy Spirit convinces and convicts the soul. Paul said, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4,5).
We must preach and present the Word and the Holy Spirit will convince and convert lost sinners. The apostle Peter had witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit to convert sinners into saints. He preached the gospel of grace and 3,000 were converted on the Day of Pentecost. The angel of the Lord said unto Zerubbabel saying, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of host”. We believe that the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to penetrate into the heart of man to transform him into the child of God.
Reflect: God only requires one thing, and that is our heart. Even in this season, let us be reminded of His great sacrifice for us, and in return, we may truly learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.