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The Life Changer





1 THESSALONIANS 1:4-5  21 JANUARY 2024

PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH                                          

 

READ 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

Verse 5 in that passage says that the Gospel came in word, in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance.


To those who accepted the Gospel, these things brought a change in their lives. And they do to our lives today as well.


Three boys in the playground were bragging about who had the best Dad. The first boy said, “My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper. He calls it a poem, and people give him $100.”


The second boy says, “That’s nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper. He calls it a song, and people give him $1000.”


The third boy says, “My Dad is better than both of yours. He scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, calls it a sermon, and it takes 6 men just to collect all of the money,”


If the sermon presented the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, it was worthy. Because the Gospel changes lives. And when lives are changed, that change is noticeable.


A man by the name of Edgar Guest wrote a poem you probably have heard before. It said this:

“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.

I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.

The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,

Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.

And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds

For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.”


There is more to the poem, but it illustrates the need for the good news of Jesus Christ to make a difference in a person’s life. When someone genuinely believes the Gospel, it will show in the way that person lives.


That is why the Apostle Paul was able to say what he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 – that the Christians there knew what kind of men they were among them for their sake.


Paul and those ministering there with him were examples of the change the Gospel makes in the lives of those who accept it.


Paul saw the change it brought to the Thessalonians, who believed the Gospel. He said he remembered their work of faith, their labor of love, and their patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.


Paul speaks there of their election by God.


Now, there are those who believe and teach that God has predetermined certain people who will become His. But that cannot be because that would automatically exclude some people – actually all the other people. God is not willing to leave anyone out. He calls all to come to Him through Jesus Christ. We read in His Word that “God is not willing that any should perish.” 2 Peter 3:9


We find the invitation to accept the salvation God has provided to us through Jesus Christ in several passages of Scripture – Revelation 22:17: “The Spirit and the bride says, “Come….” John 3:16: … Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”


And that is the key: “Whoever believes in Him – in Jesus.” That is God’s predetermined plan. Some will play on the word “election” to mean some will be selected while others have no chance.


Where “election” is mentioned, it means that God chose to save us by His divine grace. God chose to provide a means for our salvation by allowing Jesus to die on the cross.


How God’s choice comes to us is made clear in Mark 16:16 when Jesus says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”


The choice of God is completed in us through faith and baptism. So, when you yield to Jesus as Lord and Savior through your faith and baptism, you know that God has chosen you.


God’s commitment to us is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


God’s commitment to us is not based on how good we are. It is given to us through the grace of God. That is the Gospel! That is the Good News!


When Paul says, “our Gospel,” he doesn’t mean that it is something he, or any of the other Apostles, created. He means that they are believers and that they are trusting and obeying this same Gospel he is preaching to the church at Thessalonica.


It is important that we remember that the Gospel is our message only in the sense that we are committed to it. We have no authority to edit the Gospel to change it in any way.


It is not ours to pick and choose the parts we agree with and are willing to follow. It is simply ours because we have been blessed and can be saved by it.


When the Apostles preach the Gospel message, the emphasis is always on the message, not on the messengers.


Paul didn’t say, “We came to you with the Gospel.” He said, “The Gospel came to you.”


Mark makes that very clear in his opening statement – Mark 1:1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Everything that follows that opening tells us about the good news that comes from knowing Jesus.


Verse 5 tells us that the Gospel came in word, in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. These things brought a change to those who accepted the Gospel. The reason for that is that the Gospel changes people.


The Gospel always comes to us with words. Romans 10:14 asks, “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”


The Gospel is shared with others through words and conversations. These were carefully chosen words. Those who shared the Gospel message then and now must choose their words carefully, not to be politically correct – but because this is the most important message anyone will ever have the opportunity to share.


The Gospel is a message. It has powerful content, and it can only be made known by words. We must be careful with our choice of words when sharing the Gospel with unbelievers so that the message is presented in truth and power.


Because the world needs a Savior, and we who have a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ have been authorized by Him to make the Gospel known to those who don’t know Him.


We are told, again, in verse 5, that there is another aspect of presenting the Gospel message that has to accompany the spoken words. He speaks of power.


The Gospel is far more powerful than our feeble words. Paul made that clear as he wrote to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 2:1-5) READ

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

The Gospel is more than just words to hear. It is the very means of salvation. People’s hearts, minds, consciences, and wills can only be penetrated by the power of God. That is when change begins.


We live in a world that is decaying because of all the evil that exists in it.


But there is a power that can change a world like ours. We need light to overcome the darkness of the world.


Jesus has the power to change the world. He has that power, but the world must let Him in before it changes.


What has to happen is for the world to turn our eyes away from the darkness of our sin and allow Christ to shine in and on us.


He calls us to follow Him – to the cross, where He paid for our sins. He calls us to follow Him to the empty tomb which helps us to understand that He is Alive!


He has conquered death. He has overcome the world.


We have the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. That is the Gospel that changes lives.


Even when we are experiencing dark and difficult days, we have a resource that the world knows nothing about. Our resource – Jesus Christ – cannot be matched or destroyed by the world.


Jesus Christ – the Word – has never lost His power. That power lives within us through the Holy Spirit.


The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins. He comes to live within us when we surrender our lives to Christ. He is our Friend, our Counselor, our Helper, our Comforter in times of fear and trouble.


So, the Gospel comes with words. It comes with power. And it comes with the Holy Spirit.


The Gospel penetrates our hearts and brings change. When the Gospel  changes us, we can have a belief and a conviction about the truth of God’s Word and salvation through Jesus Christ.”


We can sing with assurance the old Gospel song, “I Shall Not Be Moved.’ Nothing should move us away from the promises we have in Jesus.


We receive the Gospel in faith, repenting of our sins, confessing the name of Jesus as Lord, and being baptized into Him for the forgiveness of our sins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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