Feb14MonFebruary 14, 2022
Good day saints,
Welcome back to our walk through the letters to Thessalonica. If there is one obvious message that comes out of the first 20 verses of the first letter, it is the centrality of the Gospel in the establishment of the church in Thessalonica -The word “gospel” is repeated 5 times from 1:1 to 2:9. It is also referred to as “the word” or “message in 1:6, and “the word of the Lord” in 1:8. The Gospel is central to Apostle Paul’s preaching; actually, it is his message. Why? “Because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). The Gospel is what leads people to saving faith. Without the Gospel, people can’t actually be saved (Read Romans 10:1-15).
At the heart of the Gospel is the atoning work of Jesus Christ – His death for the payment of sins, to satisfy our Holy God’s requirements; His burial; His resurrection and ascension into heaven (See 1Corinthians 15:1-4). Yesterday, I was listening to a preacher preach on the truth from Ephesians 4 that there is only one faith. He began by quoting a recent survey which states, “66 percent of American Christians say many religions can lead to eternal life.” I searched for the survey online, because I found that hard to believe…but it is true! The survey is about 4 years old, and you can read it for yourself. Is this not incredible to you that two thirds of “Christians” say there is more than one way to eternal life, when the New Testament authors declare that Jesus is the absolutely ONLY way to be saved, and receive eternal life? (See John 14:6, Acts 4:12).
I wonder why we have arrived at such a grim reality in our society. Has the message we are commanded to preach become irrelevant? Actually, it is the only message of hope that will bring transformation to the world. I believe that the Gospel has been distorted, watered down, falsified, changed by preachers and teachers who are more concerned with pleasing people than pleasing God. In an effort to make converts and church attendees rather than true followers of Jesus, the message has been changed to not offend. But the Gospel is precisely offensive because it boldly declares that Jesus is the ONLY WAY! Why, because Jesus is God in the flesh, come down to seek and SAVE the lost, through His sacrificial and substitutionary atonement for our sins – there is no other Savior. No other religion or religious person in history offers a crucified God to deal with humanity’s sinfulness – all other religions are based on human effort, not God’s grace.
So what is the Gospel? Gospel is an old English word meaning good news, or glad tidings [god (good)- spell (news)]. It comes from the Greek word evangellion (eu –good, angelos – messenger – good message). The life and death, and resurrection of Jesus has become synonymous with Gospel – we have four accounts of the Good News of Jesus Christ! From the New Testament, it is called: the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of God, the Gospel of your salvation, the Gospel of peace, the Gospel of hope. So we could say that the Gospel is two-fold. One, it speaks about the redeeming work of Jesus as savior of the world, and two, it encompasses a future deliverance into an eternal kingdom that will last forever, of which we can partake and experience even now. Volumes have been written on all of this, but that is a synopsis of my understanding of what the Gospel is! In a nutshell, it is Good News of a merciful savior, who is God, who died to take away our sins, and establish an eternal kingdom into which one can enter only through Jesus Christ.
Now back to our text in 1Thessalonians. From the first chapter, we learned that the Gospel had totally transformed this group of people, now called the Church in Thessalonica. They were so impacted by the good news that it changed their lives - through the power and conviction of Holy Spirit. They were so transformed that they became a witness to the whole region around them, which testified that the Gospel is truth and changes lives for the better. We know from reading the Gospel narratives, especially the Gospel of Luke, that the good news brought social transformation as well. The poor were ministered to, people received healing, repentance of sins led to restoration and restitution. Just as Jesus declared in Luke 4, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18). The Gospel of the Kingdom ushers in a new reality and way of living!
In our text today, 1Thessalonians 2:1-10, we see that this Good News causes quite a disturbance, and was preached at a cost to those who declared it, “We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you His Gospel in spite of strong opposition.” (2:2)
We notice in verse 4 that preachers have a strong conviction, calling and message from God. He is the one who anointed us to declare it, and preachers are focused on pleasing God not people: “On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” (2:4)
The Gospel proclamation is done in love for a dying world that desperately needs hope, deliverance and salvation. It is not only a Gospel of words, but the “Gospel of God” is something that can be demonstrated by those who receive it, because of its transforming power: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” (2:6) The Gospel of love is, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God loves! God demonstrates His love in a crucified Son! God pours His love into our hearts through Holy Spirit! And, we are never the same again, but are placed in a love-filled community of others who have embraced the Good News, and live life in preparation for the return of the Son to establish His eternal Kingdom.
Finally, from our passage, we learn that those who are transformed by the Gospel, have a charge to proclaim it, which will come at a cost. “Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” (2:9-10) Declaring the Good News in a pagan, antichrist environment will be hard work. You will be persecuted, ridiculed, mocked, reviled, etc. But, your message and lifestyle will eventually bring fruit, as Holy Spirit opens the hearts of those He wants to save.
Preaching the Gospel is not an option; it’s a command (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8). No matter how bad the world is getting it is still the hope of the world, and the only means of salvation. It is time for followers of Jesus to start loudly proclaiming and demonstrating the Gospel of the Kingdom. Will you?
(Get a concordance and look up all the verses where “gospel” is used. It will be an eye-opening and convicting endeavor.)
Have a blessed week!