Not Only Words, But Power


20th Sunday after Pentecost (October 22, 2017)

1 Thessalonians 1 | New Living Translation (NLT)

This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy.

We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God give you grace and peace.

We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia.

And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God.And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.

After a brief trip through Philippians, we now enter the first of Paul’s two letters to the church at Thessalonica.  We begin with Paul’s greeting to the congregation there.  The church at Thessalonica was being faithful to the gospel.  We find out later in this passage that the church had been sharing the Good News throughout Macedonia and Achaia.  The gospel has brought an amazing change in the church here.  After all, isn’t that what the Good News is all about.

In verse 5, Paul tells about how the Good News came to the church.  The key to the word of God going out is not in the words only, but with the power of the Holy Spirit.  This church received this message with joy and they received it, not from Paul, Silas, and Timothy, but from the Holy Spirit.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy spoke the words that the Holy Spirit had them speak.  This is the power of the gospel at work.  Yes, the gospel is about words – but without the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us, it is just words.  It was the Holy Spirit that proved to the believers at Thessalonica that the words Paul and his friends spoke were true.

I think the other thing that is important is that this same power that came upon Paul and the others, came upon this church and that is why the gospel was replicated and spread far beyond Paul’s original work there. The church at Thessalonica – at least the church that is written about here in the first chapter of this letter – is something to be emulated.  This is a picture of the church at work.

In the Wesleyan Church we have talked Disciples making disciples and the church multiplies itself until the Wesleyan Church has a transforming presence in every zip code.  This is the church of Thessalonica.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy made disciples and they went and did the same thing.  In this way the church grows and multiplies itself.  It is the transforming presence that comes as a result of the Holy Spirit’s power.  This is what I desire as the pastor of McCrae Brook.  It is what I desire of the church – especially here in the Brook.  Let’s go reach every zip code in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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