1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
For our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance…
I. THE WORLD NEEDS A POWERFUL GOSPEL. The great want of men in all ages is an impulse to carry them out of spiritual lethargy. The first requisite is not light. Those who sit in darkness may see a great light, but not have the disposition or energy to seek it. The blight of society is not virulent hatred to good, but indifference, spiritual paralysis. The knowledge of truth is far ahead, not only of the practice but of the ability to pursue it. Theories of the universe have been formulated by the cartload, and the world is little the better for them. There is no hope of salvation in one more theory. No gospel that is not inspired with energy, however fertile in thought or beautiful in sentiment, will meet the world's need. But beware of mistaking sensation for energy. Sensational preaching may excite interest and stir emotion: yet it may be impotent as the thunder which only comes when the lightning has gone. We want a real energy though it be as silent as sunlight.
II. THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS FULL OF POWER. Christianity is not merely a specific religious system ranking with the Egyptian, Indian, Grecian, etc. Nor is it only a better system in dignity, purity, etc. It is more than the noblest solution of the riddle of the universe. Its striking peculiarity is that it is alive, while other systems are dead. There is much truth in the Vedastic ideas of God, in the Zoroastrian teaching about sin, in the Egyptian eschatology, in the Greek dramatists' views of moral government, in the Greek philosophers' thoughts concerning the chief good. But all these lack power to change the heart. Christianity does this. Christ struck the keynote when He wrought miracles — "mighty signs" of His spiritual work. The "might" of them was an indication of His power. He was "moved with compassion"; but His sympathy showed itself in energetic deeds of charity. He promised that His exaltation on the cross should draw all men unto Him. Thus Paul writes of the Cross as "the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). When the apostles were "endued with power from on high" their preaching was effectual. The power of the gospel is seen by its effects in the great apostolic missions, in the regeneration of the Roman world and the creation of Christendom, in Christian law, literature, society, home life, and individual character, in missionary victories of modern times.
III. CHRIST IS THE SOURCE OF THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL.
1. He is the Truth (John 14:6). Errors are never lastingly powerful. When a false religion wins its way it is because of the truth mixed up with its errors. Mohammedanism, e.g., was a grand protest of Monotheism against idolatry. If Christianity were false it must ultimately have failed. The truth of Christ is the first secret of His power; and the power of the gospel is a proof of its truth. Mere external success may not go for much, but success in spiritual regeneration cannot be begotten of a lie. Christianity is not merely powerful: it is powerful for good, and therefore cannot have been cradled in a delusion.
2. Christ is seen in self-sacrificing love. He wins by the attractions of His Person and character. The great secret of His power is His Cross. A Christless gospel must ever be a futile one, and Christ without His Cross will be shorn of His strength. Without this, Christian ethics and theology are weak.
3. Christ sends His Spirit with His gospel. Conclusion:The power of the gospel may be frustrated —
1. If the gospel is untruly, unfaithfully, unspiritually preached.
2. If the help of the Divine Spirit is rejected or neglected.
3. If the hearer wilfully rejects its influence.
(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: and that our Good News came to you not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we showed ourselves to be among you for your sake.