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…
It came and comes —
I. WITH POWER. Who shall declare this mystery of power? All ages and sciences have worked at the problem.
1. Power in its lowest conceptions belongs to the material. It is in the storm, the wave, the flashing lightning. Latent or active it belongs to every atom in the universe.
2. Higher up is the power of thought which gives man empire over the world; temples, machines, pictures, etc., are embodied thoughts. Fling your mind back on the infinite past, and you find a period when every force existed as a thought in the Eternal Mind.
3. Highest of all is the power of the gospel. What is this? The power that slumbers in the great, Divine, essential seed thoughts of Christianity. The gospel is a gospel of —
(1) Incarnation. The historic conceptions of God are all true and grand, but how cold and distant! But turn to the gospel, and you see the mighty God in the cradle of Bethlehem, in the streets of Nazareth, on the cross of Calvary, that He might take my nature up into Himself.
(2) Unbounded benevolence. No truth of history is better authenticated than this, that outside the influence of Christianity there is but little sympathy. Into this world God flashed a new thought, that of atonement and self-sacrifice for the good of others. This is the power of the Cross. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." From that hour the world entered on a new era. There was a fountain opened for guilt and also for sorrow by the Cross. From the moment of Pentecost there was a disposition to save others. Clothes were made fen the poor, and asylums began to be founded.
(3) Resurrection and immortality. Who shall tell the shadows which fall upon the land and home where Christianity has not come?
II. IN THE HOLY GHOST.
1. In all the faiths there is the doctrine of the Divine influence coming to the spirit of man. The Pantheism of the old Brahmin involved this. The Theosophites of Egypt clung to this. The inner fight of Platonism meant this. From Montanism downwards this was the prime doctrine of mysticism. This finds its culmination in the gospel. It is seen in creation educing beauty out of chaos; in civilization; in the achievements of the gospel. The world is rich in literature, but imagine the greatest Genius saying, "Weary one, believe My word and be saved!" But let the Spirit take the word of the gospel, and it is spirit and life to every one that accepts it.
2. A Holy Ghost must have a Holy Ghost ministry. Take a man, however gifted, but not anointed with the Spirit, and his word will be like the summer lightning which hits nothing. But give the Holy Ghost to but a rough fisherman, and he will smite the consciences of three thousand.
III. IN MUCH ASSURANCE.
1. There is the assurance which comes from demonstration to others. There are tens of thousands who are better men today by this power; and its effects are seen in the walks of commerce and the sanctities of home.
2. That of an inner experience. He that believeth hath the witness in himself.
3. That of ultimate triumph. "Oh!" said a great savant, as he trembled upon the verge of the sepulchre, "my philosophy fails me here." Yonder, in a darksome dungeon and manacles about his limbs, is an old man. What sayest thou, Paul? "I am now ready to be offered," etc.
(G. Douglass, D. D.)
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.