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 MANNER IN WHICH THE GOSPEL SHOULD COME TO A PEOPLE.
1. In word.
(1) In the word written. It is of no use without this. The preacher's voice cannot reach where it can go.
(2) In the word preached — stated in naked and clear propositions. Religion is no dark, unintelligible impulse of the mind. A trumpet must give a certain sound, or who will prepare himself for the battle. A herald's business is to make himself understood.
(3) In the word apprehended. For the want of effort in this direction many are living in the grossest presumption, supposing themselves to be saints whereas they are in the utmost danger; on the other, there are many embarrassed with doubts and fears who ought to be enjoying the gospel.
2. In power.
(1) Doubtless in miraculous power, but this is subordinate. The importance of a document lies in its contents, not in the seal.
(2) Certainly in moral power — the intrinsic energy and efficacy of the truth. "Is not my word a hammer," etc. "The word of God is quick and powerful." This was seen in the case of Felix and Agrippa. When the truth is emphatically announced, there is a majesty, authority and force in it which are not found in moral, philosophical, or scientific disquisitions and harangues. Let me testify that you are a sinful man, a dying creature, that eternity is about to open, etc., and there is a power in those truths to strike upon the conscience and cause alarm, and if rejected it is in defiance of the dictates of the understanding and heart.
3. In the Holy Ghost, who —
(1) Convinces of sin, righteousness and judgment, creating a sense of the need of the Saviour and preparing for the reception of the message of mercy.
(2) Applies the gospel salvation to the heart and sheds abroad the love of God in it, and renovates the whole nature.
4. In much assurance. The image is that of a vessel richly freighted with all its sails spread, and wind and tide directly in its favour, going gallantly into port hailed by the acclamations of the people on the beach.
(1) The gospel came on our part with full knowledge, invariable conviction, and certainty.
(2) It was received by you like a vessel richly freighted, commissioned by Providence, sent of God, and the treasure, by appropriation, at once fully became your own. This implies, of course, that they saw the evidence, and felt the power of the word, so that no room was left for doubt. The primitive believers were not entangled as we are by metaphysical subtleties and difficulties respecting faith. They knew at once, with the simplicity of children, that a cordial reception of Christ was salvation.
(3) It is the privilege of every believer to rejoice in the fulness and felicity of his justification. This full assurance is nothing else than a simple and perfect belief.
(4) With joy of the Holy Ghost amidst much affliction. The design of the gospel is to produce joy where nothing else can produce it. Animal spirits, the delights of science or of sense, where are they in affliction? But Christian joy flourishes and sings in trials, "Though the fig tree shall not blossom," etc.
II. THE EFFECTS WHICH THE GOSPEL IS TO PRODUCE WHEN IT HAS SO COME.
1. They turned from idols. Is there no idolatry amongst us which the gospel ought to dethrone? What about the worship of mammon, of the world, of self?
2. They turned to serve the living and true God.
(1) Who has the right to our service which no one else has.
(2) Who will reward us for our service as no one else will.
3. To wait for Jesus.
(1) He delivered us from the wrath to come — hence there is nothing in the future to fear.
(2) Jesus comes at the Judgment; at death.
4. They became imitators of Christ. He is our supreme example. His followers are to be imitated only as they truly follow Him. "Take My yoke upon you," etc.
5. They became examples to others. There was light upon the candlesticks at Philippi, Berea, etc., but none so brilliant as here. A Christian is not required to set an example of learning, wealth, etc., but of goodness.
III. THE REPORT WHICH MAY GO ABROAD. It was just the same as when a modern people renounces idols and wickedness. The rumour gets abroad and is substantiate by changed lives. It is the same when a revival of true religion breaks out anywhere.
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.