“We know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere… You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come... And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10; 2:13
There is irrefutable evidence in the lives of God’s beloved children that the gospel of the Lord has had its way. Paul encourages the Thessalonians church that he sees the effects of God’s word in them. It came not just as a message, but in the Holy Spirit’s power and conviction it had altered their attitude, worship, and priorities. Though they were afflicted, he saw their joy and determination compel them to serve the living and true God and to hope in His coming. This gospel was real, alive, and was to be continually appropriated. (Hebrews 4:12)
We who have received the gospel of truth can continue to receive it, welcoming its fresh work in our dynamic day to day. When we receive God’s word in power and conviction, we repent of our idolatry and put away untoward habits. We come alive to the importance of turning from grudges to forgiveness, from sloth to active service, and our witness is identified by the Spirit’s contagious joy.
“O let your soul now be filled with gladness,
Your heart redeemed, rejoice indeed!
O may the thought banish all your sadness,
That in His blood you have been freed,
That God’s unfailing love is yours,
That you the only Son were given,
That by His death He has opened heaven,
That you are ransomed as you are.
If you seem empty of any feeling,
Rejoice, you are His ransomed bride!
If those you cherish seem not to love you,
And dark assails from every side;
Still yours the promise, come what may,
In loss and triumph, in laughter, crying;
In want and riches, in living dying,
That you are purchased as you are.
It is a good, every good transcending,
That Christ has died for you and me!
It is a gladness that has no ending
There in God’s wondrous love to see!
Praise be to Him the spotless Lamb,
Who through the desert my soul is leading
To that fair city of joy exceeding,
For which He bought me as I am!” ~Peter Jonsson Aschan (1726-1813)
What difference is the gospel making in us today?
Lord, come, and come again. Apply Your gospel to me so I increase and abound in love for others. Establish my heart in holiness and glad preparation for Your glorious coming. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)