“our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…” 1 Thessalonians 1:5
We have come to develop high expectations for delivery. Whether it is a package, meal or bouquet of flowers, we expect fast, prompt and professional delivery. Yet, when it comes to delivering the Gospel message, we often fumble over our words, mis-mark our address or simply fail to get it out at all. In his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul describes four characteristics of effective Gospel delivery that every believer should aspire towards.
- The Gospel must come in Word: There is a saying that has been floating around for years that has been mistakenly been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi- “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” There are only two problems; he never said that and it isn’t true. The truth is when it comes to preaching the Gospel, words are always necessary. It is impossible for people to understand the Gospel by simply watching our lives, because the Gospel is not about what we must do to be saved. Rather, the Gospel is the Good News of what Jesus has done for us, which can only be expressed through words and received by faith. We must speak about God’s love, speak about the effects of sin, speak about the death and resurrection of Christ and speak about the grace that comes through faith in Christ alone. "So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” Romans 10:17
- The Gospel must come in Power: The Gospel doesn’t need to be sugar-coated or watered down to be palatable for modern audiences. We don’t need to convince people that Christianity is cool. The unfiltered Gospel from an unashamed believer is powerful- "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16 When Peter preached his first sermon at Pentecost, those that heard it were “cut to the heart” and responded by asking, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter’s response was straightforward and clear- "Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Acts 2:37-39. Delivering the Gospel in power does not require you to raise your voice or pound your fists against a pulpit; it simply means presenting the Good News without pulling any punches or glossing over the impact of our sin and our need for a Savior.
- The Gospel must come in the Holy Spirit: Jesus made it clear; attempting to do anything, especially something as important as sharing the Gospel apart from Him and the Holy Spirit will amount to nothing. (John 15:5) Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to give us the words to say (Luke 12:12) and to convict the world of sin (John 16:8). The fact of the matter is, when it comes to the work of Gospel delivery, it is God who does all the heavy lifting. Paul puts it this way… "It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7.
- The Gospel must come with Full Conviction: Unless you are convinced that the Gospel is the only hope for our broken world, you will probably find yourself shying away from sharing the Gospel with others. Jesus gave us this commanded mission with all the authority of heaven and earth behind these words- "go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19. Paul, expressing the urgency of the Gospel, said, "For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Do you hold that same kind of conviction about the necessity of the Gospel? What if you took seriously this stark reality when thinking about friends and loved ones far from God? "those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus... will suffer the penalty of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His might” 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9.
With compassion, courage and conviction, we will cast the seeds of the Gospel message wherever we go, believing that the Lord will sovereignly cultivate hearts so that our seeds may fall on good soil and grow by God’s grace. Don’t delay, "For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2