Saturday, December 29, 2012
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For 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 in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how 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.
(1 Thessalonians 1 ESV)
The gospel that the Apostle Paul preached was powerful. It produced faith and a heart full of love that was ready to labor for the sake of the Kingdom of God. The mark of being chosen by God is the fruit of His Spirit in our lives. When Paul speaks of "our gospel" he is speaking of the true gospel. His gospel is a gospel that brings change to the human heart. This change gives us the divine ability to overcome sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. Any other gospel is not the gospel of Jesus Christ!
I'm not talking about sinless perfection - that will only come when we get to heaven. But I am talking about a spiritual transformation that changes us at the core of our being. Even though we still wrestle with sin - we have been given the power to overcome it. We are presently on a spiritual journey in which we are learning the ways of God and are being disciplined by him so that we may be conformed into his image.
True disciples have turned from their idols and are serving the living God. God is real to them. He is a divine individual, not some distant uncaring force. This holy personal God has delivered all those that follow his son Jesus from the wrath that is yet to come. Jesus' resurrection from the dead assures his followers that we will never experience his wrath. God reveals himself to the world through, the Spirit-empowered preaching of the gospel, sighs and wonders, and the changed lives of believers. - Bobby