The preaching of the Gospel always transforms! In Thessalonica the Gospel transformed people in the following ways;
- The Gospel formed relationships that had previously not existed. New relationships both within the church and also between those in the church and Paul’s apostolic team. Paul could write how they would regularly pray giving thanks to God for the Thessalonian believers and for what happened in the lives of those who believed there. (vs2) They had previously not known each other, but now they were joined at a heart level.
- The Gospel resulted in inner-life transformation in the believers of Thessalonica. Having believed the Gospel, they were described as those having faith, love & hope despite harsh opposition in their city. (vs3) They were described as having faith, hope & love. This triad (faith, hope, love) is used regularly in the New Testament to describe what the believer’s life becomes characterised by as a result of the Gospel’s transformative effect.
- The Gospel produced tangible external transformation. Note how each of the three Gospel characteristics is paired with a practical observable outworking in their lives;
- Faith results in work (action/deeds)
- Love results in labour (toil/trouble/pains)
- Hope results in steadfastness (cheerful endurance)
True faith in God is evidenced by actions that show that faith to be real.
True love received from God through the Gospel results in real committed love for others that’s robust.
True hope in Christ fortifies us in the midst of present trials and suffering enabling cheerful endurance.
When we believe the good news about Jesus, that truth doesn’t leave our lives unchanged but transforms our relationships, our experience, our thinking and our actions in very observable ways.
In the month of October we are going to be reading through Paul’s letters to the believers he left behind in Thessalonica, the church that was formed through his brief preaching in that city.
We start, today by looking at the record the book of Acts has of the genesis moment of this church in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9).
Having been beaten, imprisoned then miraculous released from prison in Philippi for preaching the good news about Jesus, Paul & Silas are ejected from Philippi and move on to Thessalonica and within days they are preaching the Gospel again in the synagogue at Thessalonica;
And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” (Acts 17:2-3)
Don’t miss this. Paul and Silas have just miraculously been released from jail and having been beaten for the Gospel by the authorities in Philippi and they don’t go into their shell, they don’t back-off their God-given mission, not even for a moment.
The Gospel was their priority and preoccupation. They had good news about Jesus that the world around them needed to hear.
Can you say that sharing the Gospel is a priority in your life?
What small changes can you make to change this if change is needed?
Amazingly it appears as though Paul & Silas were only in Thessalonica for about a month or so. They proclaim the Gospel in the Synagogue for only three weeks and then hostile opposition forces them out of the city…
And yet during that time it’s recorded that Gospel seeds had been sown;
4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. (Acts 17:4)
When the Gospel is preached, it’s power is released and new communities of faith are formed. This brand new church community began to form in response to the Gospel message. A new community of faith was formed, made up of God-fearing Greeks, some of the Jewish people from the Synagogue and a number of leading women in that city. Paul recounts in 1 Thessalonians 1:1-9 how they were saved when they ‘turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.’
And this is the church that Paul writes his letters of 1 & 2 Thessalonians to. He had only preached there for a month or so, and yet the Gospel is so powerful that lives are transformed, people who were previously not connected become a community of faith that endures despite significant threat and opposition and becomes a church of Jesus Christ.
Are you convinced of the power of the Gospel to transform lives and form community?
When we share the good news about Jesus, always remember it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16) and so you can be confident that it will bring about transformation in people’s lives. So keep sowing Gospel seed everyday, wherever God sends you in your everyday life.