Paul spoke highly of the church at Thessalonica. He held them up as a model church and declared them to be “rapture ready.” The church had a strong foundation because how Paul had given them the Gospel.
We can learn from Paul’s example given 1 Thess. 1:5.
WE MUST ARTICULATE THE GOSPEL. “Our gospel came not unto you in word only…” Paul did not just speak the Gospel, but he did speak it. No one will ever see souls saved and lives changed if we do not clearly articulate the Gospel. As important as living out our faith is, our commission is to “preach” or proclaim the Gospel. “Faith cometh by hearing…”
WE MUST GIVE THE GOSPEL AUTHORITATIVELY. “…but also in power…” Paul declared the Gospel with divine authority and it had a powerful effect. We need to be tactful with the Gospel, but never timid! Our articulation of the Gospel must be with earnestness, confidence, authority and power. We must keep in mind, authoritative preaching is not the same as arrogant preaching! Speaking with authority and kindness is effective.
WE MUST GIVE THE GOSPEL WITH HOLY GHOST APPLICATION. “…in the Holy Ghost…” There is a limit to what man can do. The salvation of a soul is a miraculous event and we can only be effective in our declaration of the Gospel when done in the power of the Holy Ghost. I believe that if we pursued the filling of the Holy Spirit as diligently as we work on soul winning “plans” we would see more genuine professions of faith.
WE MUST GIVE THE GOSPEL WITH MUCH ASSURANCE. “…and in much assurance…” There was no doubt in Paul’s mind as to the truth of the Gospel, the reality of his own salvation, the power of the Gospel to saves souls and change lives, and the tragedy of rejecting the Gospel. There must be no doubt in our mind as to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
WE MUST GIVE THE GOSPEL WITH AUTHENTICITY.. “…what manner of men we were among you…” Paul repeatedly appealed to his own lifestyle to authenticate the truth of his message. Our lifestyle can never replace the preaching of the Gospel, but it certainly reinforces the Gospel.
This has been a rallying cry from many corners of Christianity for many years. The idea is that our witness to the world would be stronger if we all laid aside our differences and united together under the name of “Jesus.”
This may sound good on the surface, but as fundamental baptist, our authority is the Word of God, and all of our actions and positions must fall in line with the principles of God’s Word.
The more I study God’s Word, the more I see the doctrine of “separation” all throughout the Bible. The following are some of my thoughts on this issue.
- God wants His people/children to be in unity. (John 17:11,21,22, “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are…. That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me….And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one”)
These passages are often used to justify the ecumenical position of unity at the expense of obedience and doctrine. It is clear from these passages that God does, indeed, want his people to be unified even as He and the Lord Jesus are unified. But please notice, neither God nor Jesus set aside any doctrine or area of obedience to be united one with the other. Both are in complete doctrinal agreement. In fact, the basis of their unity is the truth of the Word of God.
Our unity must be within the parameters of the doctrines of God’s Word, not merely in a generic “name” of Christianity.
- We are clearly commanded to separate from the world’s values, philosophies, and principles. (James 1:27, Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world., John 17:16, They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world., 1John 2:15, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”)
The world’s values and principles are diametrically opposed to the values and principles of the Word of God and God’s people.
- We are clearly commanded, in certain cases, to separate, not just from unbelievers, but also from disobedient “brethren.” Abraham separated from his worldly and disobedient nephew, Lot in Gen. 13. The Corinthians were instructed to separate from a carnal brother that was fornicator and from various others who were living in flagrant sin. (1 Cor. 5)
- There are extremes on both sides of this issue. Just as there is obviously unscriptural “unity,” there is also unscriptural separation. In Galatians, Paul confronted Peter concerning separation from the believing Gentiles when the Jewish believers were present. Peter was wrong and the motives and principles behind his separation were carnal and unscriptural. We must be sure that our separation has solid scriptural basis and is not based upon religious pride, self-righteousness, or insecurities.
- In the O.T., the ultimate form of separation was what we would call, the “death penalty.” There are some sins that are so harmful in their consequences toward society that total separation is required in the form of death. Of course, this is the exclusive role of the government. (Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”)
- In every case, our motives and disposition in separation is just as important at the act of separation itself. Our motive is two-fold: obedience to the Lord and restoration/salvation of the one we are separating from. Our disposition is to be that of humility and meekness. (Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”)
I have often said that “separation” is one of the most neglected teachings in our church, nevertheless, it is taught clearly all throughout the Bible.
There is a very real danger a church faces when is it attempting to do all it can to influence the world with the Gospel, and that is getting our obedience “out of balance.”
In our focus on foreign missions, it is easy to begin to neglect our responsibility or take the Gospel to our own, local communities. Our obedience on one area must not facilitate disobedience in another area.
We get fired up about foreign missions and then neglect our personal soul winning, or we put all our focus on our local & personal soul winning and neglect foreign missions.
We must not allow this to become an “either/or” situation. Lets get re-committed to our personal, door-to-door soul winning, and lets keep supporting world missions with our prayers and finances. We must maintain “balanced obedience!”
In the margin of my Bible by Psalm 85, I had written several thoughts concerning revival. My heart was challenged by this passage once again to seek God for my own personal revival and for a church wide and nation wide revival. The following are some thoughts from the margin of my Bible…
1. Revival Is From The Lord.
Throughout Scripture, God’s people have sought the Lord for revival. It never comes from governments,gimmicks, or even church programs. Revival cannot be purchased with money. Revival cannot be worked up with schemes or promotions. God revives His people.
2. Revival Comes In Response To Prayer. (Psalm 85:4,6)
Prayer and revival are inseparable. God is continually reminding me that prayer is absolutely vital to every area of our Christian life and service. No prayer – No revival.
3. Revival Is For God’s People. (Psalm 85:4)
Unsaved people do not need revival, they need regeneration. America’s great need is not revival, it is salvation!! The churches of America desperately need revival. It is you and I as believers that need to humble ourselves before the Lord, turn from our wicked way, confess our sins and pray. Judgment must begin at the house of God.
4. Revival Brings Rejoicing To God’s People. (Psalm 85:6)
The effects of a revived church is holiness (in the true and Biblical sense) and a renewed passion for soul winning and world missions. The consequences of living a genuinely holy life and actively winning the lost to Christ is rejoicing. (see Psalm 126:5-6)