How deeply are you impacted by the Word of God when it is preached to you? In 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 Paul assures the Thessalonian believers that they are God’s children, because of the impact of the message which was preached to them.
Preachers see all kinds of responses to the gospel. Some are glad, others sad, some even get mad, depending on the condition of their heart. I always wonder, as I’m preaching, what’s really going on in the minds and hearts of those who listen.
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you,….” Why? “…because our gospel came to you…
not simply with words,
but also with power,
with the Holy Spirit and
with deep conviction.
You know how we lived among you for your sake.”
The gospel came with words. Preachers are users of words, some more than others. Some write out full manuscripts of their sermons, carefully crafting every sentence, while others seek to be more informal in their communication and focus on eye contact, illustrations and more casual language depending on their audience.
Consider the contrast in Bible translations and paraphrases. Read the same passage in the New King James Version, the English Standard Version and then turn to The Message or The New Living Translation, and you’ll see this contrast. Read Luke and Hebrews and explore the nuances of the language deployed by these highly educated Scriptural writers and then read I John and see the simplicity of the gospel penned through a former fisherman.
The gospel came with power. Jesus had promised power in Acts 1:8 to those who would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and to the ends of the earth. Speak to preachers, who prayerfully prepare to be God’s messengers, and you’ll discover their sense of the empowerment of God. I’ve left pre-service prayer times with a boldness and clarity unnatural to me. God empowers His speakers.
The gospel came with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. The Spirit of God moved on the hearts of the preacher and the congregation. Compare Acts 2 where the crowd gathered on the Day of Pentecost are ‘cut to the heart’ and convicted by the Holy Spirit as Peter preaches a Christ-exalting message, they respond with full repentance. Jesus had promised this as well in John 16 where the Spirit of God’s work of convicting of sin, righteousness and judgment are evidence that the Son has returned to heaven and a new era has begun.
What sealed the message that was preached? Was it not the Christ-centred, Spirit-inspired example of the missionaries. We confirm what we preach by how we live. We erode what we preach when we don’t live as we preach. The gap of hypocrisy has ruined many ministries as the reality of gospel transforming preaching is not confirmed by gospel transforming living.
Would you join me in praying for those who proclaim God’s word? Why not write one of your pastors, or a missionary, or campus worker who this day is prepping for another day/week/month/year of ministry? Assure them of your prayers, if indeed you are praying, and perhaps using these verses ask that God will enable them to preach and teach with words, with power, with the Holy Spirit who produces deep conviction. Pray for that their living will be consistent, that their lives with God will model what their lips so confidently affirm.
P.S. By the way would you also pray for the Missions Conference held at Heritage College & Seminary today and tomorrow.