Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
“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 labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ...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.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, 8)
Gospel sharing and evangelism are our duties as Christians. We must tell the good news and spread it to the world. A lot of the time, we are quick to act. We find some inward zeal to talk to every single person we ever meet about the gospel. Though we must kindle such zeal, we must also make sure we are walking in wisdom.
Our gospel is not a cheap gospel, and we must not treat it like so. The gospel is a message of a renewed life in Jesus Christ because our sins have been forgiven, and as believers, we have been reconciled with God. The gospel is not a ticket-to-heaven message. It is a receive-a-new-life, repent-of-sin, put-on-the-new-self, be-completely-changed-forever kind of message. It is profound and astounding, portraying the glory of the mysteries of the wisdom of God. Evangelism is not simply advertising Jesus for people to consume and live better lives. Evangelism is telling people about the actual reality of life and the only hope humankind can have.
Many of us are accustomed to think that sharing the gospel means spreading as many tracts as we can to passing commuters at the train station or bringing the gospel up in every single conversation we ever have. We think the more we can speak about God to people, the more the gospel is shared, and the more people will repent. None of these things is wrong, and we must hand out tracts and definitely talk to people about the gospel in everyday conversations!
However, witnessing the gospel is witnessing a life change. It is about witnessing the whole counsel of God. That is, all of God’s Word in the Bible put into practice. If we want to be used by God as youth who spread the gospel, we must first be altered and changed by the Word of God. We must take on the whole counsel of God’s Word, and we must learn to obey it a step at a time.
Paul rejoiced for the church in Thessalonica because they had come to genuine saving faith. He thanks God because he can see the fruits of the Spirit’s work in their lives. Their faith was producing works, they laboured in love towards others, and they held steadfast to the hope in Christ even amidst afflictions. They were growing and continually learning what it meant to live for God.
Paul then further rejoices because he can see that other people have started to see their faith and repent from the Thessalonians’ lives. Paul, Timothy and Silas, did not need to go and speak the gospel in those other places because, by the living witness of the Thessalonians, they had come to know what it meant to serve the true and living God and hope in Christ who died and delivered from God’s wrath.
The Thessalonians’ witness was passive. They grew in their faith, and inevitably, their light shone to others around them. This does not mean they were not active in preaching the gospel. v. 8 notes that they “sounded forth” the gospel to surrounding cities. Yet, the point is, all of this flows out of growing personal faith. When the gospel changes us, we become a witness to the power and truth of the gospel. This is the basis of gospel ministry. We must live out our faith. We must work out our salvation.
Lord, thank you for Your living Word. Thank You for Your Spirit that works in us to renew us each day. Lord, teach us to grow in our faith and obedience to You. Teach us to work out our salvation. Help us to be ministers of Your gospel. Forgive us when we fail countless times to witness Your gospel. Prepare us as the next generation of Your church who will proclaim Your gospel boldly to the world. In Jesus’ name, amen.