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Entrusted With The Gospel

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God and make personal application. The title for the lesson is “Entrusted with the Gospel” and the text is in the New Testament, 1 Thessalonians chapter two verses one through 12. Let’s listen to the Word of God.

You know, brothers, that your visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know. But with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.  For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men, but God who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed. God is our witness. We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.

Verse nine. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship. We worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses and so is God of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God who calls you into his kingdom and glory. This is the Word of God.  May he add his blessing to the reading of his Word.

Perhaps you can remember from whom and when you first received, you first responded to the gospel and experienced the joy of peace with God, experienced the joy of salvation, the joy of being and knowing you are heaven bound, the joy of becoming a son or daughter in God’s family.

In our text, 1 Thessalonians chapter two verses one through 12, the apostle Paul recalled his first visit planting the church at Thessalonica. In this text and an overview we have an inspired motive and manner for us to model, to emulate, to bring the gospel to others.  For example, in verse two it is his gospel.  That is, the message is God’s good news of salvation in Christ Jesus.  In verse four it is to please God. As, therefore, that is the primary motive to bring glory and honor to God as we share the gospel. In verse seven it speaks of being gentle, in verse eight of love, in verse nine of toil and in verse 10 of holiness. These are the manner in which to bring the gospel to others.

So let’s look more closely at this all important ministry methodology needful for all of us, whether in the pulpit or in the pews as we all need to witness, to testify, to proclaim, to share the gospel to others with the right message, the right motive and manner as instruments of the Holy Spirit of God.

In 1 Thessalonians chapter two and verse one it says: Our visit to you was not a failure. This as is recorded in the book of Acts chapter 17.  And you recall that in Acts 16 just prior to coming to Thessalonica Paul had been imprisoned in Philippi for preaching the gospel and causing an uproar when Paul commanded an unclean spirit to come out of the fortune teller who had been making a lot of money for her owners.

But what is the point? Paul, Silas and Timothy didn’t give up. They didn’t stop sharing the gospel. Even though they had been in prison and treated roughly, cruelly by a mob, they continued to share the gospel. It was not the failure of God.  God still uses us today to share the gospel. And so there is an application for us even when we have setbacks. That should not shut us down in sharing the gospel.  Setbacks can set us up for comebacks to share the good news of Jesus Christ, the way of salvation in Christ Jesus and by the cross. We are to share the gospel. We do not fail if we witness the gospel. Conviction and conversion is not our duty. That is God’s work by the Holy Spirit. Even God gives hearers of the gospel a choice to either receive or reject the good news of Jesus Christ and salvation in him.   However, we, even today, certainly, need to continue to share the gospel and leave the results to God.

We sometimes think that the apostle Paul had it easier to share the gospel in his day in the first century AD, but listen to some of the obstacles to the gospel of Jesus Christ in Thessalonica in the first century AD according to a Bible scholar. And I quote:  There has probably never been such a variety of religious cults and philosophic systems as in Paul’s day.  There was religious piety, but also widespread superstition and gross license for pagan, ritualistic, sinful practices, Oriental mysteries and Greek philosophers and Roman indifference and holy men of all creeds and countries, plus magicians and astrologers and crack pots and cranks and even swindlers and self appointed saints all clamored for attention and monetary gain, end of quote. Yet Paul persisted and left the results to God.  And so should we today.

In verse two it says: With the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. Paul did not rely on his own abilities or achievements. It was God working through Paul. Does not God work similarly through us today and help us to share his gospel, his good news, the glad tidings of Jesus Christ and the way of salvation in him?  Are we not also in dwelt with the same Holy Spirit of God? Can we, too, also be filled, that is, controlled with the Holy Spirit to be able to share the gospel boldly? So we also today need to pay and persist in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not about our abilities or achievements. And God can use those. But it is still the power of God by the Holy Spirit working in and through us.  Do we sometimes have strong opposition as we share the good news of Jesus Christ on the job, in school, in our own families, with our friends, from mockers? What are we to do? Do we give up? No, we need to ask God for God’s wisdom to efficiently and effectively share the gospel.

In verse three it says that the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. Here we find at least three wrong attitudes or actions that should not be our manner in presenting the gospel. The first is error.  Whether intentional or unintentional, doctrinal error can be guarded against if we prayerfully seek to be workmen whose study, striving to rightly divide the Word of truth, correctly handling the Word of truth, especially regarding teaching involving the way of salvation.

Secondly, impure motives. For example, as the apostle Paul wrote in his second Corinthian letter, chapter two and verse 17 where it says: Unlike so many, we do not pedal the Word of God for profit. Surely this would never be our manner as born again, baptized believers.

And, thirdly, nor trying to trick you, that is deceit of any kind. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians chapter four and verse two, in part: We do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God.  All evil manner of presenting the gospel or, for that matter, of presenting any portion of the Word of God, must never be our manner.

In 1 Thessalonians chapter two and verse four it says: Men approved of God to be entrusted with the gospel.  The word approved means allowed, endorsed, enabled, that is, by God, which can include us also, entrusted with the gospel, that is, to those of us who are born again believers, part of the Lord’s Church, preachers in the pulpit, but also people of God in the pews, those who follow the Lord, who are disciples of the Lord, who are believers today as ambassadors for the Lord, sharing his gospel. God could have entrusted the gospel only to angels, but instead God chose the Church.  In fact, according to 1 Peter chapter one and verse 12 it says, in part: The thing that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven even angels long to look into these things.

Of course Paul and Silas and Timothy were especially approved and entrusted with the gospel in establishing churches among the Gentiles. And Paul emphasized the gospel in nearly writing one half of the New Testament, the Scriptures.  Sharing the gospel is not a spiritual gift just for the select few, for so-called super saints. Sharing the gospel is a commission, a mandate for all believers.

In 1 Thessalonians chapter two and verse five it says: We never use flattery.  That is, in sharing the gospel, flattery meaning smooth, slick, people pleasing talk to persuade his hearers. Paul was straightforward. He was no phony. And neither should we be in any way, shape or form.  So we should be in our witnessing that it is God’s message. It is not mine and I do it striving in the power of the Holy Spirit to do it honestly and genuinely as according to the Scriptures.

In verse six not looking for praise from men they and, of course, we should only seek praise to God. Note the end of verse six where it says: As apostles of Christ.  This could have included Silas and Timothy, not as the 12, plus Paul, but apostles in the broader sense, apostle meaning messengers, literally one sent forth as messengers of the gospel, messengers of God, messengers from the Church to the world.  Apostles used in the broader sense as, for example, in Acts 14:14 or in Romans chapter 16 and verse seven.

Then also in verse six of 1 Thessalonians two it says: We could have been a burden to you. Well, how could they have been a burden?  The answer is in verse nine. Our toil and hardship we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone.  Well, what does this mean? According to 2 Corinthians chapter eight and verses one and two the Macedonian churches including Thessalonica had extreme poverty, it reveals to us there, in part. Even though Paul, Silas and Timothy could have requested financial support but instead they supported themselves in order not to be a burden, not to be accused of profiteering.

Today many are tent maker evangelists and even missionaries, sharing the gospel even while self supporting themselves such as teaching English using the Bible, the English language using the Bible.  Yet at other times Paul did accept and did receive financial aid even at Thessalonica.
Consider Philippians chapter four and verse 16 where it says: For even when I was in Thessalonica you, speaking of the Philippian Church, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.

In 1 Thessalonians chapter two and verse 11 it says: We dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children. Notice the words closely. The apostle Paul’s manner and method also was personal, intimate, working individually as well as corporately with those in Thessalonica as they became believers, as he planted the church there. We see here also the heart of the apostle Paul who was not only an apostle, but a pastor and a shepherd who deeply cared about these people’s eternal destiny. Paul who was not just a preacher or a missionary or a writer or an evangelist, he got to know and to work with the people one on one, one at a time. And especially new believers need to be loved, those who would become believers, to love deeply for nurturing and counseling and teaching. And so the apostle Paul and, undoubtedly, Silas and Timothy worked closely, personally with these people.

In verse 12 encouraging and comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God. And so here we see three follow up imperatives for us to emulate today as we build each other up, as we edify one another in the faith, after conversion, follow up, as we work with new believers.  Especially, Paul as their spiritual father would encourage and comfort and urge his spiritual children to live worthy of God. And should we do any less than the Church family today? And certainly for the novices, for the new believers, the new Christians? Surely we should.

And, lastly, in verse 12: Who calls you into his kingdom and glory. And so we have here conversion that puts us into God’s kingdom, here the Church phase and kingdom here referring to the sphere of salvation, culminating eventually in Christ, persevering in Christ into glory to be glorified and eventually to be in heaven with the Lord. And so we have been entrusted with the gospel. May we do the same today by the power, by the persuasion of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33