Sermon 3551. The Gospel in Power
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1917.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, APRIL 28, 1872.
"For our Gospel came not unto you in word only," etc., [down to] "from the wrath to come" 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10.
A WORKMAN likes to see that he has been doing something. It is very dispiriting if he has spent much toil and can see no result.God's workmen by faith would continue still to labor, even if they saw nothing come of it, but it is much more comforting,much more easy for them to continue in service when they see that God is blessing them. Now it is not wrong for a Christianminister to speak about the conversions that have been worked under his ministry, for Paul says that he would have done so,only that others did it so constantly that there was no need of it. Paul, however, would not, under any circumstances, havedone a wrong thing and, therefore, we gather that it is sometimes most allowable that we should see what has been done andshould speak of it-and the more especially because if any good is done by any ministry, it is God that has done it-and allthe glory is due to Him and to Him, alone!
Not to speak of what God has done would be ingratitude. It might have a semblance of humility, but in reality it would bedisloyalty to the Most High. Paul, therefore, did not hesitate to speak of his converts at Thessalonica and of their goodcharacter-and of the good fruit which they had borne and the way in which they had spread abroad the Gospel. He did not boast-hegave God the glory of it, but he did speak of what had been done. And we think we may do the same in any measure in whichGod shall bless our work-any one of us may tell of it to the praise and glory of God and to the encouragement of our fellowlaborers. Now the Apostle in this passage tells us what God had done at Thessalonica. We will proceed at once, for our textis long-we will proceed at once to the handling of it.
And you will note that he tells us, first, what he had preached at Thessalonica. Then how it had come to the people. And thirdly,what had been the result of this to themselves. And fourthly, what had been the result of it to other people. First, the Apostletells us-
I. WHAT WAS PREACHED AT THESSALONICA. He says, "Our Gospel"-(note that word)-"Our Gospel came not unto you in word only."Why does Paul call it, "our Gospel"? He did not invent it! He did not think it out and make it fresh every Sunday. No, itwas Christ's Gospellong before it was Paul's Gospel. Yet he calls it our Gospel by way of distinction, for there were othergospels. There were those who came and said, "This is the Good News!" And others, on the other hand, who said, "Thisis theGood News," but Paul says that there was another Gospel and he adds, "Yet not another, but there are some that trouble you."He, therefore, put down his foot and he said, "Bring what gospels you like, each of you, but I have a Gospel which I preach,distinct from yours, and that Gospel it is which I have preached to the Thessalonians and which has not come to them in wordonly." In these times, Beloved, there must be made a distinction between men's gospel and God's Gospel, for nowadays man'sgospel is popular enough. Somebody thinks until his head aches and he gets into nonsense-and then he comes and brings thisforward as something fresh. Men go to the bottom of a subject until they stir the mud at the bottom and cannot see their ownway, themselves, and nobody else can ei-ther-and then forthwith they come out with something marvelous! And, having used somewords that are hard to pronounce and harder still to understand, they earn a cheap name for being great scholars and profounddivines. Well, let such go their way-that is their gospel, but we have another Gospel from that-one which we have gained inanother way and which we desire to propagate in another fashion! Paul said, "our Gospel," then, by way of distinction.
But he also meant this-it was his Gospel because it had been committed to him. He had received it as a sacred deposit. Hewas, as it were, a steward for God-put into commission to preserve and keep alive the Truth of God in the world-and Paul didkeep it unadulterated, so that when he closed his life he could say, "I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith."Whoever may have adulterated the Gospel, Paul did not. He gave it forth as Christ gave it to him. Oh, that each one of uswho is called to preach the Gospel and, indeed, every church member would feel that the Truth of God is committed to us tokeep it in the world! Our grandfathers kept it at the stake and on the cruel rack-and when they went in their chariots offire to Heaven, they left the Truth to their sons to preserve. Handed down to us in the long line of martyrs and confessors,Covenanters and Puritans, what will we do with it now? Will we not feel that all the cost expended on it in the centuriespast demands of us that we should spend the same-if there is a necessity for it-even our blood and that, while we live, itshall never be said that in our life, in our prayer, in our conversation, or in our preaching, the Gospel suffered anythingat our hands? "I know whom I have believed," said Paul, and, "I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committedto Him." Or rather, as some read it, "He is able to keep my deposit, that which He committed to me to keep. Christ also willkeep and preserve the Gospel pure and clear, even until time's latest hour." The Lord grant it, for His name's sake!
But I think the Apostle used the term, "our Gospel," not only for distinction and because he felt it was committed to histrust, but because he had enjoyed it, himself, and had experienced it. What right has any man to preach that which he hasnot himself enjoyed and made his own? I have heard of a certain physician who usually tried his own medicines upon himself-andsurely this should always be the practice of those who serve the heavenly Physician. How shall we come and preach of the Balmof Gilead, which is to heal all wounds, if our wounds are unhealed? What a wretched case must that man be in who talks ofregeneration, but is not born-again! Who preaches faith, but has never believed! Who talks of pardon, but has never been washedin the precious blood! Who speaks of the righteousness of Christ, but is shivering in the nakedness of his own corruption!Ah, wretched man, to be a herald of good news while he, himself, partakes not therein! Ezekiel, before he had to go and speakof the message of God, had that message given to him, and what was said? "Son of man, eat this roll." He had to take the messagewritten on the roll and eat it-and when it was in his own body-then it was that he could tell it out with great power! Itis a good old saying, "If your preaching is to go to the heart, it must come from the heart." It must first have moved oursouls before we can ever hope to move the souls of others!
The Lord is my witness that in preaching to you here, Beloved, these many years, I have preached to you what I have tastedand handled of the good Word of God. I have preached the Doctrine of human sin, for I have felt its power, felt its bitternessand shame, and lain in the dust before God, even in despair. I have preached to you the power of the precious blood to cleansefrom sin, for I have looked to Christ's dear wounds and found cleansing there. We have only spoken to you what we have, ourselves,known and felt, and proved to be true-and I would go to my chamber this night wretched, indeed, if I had no other assuranceof the Truth of God of my message than that which I could find in the experience of other men! Now many of you are engagedin preaching Christ to others and in teaching Christ to the children in the schools. Always speak out of the fullness of yourown hearts, for when you can say, "I have tried this. I am rejoicing in this," then your words will be pretty sure to comewith power to the hearts of those that hear you. The man who desires to bring others to Christ should imitate Elisha, theProphet, who, when he found the child dead in the bed and that it could not be raised to life by any other means, went andput his mouth upon the child's mouth, his hands upon the child's hands and his feet upon the child's feet-and then, by-and-by,the life was restored to the child. We must feel an inward sympathy with those whom we would bring to Christ! And then wemust tell out from our own soul what we know about the Savior and it will be sure to come with freshness and with power, God,the Holy Spirit, blessing it! This, then, I think, was Paul's reason for calling it, "our Gospel"-the Gospel committed tohim and the Gospel which he had tasted and handled personally. Now I shall want you to observe in the second place-
II. HOW THE GOSPEL CAME TO THE THESSALONIANS. He describes it as coming in four degrees. First, he says, "It came not in wordonly, but in power and in the Holy Spirit." And, fourthly, in much assurance. Now these four words enable me to divide thepresent audience. To all who have been here present, who have been sitting in these pews for any length of time, our Gospelhas certainly come in the Word of God. They have all heard it-heard it, too, so as to understand the run, the gist of it.They have heard it in many forms and shapes commending itself to their attention. But, oh, it is to be feared that there aresome to whom it has come in word only and it is, indeed, to the preacher (and more still it should be to those who are insuch plight) sad that this life-giving Word should be only a word. There was the
Gospel feast and the message was sent, but they who were invited came not to the feast. They heard the message-that was all.Here are sick men lying at Bethesda's pool-they see the water and that is all-but they step not in and are not healed. Oh,to lie sick, with healing within reach! To be hungry and bread hard by! To be thirsty, with the stream flowing at one's feetand not to drink! Remember dear Hearers, that if the Word of God comes to you as word only, today, it will one day be somethingmore than that, for it is an undoubted Truth of Scripture that hearers are responsible for what they hear. "Take heed howyou hear!" shall have to be answered for at the Day of Judgment. "You heard the Gospel, but you rejected it!"-shall be oneof the charges brought against those who listened to it-and it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than it shall befor such an one! I would now like to divide the congregation upon this question, "How many are now here to whom the Gospelhas come in word, only?" Let conscience speak! Let each man put his hand upon his heart and answer, "Is that my case?" Ifso, may it not be your case any longer, no, not a single day longer, but may the Word of God come to you in another way!
But there were, secondly, some to whom it came in power. Now there are hearers to whom the Gospel comes with an awakeningpower. They used to be careless, but they cannot be, now! They hear the words, "Eternity! Eternity! Eternity," ringing intheir ears and it startles and awakens them. They cannot be at ease while they are at enmity with God! They feel that theirnest is stirred up. It has come with power to them. More than that, there are some to whom the Word has come with crushingeffect-it has struck them down! It has bruised their righteousness. It has dashed to shivers their hopes of themselves andthough they have not looked to Christ for the true hope, yet they feel the power of the Gospel which lays all other hopesin the dust! Ah, I know some of you have felt the power of the Gospel, for you went home and prayed, perhaps dozens of times-afterhearing the sermon! You have gone up to your chambers and you have begun to pray, but the next morning you have forgotten.Your goodness has been like the morning dew and has melted when the heat of the day's cares have come upon it. Alas! Alas!Alas! In many a furrow we have sown in vain! We have cast the Seed on stony ground, we have thrown it on the highway sideand we have lost our pains-nevertheless, we are to continue to preach the Gospel, for in some it will come with a greaterpower than this!
Again, I would entreat another division of the house. I know there are some who will come under this head. They are not saved,but still they cannot ridicule it-they cannot pass it off with indifference. It is like a sharp two-edged sword-it pierces,cuts and wounds. I pray God it may kill them spiritually, that they may yet be made alive!
Now the third degree of the coming of the Word to Thessalonica was that it came in the Holy Spirit. Ah, here is the blessedway, for if it shall come in any other power than this, it will come in vain! But if it comes in the Holy Spirit, oh, then-thenits end is achieved, for the Holy Spirit quickens men by a mysterious operation which we cannot describe- but which some ofus have felt! It comes upon men and creates in them a new life and whereas they were dead in sin, they begin to live as theynever lived before! That same Spirit then enlightens them, showing them a thousand Truths of God in a light in which theynever saw them before. They find they have entered into a new world. They have passed from darkness into marvelous light!Then the Spirit of God begins to purify them. He purges them from this sin and that and He refines and renews them. He isin them as a Spirit of burning-consuming sin-a cleansing Spirit purging them from unrighteousness! Then He comes as a consolingSpirit and gives them joy and peace, lifts them up above their cares, their temptations, their doubts and fills them witha preface of eternal bless! Oh, blessed is that man to whom our Gospel comes with the Holy Spirit! Beloved, we do not wonderif persons sneer at the Gospel in itself, or if others hear it and are unaffected by it, for the Gospel, in itself, is likea sword without a warrior's arm to wield it. But when the Spirit of God comes, man is a doubter no longer! When He lays homethe Truth of God, He cuts so to the dividing of soul and spirit, joint and marrow, so that men are convinced, converted, saved-andthe Truth is to them, indeed a living thing! Pray, O beloved members of this Church, pray that the Word of God, even our Gospel,may come with the Holy Spirit!
But there was a fourth class to whom the Word came in a yet higher degree, for it is added, "and with much assurance." Toall Christians it comes with the Holy Spirit, but to some with a still greater degree of spiritual power! They believe theGospel, but they do not believe it timidly-they accept it as a matter of firm, solid, indisputable fact! They grasp it aswith an iron hand and their own interest in it does not remain a question. No, they know whom they believe and are persuadedthat He is able to keep that which they have committed to Him. They believe in Christ with the faith of Abraham, which staggerednot at the promise through unbelief. Clouds and darkness have gone away from their sky and they see the clear blue ether ofGod's own Presence above them. They rejoice in the Lord always, and again they do rejoice. There are some such in this house.I bless God for every one of them. May there be many more, for you that possess full assurance are the men who are strongfor service! Having the joy of the Lord in your souls, it becomes your strength as you go forth to fight the Master's battlesbecause you feel the Master's Love! The Lord give us many, many such in the Church, to whom the Word of God shall come withthe Holy Spirit and with much assurance! Now this is how the Word of God came to them. I must pass on to the third point,and that is-
III. WHAT HAD BEEN THE RESULT OF THIS IN THEMSELVES?
You will kindly observe that the Apostle first says, "You became followers of us and of the Lord." A man, when he is firstconverted, is not fit to be a leader-he has to be a follower. We do not take recruits and make them captains! They must bedrilled. They must go into the rank and file a bit. So one of the first things that Divine Grace does is to make a man a disciple,that is, a learner-and then he sees in God's Word what his life and conduct should be and, looking about him, he sees somewhom God has blessed with His Grace whose life and conduct is according to the Word-and he follows God's servants, but notslavishly. He draws a distinction between them and their Master and only follows them as long as they keep company with theirLord. "You became followers of us and of the Lord." Brothers and Sisters, I know that many of you here present, when the Wordof God came to you, became followers of holy men. If you heard of any good action, you desired to imitate it. If you readany biography that told of noble deeds, you aspired to emulate such deeds. And when you read the Character of your Lord andMaster in the four Evangelists, you asked that you might have Grace to live a life of self-sacrifice, of devotion to God andof philanthropy to men. Well, this is no mean work of Divine Grace when a man is brought to be a follower of that which isgood.
At the same time he tells us that these people received the Word of God "in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit."I know that there are some in this house who, when they received the Gospel, had to suffer for it, but they rejoiced to doso! From the day in which they publicly put on Christ, they were jeered-they became subjects of derision. Some have gone backfrom us because they could not bear the perpetual taunt, but others of you have been kept by the Grace of God and made ableto bear any stigma or any sneer! And, indeed, is it not a small thing to bear the jests and jeers of men if the heart is righttowards God? What do we care-what should we care though all men point the finger and should hiss because of it? Be true toGod, Believer, and to your conscience, too, and you may well receive the Word "with joy of the Holy Spirit," even "in muchaffliction"! This is one proof of every Christian minister's ministry, when he can point to a people who have become followersof that which is good and have continued to follow when they have been made to suffer for it!
But it appears that these people at Thessalonica went farther. They grew out of being followers in some sense and, therefore,became leaders. "So that you were examples to all Believers in Macedonia and Achaia." Now it is a very easy thing for a Christianto be an example to a sinner. He ought to be-and he is not a Christian if he is not. I won't give twopence for your religionif you do not set a fair example to the ungodly. But it is a higher degree of Divine Grace when a man becomes an example evento Christians-when he is such a Believer that others may look upon him as the typical Christian, for that is the word usedhere-may regard him as the type of what a Christian ought to be! Paul says that some of those degraded idolaters to whom hehad preached the Gospel, first followed him and the Lord, and afterwards grew in Grace so that they stood in the front rankand became an example to Believers! Let me hold this up, Beloved, to your emulation. Let none of us be content to be accordingto the ordinary cold Christianity of this age! What cold, poor stuff it is! If the Lord, Himself, should come, would He findfaith in the earth? Where is the zeal of the days gone by? Where is the ardor, where is the courage of the ages that havegone? If these things are found nowhere else, O my Brother, seek to have them in your own soul! Ask God, if you are compelledto see others decline, that you may not decline, for God's Grace can make you an example to the rest of His people! Thereare such here tonight of whom I might speak- only the Lord bless them and keep them as they are-for I have seen ApostolicChristianity here! If I have seen it nowhere else, I have seen it here among some of my Brothers and Sisters here present,whose service for the Lord shall be remembered in the Day of Account! They wish it not to be known here, nor will it be, butthey have, with tears and prayers, devoted themselves to Christ and served Him well-and He will remember them in that Day.
Further, the Apostle goes on to tell us what was done by these Thessalonians-that they turned from idols. Oh, that God mightturn all of us from every idol that we have! We do not worship gods of wood and stone, but how many professors are there stillwho worship learning? Let them seek it, but let them not worship it! There are some that worship fame, others that worshippleasure. This city is full of idolaters from end to end! When the Grace of God comes, it makes men worship the unseen Godand leave their idols to those that choose them. Turning from idols, it appears that these people served the living God. Theydid not merely acknowledge that He was the living God, but they began to serve Him! They put forth their strength in His cause.So will it be among us wherever the Word has come with the Holy Spirit-we shall spend and be spent in the service of our Creatorand Redeemer! And he adds that they waited for the coming of the Lord. Oh, this is a high mark of Grace, when the Christianexpects his Lord to come-and lives like one that expects Him every moment! If you and I knew tonight that the Lord would comebefore this service was over, in what state of heart should we sit in these pews? In thatstate of heart we ought to be! IfI knew that I would see my Lord before another sun should rise, how would I preach? I ought to preach just in that way asthough He were sure to come at once and there could be no doubt about it! We would hold very loosely the things of this worldif we knew that Christ was speedily coming-and so loose we ought to hold them! We would care but little for the discomfortsof life if we knew that it would all be over and Christ would come very shortly-so little ought we to think of life's discomforts.Blessed is that man whose soul is always looking for the coming of the Lord! He may not study texts of Scripture to know thetimes and seasons, but if he is always expecting that his Lord may come at any time, and shall live under the feeling of thatbelief and in the power of it, he will be the holy man! "What manner of persons," says Peter, "ought you to be in all holyconversation and godliness?" Such we desire to be by the power of the Holy Spirit! Thus we have noticed what the Grace ofGod did for the Thessalonians themselves. Now let us mark-
IV. WHAT WAS THE RESULT OF THIS TO OTHERS?
And here I wish to speak practically to the members of this Church. Thessalonica was a seaport. It was also a principal townin Macedonia. Therefore, whatever was done in Thessalonica was pretty sure to be known throughout Macedonia and the rest ofGreece. If the Church at Thessalonica had been a dull, sleepy Church, as some Christian Churches are, it would have lost afine opportunity of doing good-but being a thoroughly awake Church, really full of God's own power-from that Church was soundedforth the Word of God throughout all Greece! And when the ships left that port they carried the tidings to Asia Minor andto other lands, so that Thessalonica became the starting point for the heralds of the Cross. Now if there is any place inthe world that ought to feel its responsibility, it is London. We are not egotistical, I think, when we say that it is thevery heart of the world! Whatever is done here is sure to be known and an earnest Church in London is only what it shouldbe! A Church in London of any prominence that is sleepy, dull, and cold will have a very heavy account to render when thegreat Master shall come! The Church at Thessalonica sounded forth the Gospel involuntarily, and also voluntarily. They didit involuntarily, for their very lives spoke! If they did not preach, they were so full of faith, good works and holiness,that other people talked about it. And the matter was known and the work of God in the hearts of the Church could be perceivedin the lives of the members-and so it went out. Oh, how happy would any pastor be whose people should be so godly, so united,so generous, so persevering, so prayerful, so full of faith and of the Holy Spirit that everywhere they should be spoken ofand through them, through their conduct, the Word of God should be sounded abroad! See to that, my Brothers and Sisters-seeto it. God has placed us where we are observed by many. Give them something to observe worth seeing! With the eyes of a multitudeof witnesses upon us, let us run with patience the race that is set before us!
But then the Church at Thessalonica sent out the Word voluntarily. I have no doubt that if they had any men among them thatcould preach the Gospel, they bade them go and preach it! And if any went on their travels, whether they were sea captainsor merchants who went from place to place, or persons of influence, or whatever they might be-they said to them, "Whereveryou go, keep up the propaganda. Preach the Gospel! Tell of Jesus Christ! Be, all of you, missionaries." Now in this I canrejoice and will rejoice that it has been so among us. At this present moment I suppose that not less than 300 of our sonsthat have been borne upon our knees are preaching the Gospel while I am preaching here-I mean ministers of Christ preachingthe Gospel! Besides that, all round these streets are our Evangelists preaching at street corners. There ought to be moreof them. Some of you that come to hear me on Sunday nights ought not to come. If you have got the Grace of God in your heart,come and get enough spiritual meat to feed you, but remember that London is perishing for the lack of the Gospel! How dareyou, then, sit still to enjoy the Gospel while men are perishing? There are lodging houses that are accessible! There arehalls, large and small! There are the street corners! There are all sorts of places where Jesus can be preached! Oh, let uslabor with all our might to make Him known throughout the length and breadth of this great city!
At this moment we have our sons, the sons of this Church, preaching in Australia, in America-an abundance of them there, preachingthe Gospel of Christ-in the islands of the Pacific-all through every portion of our Dominions. God be thanked that there areso many, but there ought to be many more. I propound as a theory, not that a Christian man ought to say, "Am I called to preachthe Gospel?" but that he ought to say, "Am I excused from preaching the Gospel?" The old plan was for young men to preachbefore the Church to see if they could preach. I think we must bring them all up to make them prove that they cannot preach.Now Mr. Oncken has been blessed in Germany, as you knew, to the raising of many Baptist Churches, and he always works uponthis theory-Every member of the church must say, when he comes in, what he can do. If he says he cannot do anything, and heis old, and infirm, and bed-ridden, very well, he can serve God by patiently suffering. But if he has any ability and says,"I cannot do anything," then the reply is, "You cannot come into the Church." We cannot have any drones-we must have all workingbees in the hive. I think it would be a good resolution for the Tabernacle to expel every member that is not doing somethingor other for the Lord Jesus Christ. I am afraid some of you would have to go!
Well, we won't move that resolution, but we will move another-that every member who has been a drone up till now shall prayto be a bee! That everyone who has done nothing shall ask the Lord to help him to begin! That those who have done half asmuch as they could, will do the other half! And that those who are doing all they can will always try to do a little more,for it is always that point of doing more than you can do that, in the long run, is the best kind of doing-for then you haveto lean upon God's strength when you have gone to the limit of your own-and there is the point where the results are prettysure to follow! I ask the prayers of the dear Brothers and Sisters who have been with us-some of them 16 and 17 years in thisservice-that God would not stay His hand in our midst. That as He has multiplied us to an unexampled company of some 4,500persons or thereabouts in membership, that He may give us unexampled Grace! That our zeal and earnestness, and enthusiasmmay be in proportion to the number and that the success achieved for God may be commensurate with the responsibilities laidupon us. I sound the clarion again tonight! As God said, "Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward," so wouldI speak to you. Forward in God's name! Forward! The world still lies in the Wicked One. Forward, you light-bearers! Scatterthe darkness! Satan still laughs at God! Forward, with the invincible weapon of the Cross and put him to flight!
Now sound your trumpets around the walls of Jericho-continue still to compass it. Now let the trumpet sound and the wall shallfall flat to the ground by the power of the eternal God. Forward! I hear the angels say it! Forward! I seem to hear innumerablespirits say, beckoning us like the Man of Macedonia, who beckoned Paul across the sea, Forward! The very powers of Hell behindus might well drive us on. Forward! The love of Christ within us shall impel us and let each man and women here that has beenredeemed by blood, resolve tonight, in Jehovah's strength, to do for God and for His Truth something more than yet we havethought of-to the praise of the Glory of His Grace! God bless you, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 1 THESSALONIANS 1.
Verse 1. Paul, andSilvanus, and Timotheus, unto the Church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the LordJesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is very full of Christ. Hisheart is full of love to God our Father and, therefore, it is that twice over in as many lines he mentions both names. Heuses no vain repetitions, as the heathen do-his inmost soul is taken up with communion with the Father and with the Son-andso in one single verse he twice gives us their names!
2-4. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your workof faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father Knowing, brethrenbeloved, your election of God. Paul had a very high opinion of the Church in Thessalonica and no doubt it deserved it. Seehow he speaks of it-with such confidence. "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God." Their character was such thathe felt sure that he saw the mark of God's elect about them and he speaks most positively of them-perhaps more positivelythan he does of any other Church. Well, there were three grand signs. There was the work of faith, the labor of love and thepatience of hope. And where we see three works of the Spirit, we may be fully persuaded that electing love is there.
5. For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit And in much assurance; as youknow what manner of men we were among you for your sake. Paul never had a happier time in preaching, it would seem, than whenhe preached to these Thessalonians! He felt a power resting upon him. He spoke the Gospel with great positiveness and assuranceand, consequently, the people received it in power-and the assurance of the hearer made the assurance of the speaker! It isa great mercy when it is so.
6. And you became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.Ah,dear Friends, we read of one that he was more honorable than his brethren because his mother bore him with sorrow. And sowhen faith is born in the heart in the midst of affliction, it is a very precious faith. It is faith, indeed. "Having receivedthe Word in much affliction with joy." I seem to see that joy of theirs floating, like Noah's ark, above the floods of theiraffliction. It seems to be a contradiction that we can be in affliction and yet be full of joy. But many a Believer will tellyou that there is no contradiction in it. He knows what it is to be sorrowful and yet to be always rejoicing!
7. So that you were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. Brothers and Sisters, let us not only be Christians,but let us be examples of Christians! They are sure to pick out the best for an example. Oh, that we might be such that ifGod, Himself, were to select Christians to show what they are like, He might select us to be examples!
8-10. For from you the Word of the Lord has sounded out, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faithtoward God has spread abroad, so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what mannerof entry we had unto you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. And to wait for His Son fromHeaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come.Paul here states that all the Churchesabroad knew what a wonderful time he had had with the Thessalonians and with what alacrity they had received the Gospel-andhow they had turned away from their idols in thorough earnest to become worshippers of the living God! This was a great comfortto Paul and he speaks about them here with great joy!