Those Who Share the Gospel
What Manner of Persons Ought They To Be?
(1 Thessalonians chapters 1-2)
Paul preached Christ to the Thessalonians on his second missionary journey. He stayed in this city for only a short time. His companion was Silas. The historical account of Paul’s visit to Thessalonica is found in Acts chapter 17. Paul’s autobiographical record of his ministry in this city is recorded in the book of 1 Thessalonians. In the first two chapters Paul gives us insights concerning the God-pleasing conduct that is required by those who bear the glorious gospel of the blessed God.
1) Those who share the gospel must be Spirit filled. "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost" (1 Thess. 1:5). The Lord promised that His witnesses would receive POWER (Acts 1:8). Just prior to Pentecost the disciples were told to wait and to do nothing "until ye be endued WITH POWER from on high" (Luke 24:49). The gospel is the "POWER of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16), but it must be conveyed by men and women who are walking in the Spirit. Apart from the Spirit of God taking the Word of God and bringing conviction to the hearts of the unsaved, our ministry is in vain.
2) Those who share the gospel must have much assurance. "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance" (1 Thess. 1:5). "Much assurance" means full assurance, full confidence, perfect certitude, full conviction. It involves the full persuasion of the gospel preacher that his message is divine. Paul and Silas knew that their message of good news was from God. They were convinced it was the truth. They were convinced it could change lives. They had no doubt that their message originated from the Almighty. "Doubt paralyzes; God cannot work through a man in whose soul there are misgivings about the truth" (Vincent). The Thessalonians who received the message also knew that it was God’s truth: "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (1 Thess. 2:13).
3) Those who share the gospel must be willing to suffer for the gospel’s sake. "But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention" (1 Thess. 2:2). The ministry of Paul and Silas in Thessalonica was fraught with difficulties and opposition (see Acts 17:5-9,13). Paul also speaks about his persecution at the hands of the unsaved Thessalonian Jews in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16. "For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know" (1 Thess. 3:3). Those who faithfully bear the good news are bold to speak it, even though it could mean suffering, sacrifice and personal loss. Are we willing to pay such a price? See Matthew 5:10-12.
4) Those who share the gospel must not deceive and trick their listeners. "For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile" (1 Thess. 2:3). Paul presented truth and reality without any deception. His message was pure and clear and straightforward. There was no uncleanness in his message. It was not mixed with error. The purity of the message was backed up by the purity of Paul’s life. Today we do not need gimmicks or tricks to allure an audience. We need the simple truth of the gospel and the convicting ministry of God the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11).
5) Those who share the gospel must not flatter. "For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know" (1 Thess. 2:5). Flattery is excessive praise given to please the hearers. Paul did not give people the message they wanted to hear; he gave them the message they needed to hear. The gospel destroys man’s pride, and does not paint a very attractive picture of man’s depraved heart. But for those who recognize their utter bankruptcy and their total unworthiness, God has good news of a wonderful Saviour.
6) Those who share the gospel are not men pleasers. "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts" (1 Thess. 2:4). The approval of men matters nothing. As long as God approves what we do, why does it matter what men think? "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10).
7) Those who share the gospel must not seek personal gain. "For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness" (1 Thess. 2:5). They did not seek to use a cloak to cover covetous [to have the more for gain] designs, God being their witness. The motives of the covetous ones are to have more, to gain the advantage that they desire. It is alarming how many men have had to leave the ministry due to financial indiscretion. Our desire is to gain converts (see 1 Cor. 9:19-22), not gain riches. As we know from radio preachers and TV evangelists, religion has been used as wicked tool to enrich the lovers of filthy lucre. Paul did not disguise his true motives. The gospel must never be used as a pretext for greed. Paul’s only desire was "to make many rich" (2 Cor. 6:10), never to make himself rich at the expense of others. Indeed, Paul labored night and day to the point of weariness and fatigue, so that he would not be a financial burden to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 2:9).
8) Those who share the gospel must lovingly care for their converts. "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children" (1 Thess. 2:7). The term "cherisheth" is used of the tender loving care that a husband shows to his wife (Eph. 5:29). It literally means "to keep warm, comfort," and was used of a mother bird covering her young with her feathers. Just as a nursing mother cherishes and comforts and cares for her children, so Paul and Silas gave tender loving care to their converts. Newborn babes in Christ need much time, devotion and attention.
9) Those who share the gospel must not only impart the gospel but their own souls. "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us" (1 Thess. 2:8). It’s one thing to give a tract to a person, or to share the gospel; it’s another thing to give your whole self. Paul and Silas not only gave the message but they gave themselves. True love is willing to sacrifice SELF for the sake of the one loved.
10) Those who share the gospel must be blameless. "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe" (1 Thess. 2:10). The message of our lips must be matched by the message of our life. We must not only believe the gospel, but we must behave the gospel, and walk worthy of it (Phil. 1:27). Those who bear the holy gospel must have holy lives: "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake" (1 Thess. 1:5). May our hearers never say, "Your inconsistent life speaks so loud I can’t hear your message." Those who teach the truth must be walking in the truth (3 John 3).