“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” - I Thessalonians 1:4-5 (NIV)
The gospel is not just another self-help book, or a new means of therapy. The gospel does not solve financial problems, issues with family of origin, or promise that we will never suffer or have pain in our lives. The gospel is God's power to save. In this salvation that we have, the gospel results in transformed lives that overcome the difficulties in life. The difficulties are still there, but those who live in Christ are no longer trapped or defined by those difficulties.
The gospel comes not just in words, but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and in conviction. The power of the gospel is the very power of God at work in our lives. In the early days of Christianity, as today, the testimony of the power of the gospel is a changed life. Paul writes to the Thessalonian Christians were known for their changed lives. People in other parts of the world told how they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead-Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (I Thessalonians 1:9-10).
As such, the gospel produces repentance-changes in our lives as we turn from the things of this world and turn towards the Lord, his promises, and the reality of his coming. These changes in our lives do not come about as the result of our own effort but rather as the result of the Holy Spirit. Because the gospel comes in power and in full conviction, the change that results in our life are God-changes-things that only God can do. Nothing is impossible with God. No change is beyond the power of God. God is able to change anything about our lives.
What is your testimony? As a Christian, what would be “reported” about you? What kind of changes in your life mark repentance? How is God at work in your life to demonstrate the power of the gospel? It is worth taking time to think about these questions. These questions shape how we “know” the power of the gospel at work in our lives and how we “mark” our conviction. Our testimony to others about the power of the gospel comes from the answers to these questions. Yes, we must share the essence of the gospel in words with others so that they know the saving power of God. But, our lives must also testify to the truth of the gospel through the changes that God's power brings.
This week, take time to reflect on how you have been changed through the gospel.