The gospel comes in power, ultimately, because God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful and has saved us with a powerful gospel. It has the power to transform desires, to change hearts, to bring new life. It has the power to replace old, wicked desires with new, godly affections.
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 ESV).
I don’t know about you, but I make the mistake of not reading 1 Thessalonians enough. In doing so, I have deprived myself of theological richness. I just so happened to read the first chapter the other day and was struck by the above two verses, the bold part in particular.
The gospel comes. And it not only comes in word, and not only in power via the Holy Spirit, but with full conviction. Word, power, full conviction. That is weighty language. And it’s important language.
In this post, I want to talk briefly about each of these terms and what they mean together.
Preach the gospel, some say. Use words if necessary. This popular statement, though well-intentioned, is drastically off base. There is no biblical support for it, since we all know the gospel must be heard before it can be believed (Romans 10:14). Should our lives give evidence to the transformative power of the gospel? By all means! But no person—past, present, or future—will believe in the gospel simply by looking at a Christian’s life. They must hear the gospel to believe. To be sure, they may see your life and wonder, “What’s different about him?” but they still must hear the gospel.