The question to be asked, derived from verse 4, a very simple yet profoundly important question (4:00):
- Has the gospel come to you in word only, or has it come to you in power, in the Holy Spirit, and in much conviction or assurance?
1 Thessalonians chapter 1 is the answer to this question.
- This chapter is a mirror for us to see if the gospel has come to us in power and not in word only.
- "Wherever and whenever the gospel comes in power, it effects in every one to whom it comes the same basic things that it effected in the Thessalonians!" (13:40)
The Gospel (4:40)
- "The good news concerning God's way of salvation in the person and work of Jesus Christ the Lord." — Albert Martin
- "The message of God's kindness to sinners in sending His only begotten Son to die in the room and stead of sinners, that all who cast themselves upon this Savior will receive full pardon for all of their sins, acceptance as sons and daughters, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the pledge and promise of eternal life." — Albert Martin
Radical Conversion (15:55)
- That which is radical goes to the root; it has to do with the foundation
- It does not necessarily mean dramatic or sensational
- A radical conversion is such that "goes to the very roots of who we are, what we are, how we think, and what we do." — Albert Martin
The Fear of God (21:40)
- "That regard in which we look upon the face of God as the most desirable, beautiful, and attractive thing in the universe, and pleasing Him is our greatest passion; displeasing Him is our greatest dread. That's the fear of God." — Albert Martin
Question: How did Paul know the Thessalonians were elect, as verse 4 says? (8:15)
- Answer: Because the gospel came to them not in word only but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and in much conviction (10:30)
- The gospel coming to you in power was the revelation that you were indeed the elect of God.
Question: How did Paul know the gospel came to them in power? (11:15)
- Answer: Because of what the gospel did to them (12:30)
- They knew the gospel came in power because of what the gospel effected in them. (13:10)
1. It Produces Radical Conversion (15:10)
"When the Gospel comes in power, it will not necessarily produce a dramatic or sensational conversion, but it will produce a radical conversion, i.e., a conversion that goes to the very roots of who we are, what we are, how we think, and what we do. And the elements of that radical conversion are three: three elements involved in this radical conversion always produced when the gospel comes not in word only but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and in much conviction." — Albert Martin
3 Elements of Radical Conversion
When the gospel comes in power, it effects a radical conversion that involves a decisive turning, a decisive submitting, and a decisive reorienting.
A Decisive Turning (17:00)
- "There is in every true, biblical conversion a decisive turning." — Albert Martin
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power
of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them
which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.
- "There is no remission of sins and no reception of grace unless there is this radical turning. … No turning, no reception." — Albert Martin (19:23)
This turning is decisive and very specific:
- Positively: a turning unto God
- Negatively: a turning from idols
- This is the very purpose for Christ's incarnation, life, death, and resurrection!
- 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit
- Jesus did not suffer merely to rescue people from Hell, but to make them a people whose faces, hearts, and the whole of their being are God-ward.
- "Christ died to have a God-obsessed people. He died to bring us to God." — Albert Martin
- 2 Corinthians 5:15 And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.
- This is the very essence of the gospel call
- Isaiah 55:6-7 Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
- "God says, 'You shall have no other gods before Me.' The human heart by nature says, 'I will have no other god but me.' … My will, my desires, my standards, my ideas, my thoughts—'I think this about that'; 'I want this about that'—that's the idolatry of the human heart." — Albert Martin (29:20)
A Decisive Submitting (30:50)
- The word "to serve" in verse 9 means serving as a willing bond-slave—to serve as a slave who was owned by his master, and had no will, plans, possessions of his own.
- "Bond-slave" is a description of true Christians
- 1 Peter 2:16
- Romans 6:15-23
- "Just as you presented the members of your body instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, so now present yourselves unto God as slaves of righteousness, and all of your members as instruments to be employed in the service of your God so that what you touch God as your Lord and Master in Jesus Christ says, 'My slave, you may touch that with My smile.' Everything we take, everything we desire, all that we do—the smile of our Master is our greatest concern." — Albert Martin
- "Only the person who has learned to put himself wholly in subjection to God is truly converted to God." — John Calvin
- "That means when you sit with your remote control, what you push and what you push off either reflects you are God's slave or a slave of your lust—a slave of your own passions, a slave of the world's standards of what is acceptable and unacceptable. Does your servitude to God touch your remote control? Does it touch your mouse at your computer? Does it touch you where you really live?" — Albert Martin
- "You see a beauty in God revealed in Christ that captures your heart and makes you sing and say, 'Here, Lord, I give myself away; 'tis all that I can do, 'tis all I want to do.' Is that you? Could Paul say people who know you, if they were to report about you like they were reporting about the Thessalonians, they would say, 'You don't know John like I do, Paul, but I know him, and it's evident he has turned to God from his idols with a disposition of loving servitude to God as a bond-slave. You get around that guy for more than 10 minutes and you realize everything he says, everything he listens to, all that he talks about reflects he is a bond-slave of his God!' Is that you? If that's not you, you're not saved—you're lost! The gospel has not come to you in power! It does this every time it comes in power! One of the things that vexes my soul is to see so many being brought up through our churches who know the word of the gospel perfectly, but who evidence little of its power making them the willing bond-slaves of the living God, willing to consider whether or not God would have them do something other with their lives than live the life of an ordinary, middle-class, semi-affluent American! Where are those who have a passion to serve Christ at home and abroad?" — Albert Martin (36:42)
A Decisive Reorienting (39:10)
- "…to wait for His Son from heaven…" (Verse 10)
- "There's a total reorientation from attachment to this world to an attachment to the world to come, particularly in terms of the place that Jesus has in that world." — Albert Martin (40:00)
2. It Implants Fundamental Christian Graces (45:55)
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father
3 Fundamental Christian Graces
- Work rooted in faith
- Labor rooted in love
- Endurance rooted in hope
The gospel also implanted within them joy in the midst of opposition (verse 6)
3. It Creates a Christ-Shaped Life (49:45)
When God has done His work of restorative grace, all the moral character of Christ will be perfectly mirrored spiritually, inwardly, in the soul and the body. This is the ultimate purpose of the gospel.
"Likeness to Christ is God's great end in redemptive and restorative grace, so that He will be the firstborn among many brethren who will all bear the family likeness." — Albert Martin
- Romans 8:29
- 1 John 3:2
- Philippians 3:21
- 1 John 2:6
- 1 Peter 2:21
4. It Issues in a Gospel-Proclaiming and Gospel-Affirming Community (53:35)
1 Thessalonians 1:7-8 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.