1 Thessalonians 1:5
because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with great conviction--just as you know we lived among you for your sake.
The Dynamic GospelW.F. Adeney 1 Thessalonians 1:5
The Apostle's ThanksgivingB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 1:2-6
Manifestation of InterestR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
Conditional ElectionH. Varley.1 Thessalonians 1:4-6
ElectionJ. Hutchison, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:4-6
Evidences of ElectionC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 1:4-6
God's Electing Providence1 Thessalonians 1:4-6
Knowledge of ElectionNew Testament Anecdotes1 Thessalonians 1:4-6
Proofs of ElectionC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 1:4-6
Their Election and its Fruits Another Ground of ThanksgivingT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6
A Gospel of PowerProf. James Legge.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Degrees of Power Attending the GospelC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
How the Gospel Came to the ThessaloniansW. Jay.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Luther's AssuranceC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Much AssuranceProf. Jowett.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Power of the GospelD. Chamberlain.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Power Through the SpiritC. White.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Coming of the Gospel and its EffectsJ. Stratten.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Gospel in PowerRobert Newton, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Gospel in WordC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Gospel in WordG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Gospel the Only Power unto Salvation1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Might of the GospelR. W. Hamilton, LL. D.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Penetrating Power of the GospelC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Power and Assurance of the GospelG. Douglass, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Power of a Felt GospelT. Guthrie, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Power, Spirit, and Assurance of the GospelT. B. Baker.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Powerful GospelW. F. Adeney, M. A.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Practical Application of the GospelH. Allen, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Quiet Power of the GospelW. Antliff, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
The Subduing Power of the GospelJ. Macgowan of Amoy.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Word and PowerJ. Jenkins.1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

If we may illustrate spiritual truths by describing them in the terminology of physical science, we may say that the great mistake which the Church, as well as the world, has been making over and over again is that of treating the gospel statically instead of dynamically - as a settled creed to be embraced in its rigid form rather than as a power to be submitted to in its progressive influence. But it is evident that the apostles cared not one straw for their preaching except in so far as it was the vehicle of Divine energy. They taught the truth, not as professors of metaphysics in a college, but as workmen who were bringing a new force to bear on the reconstruction of society.


1. It may be published. A heathen country may open its ports to missionaries. Bible societies may circulate the Scriptures through every country and hamlet. Preachers may never cease to expound it. And all this will be as nothing for the spiritual welfare of people who will not hear, understand, believe, and submit to the truth.

2. It may be heard. Crowds may flock to the churches. Attentive congregations may hang upon the lips of popular preachers. And still no good may be done while the truth is not understood, believed, and obeyed.

3. It may be understood. The meaning of the language used may be intelligible enough. People may give themselves the trouble of thinking out the subjects presented to them by the preachers. Still all is vain if the gospel is not believed and submitted to.

4. It may be believed. The truth may not be doubted. We may have a certain conviction of it, and yet even this may count for nothing without the faith that accepts the influences and follows the directions of the gospel. There is a world of difference between believing the gospel and believing in Christ; at least, in the only way in which this is of practical importance, viz. as a trustful acceptance of his grace and a loyal devotion to his will. So long as we come short of this we may have the gospel, but it will be "words, words, words" - the letter that killeth, not the spirit that quickeneth.

II. THE GOSPEL MAY BE RECEIVED IN POWER. This very statement seems to strike some people who have long been familiar with the words of the gospel as a new revelation, as itself a fresh gospel. But we have to learn the power as well as the truth of the gospel if it is to be of any real good to us.

1. The operation of the power of the gospel consists in changing the hearts and lives of men. The gospel does not simply promise future salvation. It effects present regeneration. The new birth is the essential beginning of redemption, Nothing but a Power, vast, overwhelming, penetrating, and omnipotent, can make new creatures of old, stubborn profligates and hypocrites, men of the world, and self-righteous Pharisees.

2. The secret of the power of the gospel is in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The new man is "born of the Spirit" (John 3:5). Christ is "the Power of God," because he baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). Christ expressly connected the power of apostolic preaching with the gift of the Holy Spirit: "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). Preachers need this to give force to their words, and hearers to receive the truth effectually.

3. The sign of the power of the gospel will be much assurance. The faith which grows out of experiencing this power will be much stronger, more vivid, and more joyous than that of first believing the truth of the gospel. - W.F.A.

For our gospel came not unto you in word only -

1. In word.(1) In the word written. It is of no use without this. The preacher's voice cannot reach where it can go.(2) In the word preached — stated in naked and clear propositions. Religion is no dark, unintelligible impulse of the mind. A trumpet must give a certain sound, or who will prepare himself for the battle. A herald's business is to make himself understood.(3) In the word apprehended. For the want of effort in this direction many are living in the grossest presumption, supposing themselves to be saints whereas they are in the utmost danger; on the other, there are many embarrassed with doubts and fears who ought to be enjoying the gospel.

2. In power.(1) Doubtless in miraculous power, but this is subordinate. The importance of a document lies in its contents, not in the seal.(2) Certainly in moral power — the intrinsic energy and efficacy of the truth. "Is not my word a hammer," etc. "The word of God is quick and powerful." This was seen in the case of Felix and Agrippa. When the truth is emphatically announced, there is a majesty, authority and force in it which are not found in moral, philosophical, or scientific disquisitions and harangues. Let me testify that you are a sinful man, a dying creature, that eternity is about to open, etc., and there is a power in those truths to strike upon the conscience and cause alarm, and if rejected it is in defiance of the dictates of the understanding and heart.

3. In the Holy Ghost, who —(1) Convinces of sin, righteousness and judgment, creating a sense of the need of the Saviour and preparing for the reception of the message of mercy.(2) Applies the gospel salvation to the heart and sheds abroad the love of God in it, and renovates the whole nature.

4. In much assurance. The image is that of a vessel richly freighted with all its sails spread, and wind and tide directly in its favour, going gallantly into port hailed by the acclamations of the people on the beach.(1) The gospel came on our part with full knowledge, invariable conviction, and certainty.(2) It was received by you like a vessel richly freighted, commissioned by Providence, sent of God, and the treasure, by appropriation, at once fully became your own. This implies, of course, that they saw the evidence, and felt the power of the word, so that no room was left for doubt. The primitive believers were not entangled as we are by metaphysical subtleties and difficulties respecting faith. They knew at once, with the simplicity of children, that a cordial reception of Christ was salvation.(3) It is the privilege of every believer to rejoice in the fulness and felicity of his justification. This full assurance is nothing else than a simple and perfect belief.(4) With joy of the Holy Ghost amidst much affliction. The design of the gospel is to produce joy where nothing else can produce it. Animal spirits, the delights of science or of sense, where are they in affliction? But Christian joy flourishes and sings in trials, "Though the fig tree shall not blossom," etc.


1. They turned from idols. Is there no idolatry amongst us which the gospel ought to dethrone? What about the worship of mammon, of the world, of self?

2. They turned to serve the living and true God.(1) Who has the right to our service which no one else has.(2) Who will reward us for our service as no one else will.

3. To wait for Jesus.(1) He delivered us from the wrath to come — hence there is nothing in the future to fear.(2) Jesus comes at the Judgment; at death.

4. They became imitators of Christ. He is our supreme example. His followers are to be imitated only as they truly follow Him. "Take My yoke upon you," etc.

5. They became examples to others. There was light upon the candlesticks at Philippi, Berea, etc., but none so brilliant as here. A Christian is not required to set an example of learning, wealth, etc., but of goodness.

III. THE REPORT WHICH MAY GO ABROAD. It was just the same as when a modern people renounces idols and wickedness. The rumour gets abroad and is substantiate by changed lives. It is the same when a revival of true religion breaks out anywhere.

(J. Stratten.)

"The best way I can explain how the Christian worker, in complete contact with Christ, is a power to save souls, is by the following example. Take a common bar of iron, and first bending it into the shape of a horseshoe, apply it to a battery. The stream of magnetism flows through it, and by this power it is enabled to hold, even though there be suspended from it extremely heavy weights. As long as the iron is in contact with the battery, so long does the power endure; but the moment the connection is broken the power ceases, the weights fall, and the magnet becomes only a piece of iron. Similarly the Christian worker, in immediate contact with Christ, has His Spirit flowing through him, and this Spirit is the power, and by it we are enabled to do great works for Christ: but the moment we lose touch of Christ, that moment is our power gone, and we become, for God's purpose, a mere worthless piece of clay.

(C. White.)

Bishop Lavington, when addressing his clergy in a pastoral charge in the last century, said, "We have long been attempting to reform the nation by moral preaching. With what effect? None. On the contrary, we have dexterously preached the people into downright infidelity. We must change our voice; we must preach Christ and Him crucified; nothing but the gospel is the power of God unto salvation."

I. A FACT ASSERTED. "Our gospel came unto you."

1. Our gospel, not by way of revelation, but dispensation. They had it in trust for the advantage of others. And so sure were they that it came from God that they said, "If we or an angel from heaven preach any other," etc.

2. What is this gospel Good tidings; but the goodness of the news must regard the state of the receiver. The proclamation of deliverance will be acceptable only to captives. To offer pardon to the innocent or alms to the wealthy would be an insult. The gospel finds every man a sinner, and the relief it gives is adapted to his condition. Is he lost? Here is a Saviour. Is he unholy? Here is renewing grace.

3. This gospel came to them; they did not go to it or send for it. Nor did our heathen forefathers; nor did we. "I am found of them that sought me not."


1. In word — by the translated scriptures and the preached word to you. Thus it must come to be received at all. But a mere theoretic knowledge —(1) Cannot answer the design of the gospel. God has not inspired men to write His word and then magnified it to amuse your minds or furnish you with materials for controversy. "All scripture...is profitable," etc.(2) Will aggravate your sin and increase your condemnation. It is a medicine which will either kill or cure: it will prove either the savour of life or death. "See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh."

2. In power. When this is the case —(1) It produces conviction of sin. The word at Pentecost was quick and powerful. It pricked men to the heart, etc. It is the same now. But it works conviction only for saving purposes. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the word will come with power.(2) It gives comfort — and the comfort increases with the tribulation. "Ah," said Bolingbroke, "I find my philosophy fail me now in this affliction." Does the gospel fail? "Although the fig tree shall not blossom," etc.(3) It sanctifies. It calls us to be and makes us saints. Plato often complained that he could not bring the inhabitants of a single village to live according to his rules. But did the fishermen of Galilee complain in a similar way? We have seen the profligate become moral, the covetous liberal, the implacable ready to forgive.

3. In the Holy Ghost. This marks the nature and source of the power. The apostle does not refer to miraculous power — for that ceased with the early age, and miracles failed over and over again when they were worked to secure belief. This power is common to every age, and when exerted never fails. "Not by might nor by power." Melanchthon, in his zeal for God, hoped that all he addressed on the love of Christ would embrace Him as a Saviour; but he soon found that old Adam was too strong for young Melanchthon.

4. In much assurance —

(1)of understanding,

(2)of faith,

(3)of hope.

(W. Jay.)


1. Not man's gospel (Galatians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 11:4).

2. But God's gospel (Acts 20:24).

3. To some a hidden gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4).

4. But to others a revealed one (Matthew 11:25).


1. It reveals the Saviour (1 Corinthians 1:24).

2. It quickens the dead (1 Corinthians 4:15).

3. It enlightens the mind (1 Peter 2:9).

4. It reveals wrath (Mark 16:16).


1. It expounds the nature of truth (1 Corinthians 2:10).

2. It gives the knowledge of freedom (Romans 8:2).

3. Helps the soul against its infirmities (Romans 8:26).

4. And gives us the seal of glory (Ephesians 1:13).


1. The assurance of pardon (Psalm 103:12, 13).

2. Assurance of righteousness (Isaiah 32:17).

3. Assurance of hope (Hebrews 6:18-20).

4. Assurance of love (Colossians 2:2).

(T. B. Baker.)

I. The gospel is not simply a system of morals; it is A DIVINE POWER WORKING IN HUMAN LIFE, the power of the Holy Ghost. It comes not in mere word or theory or philosophy, but as a supernatural power direct from God. In this respect we distinguish religion from simple morality. Morality does not profess to go any higher than good motives. But the religious man looks to God for Divine strength and help to supplement his own feebleness.

II. The gospel is not the mere word of a creed or ritual, but THE POWER OF A LIFE. What Christ most of all desires for us is that every true affection should be strengthened within us; that every noble aspiration should rise up to attainment; that every generous impulse should lead you to help and bless your fellows; that you should abhor the evil and love the good.

III. CHRISTIAN ASSURANCE WILL COME TO HIM WHO LIVES BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST. Prove Christ's words by personal experiment, venture all on His sayings, surrender yourself to Him wholly, follow His counsel; and there will grow up within you such invincible conviction of His truth that neither death nor life shall shake His power over you.

(Prof. James Legge.)

I heard two persons on the Wengern Alp talking by the hour together of the names of ferns; not a word about their characteristics, uses, or habits, but a medley of crack-jaw titles, and nothing more. They evidently felt that they were ventilating their botany, and kept each other in countenance by alternate volleys of nonsense. Well, they were about as sensible as those doctrinalists who forever talk over the technicalities of religion, but know nothing by experience of its spirit and power. Are we not all too apt to amuse ourselves after the same fashion? He who knows mere Linnaean names, but has never seen a flower, is as reliable in botany, as he is in theology who can descant upon supralapsarianism, but has never known the love of Christ in his heart. "True religion's more than doctrine, Something must be known and felt."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The gospel in two aspects.

I. HUMAN. "Our." It is human —

1. In its instrumentality. It was revealed to man, its blessings are enjoyed by man; it is preached and propagated by man (Romans 10:14, 15).

2. When not crowned with success. "In word only." Apart from the unction from above, the gospel is a dead letter, a savour of death unto death — the good seed falls by the wayside, among thorns, on stony places. The impressions are superficial and defective.

II. DIVINE. "In the Holy Ghost." It is Divine —

1. In its origin. It is God's plan of salvation. It could not have been originated by man, because the idea is beyond the limit of his thoughts. Man can never give existence to what is Divine. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." The gospel bears the image of the heavenly. It is God's scheme.

2. In its revelation. None could disclose God's secrets but Himself. Salvation is one of God's deep things. That which was not originated with man could not be revealed by Him. The gospel salvation was revealed early, unexpectedly, gradually, completely.

3. In its efficacy. The three clauses show the blessed and saving influence of the gospel.(1) In the emancipation of sinners from the slavery of sin and Satan. The gospel is truth, and the truth makes free and destroys the stronghold of Satan.(2) In establishing the kingdom of God in the heart. The gospel produces faith, hope, love; it enlightens the understanding, spiritualizes the affections, and purifies the heart.

(J. Jenkins.)

You have passed through a bleak, barren moorland, where the soil seemed sown with stones, and disfigured with stumps of trees, and the only signs of vegetative life were scattered patches of heather and flowerless lichen. After a while you have again traversed the same region, and observed fields of grain ripening for the harvest, and budding saplings giving promise of the future forest. Whence this transformation? The cultivator has been at work. Not less apparent was the change effected in Thessalonica by the diligent toil and faithful preaching of the apostles. We have here two prominent features in the successful declaration of the gospel.

I. THE GOSPEL IN WORD. "Our gospel came unto you in word." In the history (Acts 17) we learn the leading themes of apostolic preaching. It is worthy of note that the inspired apostle grounded his discourse on the Scriptures. Even he did not feel himself free from their sacred bonds. He taught —

1. That the promised Messiah was to be a suffering Messiah. The Jewish mind was so dazzled with the prophecies of the regal magnificence and dominion of Jesus, that they overlooked the painful steps by which He was to climb to this imperial greatness. Out of their own scriptures he proved that the only Messiah announced was to be "a man of sorrows."

2. That the Messiah who was thus to suffer and die, was to rise again. This declared the Divine dignity of His person and was the pledge of the success and stability of His work.

3. That the Jesus who thus suffered and died and rose was the very Messiah promised in their scriptures. The grand topic of apostolic preaching must be the staple theme of the pulpit today.


1. In the exercise of miraculous power. The apostles were invested with this, and used it in substantiating the facts of the gospel.

2. In the Holy Ghost — not only in His miraculous manifestations, which were necessary in that age; but in the ordinary exercise of His power, as continued down to the present day — enlightening, convincing, renewing.

3. With much assurance. Literally, "with full assurance, and much of it." "Plerophorla" is from a word that means to fill up, and is used to denote the hurrying a ship on her career, with all her sails spread and filled with the wind. So the soul, filled with the full conviction of truth, is urged to a course of conduct in harmony with that conviction.

4. An assurance enforced by high integrity of character. "As ye know what manner," etc. Their earnest labours and upright lives showed they were men moved by profound conviction — a blending of evidence that is not less potent in these days.

(G. Barlow.)

I. THE WORLD NEEDS A POWERFUL GOSPEL. The great want of men in all ages is an impulse to carry them out of spiritual lethargy. The first requisite is not light. Those who sit in darkness may see a great light, but not have the disposition or energy to seek it. The blight of society is not virulent hatred to good, but indifference, spiritual paralysis. The knowledge of truth is far ahead, not only of the practice but of the ability to pursue it. Theories of the universe have been formulated by the cartload, and the world is little the better for them. There is no hope of salvation in one more theory. No gospel that is not inspired with energy, however fertile in thought or beautiful in sentiment, will meet the world's need. But beware of mistaking sensation for energy. Sensational preaching may excite interest and stir emotion: yet it may be impotent as the thunder which only comes when the lightning has gone. We want a real energy though it be as silent as sunlight.

II. THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS FULL OF POWER. Christianity is not merely a specific religious system ranking with the Egyptian, Indian, Grecian, etc. Nor is it only a better system in dignity, purity, etc. It is more than the noblest solution of the riddle of the universe. Its striking peculiarity is that it is alive, while other systems are dead. There is much truth in the Vedastic ideas of God, in the Zoroastrian teaching about sin, in the Egyptian eschatology, in the Greek dramatists' views of moral government, in the Greek philosophers' thoughts concerning the chief good. But all these lack power to change the heart. Christianity does this. Christ struck the keynote when He wrought miracles — "mighty signs" of His spiritual work. The "might" of them was an indication of His power. He was "moved with compassion"; but His sympathy showed itself in energetic deeds of charity. He promised that His exaltation on the cross should draw all men unto Him. Thus Paul writes of the Cross as "the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). When the apostles were "endued with power from on high" their preaching was effectual. The power of the gospel is seen by its effects in the great apostolic missions, in the regeneration of the Roman world and the creation of Christendom, in Christian law, literature, society, home life, and individual character, in missionary victories of modern times.


1. He is the Truth (John 14:6). Errors are never lastingly powerful. When a false religion wins its way it is because of the truth mixed up with its errors. Mohammedanism, e.g., was a grand protest of Monotheism against idolatry. If Christianity were false it must ultimately have failed. The truth of Christ is the first secret of His power; and the power of the gospel is a proof of its truth. Mere external success may not go for much, but success in spiritual regeneration cannot be begotten of a lie. Christianity is not merely powerful: it is powerful for good, and therefore cannot have been cradled in a delusion.

2. Christ is seen in self-sacrificing love. He wins by the attractions of His Person and character. The great secret of His power is His Cross. A Christless gospel must ever be a futile one, and Christ without His Cross will be shorn of His strength. Without this, Christian ethics and theology are weak.

3. Christ sends His Spirit with His gospel. Conclusion:The power of the gospel may be frustrated —

1. If the gospel is untruly, unfaithfully, unspiritually preached.

2. If the help of the Divine Spirit is rejected or neglected.

3. If the hearer wilfully rejects its influence.

(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)

I wish I could take you to a scene in the kingdom of Hyderabad. The people had risen in a mob to drive us out, because we tried to speak of another God than theirs. The throng was filling the streets. They told me if I tried to say another word I should be killed! I must leave at once, or never leave that city alive! I succeeded in getting their permission to tell a story before they stoned me. They were standing around ready to throw the stones, when I told them the story of all stories — the love of the Divine Father that had made us of one blood. I told them that story of the birth in the manger at Bethlehem; of that marvellous life; of the gracious words that He spake. I told them the story of the Cross, and pictured, in the graphic words the Master gave me that day, the story of our Saviour nailed to the cross for them. When I told them that, I saw the men go and throw their stones into the gutter, and down the cheeks of the very men that had been clamouring the loudest for my blood I saw the tears running. And when I told them how He had been laid in the grave, and how after three days He came forth triumphant and then ascended into heaven, where He ever lives to make intercession for them, and that through Him every one of them might obtain remission of sins and eternal life, I told them I had finished my story, and they might stone me now. But no! they did not want to stone me now. They came forward and bought Scriptures, Gospels, and tracts, for they wanted to know more of the wonderful Saviour.

(D. Chamberlain.)

A celebrated divine, who was remarkable in the first period of his ministry for a boisterous mode of preaching, suddenly changed his whole manner in the pulpit, and adopted a mild and dispassionate mode of delivery. One of his brethren then inquired of him what had induced him to make the change. He replied: "When I was young I thought it was the thunder that killed the people; but when I grew older and wiser I discovered that it was the lightning. So I determined to thunder less and lighten more."

(W. Antliff, D. D.)

Down by Mitcham, when the lavender is growing, if you take a house there you will discern a smell of lavender; you may shut the windows and close the doors, but when any persons enter, a whiff of lavender enters with them — you cannot help it; and if you live where the gospel is preached at all, you will be sure to hear it and made to know of it. It is God's intention that you should. It is a voice that comes unasked and undesired, but come it does.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Amongst the very first comers at an open-air service was a well-dressed, respectable young man. He took a position close to where we were standing. He evidently did not come prepossessed in our favour. He looked severely on us, and there were hard lines about his mouth, as though he were contending with internal passion. I saw this and said to him, "Do you know why we have come here today?" His reply was a prolonged stare at me. I took no notice of this, but said, "We have come to tell you and these gathered here about a Father in heaven who loves you." The effect upon the man was instantaneous. A whole battery of arguments could not have produced a more sudden effect than these few unpremeditated words. His face at once softened down; the stern, severe lines about his mouth melted away, and though he made no reply, I could see he was touched. He remained rooted to the spot, an earnest listener all the time we remained there.

(J. Macgowan of Amoy.)

Paul claimed two things as necessary to success in the ministry.

1. He could call the gospel "our gospel." We must be saved before we can preach salvation. Ezekiel had to eat the roll of his prophecy. As well think of steering the Great Eastern across the ocean without knowing the first principles of navigation; as well think of setting up as ambassador without your country's authority, as of preaching before the gospel is your own. No amount of education will suffice if you lack a personal interest in salvation by Christ.

2. He was able to point to "his manner of life." And so must we. We must show in our lives what we preach with our lips. Woe to the minister when he is compelled to say, "Do as I say, not as I do." We shall use the text —

I. For DISCRIMINATION. The gospel comes to all who hear it; to the unregenerate as to the regenerate. But some preachers give one gospel to one class and another to another. Unlike the old sowers who sowed indiscriminately, they want to find the good ground before they sow. Instead of going out into the highways and hedges they want to know who are appointed to come, and then they will give the unnecessary invitation. But the apostles delivered the same gospel to non-elect and elect. The point of distinction is not in the gospel, but in its being applied by the Spirit or left to be rejected of men.

1. To some the gospel comes only in word. Even here there are gradations.(1) Some scarcely know what it is all about. They go to a place of worship and sit out an hour and a half of penance, and when done think they have done the proper thing, but are stolid, unthinking worshippers of an unknown God.(2) Others understand it in theory, and are pleased with it if preached in a manner to suit their tastes; but the gospel remains in them as drugs in an apothecary's drawer: they are there, but produce no effect. It is an unloaded canon or barrel of gunpowder; it has no force because the fire of God's Spirit is absent.(3) Others are really affected by it. They weep, resolve to amend, are alarmed, but the morning cloud is not more fleeting than their emotions. But these are produced by words, not by the Spirit. But men weep at a theatre. I am afraid that much of the holy water which is spilt from eyes in our places of worship is of no more value than the holy water at Catholic chapels. It is not heart sorrow. At this point let me ask, "Do you know the gospel only in word?" There is a class who are professional sermon hearers. They go one Sunday to hear Mr. A., another to hear Mr. B., and appraise, criticise, etc. They are no better than spiritual vagabonds, neither getting nor doing good.

2. There are those to whom the gospel comes with three accompaniments.(1) There is sometimes an effect produced by the gospel which may be called "power," but it is not the power that saves.(a) It comes with power on the understanding. You have heard, weighed, judged, and received it as being Divine — you assent to its propositions.(b) To the conscience. It has convinced you of sin. Like Felix, you tremble.(c) On the feelings. Your desires have been awakened. You have said, "Oh, that I were saved!" and even advanced as far as Balaam, "Let me die the death of the righteous."(d) On the life. The gospel has done you much good, although it has not saved you; though, alas! there are others to whom it has only for a time been as bit and bridle.(2) We come now to a nobler elevation, and speak to those to whom the Word has come "in the Holy Ghost." This is a great secret and cannot be expounded, but many of you know it experimentally. The Spirit has come —(a) A quickening power. You have now different feelings, joys, sorrows, to what you had before, because while you listened to the letter which killeth, the Sprat came with it and made you live.(b) As an illuminating power. He showed you your sins and your Saviour.(c) As a comforting power. Your burdens were removed as He opened up to you the promises.(d) An inflaming power. He has rested on you when you have heard the Word as a Spirit of burning.(e) A rejoicing power.(3) The highest point in the text is "much assurance."(a) They were fully persuaded of the truth of the gospel, and had no staggering or blinding doubts.(b) They had the fullest conviction of their interest in that truth. They were saved, and they knew it.

II. For INSTRUCTION. It is not enough to preach the gospel; something more is wanted for conversion than even that. We must have the energy of the Holy Ghost. Then —

1. It becomes more and more imperatively necessary that we should be much in prayer to God for that blessing. Luther said, "I have so much business today that I cannot get through it with less than three hours' prayer." Most people say, "I have so much business that I must only have three minutes' prayer."

2. Let us learn our own indebtedness to distinguishing grace, and bless God that the Word has come to us with power.

3. Inasmuch as there are degrees of attainment, let us seek for the highest degree. The "rest-and-be-thankful" policy is not much approved in politics, and in religion it will never answer.

4. A privilege may become a curse. If you have received the gospel in word only, it will aggravate the condemnation of those who might have received it with the Holy Ghost but would not.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

On hearing these words of the apostle, who is not immediately disposed to say, "Happy man, who could thus address the objects of his ministry and the fruits of his evangelical labours"? But who is not also disposed to say, "Happy minister, with whomsoever associated in religious life, in what ever age or country he may exercise his ministry, who, when addressing those among whom he has been preaching, can employ similar language — 'For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.'"? Now, how came this gospel to the Thessalonians?

I. NOT IN WORD ONLY. Words are symbols of thought, and idea, and sentiment; and it has pleased God the Holy Spirit to honour words, and He has been pleased to sanctify and dignify words through the medium of which to make known His thoughts and sentiments, His designs and dealings in reference to us men and our salvation. He, therefore, inspired holy prophets, and they announced the great things which belong to the salvation of the soul; and then they were directed to record this; and we read the words which God the Holy Ghost taught — the word of this salvation — how "that Christ died for our sins, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures; and they state the doctrines found on these facts, the privileges connected with them, the practical tendency of the whole, and the ordinances and institutions of the gospel: and thus in language they announced the good news, the glad tidings to the people. And still whenever the gospel comes, it must come "in word"; words must be employed, and the minister of the sanctuary must still employ "the words of this life." But then the great danger is lest it come in word only: then the great design of the gospel is defeated; all the high and important particulars relating to our salvation are not realized wherever the gospel comes only in word. We can suppose the case of a minister of Christ, possessing talents — talents of no common order, with a highly cultivated intellect, a very fertile imagination, and a genius which leads him to employ figures of poetry, and to suggest thoughts that captivate the attention and strike the minds of those who listen to his discourses from time to time; there are multitudes who throng to hear him wherever he goes; and, to use the words of the prophet, he is to them "as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument." And oh, how well attended are his ministrations! But where, amidst all this, is the instance of the poor sinner pierced to the heart by the two-edged sword of the Spirit and feeling the pungent smart of conviction? Where is the instance of the man smiting on his breast, and crying, "God be merciful to me a sinner"? But thus came not the gospel to the Thessalonians.

II. ALSO IN POWER. What power?

1. Not the civil power; because in the days to which the apostle refers Christianity was not even protected by the civil government, but opposed by it. It was not with them as it is happily with us, where Christianity forms part and parcel of the very constitution and laws of the country, and where the broad shield of legal protection is thrown over us, and where we "sit under our own vine and fig tree, none daring to make us afraid."

2. Neither could the apostle refer to the power of eloquence or human talent. St. Paul himself tells us that his "speech and his preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." This was "the power"; it was a Divine power; and it was Divine in two points of view: first, there was miraculous power to mark the propagation of the gospel; secondly, there was a secret energy accompanying the administration of the Word, bringing it home to the conscience and heart of those who heard. There is an awakening power, a convicting power; and there is a regenerating power, and a sanctifying power, and a consoling and satisfying power. Oh, what an energy there is in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

III. AND IN THE HOLY GHOST. As surely as there was miraculous power in the first age of Christianity, so surely was the Holy Ghost there; for the miracles then wrought were the miracles of the Holy Ghost — "God also bearing them witness, both by signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will." And as surely as there must always be an efficacious power to give efficacy to the gospel wherever it is administered, the Holy Ghost must be there. The gospel is the dispensation of the Spirit; and where the gospel is preached, the Spirit of God is present to bear testimony to the truth. Who and what is the genuine Christian? Why, he was once in the dark, but now he is "light in the Lord." How came he to be so?. "Ah," says one, "the preacher told us the gospel is light." True; and the gospel is the great light of the system, and the gospel is shining in the zenith of its splendour and glory. But what avails to me the noon-day sun, with all the blaze of day, if I have not the organs of vision. It is not only necessary that the light be there, but we must have the organs to discern it. And how comes this change to pass on us? By the mighty energy of the Spirit. He removes the scales from our mental eyes; it is He that gives the organ of spiritual vision and of perception; it is the Spirit that giveth light,

IV. AND IN MUCH ASSURANCE — a plenitude of assurance. This phrase is significant of the manner in which the gospel was received by the people.

1. The assurance of the truth of the message. I do not know that the first believers in Christianity waited on the outside of the great temple of truth, to examine the two external pillars on which the temple reposes and by which it is supported. You know what those two pillars are: unmoved they stand where they ever stood, and all the shafts of infidelity have been unable to make any impression on them.(1) Prophecy; and the argument is this: Where there is genuine prophecy there is God, because God alone sees the end from the beginning: now in this Book is genuine prophecy; then here is God.(2) Miracles: where there are genuine miracles there must be God, for He alone can control nature, and act in opposition to its laws. But here are such interpositions recorded; therefore here is God. Now I do not know, I say, that these primitive believers waited outside the temple to examine then its two grand pillars in the first place; I rather believe they went in at once. The temple of truth, and wisdom, and grace — "Like the cerulean arch we see, Majestic in its own simplicity."

2. They saw the sanctity of those who officiated there. "You know," says the apostle, "what manner of men we were amongst you." Their simplicity, their self-denial, their purity, their benevolence, their zeal; are these characters that belong to infidelity? Then there was the Architect — the Architect of the temple of truth spoke in the temple of truth; and the people heard, and the truth came home to their hearts and consciences, and examined the inmost recesses of their hearts: they were judged of all, and condemned of all, and approved of all; and they were assured that it was the great Architect of truth Himself who thus spoke.

(Robert Newton, D. D.)

The important question is — has the gospel really come to you; and has it come to you "in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance"? If so, you must have experienced —

I. A CONVICTION OF SIN. The man who is a real Christian must have been taught the plague of his old nature, and what an evil thing it is to sin against God.

II. AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE CHARACTER OF GOD'S HOLY LAW. This is a very necessary piece of knowledge. A mere professor, who has never known what real conviction of sin is, may be capable of amendment of life to a certain extent, but can have no just conception of the enormity of transgression against a holy and just God. When a man is made experimentally acquainted with the operations of the Holy Ghost, he feels that he has transgressed against God, and against the reasonable law of a mighty and righteous God, in every particular. "He who hath broken the law in one point, hath broken it in all."

III. A BELIEF IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. When a man is in this condition there is no difficulty at all in persuading him that all his hopes upon his own efforts and his own righteousness must be dispensed with, and that he must rest on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, the perfect work of the Son of God, the salvation of the Divine Saviour. Every man who is saved is saved by himself. God comes to a man personally; the Holy Ghost comes to a man personally; the merits of Jesus come to a man personally. This is real religion.

(H. Allen, D. D.)

Once on a time an obscure man rose up to address the French Convention. At the close of his oration Mirabeau, the genius of the French Revolution, turned round to his neighbour and eagerly asked, "Who is that?" The other, who had been in no way interested in the address, wondered at Mirabeau's curiosity; whereupon the latter said, "That man will yet act a great part;" and added, on being asked for an explanation, "He speaks as one who believes every word he says." Much of the pulpit power under God depends on that — admits of that explanation, or of one allied to it. They make others feel who feel themselves.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

There is power of the highest created order where there is mind. We need not quote an adage but two centuries old — "Knowledge is power" — when we can find the sentiment far more nobly and anciently expressed in our Bible — "A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength." How mind acts upon mind! What vibrations bound from a single thought! But the gospel awakens a man dead in trespasses and sins. Through its precepts he gets understanding. It reminds him of the image in which he was created, and which he has lost. It fills him with shame and confusion that he has sunk so low. It informs him of the infinite gentleness which can once more make him great. It brings out the stamina of his mental and moral sensibilities by the same objects, alone touches him at all joints, stirs every inmost depth, and unbinds each latent energy of the spirit. The power of Christ rests indeed upon him. There is thus a mightiness in the gospel.

I. IT IS THE POWER OF TRUTH. The gospel founds itself upon facts — upon what was done and upon what was taught. This is substantial truth; and it justifies unfeigned faith.

II. IT IS THE POWER OF AUTHORITY. It is Divine obligation; the binding power and sanction is precisely this — "He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned."

III. IT IS THE POWER OF REALIZATION. Sooner or later, it is more or less surrounded by something like itself. It provokes inquiry, and compels to take a part. It tells of the death of Christ: it realizes futurity. In us is found every doctrine and blessing of the gospel in actual form and rudiment. Ours is a present salvation. The work of grace bears its fruits. Faith groweth exceedingly; love aboundeth more and more; peace passeth all understanding; and patience hath its perfect work. This is surely power — the kindling of a living light over the written Word, and the inward interpretation — the witness of the soul closing with it.

(R. W. Hamilton, LL. D.)

It came and comes —

I. WITH POWER. Who shall declare this mystery of power? All ages and sciences have worked at the problem.

1. Power in its lowest conceptions belongs to the material. It is in the storm, the wave, the flashing lightning. Latent or active it belongs to every atom in the universe.

2. Higher up is the power of thought which gives man empire over the world; temples, machines, pictures, etc., are embodied thoughts. Fling your mind back on the infinite past, and you find a period when every force existed as a thought in the Eternal Mind.

3. Highest of all is the power of the gospel. What is this? The power that slumbers in the great, Divine, essential seed thoughts of Christianity. The gospel is a gospel of —(1) Incarnation. The historic conceptions of God are all true and grand, but how cold and distant! But turn to the gospel, and you see the mighty God in the cradle of Bethlehem, in the streets of Nazareth, on the cross of Calvary, that He might take my nature up into Himself.(2) Unbounded benevolence. No truth of history is better authenticated than this, that outside the influence of Christianity there is but little sympathy. Into this world God flashed a new thought, that of atonement and self-sacrifice for the good of others. This is the power of the Cross. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." From that hour the world entered on a new era. There was a fountain opened for guilt and also for sorrow by the Cross. From the moment of Pentecost there was a disposition to save others. Clothes were made fen the poor, and asylums began to be founded.(3) Resurrection and immortality. Who shall tell the shadows which fall upon the land and home where Christianity has not come?


1. In all the faiths there is the doctrine of the Divine influence coming to the spirit of man. The Pantheism of the old Brahmin involved this. The Theosophites of Egypt clung to this. The inner fight of Platonism meant this. From Montanism downwards this was the prime doctrine of mysticism. This finds its culmination in the gospel. It is seen in creation educing beauty out of chaos; in civilization; in the achievements of the gospel. The world is rich in literature, but imagine the greatest Genius saying, "Weary one, believe My word and be saved!" But let the Spirit take the word of the gospel, and it is spirit and life to every one that accepts it.

2. A Holy Ghost must have a Holy Ghost ministry. Take a man, however gifted, but not anointed with the Spirit, and his word will be like the summer lightning which hits nothing. But give the Holy Ghost to but a rough fisherman, and he will smite the consciences of three thousand.


1. There is the assurance which comes from demonstration to others. There are tens of thousands who are better men today by this power; and its effects are seen in the walks of commerce and the sanctities of home.

2. That of an inner experience. He that believeth hath the witness in himself.

3. That of ultimate triumph. "Oh!" said a great savant, as he trembled upon the verge of the sepulchre, "my philosophy fails me here." Yonder, in a darksome dungeon and manacles about his limbs, is an old man. What sayest thou, Paul? "I am now ready to be offered," etc.

(G. Douglass, D. D.)

I.Much certainity.

II.Much fulness of spiritual gifts.

III.Much effect or fulfilment.

(Prof. Jowett.)

Look at him when he stood up for the glory of his God, was there ever such a dogmatist? "I believe it," he said, "and therefore I speak it." From that day when on Pilate's staircase he was trying to creep up and down the stairs to win heaven, when the sentence out of the musty folio came before him, "Justified by faith we have peace with God," that man was as sure that works could not save him as he was of his own existence. Now, if he had come out and said, "Gentleman, I have a theory to propound that may be correct; excuse my doing so," and so on, the Papacy had been dominant to this day. The man knew God had said it, and he felt float that was God's own way to his own soul, and he could not help dogmatizing with that glorious force of persuasion which soon laid his foes prostrate at his feet.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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