Study 3 PUT IN TRUST WITH THE GOSPEL
THE LETTERS TO THE THESSALONIANS
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-12
This study is suggested by the words of the Apostle in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 (compare 1 Timothy 1:11). What did Paul mean by “the Gospel”? The word occurs several times in these Thessalonian Letters - in the First Letter, 1:5; 2:2; 2:4; 2:8; 2:9; and in the Second Letter, 1:8. The Gospel is good news; it is God spelling out His love for sinful men and women. The Gospel is summarised in John 3:16-17and amplified in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul says that he was ”entrusted with the gospel”, and what was true of Paul is also true of us. In other words, God has committed the Gospel to us and made us responsible to do certain things with it.
1. WHAT WE ARE TO DO WITH THE GOSPEL
- (1) We are to OBEY the Gospel. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 makes this clear. But what is meant by obeying the Gospel? We must believe it, for to obey it is to believe it – look up Mark 1:1, and compare Romans 1:16. It is possible to believe the facts of the Gospel and yet not to receive it or obey it.
- (2) We are to KNOW the Gospel. It is unfortunately true that many Christians do not really know and understand exactly what the Gospel is. Do you? Suppose you were asked to describe or explain God’s way of salvation, would you be able to do it? Do you understand the Gospel? If not, take your Bible and master this tremendous theme!
- (3) We are to LIVE the Gospel. When the Gospel is believed and received the life is changed, and immediately there is a responsibility on the part of the new-born soul to live in harmony with the truth of the Gospel. We have a beautiful illustration of this in the case of the Thessalonian converts (1 Thessalonians 1:9); compare 2 Corinthians 5:17. Paul not only preached it but he lived it (1 Thessalonians 2:10), and this is what is needed today - more people living the Gospel.
- (4) We are to TELL the Gospel. Here we are thinking of telling the Gospel to ones or twos in the ordinary spheres of everyday life. Only a few people can preach, but all can and should gossip the Gospel. Look up and compare Mark 5:19; John 1:40-41; 1:45; 4:28,29,39; with Job 22:29 and Acts 8:4. Every Christian is responsible to tell others about the Lord, not necessarily from a platform or pulpit, but in everyday life.
- (5> We are to PREACH the Gospel, that is, those whom God calls and equips for this special task are to proclaim the Gospel and declare it. What a need there is for Gospel preachers! Many preach good sermons, but not the Gospel; others preach good sermons and then add a little bit of the Gospel at the end, as a kind of postscript. Where the Gospel is proclaimed and a programme of teaching evangelism is embarked on and carried through, this always results in a live, growing and prospering church.
- (6) We are to SUPPORT the Gospel: (1) by our prayers; and (2) with our gifts. Missionary work must be supported. There is great scope for distribution of literature, and Christians should also take a share in supporting radio evangelism and evangelistic outreach. But in all these things we need to be selective, by giving our prayer support and financial backing where we know that the Gospel is really being preached.
- (7) We are to DEFEND the Gospel. In these days, as in the early Christian Church, the Gospel is attacked. We are living in days of ungodliness (2 Timothy 3:1-5); there are enemies of the Gospel (Romans 11:28); like Paul, we must set out to defend the Gospel (Philippians 1:17); we must be aware that many are preaching “a different gospel”. Romanism and ritualism are still having their deadening influence, and liberalism is at the forefront of colleges, schools and, sadly, in many pulpits. Look up Jude 3.
2. HOW WE ARE TO obey, live, tell, preach and defend THE GOSPEL
A careful study of 1 Thessalonians 2:3-10 shows us how we are to discharge our responsibility:
- (1) We are to do it FAITHFULLY (verses 3-6), and the important phrase is “to please …God, who tests our hearts”. In other words, as we obey, live, tell, preach and defend the Gospel we are to do these things in the light of the Judgment Seat of Christ and of the time when we shall come and give an account before Him (Romans 14:12).
- (2) We are to do it LOVINGLY (verses 7-8). Paul tells us that he was gentle and tender in caring for his friends and converts. How loving he was! - and the great mark of the Gospel is L-O-V-E.
- (3) We are to do it SACRIFICIALLY (verse 8). Paul says that he was willing not only to give the Gospel to these people but to give his own soul, because he loved them so much. What sacrifice is indicated here! Are we willing to sacrifice time, money, personal pleasure, in order that others may hear the Gospel?
- (4) We are to do it CONSTANTLY (verse 9). Here Paul speaks about toiling hard “night and day”. He is actually referring to his work of tent-making which he carried on, so that he might be free to preach the Gospel without charge. How constantly this man was on the job, and it puts us to shame!
- (5) We are to do it AS AN EXAMPLE (verse 10). All that Paul had said about the Gospel he had lived and demonstrated in his own life.
We can see that we are entrusted with the gospel. We may speak of the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, or even of Paul but, what about the Gospel according to US - to you, to me?