Summary: We can preach the gospel, but only the Holy Spirit can convict people of their sins.
I’m teaching verse by verse through 1 Thessalonians. The name of the series is “Finding HOPE in a Hopeless world.” Today the message is entitled, “The Gospel According to You.”
We use the word “gospel” a lot. We talk about gospel music, but there are different kinds. There’s black gospel music, southern gospel music, bluegrass gospel music, and even country gospel music. We pass out gospel tracts. And when we want to convince someone we aren’t lying we say, “It’s the gospel truth!” And in Tyler, our ministry in the public schools is called Gospel Village. Our English word “gospel” comes from the Anglo Saxon phrase, “God spell” which means “the word of God.”
The word in the New Testament is euaggelizo, which gives us our English word “evangelism.” It means “to proclaim good news.” Although we mostly use the word gospel as a noun, over half the time it appears in the New Testament, is as a verb. So with God’s help, I’m going to gospel you today. I was gospeled when I was nine years old; and I’ve been gospeling folks for over forty years. At the end of this message I hope you’ll feel good and gospeled!
Our church is in the midst of a gospel transformation. A few weeks ago, our adults started a great Bible study entitled, “The Gospel Project.” We generally refer to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the four gospels. But the gospel is found on every page of the Bible. The gospel is the story of God’s redemptive plan. God is in the process of redeeming sinful humanity to Himself. You and I are part of God’s gospel project.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-6. “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 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. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”
I first heard a little poem about the gospel when I was a teenager. It’s been adapted in many forms, but here’s the adaptation by Leroy Brownlow:
The Gospel According to You
There’s a Gospel according to Matthew;
To Mark, Luke; and John too.
There’s another gospel many are reading...
The Gospel according to You.
Many read not the words of the Bible;
I will tell you what some of them do...
They are reading the book you are writing...
The Gospel according to you.
You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day;
By the deeds that you do, by words that you say.
Men read what you write whether faithfulness or true;
Say, what is the gospel according to you?
In this message I want us to examine four aspects of the gospel: The origin of the gospel; the preaching of the gospel; the power of the gospel; and the hope of the gospel.
1. THE ORIGIN OF THE GOSPEL: God chose us because He loves us
Paul wrote these words, “We know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.” Notice two important words in that verse: loved and chosen. Where did the gospel originate? The gospel wasn’t some plan dreamed up by one of the Old Testament prophets or by one of the New Testament Apostles. The gospel was born in the heart of God. It’s HIS plan.
When we visit Israel, one of my favorite spots is Caesarea Philippi. There is water gushing out of the side of a mountain, and this is the source of the Jordan River. If you could travel back and discover the source of the gospel, it would take you right into heaven and to God’s heart.
Paul echoed this sentiment in his letter to the believers in Ephesus. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:4-5)
If you asked me when I was saved, one answer would be that I was saved as a nine-year-old boy. But a better answer would be that I was saved before the creation of the world. God chose me to be His son before He created the heavens and the earth.
There’s a friendly debate occurring among Baptist Churches today. It is over what is called Reformed Theology, or Calvinism. John Calvin, the father of the Presbyterian Church, wrote a thick volume entitled, The Institutes of the Christian Religion.