Summary: What will be the impact of the gospel in your life?
1 Thess. 1:1; Acts 17:1-10
The Impact of the Gospel
A. Judging from his comments in the New Testament, the apostle Paul had an obvious deep affection for the church at Thessalonica. It is evident from the start of this letter that the believers there didn’t just talk about the gospel, the lived it.
B. As we will see in time to come, the believers there received the gospel, then began to pattern their lives after the lives of Paul and his companions, and most importantly, after the Lord.
C. This church was on fire for God, the gospel was a living reality to them, and they wanted the world to know what they had. We will see as we study this letter that the church did not want to sit on what they knew, but rather had a drive about them that made them get up and get going.
D. We need this same zeal in our church today. We have the greatest news known to man. The gospel Paul said in his letter to the Romans, "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." The gospel has the power to change lives, and while our passage in Acts tells us that the city rulers in Thessalonica thought that the believers were turning the world upside down with the gospel, they were in fact turning it right side up.
E. I want us to begin this book of 1 Thessalonians with a look at Acts 17:1-10, and as we examine the beginnings of the work in Thessalonica, I want us to notice four things the gospel does. Remember, the results are not up to us. Our responsibility is to share the gospel and let God do as He pleases with it.
I. The Gospel Seeks (Acts 17:1-3)
A. Paul followed his custom of seeking out the Jews first in the local synagogue. Remember that he said in Romans 10:1, "Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." He had never lost this passion, and every place he went he labored to reach his own people.
B. We can learn some important lessons from the way Paul approached this new field.
1. He began with people with whom he could relate. He knew their background, their prejudices, their objections, how to reason with them, and so forth. There is nothing wrong with seeking people like this. God will use you to reach people with whom you can relate. When we think of sharing our faith, we get so afraid. Put yourself in the shoes of the one with whom you are dealing and approach them like you would want to be approached. Begin with people you can relate to. Verse 4 indicates that Paul did not restrict his preaching to the Jews, but went to the Greeks also. If our initial contacts won’t respond, move on!
2. He didn’t give up after the first visit. Verse 2 tells us that he spent three weeks reasoning with the people. We can’t let an initial rejection of our message be considered a failure. Keep reasoning, present the message, listen to their objections, look for open doors, and come back again. Don’t give up!
3. He used the Scriptures. What Scriptures did Paul use? The Old Testament! It was all he had. When we witness to others, when we share the gospel with them, we must use the Scriptures. People don’t need to hear what we think; they need to hear what God said in His Word.
4. He presented a living Savior! Perhaps one of the biggest failures of people sharing their faith today is that they want to get into arguments over issues that can’t help a lost person. It doesn’t matter what you believe about hair or clapping or dancing or drinking or anything else along those lines. They need to hear that "Christ must needs have suffered, and [that he has] risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ."
C. The gospel is seeking. Can you lead someone to Christ? Begin with people with whom you can relate. Don’t give up. Use the Scriptures, and give them the gospel.
II. The Gospel Saves (Acts 17:4)
A. Verse 4 tells us that some of the Jews believed and consorted, or began to keep company with Paul and Silas.
B. It also tells us that a great multitude of Gentiles were saved, and then a good number of the chief women.
C. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that "the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."