WHEN THE GOSPEL COMES WITH POWER
Because our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. I Thess. 1:5
I’m sitting up straight writing this; at full attention in my spirit. What does it mean when the Word is spoken with power, in the Holy Spirit, with full conviction? What does it feel like to a group of people and how would it differ from the Gospel being preached without power, without the Spirit’s anointing, and delivered void of passion?
Unfortunately, most of us know the latter. We know what it is to sit in church and hear a monotone delivery. As a teenager, we remember seeing the flaws of the church for the first time. Our spiritual intuition came with age and we discerned that some of the ones preaching failed to have their own personal lives changed by the very message they said they believed. Because they had not allowed it to personally change them, they spoke without conviction. We knew it and we dismissed any potential power of the Gospel to change our own lives. The one who delivers the Gospel message, which is every child of God, bears such great responsibility to speak from a rich personal experience.
True apostolic preaching brings strong reaction. Every sermon should bring about two opposing reactions. The person who hears it will either love Jesus more and move closer to Him or be repelled and move away. No middle ground. When Jesus preached, people either believed or joined the murderous crowd.
His disciples followed in His footsteps and brought the same kind of polarization. Paul, who wrote these words, was loved or hated. In his itinerant ministry, he had no desire to choose neutral topics like love, anger, or integrity and preach on those virtues with a little scripture tied in at the end. The aim was to preach of Christ crucified with a language born of the Spirit’s fire.
The Word will always fall like a sword to the listener. For the believer, the Word comes, penetrates where it needs to and does its specific work. It convicts, clarifies, corrects, or comforts. For the unbeliever, it either convicts to bring about repentance or it cuts across the grain of pride and stirs up anger and rebellion.
May all my Words fall so strategically and with credibility, Lord. Touch my pen with fire. Amen