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The Necessity of the Holy Spirit's Power in the Church

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The impact of the Gospel makes a visible difference

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The Gospel is more than words; it is the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit ()

Explanation: Paul expresses confidence in knowing the election of the Thessalonian believers because of how the Gospel of Jesus impacted them. Paul affirms that the Good News is more than propositional truth contained in words (though the Gospel is communicated through words)
Illustrate: Bad example of sharing the Gospel is contained in the quote, mistakenly attributed to Francis of Assisi, which states, “Preach the Gospel; when necessary, use words.”
Argument: The propositional truth of the Gospel must be communicated through words. declares that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” God may draw someone to admire our lifestyle, but until the lost understand the biblical truth, they can’t be saved.
The words without the power of the Holy Spirit are just words with no impact in the life of the individual who hears them. (presenting the Gospel to the guy outside the pantry) The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts a person of the spiritual reality behind the words. ().
The Thessalonians not only heard the words of the Gospel, they were convicted of their life-giving power through the sacrifice of Jesus. They were convicted of their sin and made aware of their utter hopelessness apart from Christ and in response to the message, they surrendered to Christ through faith in His finished work on the Cross.
Application: have you clearly understood the message of the cross? Do you fully understand the propositional nature of salvation?

The Holy Spirit empowers believers for the work of the ministry ()

Explanation: The occasion for the writing of the letter is to express thanks to the church for living out the gospel truth they had received. Paul is giving thanks to God through prayer because he has found out that they were found faithful. The words used include work, labor, and steadfastness. Each of these terms relate to effort. Paul understood that it was no easy thing to live as a Christian in their time and in their location. But he is commending them for their faithfulness because they were living in the power of the Spirit and not their own.
Argument: We have the mistaken idea that our current situation is one of the only periods of church history, outside the first 3 centuries of Roman persecution, in which it is difficult to practice our faith. The reality is that the history of Christianity is an almost unbroken period of persecution against those who would be faithful to Christ. The kosmos (world - system) never gives a pass to the believer. Living for Jesus has many rewards in this life, but it is seldom without effort. Living for Jesus is hard work and requires a continuing dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
Application: It is good to emphasize that hard work and good deeds never saved a single person [and never will], but it is also good to emphasize that a person who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit will be empowered to perform hard work and good deeds. Also, it is a timely reminder that as we move closer to a time of judgment and increased persecution, believers are given the opportunity to shine even brighter in the darkness.

The Presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer will produce life-change ()

Explanation: Paul was very familiar with the life change that arises when the Gospel impacts a lost person. He was very much aware of the change in his own life, and his further experiences with others who came to faith in Christ cemented his understanding of changed lives as the normal outcome of the Gospel. He recounts how these Thessalonians became imitators of the mission team. Their outward expression of living was changed to reflect the lifestyles of the messengers.
Illustrate: High school vocational class in 1980. Mr. Nolte got angry when his students took some of the wood and made hockey sticks. Why hockey sticks? The US Olympic Hockey team beat the Russians and won gold.
Argument: Imitation is the best form of flattery. Just as those believers imitated their teachers in the faith, so we as believers are to imitate our leaders in the faith, only as they follow Jesus. Paul told the Corinthian believers to follow him as he followed Christ () We do, however, need to be aware of negative imitation as well. When we are impatient with others, so our children learn to be impatient and short with others; as we criticize others, we teach our children to be critical of others. When a 5 year uses profanity at school, he has heard it at home.
Application: We all influence some one. The real question is, are we influencing them in a positive way or a negative way. More importantly, are we casting a Gospel-centered influence that bespeaks of Christ, or are we simply trying to be good?

Receiving the Gospel changes our focus of worship ()

Explanation: Paul continues to express his appreciation for the change that has been wrought in the lives of these believers. Outsiders are giving accounts about the change that has taken place. These Thessalonians were idol worshipers, pagans who made vain sacrifices to false gods, but they had repented of that sin. They had turned from that futile way of life and had embraced the Living God.
Argument: When the God of creation invades a persons life through the power of the Gospel, there will be a change. The presence of Holy Spirit will make Himself known. A person who has experienced the forgiveness of sin and has an understanding of what that forgiveness cost will be a different person.
: Paul continues to express his appreciation for the change that has been wrought in the lives of these believers. Outsiders are giving accounts about the change that has taken place. These Thessalonians were idol worshipers, pagans who made vain sacrifices to false gods, but they had repented of that sin. They had turned from that futile way of life and had embraced the Living God.
Ephesians 4:17–24 ESV
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Application: what are you worshiping? Are you still caught up in the futile attempt to satisfy your hungry soul with cheap substitutes and empty pursuits? Only the Living God is sufficient to calm the restless heart, and He alone is worthy of our worship.
A good question to ask is this: How is our worship impacting others? Do they even notice? In what way does our worship of the Living God spill over into the rest of our week?
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