Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 10
Thesis: Since the "arrival" of "Our Gospel" was "attended" by the proclamation of a message, the effectual power of the Holy Spirit, and a superfluity of divinely sanctioned results, all of which are both essentially necessary, but relative in degree, the question is "why?" in respect to Thessalonica as opposed to all of the other places where it "arrived".
Introduction: So far we have looked into Paul's record of the impact of what he calls "our gospel" in the city of Thessalonica. According to Luke's record in Acts, Thessalonica was the second city in Macedonia where Paul went after being restricted from preaching the Gospel any further in Asia.
Last week we focused our attention upon the content of this "gospel" as it relates to the specific meaning of Christ's death "for our sins". We have seen that "faith" must have a focus upon this specific meaning in order for it to be fruitful.
But, fruitfulness requires more than this specific content for "faith". According to our text this evening, there is another requirement involved in fruitfulness. In summary, this other requirement is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. But, the specifics involved in this issue of power help us to understand the potency of the Thessalonians' "hope". Thus, we are going to look into the "attending elements" that Paul lays out in 1:5.
February 23, 2014
- I. The Necessity of the "Message" in the Face of its Inadequacy.
- A. According to Paul, the Gospel came into the Thessalonians' existence by means of the proclamation of a relatively complete "message".
- 1. This message was the focus of our last study: a presentation of the resolution of the problem of Justice in its violent opposition to "sins".
- 2. This message arrived in Thessalonica by means of two "mediums".
- a. The most fundamental "medium" was verbal proclamation.
- 1) Verbal proclamation is not the only way a message can come into someone's awareness, but it is the most fundamental way by which concepts are communicated from one Mind to another.
- 2) Verbal proclamation has its basic support as a crucial "medium" in the existence of a written-in-words message: the Bible.
- b. Another significant, but less effective, "medium" is referenced at the end of this verse: the lifestyle of the messenger.
- 1) Lifestyle issues argue for the foundation of the life in a "message", but they do not reveal the content of that "message".
- 2) Lifestyle issues have this impact: they argue that their root "message" is true.
- a) Truth is typically delivered by means of words.
- b) Validation is typically established by actions (as the resurrection validates the Gospel).
- B. The problem with every/any "message" given in words (even words validated by appearances) is that those who hear the message are not, by hearing, or validation, necessarily convinced of the truthfulness of it.
- C. This inadequacy does not set the verbal medium aside in any sense (as some of the more "sensational" theologies argue), but it does reveal the involvement of at least some other "medium".
- II. The Necessity of "Power" in View of the Inadequacy of the "Message".
- A. At the root of every person's response to any given "message" is one issue: Is it True?
- B. The problem with this question is the problematic nature of how one comes to an answer.
- 1. As far as we can tell, the question of "truthfulness" cannot be answered by any human device.
- a. "Intelligence" is an insufficient means of discernment [God has turned the wisdom of the wise into foolishness].
- b. "Intuition" is an insufficient means of discernment [cultural norms and personal lusts can completely corrupt "intuition"].
- c. "Evidence" is an insufficient means of discernment [the evaluation of "evidence" depends upon "intelligence" and "intuition"].
- d. ETC.
- 2. It was Paul's absolute conviction and doctrine that the answer to the "truth" question rests in the activity of God beyond the mental capacities of man (compare Romans 8:16 and 1 Corinthians 14:14-15).
- C. Thus, when the Gospel is proclaimed in words, it must be accompanied by the working of the Spirit of God in the spirit of the hearers if there are to be any results that harmonize with the message.
- III. The Nature of the "Power".
- A. It is revealed by the epexegetical phrase "in the Holy Spirit".
- B. It not specified any further than this phrase.
- 1. We are not given the specifics of the works of the Holy Spirit.
- 2. We are simply told that this Spirit is the One Who accomplishes the will of the God of the Message [this is the fundamental message about the Spirit in all of the Scriptures].
- IV. The Extent of the "Power".
- A. The translation "full conviction" is accurate at a root level, but needs further explanation.
- B. The word so translated is a combination of two words and is accompanied by an adjectival modifier.
- 1. The two words are "fullness" and "covering" and the modifier is "much".
- 2. The translation of the "covering" as "conviction" is contextually accurate as far as it goes.
- a. The context argues that the issue with "truth" is whether it is "true" and how one comes to grip with the answer.
- b. The answer is an internal, spirit-level, "conviction".
- c. But, the picture is not of only of "much fulness of the covering of conviction"; it is also of "a great abundance of everything necessary to the result".
- 1) Great "faith" requires a great abundance of "conviction".
- 2) Great "love" requires a great abundance of "understanding" of what is actually valuable in God's relational universe.
- 3) Great "hope" requires a great abundance of "steadfastness" in the face of opposition.
- d. Thus, it is not simply "full conviction" that attends by the Spirit; it is "full conviction, full understanding of values, and full assurance in the face of opposition.