Word and Spirit
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. – 1 Thess. 1:4-5.
When Paul wrote to these early believers in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ he makes a rather bold statement that he knew they were the elect of God. He gives two reasons he knew they were God’s chosen people unto salvation.
1). The gospel came unto them through the ministry of the Word of God, “our gospel came not unto you in word only.” Paul preached to them from the scriptures; “…As his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (Acts 17:3). He plainly set forth before them the glorious person and priestly work of the Lord Jesus. Some of them that heard the message believed to the salvation of their soul and some believed not (Acts 17:4-5). God has ordained the preaching of the gospel to the salvation of His people (1 Cor. 1:21; James 1:18; 1 Pet.1:23). Let us never discredit nor neglect these necessary means to the salvation of sinners. Paul said to those in Antioch in Pisidia, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you ( Acts 13:46). Our God when He effectually calls His people to Christ in faith, it is with the word of life (Eph. 1:13-14). If it was necessary in Paul’s day, surely it is necessary in our day (2 Thes. 2:13-14).
2). The gospel also came in the power and revelation of the Holy Spirit. This is also necessary to the salvation of God’s people, “also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” We must not only hear the gospel, but it also must be made effectual to the heart of the sinner by the power and regenerating grace of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10). In the parable of the Sower the ground had to be prepared in order to bring forth fruit (Matt. 13:23). Our Lord told Nicodemus that he must be born of water (word) and the Spirit to enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5). In Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones there was the preaching of the word to the bones and the quickening work of the Holy Spirit giving life (Ezek. 37:4-5). Why preach to dead bones? God instructed Ezekiel to do so. Even so we are instructed to preach the gospel to spiritual dead sinners looking and expecting God to bless His word (2 Tim. 4:1). God has promised to communicate and give life, faith, repentance, regeneration and salvation through His ordained means (Isa. 55:11; Rom. 10:13-17).
The power of God is that ability and strength, by which He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases. It is His power that gives life and action to what He has purposed from the foundation of the world. How vain would the will of God be without power to carry it out? Without His power His mercy would be feeble pity, His promises empty words.
Gods power is like Himself, infinite, eternal, incomprehensible, “No man can stay His hand”. “God hath spoken once” (Ps. 62:11) Does he need so speak more than once? What else is necessary? In creation it says; “He spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:9).
If we want to create something we have to get tools and materials and often and most of the time it doesn’t come out the way we would like, BUT NOT GOD! He made the world out of nothing, and in saving us he made something out of nothing, To God be the glory great things he has done.
As he spoke the world into existence and now upholds it by the power of word, it is by the power of his word he saves his people. He said; “ my sheep hear my voice”, “being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23).
This glorious God is worthy of our worship, adoration and trust. Nothing is too hard for him. No prayer is too hard for him to answer. No need too great for him to supply. No passion too strong for him to subdue, no temptation too powerful for him to deliver from, no misery to deep foe him to relieve. Don Bell.
The Power of Man in Salvation
There is no power in man to save, because salvation comes to those who are “without strength” (Romans 5:6) by virtue of being in their native condition “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Neither is there power in the law to save, because it is “weak through the flesh” (Romans 8:3), through man’s inability to keep it. Neither is there power in baptism (or any other ordinance or sacrament), being evidenced in that Paul declared, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17). Rather, this power of God to salvation is found in the gospel, which is the word of God, a revelation of the divine will which “is quick and powerful.”
To be a witness
“Go home to thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee.” Mark 5: 19
The Lord had shown great mercy to this poor sinner, setting him free from demons and from sin. Now He tells him to go home to his family and friends and to be the Lord’s witness.
Do not go home and begin to preach. Do not go home and take up the great doctrines of grace and expound them. Do not go home and strive to bring everyone to your views and beliefs. Do not go home and condemn all who do not see what you see. Go home and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you! Not what great things you have read or heard, but what great things you have experienced! This is the way to begin our witnessing.
There is never a more interesting story than the story a person has experienced, lived, and felt. If you would really interest others and get their attention, tell them what great things the Lord has done in you and for you!
Notice the Lord said, “Tell them what great things the Lord hath done.” It is a story of free grace. Not what we did, willed, or gave, but what He did for us by His own free, sovereign, and undeserved love. We will not convince them nor change them anymore than another man could convert us. But the Lord who did great things for us can do great things for them if He is so pleased to use the faithful witness of those who go and tell what great things the Lord hath done for them. Henry Mahan.
Proclaiming my Goodness
“Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness; but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6).
Yes indeed, most will mention just how good they are, how religious and how they have done this or that for God. What a joke. ‘There is none that doeth good no NOT one’! The Pharisee stood with himself and proclaimed in the presence of God and in the sight of men just how he was so thankful that he was not like the poor man standing afar off from him. Jehu tells one man to come with him and see how much zeal he had for God then in the same chapter we learn that he sinned in so many ways similar to Jeroboam (2 Kings 10).
Add your name and my name to those who far to often do things ‘to be seen of men’. But thanks be to God that the Lord Jesus Christ is that true and faithful witness and God has seen fit to accept His faithfulness for our unworthiness, His unchanging commitment towards all the elect for their unfaithfulness!
We have no goodness to proclaim, He is the sum and substance of all Good and all Goodness! He is faithful that promised, therefore we can trust Him for every thing we need both in this world and in the world to come. Let the potsherds strive with one another about who is better. Let us rather proclaim His infinite goodness and faithfulness to the likes of us who process neither, in and of ourselves.
Threefold witness of the true gospel
“At the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established” –Deuteronomy 19:15.
This is the rule of law laid down in Holy Scripture, that for something to be counted as fact and not fiction it must be established on the principal of two or three witnesses. This is exactly the method that Peter employs in His inspired letter given to believers (2 Peter 1:16-21). Peter says, “we have not followed cunningly devised fables” (vs.16). Then he proceeds to give us a threefold witness of the true gospel of God’s grace, to prove that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is fact not fiction.
1). The witness of the Apostles, “…but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). Peter and the other Apostles clearly witnessed the power, coming and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the Apostles of the past declared, “the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He is Almighty God, able to save to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25; John 17:2). They witnessed His first coming (Gal. 4:4; Matt. 1:21) and declared His second coming (2 Peter 3:10-13; 2 Thess.1:7-9). They also witnessed His majesty, His deity (1 Tim. 3:16), magnificence (Jude 24), and great splendor (Heb. 1:1-3).
2). The witness of God the Father, “For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:17). This is the declaration of God the Father when He spoke out of the cloud on the mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-13). All honor and glory rightly and naturally belong to the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 5:12-14). God is always well pleased with His Son (Matt. 3:17; Isa. 42:1; Phil. 2:5-9). God is also well pleased with those only in His Son (Rom. 8:1; Eph. 1:6).
3). The witness of the prophets, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:19-21). Peter lays down another strong and convincing proof that the gospel is fact not fiction. All the prophets of the past from Moses to Malachi gave witness to the birth (Isa. 9:6), sacrifice (Isa. 53:4-6), and resurrection (Psa. 16) of our Lord Jesus Christ. “To Him (Jesus Christ) give all the prophets witness” (Acts 10:43). Our Lord died for our sins according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4). All through the Old Testament scripture the Lord is spoken of in type, picture and shadow (Luke 24:25-27). The scriptures, both Old and New Testament are God given (2 Tim. 3:16). They give unto us an unambiguous (clear) testimony of the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:4; Rom. 1:16; 2 Cor. 2:1-5). Tom Harding.
Believers born of God are the LORD’s witnesses that we may know, believe and understand who Christ is. A witness knows by personal, firsthand experience the facts of a matter. Were it not for God’s eternal election no one would ever know Christ, believe Christ or understand that Christ is God eternal, the Lord, the only Savior (Col 1:12-19). Before even the first day of the creation our great I AM purposed how Christ would save his elect people. Our Savior has spoken by all the prophets from the beginning. He has saved and showed his power and wisdom to save throughout the ages by not letting one of his everlastingly loved children be plucked from his hand. Christ came forth exactly on time and has made atonement for every elect child of God by his accomplished redemption through his blood. The Spirit of God came and showed us through his gospel what Christ had done for us so that we rest in him (2 Tim 1:9-10). Therefore, ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.