1 Thessalonians 1:5 | Full Assurance

Jesus saves. It is not just a slogan. It is a truth. I want to look at Jesus saving and what is involved. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonian church tells them he knows they are saved by Jesus.

because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:5a ESV

There are four components of this salvation and truly all four need to be in place for a Jesus saves moment to be real and meaningful.

First the gospel came to them in “word”. λόγος (logos) is the Greek word that is loaded with meaning (I have written more here). Essentially the good news of Jesus is communicated by word. The reason that people share their faith, the reason we have preachers, the reason the Bible is the best-selling book of all time is that the gospel, the good news that Jesus saves, must be communicated. Paul had previously traveled to this city and had preached the good news to them. They heard the word of Jesus as spoken through other Christians. If you are saved and you never tell anyone about Jesus then the primary role as a Christian you have in saving others will not be accomplished.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

Second is the word of the gospel also comes with “power”. δύναμις (dynamis) is the Greek word that is defined by Strong’s dictionary as “force (literally or figuratively); specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself)”. Paul knows the Thessalonian church contains people saved by Jesus because God himself has intervened in a miraculous way. We know in the early church there were miraculous events described as healing, raising from the dead, jails opened up, and more. Are all salvation events where Jesus saves as evident as these? No, however when God intervenes there is something miraculous happening. When the word comes with God’s intervention it comes with power. My own salvation was a miraculous event. Some may have spectacular stories in their testimony where God altered their lives in profound ways. My salvation happened at young age but it came with power. God stepped in and called me to accept that Jesus died to save me. Every salvation event is by definition miraculous and we should be able to recognize the very hand of God in our lives.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV

Third, the word of God comes with power by way of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples that he had to go away so that a helper could come. Jesus may be God in the form of a man but God in the form of a man is limited in time and space. The Holy Spirit is God in the Spirit and the Holy Spirit is able to transcend time and space. This means the Holy Spirit can be with all those saved by Christ at the same time anywhere in the created universe. The Holy Spirit is God’s way of residing with our spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guide and the Holy Spirit is the messenger with a direct connection to God the father.  Even more than all that the Holy Spirit is the down payment on being saved by Jesus proving that we will be able to enter the presence of God in heaven.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

Fourth and final in knowing where we stand in salvation is conviction or assurance.  πληροφορία (plērophoria) the Greek word means assurance or confidence. Paul knows the members of this church are saved because they heard the word of God preached, he witnessed the miraculous intervention of God in their lives, Paul has seen his spirit testify with the same spirit living in them and he has seen them stand with conviction and assurance in their faith through pain and suffering. Being saved by Christ does not mean happiness or being “blessed” (although some people do seem to be happy and blessed in Christ) being saved means that come heaven or hell one will not waiver but have conviction to trust God no matter what (that is called faith).

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you … 2 that [your] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ. Colossians 1:1-2 ESV

Those saved by Jesus are new creations. Saved from the death of their souls rotting away in selfish ambitions and godlessness. Jesus has accomplished what he set out to do. He died on the Cross for your sins and my sins. He died so that I might be a new creation marked and sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is a real transformation. I am not who I was before or who I might have become apart from God. Dear reader you are at this moment reading the word of God. The gospel of good news. Lift your eyes toward heaven and tell God that through Christ you want to be saved.

The Gospel is the Only Way Forward

Friday the Supreme Court changed the landscape of America. I am not sure anyone should have been surprised by the outcome, but the reality of crossing that threshold where marriage has been redefined in every state will have far reaching changes to the culture of this country. While I understood the possibility and grasped the impact intellectually the reality of the ruling on Friday left my emotional side overwhelmed and shocked. If anyone felt that the homosexual or gay lifestyle was promoted in overdrive before this ruling then all will see it become ingrained in every institution from preschool to the workforce to Government regulations. What I would like to look at today is the response from those who fear God and those who put their hope in Him.

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:22-25 ESV

 First Christians must understand that the society and world that we live in is at war spiritually speaking and that our neighbors are in the dark to the reality. God in His wisdom and in His timing has allowed our country to be turned over to its lusts and selfishness. Our materialism, disobedience to parents, and our capacity for selfishness is bringing the culture to ruin. Christians even have been caught up in the lie of this world that we must store up treasures here on earth. We are at a point where the larger culture serves itself rather than God. God has relented and given the culture over to the foolish desires.  

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32 ESV

 Christians will enter into a period of defensiveness. Christians will be asked to participate in the celebrations of this newfound way of life. Christians will be pressured to support and champion the new order because the world wants approval. Christians must not be angry or depressed or even seek to withdraw from the culture. Christians must stand in the face of social pressure, attacks, and persecution. Christians must continue to love their neighbor and the Gospel of Jesus Christ must become our standard flag as we pray for those neighbors. 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 ESV

 For Christians in America standing against the now institutionalized reality of same sex unions will be overwhelming as the culture that once was aligned with Godly values has left the Christian foundation that was once enjoyed. Are Christians ready to be unashamed of the good news of Christ? Are Christians ready to live by faith? Are Christians ready to stop building treasure in this life and put their hope in the eternal? What if corporate America becomes a place where Christians are no longer welcome? Are we willing to lose our jobs and our material lifestyle just for posting a blog like this one I am writing today? (If you think I am being over dramatic click here.) For Christians it is time to read the red letters of the Bible and understand how Christ operated in a world that hated him. If you are shocked to learn that the world hated him remember that the world put him on a cross to die for being Jesus. Understand also that the world will hate those that follow him. For those Christians who love God, are unashamed, and are living by faith our response to the world must be in love and longsuffering.  

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 ESV

 One last word of encouragement to anyone who might be tempted to support this new order or maybe even be silent before it. Be encouraged from the example of our spiritual forefathers who were also ordered to be silent in a culture that hated them.  

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:29-32 ESV