October 23, 2020
Is the Gospel Flowing from Your Life?
By Skip Heitzig
We all know the message flight attendants give in preparation for a flight: buckle your seat belt; if there's a change in cabin pressure, be sure to put on the oxygen mask that drops down; etcetera. Certainly this is an important message that could save your life. But what strikes me is that it's usually received with a yawn at best.
What about our message, the gospel message? How are we sharing that message? Are we sharing it at all? And how are people listening to it?
According to Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1, there's a normal flow to the gospel: it comes to you, it works in you, and then it flows out from you. This is what happened to the church at Thessalonica.
First, the gospel came to them in both word and example. As Paul wrote, "For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake" (v. 5). In other words, "What you heard from us was convincing because of what you saw in us. The testimony of our lips was backed up by the testimony of our lives."
Once the gospel came to the Thessalonians and they received it, it then worked in their lives in a few different ways: it brought conversion and repentance (see v. 9), anticipation for the second coming of Jesus (see v. 10), submission to God and His representatives (see v. 6), and joy in the midst of affliction (see v. 6).
But after the gospel comes to you and works in you, it must then come from you. "For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we [the apostles] do not need to say anything" (v. 8).
The phrase "sounded forth" means to echo or reverberate forth. What a word picture this is of evangelism. It was like a big bang occurred when the Thessalonians received the gospel, and the sound of that bang was still being heard in the valleys and mountains of the whole region. They didn't just say, "Great, the message came to us, and we're going to heaven." It still echoed forth. They were saved souls wanting to see more souls saved.
I believe there's one appropriate response we as Christians should have to the unbelieving world: we must penetrate. The bullets are flying? Run into them. The battle is raging? Jump into it. Jesus called us salt and light (see Matthew 5:13-14). The saltshaker needs to be turned over and the light needs to be emitted into the world.
So where are you pointing people? Where is your life directing them? For the Thessalonian believers, the gospel came to them and worked in them, but then it rang out from them. The gathered community of believers became the scattered community of proclaimers. Jesus said, "I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). When was the last time you caught a fish, or even threw out the line or the net?