1 Thessalonians 1:4-6

1 Thes 1:4-6 (ESV) "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.

What does it mean when Paul tells these believers that God has chosen them. This does not mean they were elected, and others are not. Thats a tragic misinterpretation of Paul's teaching on election. Paul tells them why right before this statement when he calls them "brothers loved by God." The love of God reaches out to ALL humanity, calling us, drawing us by his Spirit, and making a way for us to receive the good news. Paul tells us in Romans 5:8 that God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Is there any greater love than this? Paul is reminding these Thessalonians who are experiencing much affliction that God loves them and chose to send the gospel message to them.

Paul shares with us a valuable pattern here. The gospel does not come with persuasive words, flashy services, or fear tactic. The Word will always come with power, with the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. We can speak the truth with power because Jesus promised that his disciples would be indwelt by his Spirit and endued with power. He promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us and teach us and give us his words. It is always the Holy Spirit who brings full conviction to men's hearts. He never condemns, but convicts, drawing all men to himself. His conviction draws us toward righteousness and toward renewal of new life. It is the call to change, to let go of self and step into the light of God's kingdom.

This pattern is evidence that God loves these new believers and chose to call them to come and receive his free gift of life. Paul and his companions are a witness to the gospel because they are demonstrating God's power through their own lives. Thats learning and living! He is also assuring these believers of the genuineness of their conversion because they too are now demonstrating truth through their own lives. He says they have become imitators of them and of the Lord, and they received the word in joy with the Holy Spirit even in the face of persecution. This response is an act of faith, a demonstration of a transformed life.

Are others encountering the power, the Holy Spirit, and conviction through your life? There are so many ways God will do this. We just need to be open and willing to follow him in word and deed.

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