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CHURCH TALK: Welcoming the Gospel message

Friday 12 November 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Church Talk, Features


I was privileged to be part of the bicentennial Gospel celebrations held in Aitutaki recently. Watching the re-enactment of the event (the arrival of the Gospel to Aitutaki 200 years ago) was indeed a humbling experience, writes Pastor Eric Toleafoa of the Seventh-day Adventists Church.

Welcoming the Gospel to our shores helped transform many lives from what it was then to where it is today. I can only imagine what that initial experience would have been like and the changes that took place.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:4-8 the apostle Paul describes a similar event for the people of Thessalonica.

Paul starts of by saying in verses 4-5 “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.”

First of all, Paul knew that God has loved and chosen these people because God sent the powerful Gospel to them.

Secondly, Paul knew that God has loved and chosen these people because they had welcomed the message.

If anyone is going to respond to the Gospel and welcome its message, they will need God’s help. And that’s just what the Thessalonian believers had done – they welcomed the message in four different ways.

For the Thessalonians, accepting the Gospel meant being willing to suffer for it.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 “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.”

We know the Thessalonians welcomed the message because their response was like that of the Apostles and Jesus trusting the word of God even when they suffered for it. And notice, in verse 6, that they received the Gospel with joy even though it meant trouble and hardship for them. It’s not natural to be full of joy when things go wrong. God must have been at work in their lives for them to respond like that, don’t you think?

Accepting the Gospel means being an example for others.

Vs 7-8 “…so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.  For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.”

We know the Thessalonians welcomed the message because they became a role model to others, an example of how to respond rightly to the Gospel. We can also see how they passed that same message on to others – it rang out from them.

For the Thessalonians, accepting the Gospel means making different choices.

Versus 9-10 “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

The message they heard led to true repentance. A real turning away from their old sinful life to a life lived for Jesus. They turned from idols, to the one true and living God.

Welcoming the Gospel message helped change their focus. Now they were waiting for Jesus. Their hope in life, the thing they looked forward to most of all was the day when Jesus returned to save them and bring them into His kingdom.

Accepting the Gospel means everything changes.

The Gospel call of God, His command to turn from sin and trust in his Son, deserves and demands a response.

Here are some things for you to consider:

  • Are you imitating the Lord Jesus even when it means suffering?
  • Are you modelling a right response to the Gospel, so that other Christians can be encouraged?
  • Are you passing on the Good News of salvation to others – you cannot keep it to yourself?
  • Are you welcoming the message, and therefore welcoming the messengers who encourage you in faith and teach the scriptures to you?
  • Have you truly repented, turned away from your old way of life because Jesus is now your king?
  • And are you now waiting for Jesus – is that your great hope for the future to spend eternity with Him?

These are all signs of God’s love and God’s work in your life. And if you see these signs at all, or if your Christian friends see these signs at all in your life – be encouraged. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you!