Many of us go through life not experiencing spiritual power. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he reminded them how he had depended on God’s power to share the gospel with them, so they were enabled to respond by faith in Jesus. We can depend on God’s power to as we share the gospel, so that people are enabled to believe in Jesus.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageall right. Good morning, Church. Good to see you this morning. We’re continuing with part four of our series, “Who’s Your ONE?” We are thankful to our friend, Pastor J.D. Greer of the Summit Church in Raleigh, Durham, who’s challenged churches across America to ask this question and answer this question: Who’s your One, because we desire to be a church that has a white hot passion to see people come just as they are and be forever changed by the love of Jesus. That’s who we are; that’s who we want to continue growing in and being. That’s the kind of church that invites people, bring whatever you have in your life right now, come not worrying about changing those things at this time of your life. Just come and engage the Gospel and let the Lord do the work in your life.
Our series theme is found in the book of Luke, chapter 15, where Jesus gave this parable; he says that the good Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine and goes after the one sheep that is lost and has gone astray. He concludes the parable with this verse, he says there’s more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away. God cares about the one; He cares about the world; He cares about the individual. He cares about you. The way he challenges us to reach the world is one life at a time, and so we take this seriously.
During this series, we’ve challenged ourselves to attend all five sermons. If you’re visiting for the first time today, you can watch them online on our website to do the 30-day devotional. And if we have anyone here, it’s your first time, and you don’t have one of these, lift your hand and we will get one to you quickly. We’re looking right now; does anybody need one? We see somebody here; there’s a couple over there. It’s not too late to start the 30-day devotional, Every day on your bookmark you write down the one person that God put on your heart that needs to hear the gospel. And every day you’re praying for that person. We’re inviting you to join us on this journey; you can start today or tomorrow.
For the next 30 days, you’re asking the Lord to put it on your heart to pray for them and also give you an opportunity to share the gospel with them. Pray this prayer, “Lord prepare the heart of my one to believe the gospel and give me the opportunity to share it with them.” We, also, challenge you to be in a community group. Community groups are home groups that meet throughout the week in our church in different homes. During this season, we’re talking about how God’s leading us to share the gospel with the one He has put on our heart.
This series is really connected to the series back in the first quarter of the year, back in the January/February window, when we were doing the Rise Up initiative , talking about making room for more people to come, just as they are. During this season, we started filling this container up with names of people that are far from God, that God was putting on our heart. We said it was a financial initiative, we said we’re willing to sacrifice financially in order to make room for more people.
Now, just making more room won’t be enough, so this series is connected to that, where we’re saying we’re inviting more people and we’re receiving training and encouragement on how to invite more people to come as they are and be forever changed by the love of Jesus. It is important to make room for more, but people won’t come if we don’t invite them.And so we’re asking, even as we go through this series, that you could tear off this little card on your bookmark and write their name here, keep a record of how you’re journaling , tear this card off and drop it right here as we continue to pray for people far from God to come near. This series is very much connected to the rise up series, how we’re going to reach our city for Jesus. Let me summarize quickly where we’ve been. We’re in part four; all four steps of how to answer the question, “Who’s Your ONE?” The four steps Involve a word that starts with the letter P. The first word that we talked about was the word prayer, because we believe that prayer is not a footnote to evangelism, it’s a priority. We want to begin by praying. We’ve characterized prayer like a plow, it’s like the plow that plows up the hard human heart so that when the gospel is given, it has appropriate soil to receive it. We pray for people’s hearts to be softened.
The second word we talked about this last week is presence. Look for where God’s already at work. Look for His presence, and join him there.
Today we’ll be covering the word power; we will be talking about power. Next week we’ll talk about proclaim. We are depending on God’s power, because nothing happens unless God shows up, because every salvation is a miracle. We’ve been talking about this for a few weeks, and I’m overhearing some of the conversations. Plus, we’re having conversations in my community group. I’m hearing from your community groups; these are weekly home groups.
We’re hearing some in you community groups expressing fear of sharing their faith with Christ; they give various reasons for being afraid to talk about Jesus. One is (we’ve heard throughout the series), “I’m afraid they’ll ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to.” We want to be experts on the things that we believe. Here’s what I confessed to you last week; people ask me questions all the time that I don’t know the answer to. I confessed a further thing; I have questions on the Bible that . I still don’t know the answer to myself. Here’s the thing I will say to you, that I do know what I believe, right? And so for that person, in this message today, I will address fear. You are afraid that you won’t know the answer to a question that someone may ask you.
Here’s another reason that people say they’re afraid; they’re afraid they’ll offend someone. ‘I don’t want to offend anybody you know, talking about politics or religion; it offends people,’or ‘I’m afraid I’ll be rejected and this is my friend and I don’t want to lose them as my friend,’ ‘I’m afraid of being ridiculed; they might call me some sort of fanatic or something, and I just want to be popular with my friends,’ or ‘I don’t want to make people uncomfortable.’ We have a lot of reasons for our fears.
Here’s another reason I hear; ‘I just don’t want to witness. I just don’t feel passion for it. I don’t feel motivated. I think maybe that’s for people like you, Gary. I just don’t feel like that’s my calling in life. I just don’t feel motivated. I don’t feel passion for it.’ Sometimes people that would be really honest will say that. ‘You know, I really don’t want to talk about Jesus; that’s somebody else’s job.’ Or maybe some people say, ‘I don’t feel worthy. I don’t feel worthy to talk about it because I don’t feel like I’m a great example. I mean, I’m trying to follow him, but I still don’t feel worthy.’ There are a lot of reasons that people say, ‘I believe in Jesus, but I’m afraid; I don’t feel worthy. I don’t feel passion.’
What do all of these situations have in common? They are evidence of a person who has not received power to share their faith. They have not been empowered by the Holy Spirit. If you’re struggling with fear, if you’re struggling with self worth, that’s evidence that you’re not living your life filled with the Holy Spirit.
That’s what we’re talking about today; the word power. How can we depend on God’s power for sharing their faith? In Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica, he reminded them how he depended on God’s power when he brought them the gospel and how God’s power saved them. I believe that we can depend on God’s power in order to share our faith with others and see people come to Jesus. How is this possible? How do we depend on God’s power?
Chapter one of first Thessalonians will answer this question, as we see three ways on how we can depend on God’s power. So are you ready to dig in? Let’s dig In the book of first Thessalonians, chapter one verses one through seven, “1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 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. 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, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” This is God’s word. Amen. So we’re looking now for three ways in our text today for how we can depend on God’s power for witnessing.
Here is the first way: (1) Immerse yourself in God’s word. Immerse yourself in God’s word. Verse five will be the focus of our preaching today. We offer the verses around it for context, but verse five will be the place that we see the three ways that we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Take note in verse five, “…because our gospel came to you, not only in word…” And then you’ll go on down to verse six, “…and you became imitators of us and of the Lord for you received the word…” I want you to circle the word “word” in those two places because the beginning of experiencing Holy Spirit power and your witness is to immerse yourself in God’s word.
Now let me give you some background so we know where we’re at in the story. First note who is writing the letter. In the letters in the Bible, we often see that they identify who they are right out of the gate. You know, if we write a letter today, we might say ‘Dear John’ or ‘Dear Sally’ and we put who we are at the end. But the pattern in those days was to start off by saying who they are. And so it starts off with Paul, Silvanus and Timothy. This letter is written by Paul, but he’s including the other members of his missionary team.
Now, if you were here last week, you will remember we were in the city of Philippi and we said it was a four-man team. We said it was Paul, Silas, Timothy, the young man that Paul picked up in the City of Lystra who was a young believer, and the physician Dr. Luke. You’ll not see Luke’s name because apparently Luke stayed behind in the city of Philipii, and if you read in the book of Acts, you’ll read that he appears again later because it looks like he stayed there. The believers in Philippi there were meeting at the home of the woman Lydia. Luke apparently stays there for some time; we see him again later in the book of Acts, when the apostle Paul is traveling back through Philippi and he picks Luke up on his way back.
Now we have three members of the team; they are Paul, Silas and Timothy. Do you know what’s coming next? Right, a map. I’m going to show you a map now. You’re not surprised, I’m sure. And so this is Paul’s second missionary journey, and we know he’s gone through his hometown. He grew up in Tarsus and he went through there. Here, he’s doing follow up work on the churches he has planted on his first missionary journey when he went with Barnabus. But now Paul and Silas are coming up from Antioch and are here in Lystra. They pick up Timothy and somewhere along the way, we’re not sure where they picked up Luke, and they wanted to go to Asia. The Holy Spirit prevented them from going. They wanted to go to Bithynia and the spirit of Jesus prevented it, and so they kind of went over here to the coast. And then we know that the Holy Spirit beckoned them to come to Macedonia, so they caught a boat. They stopped off on this island (pointing to map). They came in through the port city of Neapolis, and they preached in Philippi. This was last week; hey dropped Luke off there.
Now they’ve continued with a 100 mile journey on foot walking on the Via Egnatia, that famous Roman road 800 miles long that really was connected all the way from about right here, all the way to the coast of Greece, right before it goes to Italy. So it’s a famous road. In fact, you could still see it today. Go to the next slide.These ruins here are from the Byzantine era, but this is a photo. Today it’s a famous seaport, the second largest city in modern Greece. It has been continually populated, so when you try to go see ruins there, it’s hard to find them because they’ve built on top of everything. It’s the second largest city in Greece. One point 1,000,000 people live there today, and it’s always been a huge city. It was much bigger than Philippi, although Phillippi had more name recognition because of its founder.
It was big enough to have a Jewish synagogue also in Thessaloniki. Go to the next slide. Here are ruins of the Via Egnatia in the city of Thessaloniki and so we can still see those Romans really knew how to build a road. And so here we are, 2000 years later. They knew how to build roads. Just about every major city would have a Roman forum and we see a forum here. Paul probably preached in this forum in Thessaloniki. Why do I show you these slides of places that I have visited? It’s because I want you to understand and don’t just skip over the place names when you read the Bible. They really matter. And you can kind of see on a map how Paul is progressing and it just undergirds the truthfulness and and realness of the scripture. Amen. That’s what we’re trying to make sure that you get.
So here’s Paul. He’s writing this letter to the believers in the city of Thessalonica where he has planted a church and he’s commending them, because when he brought the Word to them, they believed it. So here we see the key word that I want to bring out today in verse five. Now that I’ve given you the background on verse five “because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” Circle the word “power” in your notes. That’s what we’re talking about right now. I want you to get this in your head right now. God has promised you power in the Holy Spirit to be his witness. Its promised. He has promised you power.
This Greek word here is the Greek word “dunamis.” It’s where we get the word dynamite dynamo, dynamic. It’s explosive spiritual power. The kind of power that raised Christ from the dead. This is the kind of power we’re talking about. There’s another Greek word for power that can be also translated authority. But this word power is translated accurately, energizing power, working power. This is the kind of power that’s promised to us.
Paul says, “When I came bringing you the Gospel, I didn’t just bring it inward. I also bought it, brought it in power.” But he did bring it inward. So the gospel is made up of words that you know that it means good news. What’s the good news? That Jesus died for you. He died for your sins. But knowing that the good news, He was raised from the grave and He lives today so that you could be made right with God. Here’s the good news. God is no longer counting your sins against you. For those of you that have believed in Jesus, you are set free. That’s the good news. You’re set free in Jesus, but it requires words. The gospel is words. The gospel is good news.
Now, I sometimes hear believers say, “You know, I’m not so good with words and so I just try to be a good example. You know, I just feel like my life is a witness. I’m just trying to be a good example.” Maybe you’ve said that and it sounds really Christian, doesn’t It? Sounds like something good Christians say about themselves, but it’s not biblical. The Bible doesn’t say that your witness is just to be a 007 secret agent Christian and never tell anybody who you are. Just kind of go around and act really holy. You know what people might find out about you, that you’re trying to be better than everybody else? ‘You know, I don’t cuss. I don’t dance. I don’t play with cards. I don’t…’ Whatever you think it means to be good. That’s what we used to say to ourselves back when I was young. Just like this list of don’ts. Being a Christian is a long list of don’ts. That doesn’t sound like good news to me. You cannot be a witness without words. Does that make sense?
And so now look, I’m going to say this, but you do need to have a life that matches it. Paul says this in verse five, “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.” So they had the life that matched their words. But it’s at the end of the verse, not at the beginning of the verse . Don’t get the cart ahead of the horse. The words come first, then the life that matches it.
We excuse ourselves and say, ‘Well, I try to be a good person. I try to be good to people, and listen.’ No one’s really that good. But here’s the good news. The good news is no one’s really that good. But Jesus was so good, so perfect, that He died in our place and He offers His righteousness to us. That’s the good news. So it involves words.
How do you get these words in you? So here’s what the gospel is for you as a witness. Just think about it. The gospel exists before you were born, right? So it’s it’s been around. It’s been coming your way. Someone handed it to you and you believed, and at that moment, the intersection of the gospel coming towards you and that moment in your life when you believed that’s the moment of your witness, of where you tell people this is how I used to be. Then I encountered Jesus and here’s how He saved me. Here’s how my life has changed. Now that’s your witness, that is your testimony. It includes the gospel, but it also includes how you encountered it. So that’s your unique witness that you happen to be the world’s expert on. No one knows more about what Jesus did for you than you.
You might not know the answer to every theological question that people have. Neither do I, by the way. But you know this. You know what Jesus did for you. You know what the blind man in John, chapter nine said, “I don’t know about this or that or these other questions, but this I do know I once was blind, but now I see.” You know what you know and it involves words. So you have to immerse yourself in the word so that the gospel is in you; that is that which the Holy Spirit empowers.
If you’re not immersing yourself in the word you will not experience power because you have no words. ‘Well, I’m trying to live a good life.’ The Holy Spirit can’t empower that. But if you will witness, if you will speak. if you’ll just open your mouth to say the first words, the power energizes your words. But without the words, there’s no power. I want the Holy Spirit’s power.
I gotta tell you, I was praying this week, “Don’t let me get up there and just be Gary. That will not help anybody. I want You to show up.” He’s so faithful, no matter how lacking I am. So I immerse myself in His Word, knowing that I have nothing else but that, and the more I immerse myself in His Word, the more power I experience in my life. You have to start with the Word. And then the Word so saturates your life that you begin to be a vessel of God’s Word everywhere. His Word never returns void because the Holy Spirit empowers His Word. But if you must get it in you, so if you want to be full of power, you must be full of the word.
Here’s what Christ promised. He promised that we would receive power for witnessing. Acts 1:8 (ESV) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” You will receive power and you will be my witnesses. These are promise words. He says it in a similar fashion in the book of Luke, chapter 24 towards the end of the book. This is after His resurrection and He’s about to ascend. Luke 24:46-49 (ESV) 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Don’t you want to be clothed with power? I’m not talking about power to do things your way. I’m talking about Holy Spirit power so that when you speak the words of God. So that when you speak the words of your testimony, it is clothed with power.
Clothed with power; don’t you want that, Aren’t you sick and tired of living life by your own energy? Aren’t you exhausted? Jesus said, “Come unto me ye who are weary and heavy laden. And I will give you rest.” d You can rest in My power. Stop trying to live the Christian life by your own strength. You will fail time after time. But Christ never fails. His spirit never fails. This power from the Spirit reminds us of the Word and activates the Word.
Listen to these passages; John, chapter 14, Jesus is talking to his disciples. He says in John 14:26 (ESV) “ But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Now this is a good explanation of how the New Testament was written. How did they write the Gospels? They sit down to write the Gospels. Matthew sits down to write the Gospels. He remembers all these things that Jesus said. The Holy Spirit reminds him, and so he writes it down. But the Holy Spirit is not finished.
Here’s my conviction, that when you immerse yourself in God’s Word and you’re talking to someone, the words come back up. The Holy Spirit not only energizes them , but those things you’ve put in your heart. They come back out at the appropriate time to the appropriate application. You don’t have enough wisdom to do that, my friend. But he does. He knows exactly what verse, what quote they need. It’s in you if you’ve immersed yourself in it. But if you’re not in God’s word, you will not be clothed with power. It comes first with the Word. You have to have the Word.
Romans 10:17 (NKJV) “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” There is no salvation without the word, and the word that saves them is the word of God. And if you don’t put it in you, it can’t come out of you. He’s not going to bring to remembrance that which you don’t have, and you can’t remember what you don’t have. You can remember what you have , and if you put it in you, he’ll bring it out of you at the appropriate time. Powerbegins with the word; immerse yourself in God’s word.
John Piper writes this, he says,“It is almost certain that you will not be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit if you are not filled with the Word of God.” Immerse yourself in God’s word.
Here’s the second way. Be continually filled with God’s spirit. Immerse yourself in God’s word. Be then be continually filled with God’s spirit. Remember, we’re focusing on verse five. We’ve covered the verses around it to get the context of the passage. The gospel came to you; it traveled to Thessaloniki inside of us. It came in power and in the holy spirit which are connected, it’s holy spirit power. The words came in holy spirit power.
How did you get that? How do you get the Holy Spirit? How do you get that power? Only those who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior have received the Holy Spirit. When do you get it? He fills you the moment you confess and believe; he’s the deposit of that future inheritance. And so he comes into you at the moment of receiving.
But how are you continually filled? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about for a moment. We’re going to look at some verses to unpack that. First of all, those who believe; this is a reminder from last week that we have been given the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 (GNT) And you also became God’s people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised.? So how’d you get the Holy Spirit? How do you get him in your life? Receive Jesus, that’s how to receive the Holy Spirit. Now, how are you filled with him now? That’s gonna require some more conversation. Let’s talk about that for a second.
How are you closed in power? How are you led by him? Ephesians 5:18 (NLT) “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Now, when I was young and I would read this, I was always thinking that’s kind of strange that he put the Holy Spirit with being drunk. That seemed strange to me when I was younger. The other thing that would kind of confuse me would be is the Holy Spirit something you have to drink? Do you use it up and then the next day, you’ve got to drink more? I was thinking about it wrong, because the Holy Spirit is not and “it.” He’s the third person of the trinity. Every time you see something about the Holy Spirit in the Bible, it’s always referred to him in the masculine, singular pronoun. He’s a person. You can offend him. He has feelings. You can quench him.
It says in first Thessalonians, chapter five that you are not to quench the Holy Spirit. He’s like a fire; he’s a passion. Do you say you don’t have any passion or you don’t have the fire? He a fire; He’s full of passion. He’s full of desire for the lost. He burns for it. And so don’t quench him. Don’t offend him. He’s got feelings. He’s a person. He’s the third person of the trinity.
You’ve got questions. I understand. I do, too, about the trinity, because it just makes sense to me if you think about it for a second. I can’t fully understand God because He is beyond my understanding. He’s revealed through the Scripture as being one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He says to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is a command. It’s not a holy suggestion. Be filled , which is, in the present tense imperative, which means continuous, be continuously field. But what does he mean by “filled?” We have to go back to the text. “Do not be drunk with wine.”
Here’s what we say if we’re driving today and we get pulled over by the police and he makes us walk in a straight line and we can’t do it and we have to blow into a breathalyzer. (No, I’ve never done this. It’s never happened to me, but I’ve heard that that’s what you do, right? I’ve read about it. Plus, I watch TV sometimes, and so that’s what happens, right? All those cop shows and so they call it a D U. I right.) Driving under the influence so influences the word here that I think Paul has in mind. Don’t drive your life under the influence of alcohol or wine or some other coping mechanism. Whatever your favored addiction is, whatever your medication of choice, overeating, over drinking, whatever it is; we all have a coping that’s inappropriate, that’s fallen and sinful. instead of being under its control under its influence, be under the control of the Holy Spirit.
So what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? It means to live your life under His influence, under His control. So how can I be obedient to the command to be continually filled? Well, I’ll tell you how you can be disobedient to it . Let me start there with one place in your life that you have not surrendered to the Lord. The one place that you’re still in control, that you still are telling yourself, “I got this” or you’re telling yourself, “Lord, I’ve given you everything else. But this is mine.” That’s the place that you’re not empowered by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, you’re not empowered by the Holy Spirit anywhere else because he’s either Lord of all or He’s not Lord at all. The one place He is Lord affects all the rest and that one stronghold in your life. It’s probably idolatry. Idolatry could be what you drove up in and it’s parked out in the parking lot; that could be your idol. It could be your finances; you say to God, “I love you with all my heart. But don’t talk about money because a whole lot of people get offended if I ever talk about money.” If I want to offend some people in the same year 2019 I should kick the year off by talking about money and then that summer, talk about witnessing. That’ll blow a whole church. ‘Gary could you talk about the things that make me feel good about me?’ Go to another church. We are here to make disciples; a people that are becoming like Jesus and that are empowered by the Holy Spirit and clothed with power. How do you get that? You’ve got to put him in charge of every arena. If you want to be filled with all the spirit, it means right to the tips of your fingertips. You’re not filled with Him because that hand still does what it wants to. ‘Well, okay, he’s running this part of my life, but not that hand.’ Well, if he’s not running that hand, he’s not running anything.
Do you want to know how to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Surrender every arena of your life, single person; put your dating life in God’s hands. ‘Now, wait a minute. I’ve got standards. He might make me go out with somebody that …’ He knows what you need better than you do. ‘Well, I you know, it’s my money.’ You said the wrong thing. It’s His money. Give him your whole life, it’s all His. The word “My” has to leave. It’s all His. I am yours.
How are you gonna be filled with the Holy Spirit? How you’re gonna experience God’s power in sharing your faith? How you gonna get passion? Immerse yourself in the Word because the gospel is words. You can’t share your faith without words. And it will have no life changing power if it’s empowered by you. So it has to be empowered by the spirit. And how are you gonna be empowered by the spirit? You must surrender every arena of your life over to Him. How often do you think you have to do that? Pretty regular, because every day you get up and the old man tries to jump in the driver’s seat.
I’m gonna go check in the parking lot here in a minute. I’m gonna leave just before you all do when we go out there. And if any of you all have that bumper sticker I’ve been warning you about. If you are new , let me tell you. Don’t you pull up in here with a bumper sticker that says, “God is my co-pilot” because, right out of the gate, I know you’re not filled with the Holy Spirit because if God is your co pilot, He’s not in charge. We need a new bumper sticker. Can you all make me one? “God is my pilot. I’m riding in the back seat.” He’s in charge. He’s in charge. God is my pilot. I’m filled with the Holy Spirit. Every arena in my life. When I get up every morning I go, “God, what do you want me to do today? Let me join you there.” Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Surrender every arena of your life.
Now here’s number three. Here’s number three. (3) Fully rely on God’s conviction. Remember, we’re drilling down on verse five, right? How did the gospel come? It came in words. He came in power and it came with full conviction on me. I will read it to you again; maybe you forgot already, “….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.” That’s a good word; that means full assurance and full confidence.
I want to ask you something. You might not think I’m that smart and you’re probably right. You might think, “Well, Gary, you forgot to talk about this,’ and I probably did. But you won’t leave here today knowing that I’m fully convinced that Jesus has saved me and made me a new man. And I’m fully convinced that he loves you, Wants to save you and make you new too. Now, I don’t know everything, but I know that. But I’m fully convinced. And I know the way you’re on. If it’s without Jesus and you haven’t fully surrendered your life to Jesus, I know you’re going through a lot of pain. I know you’re exhausted. I know that you’re struggling. Your marriage is struggling, your finances are struggling, your parenting is struggling, you’re not getting along with your parents ot you’re having trouble everywhere. Now I’m not saying all that trouble will go away, but it gets better. Yeah, it gets better every day and you get filled with joy. And more than that, you start living fully convinced that you know where you’re going. You know that God has got it and you don’t know what tomorrow holds but you know who holds tomorrow. I hope you’ll leave here knowing that I am fully convinced. Can people say that about you?
So what does it mean to be bring in the gospel with full conviction? It means, if you heard the gospel from the Apostle Paul, he wasn’t apologizing about it. He brought it in there and said, This will change your life. It’s the most important thing. It’s worth my whole life to bring it to you and to walk the 100 miles. He had already been beaten and jailed in Philippi. He brushed himself off, got himself a good meal over at Lydia’s house and said “Next?” He headed to Thessaloniki, where there are people that are full of the Holy Spirit and clothed with power. That’s where they come from. I want some of that, don’t you? I want to be clothed in His power. We must be filled with the word, immersed with the word, filled with the Holy Spirit and then this full conviction.
It’s not just Paul coming with full conviction, but they are convicted when they hear the gospel. So this conviction of the Holy Spirit is working. The speaker is convinced and he’s convincing. And then the hearer is convicted.
Here’s what it says in John, Chapter 16; this is Jesus talking, John 16:7-9 (ESV) “ 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me.” He’s talking about His ascension. Remember when I was talking about that, that when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment concerning sin because they do not believe him? It’s not my job to convict people of their sin, to go around saying that’s a sin and that’s a sin. That’s not my job. Whose job is that? It is the Holy Spirit’s job. What’s my job? My job is to bear witness to the good news. If I will do that, and I will turn my life over tonthe Holy Spirit so that I am filled with the Holy Spirit, He energizes the word of God in me because I’ve immersed myself in it. As the word of God goes out, he will convict sinners of their specific sin, and usually they’ve got a worse one that they’re hiding, that nobody knows about anyway. And He will touch it and get that right there . Nobody knows about that, but I know about it and you’re forgiven because Jesus died for you.
“Come to me, you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” He convicts. I am fully convinced and he’s fully convicting. This is what’s going on in that wonderful, miraculous moment when we’re sharing our witness with others. It’s the power of conviction.
As I have said, it’s not human words, it’s not wisdom, it’s not me. It’s holy spirit power. Look what Paul talks about in first Corinthians, he says, 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (ESV) 1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
I’m southern and I can’t help it. If I sound like I’m from the hills of Virginia it’s because I am. I tried. You know, I listen to myself sometimes, but not often, because it’s hard for me to tolerate. I will watch a video of myself and it’ll be something about the way I look or the way I sound. You probably already know about it but you keep coming here. You must love me or something. I just want to talk to you about Jesus. I want for you to accept Jesus and not just here, because this is a safe place here, a church. But on Monday, when I’m going to go get a part at Lowe’s or something, and 15 of you line up to say hello to me. If you’re a preacher, you have to try to be a Christian on Monday, by the way. And that was a joke, right? Thanks for laughing. Now, you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit every day and be willing to talk to people. But I just want to talk about Jesus, like everything else is just getting less and less important to me.
We had the grandparent trip this past week. Some of you been praying for me because we took number five this time. You know, another one made the cut. You have to be potty trained to go on the grandparent trip. You know, we already did that. So we tell our grandkids, you know, when you’re potty trained, you get to go on the grandparent trip. This year, we took them to the beach. We took five. As far as I know, we brought back five. We did a head count. Every night they would want “Papaw” (that’s me ) to tell them a story. And so, on the first night, I told a story of a time machine that came and got them and they went back in time. And they appeared right at the moment when Goliath was shouting at David. David comes up to them and says, “Who are you guys?” They introduced themselves. Day two came of the trip, and the grandchildren couldn’t wait for the story. All day long they were asking about the story. Especially if they get to be included in it.
God is writing His story ; he already has a main star and His name is Jesus. Jesus is the main star. And then supporting star is the Holy Spirit who always reminds us about Jesus. And then he’s writing you in. If you let him, he wants you to be in the story. Don’t you want to be in the story? Don’t you want to be part of the adventure of telling others how they can be involved in this story? You see, if we rely on his conviction, we’re leaving the results up to God, and the results are always up to God.
Will you immerse yourself in God’s word? Where do you begin to get it in you? By reading it, meditating on it. So God has something to bring to your remembrance through the Holy Spirit to activate in your life. Will , you turn every arena of your life over to the Holy Spirit so that you are filled with the Holy Spirit so he can clothe you with power. And then trust that when you speak about Jesus, regardless of what it appears like’s happening to the hearer, know , this, he will give you full convictions so that you’re convinced and He will convict them because His word never returns void.
Will you do it? Will you depend on God’s power for witnessing? Let’s pray and let’s ask God to move in this room right now. Because not only are we here as believers, but there may be someone here today, as there often is, someone who just needs to come to Jesus today.
Let’s pray, Lord, thank you for your word. Oh, how much we love your word. It is food. And so, Lord, I pray for that person right now that is under your hearing that they heard your word, and they just feel so attracted to Jesus right now. And maybe it feels a little bit, my friend, like something’s making you uneasy or something. You might even feel tears popping up in your eyes. All of us is unique; He reaches us all where we are. So if it’s you, my friend, right there and you’re ready to turn your life over to Jesus. Would you pray with me? Right where you are, “Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sinner and I need a savior. Come into my life. I believe you died on the cross and that you were raised from the grave. Come and live in me. I want you to be my lord and savior. I give you my whole life. Make me a child of God. If you’re praying that prayer, believing in your heart, then Jesus will save you. He will make you a believer and a child of God. Others are here today and you’re a believer, you know Jesus. But you’ve been full of fear or you’ve lacked passion or you haven’t felt worthy. You need the Holy Spirit. He’s already residing in you. But there’s an area that you’re not giving to him. Would you give it to him right now? “Lord forgive me. Here, I surrender that area to you right now. That one area I’ve been holding back, I surrender it to you. Fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit. Clothe me with power. Fill me with passion. To do what you’ve made me to do. Lord, I surrender my life afresh to you. In Jesus name