I’ve been thinking about evangelism lately and I came across this passage today in 1 Thessalonians that was very relevant. It’s in chapter 2, verses 1 to 8:
1For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
First, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy in the midst of their suffering and mistreatment had boldness in God to declare the gospel of God (2:2). Their confidence and boldness was in God, not themselves. Thus, if I lack boldness in declaring the Gospel, my confidence is in myself and not God. A good check on my motivation and in whose power I’m proclaiming the Good News.
Second, Paul and company speak and declare the Gospel not to please man but to please God, our judge (2:4). They did not use words of flattery or were greedy for gain (2:5). Nor did they seek the praise, glory and adoration of people (2:6). Their reason for proclaiming the Gospel was first and foremost about God and not others and their opinions, nor for their own gain. It was a single minded devotion and obedience to God. It is the Gospel of God (2:2, 8 ) not of man; its focus must first and foremost be on God and then man. Getting the order in reverse is not only disastrous for others but blasphemous to God.
Next, Paul did not only share with the Thessalonians the Gospel but also their own lives (2:8). It wasn’t a drive-by-sharing. They proclaimed the Gospel but also en-fleshed it with their lives. It’s one thing to tell someone about Jesus. It’s other to be Christ to them, laying down one’s live for them in a Christ like manner. It is apparent in this verse and the rest of the NT that as the Gospel is proclaimed to people, the presenter of the Gospel must love and sacrifice for the good of the recipients of the Gospel. Thus, Paul goes on to say in the next verses:
10You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11For you know how, like a father with his children, 12we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
The Gospel is proclaimed to be make disciple of Christ and not as a handout ticket to heaven. As a result, the message of the Gospel must be accompanied with the life of the presenter. This is done in order to cultivate the power of the Gospel for the believer’s entire life, exhorting, encouraging, and charging them to walk in a manner worthy of God (see verse 12).
Finally, Paul says in verse 13: “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” The Gospel, the word of God, is the energizing factor and epicenter of all true disciples. As it is often said, the Gospel is never the ABCs of the Christian life, but the A through Z.