The life of a Christian is a changed life. As Paul wrote to these believers in the province of Macedonia, there was one thing that he was certain of: (v.4) these people were God’s people.
After his visit with believers in Thessalonica, Timothy had brought the terrific report to Paul that in spite of persecution, the church was thriving. In the midst of a pagan culture, God’s chosen people were living up to the purpose for which God had saved them. Their faith was an evident one.
Now Paul began his letter to these fellow Christians, with a few reasons that gave him confidence that these believers were truly the ‘brethren beloved.”
1) They had received the explicit gospel. A 13th century Roman Catholic friar is often credited with the statement “Preach the gospel, if necessary, use words.” Whether or not Francis of Assisi said this does not change the fact that it is rather unbiblical. When declaring the gospel, words must be used. It is not good enough to “show the gospel in your life.” Jesus did not die a generic death, and therefore, his gospel is not a generic one. It is a very articulate gospel, and Paul and Silas had painstakingly delivered it to these ones who had believed it.
2) They had experienced a true conversion. Conversion is more than accepting something. Conversion is a changing or transitioning. The believers were no longer worshipping their idols (v.9). Now, like Paul, they were followers of Jesus. They saw the life of holiness that God had called them to as something that they needed, and had begun living in a way that was pleasing to Him. Their Christianity was an obvious one. They were not what Charles Sprugeon would condemningly call “secret disciples.”
Today, there are many people who claim the title “Christian.” I once heard Keith Green say it this way, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.” There will be greater indicators of faith in a Christian’s life than church attendance. Assurance comes to those who have a life that is marked by a faith in the gospel of Jesus. Furthermore, their life will reveal a conversion whereby they have come in full contact with the sanctifying Spirit of God.
Food For Thought: What does Paul say about the Thessalonians testimony in verses 7-8? What do you think that should tell us about our testimony?