I often describe the communication of the gospel as “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.”
That statement captures the humble stance humans adopt when helping another person experience God’s grace and salvation.
What the statement doesn’t state is the presence of God’s activity in the process. Paul writes about the work of the Holy Spirit in the act of salvation.
1 Thessalonians 2.13 – We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.
There are always two components to the salvation experience.
(1) A human shares the good news with another person.
— Romans 10.13-15 – For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?
And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
A good news messenger is essential for another person to experience God’s love, grace, and salvation.
God so values his children that he chooses us to partner with him to bring the best gift of all to other people.
(2) When the good news is shared, the Holy Spirit turns human words into God’s message.
Included in Jesus’ final instructions was information about the work of the Holy Spirit.
— John 16.8-11 – And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:
About sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, and you will see me no longer;
About judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
The Holy Spirit “proves the world wrong” or “convicts” humans of their need for a Savior.
Paul wrote about that conviction to the Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 1.5 – Our message of the gospel came to you not in word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.
When the good news is proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, great and blessed things happen.
God has uses the combination of human and divine means to provide a way for humans to enter into a personal friendship with him. It is our great privilege to be God’s partner in this great work.
The Gospels record opposition to Jesus from earthly authorities and the devil himself.
Paul believed that Satan kept him from being able to assist the church and wrote, “For we wanted to come to you . . . but Satan blocked our way” (1 Thessalonians 2.18).
He knew that the church in Thessalonica faced opposition just as did the Judean disciples of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2.14-16 – For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews
Who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone
By hindering us from speaking to the gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins, but wrath has overtaken them at last.
This passage has been used to call Jews “Christ killers.” That is one of the worst interpretations of the Bible I have ever experienced. Here are the facts.
(1) Paul was a Jew, who formerly persecuted Jewish Christians who followed Jesus. He was persecuted by both Jews and Gentiles, who wanted to prevent the spread of the story of Jesus.
(2) Judea was the location of persecution that took place in Israel. The persecutors were in Judea. Paul was identifying the persecutors by location and nationality.
To label all Missourians as criminals because some people from Missouri commit crimes is as illogical as condemning all Jews as opponents of Jesus.
With this correction, Paul’s major emphasis needs to be heard today.
First, followers of Jesus will face opposition. Some will be persecuted and others will experience opposition.
People who identify as Christian in America’s workplace will be familiar with these examples.
— They are excluded from some conversations in the break-room.
— They are mocked for their beliefs.
— They are not invited to social gatherings.
Paul’s second emphasis falls as a warning to people who attempt to draw others away from a relationship with Jesus. There is nothing worse than discouraging others from living in a friendship relationship with Jesus.
Just as people who share the good news with others are partners with Jesus, so are opponents to the gospel in league with the devil.
Humans who turn people away from Jesus are doing the devil’s work, whether they are conscious of it or not. When God judges the devil, they will be judged too.
As we look at today’s verses, let’s encourage ourselves to engage in a joyful partnership with Jesus. Let’s be “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.”
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. As a Jewish follower of Jesus, Rudy has many insights into this passage. The video is on the Bob Spradling channel.
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