Let's Discuss I Thess 1:4-5

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Tom Butler, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    First, here's the passage:

    4. Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
    5 For our gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power, and in
    the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of
    men we were among you for your sake.

    Verse four is pretty clear to me. Paul described his Thessalonian brothers and sisters as elect of God.

    In verse five, Paul seems to relate his knowledge of their election to the power of the gospel. What he is saying is that in their case, the gospel was accompanied by power, by the Holy Spirit, and much assurance--something that was obvious to him.

    The NIV translates "much assurance" as "deep conviction."

    I was struck by Paul's assertion that the gospel was accompanied by power. The sentence is framed in such a way to suggest that sometimes it is not. And it suggests that for the elect, the gospel will always be accompanied by power and the Holy Spirit.


    Can we deduce the converse: that the reason some hear the gospel but do not respond is that the gospel they hear is not accompanied by power and the HS?

    May we also deduce that whether one responds to the gospel in repentance and faith depends on whether it is accompanied by power and the HS?

    May one hear the gospel, repent and believe, whether or not power and the HS are involved?

    My answers to the questions are yes, yes, no.

    What are your answers? Ready? Release the hounds.
     
  2. Revmitchell

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    I agree with all of that but most likely not for the same reason. We do know that God turns some over to themselves because of their rejection of Him (Romans 1:26). This does not however prove that they never once in their life heard the gospel filled with the power of the holy Ghost and rejected it. In fact the way Romans 1 is framed it is most likely not the case. The sovereignty of God and the God given free will of man is one of those dichotomy's we will debate endlessly this side of heaven but will never understand fully.
     
    #2 Revmitchell, Sep 9, 2009
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  3. pinoybaptist

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    When still of the Arminian persuasion, if you can call it that, I was very active in going with whoever was my current pastor to pastors' conferences, mission conferences, church anniversaries, and invitations to preach.
    Most of those under whose pastorate I came were in their own right, eloquent, fiery, faithful speakers who loved their Lord albeit had the wrong interpretation of gospel and eternal salvation, and they studied diligently and painstakingly prepared their outlines.
    Indeed, in most of those conferences and church invitations the pastors of the churches and their deacons would gather in pastor's offices or conference rooms thirty minutes before services began and each would earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit to give conviction and to "move" among the congregation and get sinners "saved" who are unsaved, and "backsliders" to repent and return to the Lord.

    Then preaching time comes.

    I have heard most pastors deliver strong, scripture-based sermons most of the time, yet when invitation time came I noticed very few walked forward to "receive" Christ, and some, not all, of those who did, were nudged forward by those who invited them (which is why I very seldom gave altar calls when it became my turn to pastor an Arminian church). Some of these gets as far as the baptistry and then are never heard from again. Some just disappear right after the conferences or whatever.

    Then again I have heard sermons which were stammering, more full of illustrations than scripture, delivered in a weak, timid voice, almost monotone and boring, but have seen, literally, weeping sinners come forward who stayed in church and went on to become deacons and some of them Bible college students.

    As the Lord educated me more and more, here a little, there a little, in the Doctrine of Grace, I understood that it is the Holy Spirit, His power, and His knowledge of who His people are, His time, and His way, that is above all, the deciding power in everything concerning His people, not the eloquence of the preacher, or the weakness of the preacher.
     
  4. Aaron

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    Of course not. Don't you know that unless you frame the Gospel in worldly trappings, you're not doing enough to reach out and "impact the culture?" You're not being relevant.

    The Spirit moves this way these days:

    1. Tattoos
    2. Body piercings
    3. Raucus music and mosh pits
    God's got a wave goin. If you ain't catchin' the wave, bro, you're out of touch with the Spirit
     
  5. Revmitchell

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    :thumbs::applause:
     
  6. Tom Bryant

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    Maybe we can stay on the point of the OP.

    I think we deal with the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word as independent of the person preaching it. To say that an individual can't receive the Word because the preacher isn't filled with God's power would deny the Scriptures that are able to make us wise unto salvation, regardless of the vessel delivering it.

    The best combination and the most long lasting ministry is one where the preacher is filled with God's Holy Spirit and preaches the Word in His power. God's Word will always accomplish the purpose He wants. (And I say that as a non-Calvinist :tongue3:)
     
  7. Tom Butler

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    I generally agree, Tom.

    I think one of the best illustrations of the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion is John Wesley's account of his conversion

    It appears that the simple reading of Luther's preface was followed by a matter-of-fact comment by the one who was reading it aloud. No intense exhortation, no begging or pleading. Nor, by the way, any Sinner's Prayer, or other action by Wesley. The warming of Wesley's heart, to me, was the work of the Holy Spirit.

    And, the same Holy Spirit provided him assurance of his salvation.
     
  8. swaimj

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    When Paul says that the gospel was accompanied by these things (power, HS, and assurance), is he saying that there was an extraordinary display of power that accompanied the gospel (apostolic sign gifts perhaps) or is he saying that the presentation of the gospel was accompanied by a powerful result? I have an instinct here, but I cannot say that I am certain of the answer to this question. I think I would have to be reasonably sure of this before I could answer the three questions your presented. The I'll watch for feedback. Later today I'll try to look at the passage in context and make sure of what I think the answer is.
     
  9. HankD

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    I agree with revmitchell, the ways of God are past finding out.

    As a compliment to the O/P passage, here in the following passage the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man meet.

    John 1
    12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
    13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.​

    I think we can all agree that for someone to "receive" something/someone it must be offered to them even if they are "elect".​

    HankD​
     
    #9 HankD, Sep 10, 2009
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  10. webdog

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    No, because this would remove power from the Gospel in itself, the very Word of God. This is putting more emphasis over one faction of the Godhead. Did Lazarus need to be regenerated in order to respond to Christ (The Word), or were His words and command powerful enough to raise the dead? Same is true of the written Word.
    Really no way to know the answer to this, since we can only know why we respond / don't respond and not someone else. Of course the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts us and works in our hearts, but God has also built within each one of us the desire to live forever and placed His law in our hearts. If He tells you to respond...you most definitely can respond, else he's a liar (which He is not)
    No...that is what Pelagius taught.
     
    #10 webdog, Sep 10, 2009
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  11. Winman

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    IMHO, the word of God is always powerful.

    Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
    13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

    The word of God convicts both those who will believe and those who reject it. Those who seek and thirst for righteousness will receive it with joy. Those that love their sin and do not want God to rule over them often become angry and obstinate. But you will always get some reaction whether positive or negative.

    And we see this when Stephen preached. The scripture says they were "cut to the heart", exactly what Heb. 4 says the word of God will do.

    Acts 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
    55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
    56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
    57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

    So, you can see here that the word of God had a profound effect on these hearers. But in this case it made the hearers angry. They gnashed their teeth, cried aloud, and rushed upon him with one accord. Notice they stopped their ears. I can't be dogmatic about this, but I actually believe they put their hands over their ears so they could no longer hear Stephen, that is how much they hated his preaching and shows how powerfully it upset them.
     
    #11 Winman, Sep 10, 2009
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  12. kyredneck

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    Even though I have heard some life altering, powerful, spirit-filled preaching in my life that I will never forget, IMHO, I don't think we're comparing apples with apples with the preaching of the Apostolic era to the preaching of today. There was a special ministration of the Spirit given to the early church that for the most part ceased somewhere along the way (IMO, as the church became established). This is what I think was meant in the passages referenced in the OP concerning power and the HS:

    To the eleven Christ said:

    And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high. Lu 24:49

    To the Church at Corinth Paul wrote:

    Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works. 2 Cor 12:12

    and:

    ...I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor 2:3-5


    To the Church at Rome Paul wrote:

    For I will not dare to speak of any things save those which Christ wrought through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and round about even unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ; Ro 15:18,19

    To the Church at Thessalonica Paul wrote:

    ..knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election, how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake. 1 Thess 1:4,5

    When Peter was called onto the carpet for preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles he said:

    And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them [Cornelius, Acts 10], even as on us [Day of Pentecost, Acts 2] at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit. If then God gave unto them the like gift as he did also unto us, when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God? And when they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life. Acts 11:15-18

    The company at Jerusalem prayed:

    And now, Lord, look upon their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thy stretchest forth thy hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of thy holy Servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken wherein they were gathered together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And with great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:29-31, 33

    And Luke records:

    And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon`s porch. Acts 5:12

    And there's many more examples but that's enough..........

    ...the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged 1 Cor 2:14

    It is necessary for the Spirit to first regenerate the natural man so that he can know and discern the things of the Spirit of God.


    Larry
     
    #12 kyredneck, Sep 10, 2009
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  13. Tom Bryant

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    Larry,
    So you believe that what happened in the first century church isn't possible now because we don't have that same what? same power? same Holy Spirit? same Word of God?
     
  14. kyredneck

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    I am not of the charismatic bent. I believe the gifts of the Spirit ceased at some point in time, I know not when.

    Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. ! Cor 13:8-10

    How often do you see signs and wonders and mighty works (such as the blind receiving their sight, or the lame healed, or the dead raised, etc., etc.) nowadays?
     
    #14 kyredneck, Sep 10, 2009
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  15. Tom Bryant

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    So the real results that are described in the passage are for a time in the past?

    We can't see the power of God's Holy Spirit now? If that's true we're pretty much beating our heads against the wall to reach people.

    I don't see this passage as talking about the sign gifts. But the preaching of the Word of God in power.
     
  16. Revmitchell

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    Cessationism cannot be supported, especially on the premise that we do not see it often. Neither can it be supported on the premise that every single supernatural action cannot be seen.

    Regardless those events have nothing to with the Holy Ghost power in preaching. It is there today the same way it was then.
     
  17. kyredneck

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    Well I do, and probably we'll just have to agree to disagree on this. I happen to see a redundancy in these following passages:

    .... by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Spirit;...I have fully preached the gospel of Christ; Ro 15:18,19

    .....my speech and my preaching were ....in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:...in the power of God. 1 Cor 2:3-5

    ...grant unto thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness,.... and that signs and wonders may be done...and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And with great power gave the apostles their witness.... Acts 4:29-31, 33

    .....how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit....1 Thess 1:5

    Absolutely not. I stated in the first sentence of my post: .....I have heard some life altering, powerful, spirit-filled preaching in my life that I will never forget....

    I just don't think we're comparing apples with apples with the preaching of the Apostles to the preaching of today. The early church lacked something that we have today and that is the completed written word of God. I believe the Apostles were empowered in a way and had authority that none have today. The signs and wonders were verification from God that their message was true.

    I fail to see what was in my post that caused you to jump to that conclusion.
     
  18. kyredneck

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    I very much believe in the providence of God and His supernatural actions, most of which, I believe, goes unnoticed and unseen, but often recognized at a later time when one contemplates on past events. I especially believe in answered prayer.

    Contrary to what some may think of the Bible, it is not willy nilly chocked full of miracles, signs and wonders throughout. There are three major periods of miracles recorded in the book, and those are the time of Moses and Aaron, the time of Elijah and Elisha, and the time of Christ and the Apostles. Sure, there's some miracles scattered around here and there, but for the most part the times in between and after consisted of everyday mundane events, much like it is now. There were four centuries of silence between the Old and New Testaments. The point is that there was a point in time where each of these major periods of miracles ceased.

    Believe what you want. I've said all I'm gonna on that point.
     
  19. Tom Bryant

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    I guess what I am trying to discover is how it is different. No one is being nasty or accusing you of anything. You made a statement and I asked a question. Sorry if I made you angry.
     
  20. HankD

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    Hi kyredneck,

    If I remember correctly this is a Primitive Baptist position that the Great Commission was given only to the 12 Apostles.

    So, do you know if PB's practice water baptism (presumably they do being Baptists)?

    If the Great Commission was only to the Apostles then we should not be baptizing folks who believe because baptism in the name of the Trinity is part of the Great Commission.


    HankD
     

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