‘For our gospel came not unto you 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.’ 1 Thessalonians 1:5
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 10:19–25
The highest point in the text is ‘much assurance.’ If I understand the passage, it means this: first that they were fully persuaded of its truthfulness, and had no staggering or blinding doubts about it; and secondly, that they had the fullest possible conviction of their interest in the truth delivered to them. They were saved, but better still they knew that they were so! They were clean, but better still they rejoiced in their purity! They were in Christ, but what is more joyous still, they knew that they were in Christ. They had no doubts as some of you have, no dark suspicions; the Word had come with such blessed demonstration that it had swept away every Canaanitish doubt clean out of their hearts. According to Poole, the Greek word here used has in it the idea of a ship at full sail, undisturbed by the waves which ripple in its way. A ship, when the wind is thoroughly favourable, and its sails are bearing it directly into harbour, is not held back by the surging billows. True, the vessel may rock, but it neither turns to the right hand, nor to the left. Let the billows be as they may, the wind is sufficiently powerful to overcome their contrary motion, and the vessel goes straight ahead. Some Christians get the gospel in that way. They have not a shadow of a doubt about its being true. They have not even the beginning of a doubt about their interest in it, and therefore they have nothing to do, but with God’s strong hand upon the tiller, and the heavenly wind blowing right into the sail, to go straight on, doing the will of God, glorifying his name. May the Word come to you, dear friends, as it does to so very few! May it come in ‘much assurance.’
For meditation: Paul’s prayer for believers was that they would enjoy ‘all riches of the full assurance of understanding’ (Colossians 2:2). How is your assurance? It doesn’t necessarily come so easily to every believer; the maintenance of assurance requires some effort on our part (Hebrews 6:11–12).
Sermon no. 648
3 September (1865)