1 Thessalonians 1:5 – The Holy Spirit in Power

In a recent blog post, Terry James commented on a study that had been recently released (https://terryjamesprophecyline.com/2021/10/10/this-rapture-resistance/).  The results showed an astonishing, but sadly not unsurprising, detail:

“The study shows, in general, that while a majority of America’s self-identified Christians, including many who identify as evangelical, believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and is the Creator of the universe, more than half reject a number of biblical teachings and principles, including the existence of the Holy Spirit.”

What?  It’s been more than apparent for many years that mainline Christianity has been going downhill faster than an avalanche on Mount Everest.  The foundations have been shaken, the tons of snow and rock have been loosened, and the resulting headlong descent of catastrophic destruction has been unstoppable.  Why?  Well, the little phrase at the end of this quote tells us all we need to know.  Look at this: more than half reject a number of biblical teachings and principles, including the existence of the Holy Spirit.

How is this even possible and for the people sitting in church pews to still consider themselves “Christians”?  The problem extends beyond mainline Protestant denominations these days.  Just as the report states, those who identify as evangelicals also largely believe the same heresy.

Whatever happened in these churches to Biblical doctrines that include Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?  Where did the Trinity go?  Do they even believe that Jesus is the Son of God and part of the Godhead?  If they do, what does that mean to these people?

Many who study Christianity have said for years that it has lost its power and its witness.  The church has turned from preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and resurrected to anything but that.  We know many of the “but thats” because they’ve been thrown up in our faces: Chrislam, social justice, Black Liberation Theology, and on we go.

It’s the lack of Holy Spirit belief that concerns us in this commentary.  Think about what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 to these newly minted believers:

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

It is through the Holy Spirit that the Gospel has any power at all.  He must be present in its proclamation.  Why?  What power or authority does man have over others?  How do we convince someone else as to the “truth” of something?  Actually, our means are limited to either carrot or stick.  People come to accept the notions of man only because of the hope of reward or the fear of punishment.  These are fleshly things.

However, how does the Holy Spirit operate?  He touches our inner spirit and brings conviction.  It is only the conviction of God that turns the heart of man.  This is done through the power and authority that comes only through Christ Jesus and the Advocate that He sent to us when He rose from the dead (John 14:26).

If a church denies the existence of the Holy Spirit, it obviously rejects the counsel of the Advocate.  In the absence of that, what is left in a church?  It’s simply a gathering of people whose purpose can be centered on anything other than God.  As G.K. Chesterton famously said:

When men stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything.

We have the truth of that in these useless churches.

Paul commended the believers in the Thessalonian church on a critical issue.  He said in 1 Thessalonians 1:9:

… and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God… 

Anyone who doesn’t fully turn to the Lord Jesus continues to have at least one foot in the world.  With that stance, it is inevitable that part of such a person follows idols, be they money, power, or whatever.  A true believer in Christ cannot worship Him and the things of the world, i.e. that which comes from the devil, at the same time (2 Corinthians 6:15).  The more a person is of the world, the less he is of Christ.  If he doesn’t have Jesus, he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit who then becomes simply an indefinable concept, rather than the indwelling Person that He is within the believer.  Is it any wonder so many people reject His existence?  They aren’t saved.  They don’t know God.  They are lost.  Even within the church.

In this state of unbelief, all these church-goers also face a grim future that will catch them by surprise.  In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul speaks of those who believe in the true Gospel.  What is the promise to them, i.e. to us?  It is that we…

… wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 

Look at the hope we have that these skeptics and unbelievers don’t!  Jesus will return for His Bride.  Scripture is clear that He will remove true believers from the earth before the Tribulation.  In the Rapture of the church, Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come.  This is God’s punishment that will soon come upon this unbelieving world because it has chosen to reject the wonderful gift of salvation given us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Does unbelief in the existence of the Holy Spirit have implications?  You bet.  It’s a matter of life and death.

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