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
The gospel comes to some in word only. They hear the word of the gospel, the sound of truth; but it reaches the outward ear only — or if it touches the inward feelings, it is merely as the word of men.
But where the Holy Spirit begins and carries on His divine and saving work, He attends the word with a peculiar, an indescribable, and yet an invincible power.
It falls as from God upon the heart. He is heard to speak in it — and in it His glorious Majesty appears to open the eyes, unstop the ears, and convey a message from His own mouth to the soul.
Some hear the gospel as the mere word of men, perhaps for years before God speaks in it with a divine power to their conscience. They thought they understood the gospel — they thought they felt it — they thought they loved it. But all this time they did not see any vital distinction between receiving it as the mere word of men, and as the Word of God.
The levity, the superficiality, the emptiness stamped upon all who merely receive the gospel as the word of men — is sufficient evidence that it never sank deep into the heart, and never took any powerful grasp upon their soul.
It therefore never brought with it any real separation from the world — never gave strength to mortify the least sin — never communicated power to escape the least snare of Satan — was never attended with a spirit of grace and prayer — never brought honesty, sincerity, and uprightness into the heart before God — never bestowed any spirituality of mind, or any loving affection toward the Lord of life and glory. It was merely the reception of truth in the same way as we receive scientific principles, or learn a language, a business, or a trade.
It was all…shallow, superficial, deceptive, hypocritical.
But in some unexpected moment, when little looking for it, the word of God was brought into their conscience with a power never experienced before.
A light shone in and through it which they never saw before – a majesty, a glory, an authority, an evidence accompanied it which they never knew before. And under this light, life, and power they fell down, with the Word of God sent home to their heart.
When then Christ speaks the gospel to the heart — when He reveals Himself to the soul — when His Word, dropping as the rain and distilling as the dew, is received in faith and love — He is embraced as the chief among ten thousand and the altogether lovely one — He takes His seat upon the affections and becomes enthroned in the heart as its Lord and God.
Is there life in your bosom?
Has God’s power attended the work?
Is the grace of God really in your heart?
Has God spoken to your soul?
Have you heard His voice, felt its power, and fallen under its influence?
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
J. C. Philpot (1802 – 1869)