I Thess. i. 8
The Testimony of the Life.
by Peter Greenhill Anderson
"FROM YOU SOUNDED OÜT THE WORD OF THE LORD."—I Thess. i. 8.
THE above words express the duty as well as the privilege of every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. The moment he becomes a Christian, he becomes a centre of truth and blessing to an ever increasing circle of persons, who from him learn of that salvation which has gladdened and purified his own heart, and filled it with love to God, to His saints, and toward ail men. What is true of the single believer is also true of every assembly of believers.
That which is first needed, both individually and collectively, in the way of testimony, is example. The life speaks louder than the lips. The unblemished walk goes further than the unsupported talk. The Thessalonians were "ensamples," even to them that believed, in ail the region around them. Thus they paved the way for the apostle in his ministry. Their faith, as manifested in their life, gave him an introduction to others. "In every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad, so that we need not to speak anything."
What an advantage would it be to any who go to other lands, if they could point back to those whom they had left, and tell of their faith, their love, their purity, their unity, and how they had "turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven."
Did not this thought possess the mind of the apostle when he could not stay at Troas (2 Cor. ii.), even though an open door for the gospel was set before him, till he learned how the Corinthians were behaving? Why preach the gospel to others while those who had professed to believe set no good example? He was glad to commend the faith of the Romans (ch. i. 8), as spoken of throughout the world, because they had "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered " to them (vi. 17). It was thus with the Thessalonians. They received the gospel "not in word only, but in power; and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance," and became "followers of the Lord." Following His good example, they also set one which others might imitate. No doubt the Bereans profited by the example of the Thessalonians, and thereby added to their nobility of character in searching the Word for themselves. Even Corinth itself was probably prepared for the visit of the three evangelists (Acts xviii. l-16) by the tidings of the faith of the Thessalonians which had spread to Achaia.
All this widespread testimony was not sounded out by servants of Christ sent forth to preach, but simply by persons occupied in trade or other callings, like Lydia at Philîppi. But if the life of these Thessalonians was such an effective witness for the Lord Jesus, what a responsibility is laid on those who, for His name's sake, go forth to the Gentiles with the avowed object of gathering souls unto Him!
This chapter, connected with Acts xvii, 1-9, should especially be studied with care by all such. Let us ail likewise see to it that the life is the backbone of our testimony, as manifested in the "work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father." It is not in novelty or excitement, or in numbers, or even in success, that strength lies, but in the reception of the Word ministered in the power of the Holy Ghost. There is no other power in the church or in the individual believer that can avail anything except "the power that worketh in us," and that is a power which exceeds all we ask or think. "Be filled with the Spirit" is the essential element in all Christian ministry. Then can the Word of God be sounded out in every place and on every occasion. P. G. A.
“Echoes of Service” Dec. 1891