KEY TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 1:4-8 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, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
KEY THOT: The gospel came to the Thessalonians not just in word but also in power with full conviction. Words are cheap but when backed up with real demonstration of power and full personal conviction of the evangelists, it has power to transform lives. That was what happened to the Thessalonians--the Gospel was proclaimed with scriptural words, with spiritual power and with personal conviction. Both the content and the delivery is supported by witnesses who have strong convictions in their faith. Having experienced such powerful demonstration of the reality of the Gospel, the Thessalonian believers were able to imitate the message and messengers who brought the Gospel: "you became imitators of us and of the Lord" (v.6). And the fruit of this imitation is that the "word of the Lord sounded forth from you... your faith in God has gone forth everywhere" (v.8). So, it was not just their talk (word) but also their walk (faith) that spread everywhere--this is the heart of evangelism: message and messengers are united as one.
We can only be effective as "witnesses of Christ" when the messengers and the message are in sync. Evangelism that focuses only on content (message) but ignores the context (messengers) will not be effective nor powerful, for the context nullifies the gospel. So, the message must be backed up with powerful demonstration of the Spirit shared by witnesses with strong personal faith convictions: "For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power" (1 Corinthians 4:20).
Alpha is more than just the talks or the videos. Churches that ignore the context (the Alpha team and ethos) or curb the work of the Spirit because it is too "charismatic" are actually shooting themselves in the foot. We cannot just have the talks without the context of personal faith and demonstrations of Holy Spirit power. For the Kingdom of God is not just talk, but power.
May the Lord deliver us from a gospel stripped of its context and power!
Abba-Father, what a glorious Gospel You have given us. And we are not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God to save and transform the lives of all who believe in it. Amen.