“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.”
Note the word “only.” We must speak the gospel verbally but not in words only. The book of Acts makes this abundantly clear.
However, the gospel involves more than communication of the content of the gospel. The spoken word is necessary, but it is not enough if it stands alone. It might be possible to teach a parrot to speak the words of the gospel. Anyone can mechanically give out the facts of the gospel. There is more to the gospel than presenting unadulterated facts.
Verse five sets forth four indispensable factors that make the gospel a tour de force. Each of these four factors is crucial for effective evangelism. Each feature begins with the word “in.” The four uses of “in” in this verse show what makes the gospel effective.
The word “but” is emphatic in Greek. The Holy Spirit wants us to see that the gospel is more than careful clarification of the gospel’s facts. The presentation of the gospel requires three more divine features: “power,” “the Holy Spirit,” and “much confidence.” There is a spiritual vibrancy to the gospel.
The word “also” indicates something more than just explaining the gospel when we share our faith. The impact of gospel presentation is not solely speaking the gospel. There are three further spiritual dynamics to the gospel. We become what influences us personally. God uses certain spiritual forces to shape us.
When all four divine factors of this verse go into operation, the gospel moves out with great power.
True gospel presentation will not be effective without all four spheres of speaking the gospel, relying on the power of the gospel, depending on the Holy Spirit to convict people about the gospel, and people delivering the gospel who have great confidence in the gospel. We restrict the dynamics of the gospel if we employ only two of these spheres. Three is better, but we need all four dynamic spheres if we want to make a full impact with the gospel.
If we dial a safe with four numbers, but we dial only three numbers, it will not open. We need to dial all four numbers of the combination to open the safe. We need to execute all four spheres of this verse to make the greatest impact with the gospel. We do not need blast open the safe when we use the combination. We gently pull open the door.
The Word without the Spirit is dead orthodoxy. The Spirit without the Word is fanaticism.