Greek word that has been translated "gospel", is one that literally
means "well-message". As this word is awkward in English, I suggest that
every requirement is met if we render it "welfare message". It is a
message that tells of, and promotes, our welfare. This word, "welfare",
is much used these days, and this rendering is easily understood.
I believe that the message is a well-rounded welfare message. It tells,
not merely of one phase of our welfare, but of every phase. I can think
of no department of life that is not told about and promoted.
The message includes good citizenship, spirituality, morals, health,
possessions, and all that is needed to make a pleasant and successful
life. I think we have lost much by confining our preaching to matters of
It seems evident that the people of Thessalonica were, like many
communities today, obsessed with the thought of afflictions. There are
communities today where the people are of a morbid attitude that looks
upon sickness as one of the necessary things of life. I repeat,
sometimes this thought predominates in whole communities. In other
cases, such ideas are confined to a family. And, in some instances, only
one in a family is in bondage to these defeatist thoughts.
When Paul wrote a letter to the Thessalonians he mentioned the fact that
they were in an afflicted state when he went to them. He told of how
tender he was toward them, and that he had served them as nurse.
The message that he gave to them took into account that Jesus is the
Christ. There is magic in that precious name. I have found good health
in saying, several times during a day, some such words as these:
"Father, I thank Thee for the grace, salvation, tender mercy, and power
that is in Christ, Thy Son." When faced by problems that I could not
handle, I have been brought "through" by saying to my Father, "Christ is
the way". I have seen immediate benefit when I would say to an afflicted
one, "You are loosed from your infirmity God, through Christ, makes you
The benefit of the welfare message is stated to the Thessalonians in
these words: "The welfare message of our God did not come to you in word
only, but in power, and in holy spirit and much assurance, according as
you are aware. Such as this we became among you, because of you. And you
became imitators of us and the Lord receiving the word in much
affliction with joy of holy spirit, so that you became models to all the
believers in Macedonia and in Achaia, for from you has been sounded
forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in
every place your faith toward God has come out". They had been
transformed from a group of sick people, into a vigorous church doing
missionary work in various regions.
Before closing the letter Paul goes back to the thought. He declares
that their body and spirit and soul are unimpaired. He wishes that they
might remain so. "May your unimpaired spirit and soul and body be kept
blameless in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ", says he.
These benefits are such as have been available to us all the while,
under the ministry of Paul.
When Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians, he told of an
experience of sickness through which he went and of the healing through
faith and petition of those who were interested in him. "For we do not
want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning our affliction which came
to us in the province of Asia, that we were inordinately burdened over
our ability, so that we were despairing of life also. But we have the
rescript of death in ourselves, that we may be having no confidence in
ourselves, but in God, Who rouses the dead, who rescues us from a death
of such proportions, (and will be rescuing; on Whom we rely that He will
still be rescuing also), you also assisting together by a petition for
us in order that from many faces He may be thanked by many in our
behalf, for the gracious gift given to us". How much suffering might be
averted if all believers had the proper interest in sick ones!
It is to be noticed that in this quotation, mention is made of the fact
that God rouses the dead. This is offered as a reason to believe that He
is interested in our sickness, and is able and willing to heal us.
Paul tells of another case---not of sickness, but of distress, which he
believed would be relived through prayer. After telling of his
imprisonment, which was still a fact at that time, he said to the
Philippians, "I am aware that for me, this will be eventuating in
salvation through your petition and the supply of the spirit of Jesus
Christ". Here was an entire church praying for the release of the
apostle from prison. I do not know of many more beautiful passages in
Paul was expecting to be delivered. This he called salvation. And when
it took place it was salvation, indeed! For it did take place. There is
a tradition that Paul was finally beheaded, instead of being released.
This is not borne out by any scripture or history.
In the first place, Christians were rarely beheaded. Instead, they were
thrown to the hungry lions, to afford entertainment for the people. Paul
says he was rescued out of the mouth of the lion. Writing to Timothy, he
says, "At my first defense no one came along with me, but all forsook
me. May it not be reckoned against them! Yet the Lord stood with me, and
He invigorated me, that through me the heralding may be fully discharged
and all the nations should hear, and I am rescued out of the mouth of
the lion. I suspect that even the emperior, himself, did not understand
why he released Paul. WE know! It was brought about by the supply of the
spirit of Jesus Christ, in answer to the prayers of the believers in
The idea of the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ deserves further
mention. Just what is this? It is the invisible supply with which we are
all surrounded, which can be materialized, into the supply that is
needed. It can be done when there is no outward evidence that it can
take place. It is the invisible work of God through Jesus Christ, and
may relieve ANY situation. Neither can anyone explain fully how it is
A few days ago I was on a bus that was very late. I wanted to connect
with another one which "made up" in the city where I wanted to change.
That bus would leave from another depot, and was not supposed to wait on
the bus I was riding. But it was extremely important that I make the
connections, which was a physical impossibility so far as I could see.
I told God that He understood the situation, and that my making the
connection was important. I thanked Him that the supply of spirit of
Jesus Christ could perform miracles, and do things that I did not
understand. I leaned back and left it in His hand I do not undertake to
explain how it came about that I was at the other bus station five
minutes before leaving time. Was not this a miracle? Is it not akin to
the actions of the spirit in bringing about Paul's release?
Paul is desirous that our faith may not stand in the wisdom of men, but
in the power of God. Alas! How this message is needed today! In the
matter of illness, and in that of life and death, many have their faith
in the wisdom of men. Man is the first dependence of the majority. If
the skill of men can bring about belief in case of aliments, God will
put no hindrance in the way. But if we get healing, or even alleviation,
by the skill of man, this is all we get. But God is His healing work,
makes other things more important. There is a spiritual blessing that
goes with His healing. The folks in Thessalonica not only became strong,
but they were so blessed in spirit, that they became a dynamic force for
the spread of the welfare message to the extent that they were models to
In the case of Paul's healing, God, was thanked by all those who joined
with him in praying for his healing. It made every one of them more
spiritual. Do you see such in cases where there is faith in the wisdom
of man. Those who really depend on God, even though they follow the
popular course and repair to man, will give glory to God for the
healing. But how many do this?
Paul might have obtained legal help in getting out of the Roman prison.
But there is no reason to think such aid would have been successful. The
apostle followed the course that would glorify God. Let us not scoff
when we are told by any trustworthy person that legal matters have been
settled by having recourse to God. In the case of a man for whom I was
giving faith-vision treatments, a case in court was settled, and payment
of a sum of money that was due, was brought about. I was really treating
him for physical trouble, but he asked me to undertake in this case,
A person who has a reputation for truthfulness, tell this story: "In one
case within my knowledge just simply claiming, 'God is your defense and
deliverance', for a man who had for five years been an exile from home
and country, (through a series of deceptions and machinations which for
subtlety were unparalleled), opened all the doors wide and restored the
man to his family within a month, without one effort or step taken from
the human side; and that, too, after five years of the most strenuous
human efforts of lawyers had failed utterly, to bring the truth to light
or to release the prisoner".
Do you know everything that God is willing to do? If so, you know all
about Him. Would you be willing to say that you do know all about God?
There are those who ridicule the idea of God doing anything for us in
answer to prayer. I mean there are "religious" people who ridicule it.
They seem to have a program for God to follow, and they refuse to admit
that He deviates from it. I frankly confess that I do not know this much
The welfare message is wonderful. It is a message that concern Christ.
It does not limit Him to just a few activities. The Christ Who has come
out of death, and stands as death's conqueror shall I not trust God to
do for me through this Christ, whatever I need?