As I was just reading 1 Thessalonians, I hear Paul hinting at what the Gospel can do: "We remember you work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." Faith, love and hope. Sound familiar?
Sometimes I wish it sounded more familiar. I often wish that faith, hope and love were the core realities of my life. My life so often resembles lack of faith, hopelessness and hate, and I feel left as a creature who's disobedient, sad and angry all the time.
But here's where I believe "gospel confidence" comes from. It comes from a growing realization of our union with Jesus Christ. Paul's fond memory culminates with "hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." And this Jesus is God's word incarnate, God's word become flesh, God's word with us. I am Super-Glued to the word of God, my destiny is Super-Glued to Jesus.
Later in the letter Paul expresses his thanks that "when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe." Paul seems to be reminding the Thessalonians that this good word from God is really doing it's thing. It's going to work guys, just be patient. "Trust in the Super-glue, it will hold."
To the want-it-all-now, must-have, me-me culture of Phil, Paul seems to be saying, "If you want gospel confidence you've got to be patient and embrace the gospel words." In the gospel words I hear that "God himself, the God of peace, (will) sanctify you through and through." My spirit, my "whole spirit, soul and body will be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Why and how Paul? Because the "one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." Now this is the kind of stuff that even though I may see the canyon of my own depravity, will produce a little gospel swagger. And if not a gospel swagger, there is the chance that I'll get my fingers stuck together for the rest of eternity.