The Power of Convicton
I am preaching through the book of 2 Timothy on Sundays. Currently I am working through ten convictions that must be present in the life of any Christian if they are to effectively live in this age. Now, a lot of sermons talk like this. “Five steps of heaven-storming prayers.” “Fourteen ways to bring yourself into the blessings of God.” “Three immutable truths to Christ-exalting holiness.” And the list goes on.
So are these convictions something that matter? Or are they just part of a long list of sermon titles that I shall continue to preach until I die? Are they something I think the people should attend their ears to with the mind-set of repentance and prayer or are they messages to keep the people coming back with checkbooks in hand? Are they to motivate and move people to true sanctification or enlarge the church’s attendance? In our cynical world of America these are not easily answered.
But to make my attempt at it, yes, convictions matter. At these specific convictions are essentially foundational for any Christian. As one who has followed Jesus Christ for decades now, I find that it reminds and encourages me to grow more and press on more in these very convictions that I preach on each Sunday. I have brand new Christians in the church who are establishing a heart that desires very different things then merely the “blessings” from God.
So I am going to blog those ten convictions here as well. Not the whole sermons, no body reads long articles in blogs. But the central points to each one. My hope is that as you read you might take stock of your position and relation to Jesus Christ. Introspection is good for the Christian, especially when it is done honestly and with Jesus by your side.
But first a word about convictions themselves. Convictions are interesting things. They are not something you develop quickly; rather it takes time, practice, thought and diligence. You don’t have a conviction because you heard something once or twice and it sounded good to you.Many who attend conferences come away with that wrong conclusion. It is something that seeps deep into your bones and does not let go of you easily, nor can you let go of it. Al Mohler said it this way in his book, The Conviction to Lead, “Convictions are not merely beliefs we hold; they are those beliefs that hold us in their grip. We would not know who we are but for these bedrock beliefs.” (p. 21)
However, there is a dirty little secret about convictions. Most people I have met think they have them, but most have none. At least not ones that are evident. Convictions drive you and ground you in the hard times. Convictions are there to keep you moving forward when you look around and watch everyone else fall back. Convictions are what Paul would call the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). Convictions define you so that people around you already have a sense on how you will respond to a situation. Therefore, convictions are precious and they are hard to hold onto.
Convictions are consistent with the character of God. I could do a whole series just on this, but suffice it to say that God’s ultimate conviction is that His Name shall be exalted and delighted in throughout the world. “ . . . that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” (Romans 9:17) And frankly, everything in this world is moving toward that very end.
Convictions are not contradictions to humility. Such a common charge in churches today. Somehow humility requires that a person not be filled with certainty, authority, or conviction. Silliness for a silly age. Suffice it to say that Jesus was a man of convictions during his time on earth. Yet He epitomizes humility. You cannot read the gospels and not walk away with the clear grasp that He knew Himself, the will of His Father, and His purpose. And never once did He shy from it. He always did the will of His Father. His conviction to honor and obey His Father was so deep that with the joy set before Him He endured the cross for our sakes.
The Apostles were men of conviction. So much so that when jailed for preaching the gospel, when they were then warned not to continue in this activity they declared that they must obey God rather than man. Then after they were flogged by the leadership and sent on their way they were foolish enough to rejoice that they were worthy to be able to suffer for the name of the Lord. This conviction allowed them to stand firm against the hellish assault upon the gospel as they planted and built up churches.
Convictions are critical for anyone. But even more critical are to have the right convictions. Those that honor the Lord and are fitting for a child of the eternal King. Lord willing I will be able to unpack some of them over the next few weeks.