Personal and Public Faith Conviction
Romans 14,22: (Personal Conviction of Conscience)
"The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves."
1Thessalonians1,5 (Public-Mission Conviction)
"For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the holy Spirit and in much conviction, as you know what kind of men we were among you." (NASB)
Our faith conviction (our undoubting, fully persuaded, confidence in the promises of God) is like the corn and wheat that makes up so much of our food.
We forget how important it is until it's running short.
Wherever I turn in faith it seems conviction is running short.
God's lost and hurting people are in great need of an actual and real experience of Jesus in their lives.
But, please correct me if I'm wrong, it's as if we professional church folks are searching for an easier way than the pick-up-our-cross conviction way of Jesus that began our whole Christian deal?
(or see below "Addendum" we search for a harder way, anyway but the bible way)
What do I know, but it seems to me that there is only one level of biblical faith conviction and that is the full, all out, all the trust we can muster, level of conviction.
If we look back at the history of our Christian faith perhaps we have studied it more than practiced it. And studying is great as far as it goes, but our faith history itself shows there's no substitute for the faith conviction that first planted our faith at Calvary.
We live in an age where Washington lacks conviction to do anything about the fiscal cliff of our nation's sixteen trillion dollar debt (perhaps Wall Street will bail U.S. out this time). But then again we in the church also are staring over the mediocrity cliff whereby folks likewise dismiss us too as "same old same old."
One of the mega pastors and televangelists that interests me is a guy who takes a lot of flack (mostly from wanna be's?) for supposedly being a prosperity preacher, and being too easy and people-pleasy. And while I won't put any pastor on any vain and tenuous pedestal ("call no man father"), I find his personal testimony and work to be exemplary.
Does he have more gifts from the Holy Ghost than others?
But there are many many, many folks who seem to have just as many, all the ministry gifts in the world, in fact.
But it's the solidity of one's personal faith conviction (received as soon as the laws of Jesus are written into our hearts per Hebrews 8,10) that allows one's ministry to last, and be tested, and fully received like the ministry of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
1Thessalonians1,5-6 reminds us that it's ok that leaders in the church become examples in the faith, but the very stuff of any leadership is not the fleshy stuff of wealth and IQ and popularity but "much conviction."
This "much conviction" is also not about who preaches or sings the loudest or longest (have you been there?), or even the best. It's about a private and public faith testimony that stands the test of time, the Holy Ghost (1John1,4), the two edged sword of the word, and God's continued favor.
So, what would the Holy Ghost be advising any of us today who want to serve Jesus in this day and age when so many seem to lack conviction?
Clear some space in our lives for Jesus, and then let him direct us to the faith topics and ministries that engage our deepest faith conviction.
Because I'm thinking we're going to need it.
Addendum: July 11, 2013
Making Salvation More Complicated And Dogmatic Than It Is Saps Our Conviction
There are certain personal attitudes and church practices that may loftily claim to expand our personal and collective conviction, but in fact undermine it.
Such as when denominations-churches get so particularly dogmatic that dogma becomes bigger than the universally agreed upon faith commands of Jesus that are plainly in his word: wait in Jerusalem until the power from on high comes upon you, repent, get baptized, obey, follow Jesus, pick up...., praise, pray without ceasing, make no provision, live by faith, do this... and all the rest of the simple faith "actions" that we all acknowledge.
These simple commands of God's word rightly position us for salvation whereas doctrinal chest thumping and hair splitting sometimes leaves us puffed up with knowledge, but also tempted to belittle what we already know most clearly from the word and personal and mutual experience.
What good is dogma that leaves us less convicted than before?
In other words, I'm all for conviction regarding the clear and basic mandates of biblical salvation, but not so much the refinements and over emphases and non biblical expansiveness and politics of far flung dogma.
It's like the guy or gal at work who always makes a job harder than it is. He or she saps everbody's conviction to just get right after it, by making the task more complicated than it is.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...