Jul
23

2020

Under Conviction But Overwhelmed By Distraction

6.20.14 updated 12.19.19

"he [Phillip] told him the good news of Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water. "Look said the eunuch, 'here is water: what is to prevent me from being baptized?" Acts8,36-37

While out spreading the gospel, I'm tempted to think that we're beyond the conviction of sin anymore. But the Holy Ghost tells me otherwise.

I know it's sort of an old school word, so I might as well give a bible based descriptive definition: "conviction" is the real and decisive God inspired urge to repent of personal sin, ie get right with God, and by grace and faith trust in Jesus for forgiveness, mercy and salvation. 

The fact is most of us still know right from wrong-short of insanity anyway. And while we live in an increasingly isolating and mean age, very few people have truly lost their conscience or love of neighbor. So however moldy and unused our conscience might be, God's Spirit some way or another is going to be lovingly hounding us unto a saving conviction of sin, a saving and active repentance, and faith.

Try as we humans might, conviction is not something we can obliterate by decree, or completely ignore, short of turning into animals or robots.

Yet it is not always easy though to spot when folks are under conviction nowadays.

Hot Seat Or Too Cool Seat in Church- Conviction Still There

At the beginning of the Great Awakening preachers in early 18th century New England colonies by their fire and brimstone preaching put people in the faith decision "hot seat" pretty quick, put people under conviction. Jonathon Edwards most famous sermon was "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God!" Just the title might do it!  

So in colonial days when church and state were joined just as tightly as European Christendom if you dared enter the church it was only a matter of time until you either progressed to repentance, didn't come back, or were revealed as sinner and perhaps even sent to the stocks! 

Today- when church is out of fashion in these parts anyway- there is not much "hot seat" preaching. Today it's more like a real comfortable seat preaching, or a real "cool" seat preaching, too cool for school, too cool for much edification, too cool for faith music, too cool preaching over 20 minutes, too cool for fellowship after services. And yes pastors and churches are supposed to be way cool nowadays too, wear trendy glasses and enjoy rock and roll church because as Alan Freed said  'rock and roll is here to stay' - like it or not- in church too!

This coolness in church factor does not lend itself readily to a lot of conviction unto repentance, like "I want my adult baptism now" conviction as on the day of Pentecost.  Yet any preaching worth listening too, is worth having some baptismal water at the ready, if you ask me. Call me a dreamer (I have been called much worse) but I'd like to see and hear all the cold love folks in and out of the church come under conviction. I'd like to hear anyone and everyone ask at least once in life, like on the day of Pentecost, "what must we do" to get right with God and then say "I want my adult baptism now!" I haven't seen a lot of that type of conviction, yet anyway!

But I still see a lot of conviction in and out of church. I see it among backsliders and or non faith professors who strike up any old fuss, and go on the attack when we bible-based Christians come round. Fussing and fighting and attacking bible based Christians. I take that as some sort of conviction, that is just not ripe yet. We don't have to say a word, and some go to fussing and fighting, and cussing. And there are odd churchy convictions out there too. Folks who might relish the distraction of defending their pet denominational or church doctrines, or old traditions, or talking about what church was like when they were kids. I would call this a misplaced or pseudo conviction. It doesn't get anyone right with God, mayby it helps you move up the ranks of your church denomination but it doesn't get anyone saved, and church  don't get and traditions don't get saved either, and denominations don't judge us. Souls get saved. 

Only souls come under saving conviction! 

Oh conviction is out there, but it's often hidden by and many things, like shame or anger, or unforgiveness of self and others and ignorance.

Overwhelmed By Distraction Explains Conviction Unacted Upon

But  there's also a new type of difficulty that grips many folks who are under a true and repentant degree of conviction, a holy desire to repent and get right with God, and His Word, in Jesus Name. But this conviction often gets swallowed up, pushed aside again, overwhelmed by the distraction of  our modern lives, overwhelmed by the the myriad of decisions that folks have to make in any given day. Our modern lives are filled with so many decisions (and forms to be filled out) so many choices, so many options, all of which distract us. So many folks are so distracted amidst their many daily decisions that it seems like any one faith decision today, like repentant faith unto salvation, is inconsequential.

This leaves so many of God's dear people inside and out of the Christian faith in the sort of weird position of being under conviction- often for a long long time periods- but too distracted from Jesus, His Spirit and Word, too overwhelmed by all the demands of daily and yearly life, to respond to His grace. 

I see many folks living in this modern state of being under conviction but overwhelmed by distraction. Sort of like a hamspter on one of those circles in his cage. I see this conviction but it's overwhelmed by distraction amidst the lack of joy many folks have. Not even the money that folks want so bad is going to give them the joy in the long run, the joy of salvation that we all need. I also see conviction hidden in the confusion of folks who know they are missing something in life, and what they are really missing is the mercy and salvation of our Lord Jesus. 

Distraction is the wordly spirit of our age, the essential zeitgest of the age. In spiritual warfare terms it is a ruling principality that has gripped so many churches and individuals in and out of the Christian faith. It often keeps us from making a life changing decision for Jesus, or keeps folks from any greater commitment than speaking a few nice words in church once a week, or giving a rare and passing thought to Jesus while making the house perfect for Santa Claus and then for the Easter Bunny and then for Halloween. Oh may the Lord have mercy on us all, especially in the church where, lest we forget,  judgment begins.

One Focussed Faith Decision At A Time

What's so important about one little faith decision when I'm seemingly making myriads of other decisions today already?

Any born again and mature Christian can testify that there are no inconsequential faith decisions. Our new life begins one day and one faith choice at a time.

Despite the mind numbing and overwhelming distraction of our modern days, the gospel largely stays the same. It's still about hearing the message of Jesus' love shown for us on Calvary, about his shed blood, His redeeming blood, and then putting aside all distraction and choosing Him as savior, choosing His forgiveness (Isaiah 53,7-12 and Acts 8,26-40). It's still about experiencing the move of the Holy Ghost, ie grace, and then turning to, focussing  on Jesus in faithful repentance.

As the evangelist Peter said "Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you!"

It's still about "Si" "Yes" and Amen to his promises. My friends this takes focus! Not great intellect or great wisdom, not great wealth or capital, just great focus.

Yes we still live in a time when folks do come under conviction, but it's up to all of us to focus once in a while, prioritize once in awhile, until we learn the habit of making one logical and focussed and Holy Ghost faith choice at a time, one at a time, time after time.

Think of it this way, Jesus doesn't bring us to this one-decision-at-a-time faith conviction for no good purpose, to bring us to some former idea of him, or to join some man made idea of church, or man made idea of church history.

He gives us this true faith conviction to bring us to Himself!  For a change, of our minds, spirits, souls and bodies, for the change and glory of salvation!  He gives us this true conviction to become living and eternal parts of His Spiritual Church, living stones, strong, integral, supportive, one in Spirit with the risen Jesus. He brings us to this conviction to unleash all manner of salvation blessings, and for an overflowing anointing that makes us evangelists from the get go, like Nathaniel, Israelites in whom there is no quile, not church tricksters and slicksters. He brings us by conviction unto a repentant faith that takes us out of the overwhelming distracting vortex of the world, so we can be the indistractable folks that overcome the world! (Cf and thanks to Nir Eyal's for his new secular book "Indistractable" which, as he wisely sees, as the modern dividing line between accomplishment and non accomplishment.)

When I'm out spreading the gospel I often have no idea what a person's conviction is about. I could guess. And sometimes the Lord just might let me know what the problem is, if that serves his purposes. But the thing about your conviction unto faith repentance is that you know it way better than me or any preacher ever will. I'm not really too interested at all- trust me- in the nature if your sin struggle.

But like Phillip and the Ethiopian I do know what to do with the water that is right in front of the both of us!

But to accomplish even the simplest faith task, like adult water baptism, we must put aside all the overwhelming, petitfogging distractions of life and religion and get baptized in Jesus' NAME, right away, the way the Apostles and God did it on the day of Pentecost (Acts2,37-39).

This baptismal act of faith on our part has at its core nothing to do with where you or I will worship after this faith act, whether the pastor or priest will like us, whether they have fiestas and bingo, whether thet have potable free coffee, whether the Vacation Bible School is the best, whether the church is always just the right tempertaure or whether it has all the features of our modern consumer driven religion, which don't you know by now, is just another distraction of our modern day!

It's one faith decision at a time. John the Baptist and Jesus baptized folks into the kingdom of God and the Apostles baptized folks unto salvation, not into the local Jerusalem church. The folks on the day of Pentecost, pilgrim Jews required to return to Jerusalem for the feast, were baptized and they came from all over the Greco Roman world. So, the decision about where and which group to worship with is secondary to the bible based,  word based decision to make your life long covenant of personal faith with our ever living Lord Jesus.

Nowadays and for many centuries it's been different. We put the church before the baptism rather than the baptism before the church. We join churches, then often after a good long while, a very few get adult water baptized, into Jesus so to speak. But it's sort of weird because it feels like adult baptism is way too selective, for the "special ones" and like we're getting baptized into the church or denomination rather than unto salvation!

No baptism is for all, and it's meant to be done early in our walk and service of our Lord, not as some special delayed and delayed ceremony for the chosen few! (I realize some may not be ready ASAP)

So for Zion Pentecost Mission baptism like the preaching Hour is catch and release unto gospel mission and service not conquer and fleece as a dyed in the wool lifelong denominational church member. 

The bible pattern governs us:  we get baptized in Jesus name first, then we decide where we will worship locally. The gospel doesn't change, and the gospel takes undistracted faith in every age.

Conviction Is Precious- Don't Waste It

Think of adult baptism conviction this way- this conviction is so precious that the angel of the Lord told the apostle Philip the exact desert road and the exact carriage where (down from Jerusalem towards Gaza) he would meet up with an important Ethiopian official who loved the God of Israel (Acts8,26ff), and who would now focus on His new Lord and be ready for an indistractable life.

The Ethiopian was reading the good news of Isaiah's 53,7ff. This passage prophesies  that by his faith sacrifice and resurrection Jesus would vindicate himself and all of us, "himself bearing the penalty of their guilt." (v.11)

Our conviction unto adult baptism is a precious thing. Not only does it lead us to Baptism in Jesus' name but when acted upon it reminds us that the deathly guilt and the burden that sin laid upon us all has been taken away, covered, atoned for by Jesus' death and resurrection.  

The Apostle Phillip helped the Ethiopian to understand this passage and also talked about adult water baptism. We know this because as soon as the Ethiopian saw some water he said "Look 'here is water: what is to prevent my being baptized?" (Acts8,37)

What is preventing YOU from getting your adult baptism? 

Perhaps nothing more than a certain lack of biblical focus as to what happened on the day of Pentecost. Perhaps nothing but the religious sounding answer that you were baptized as an infant.

Can infants make valid personal faith covenants?

And some Reformers were so keen on not appearing in any way like the Vatican state church, that they eventually minimized water baptism, even adult baptism, to the point that it has no signifignance as to salvation or covenant, and isn't even practiced. This trend has run its course in that our modern age has afforded so many to read the bible for themselves that anybody and everybody who has read the N.T.  clearly knows for themselves that adult water baptism was done on Pentecost and in the early church and is the covenantal biblical norm.

And happily for the church as a whole many of these adult folks nowadays simply want and simply insist and now receive with Holy Ghost conviction what the New Testament teaches- full immersion baptism for all!

Adult baptismal conviction is precious and it is a work of the Holy Spirit, and always right in front of us so to speak, so there to be acted upon! Adult humans may be able to hide their sin conviction from some folks, or from their conscience for a while, or from their preacher or pastor, until Jesus comes back to gather us up. But Jesus knows better, and He got baptized for our example, not for philosophical, ecclesial, denominational, reformational-counter reformational debates thereafter!

Like Phillip and the Ethiopian, we at Zion Pentecost Mission have the prophetic faith that defines biblical Christianity and this is the faith that has the power to bring our whole lives and our whole church back to its rightful priorities, back to the Apostolic bible way of adult water baptism!

We have God's Holy Spirit! We have the right to use the Name of Jesus! What are we waiting for? 

Acts2,38 commands this adult baptism as the Apostle Peter prophesied "Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit..." 

Adult water baptism-Holy Ghost baptism is not a debate topic, not a history topic, not a tradition topic. It is our ONE complete- WATER AND SPIRIT- unified baptism (Ephesians4,5), praise Jesus!

It's time for you to get yours today.

This is the first bible priority of our gospel. This is a better cure for the distraction of our modern age than anything out there on the consumer driven self help chain, better than anything on the consumer religion bonanza and pick and choose buffet line.

And it is the best cure, a bible cure for the often hidden why-don't-I-have-any-joy that many people and many Christians have in todays distracted, overwhelmed yet still under conviction age!

Are you ready to get right with God? If not now, then when?

Faith conviction is a precious thing, why do we get so fussy and churchy and hide salvation in filling out forms and rituals, or hide salvation in philosophy and unnecessary institutional building dogmas. Why do we often avoid adult baptism but often run as adults to mere men with our sin?

It's time for you to vanguish our sense of being overwhelmed by distraction and decisions, and make a prioritized, highly focused, totally biblical  decision for adult baptism today.

Leave tomorrow's faith decision for the grace of tomorrow, and get your priorities straight now, Jesus first, Jesus last. Jesus as Lord, who rules our lives, not the some fallen principality of a fallen world. 

One day at a time (Matthew 6,34) only makes sense if it's lived one faith decision at a time!

Not overwhelmed, not distracted by too many decisions anymore!

Br. Tobin

(If your interested in an adult faither's baptism, or come under conviction, call me at 203.200.9177 or contact us through this site)

first pub. 6.20.14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE FOUNDER

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.

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