Bringing Back An Old Practice
In this day and time, there is a specific usage of that vital word “conviction” which is necessary for us to grab ahold of and not cast away. It is the sense of a belief held dear to the point that it serves as a guiding force for an individual. These foundational beliefs can be good or erroneous. Someone could have a conviction that it is harmless to look at the sun, so they stare at the brilliant rays, thus leading to their going blind. Worse, someone could believe in the theory of evolution leading to their support of transhumanist efforts in order to attempt to become something posthuman (see more about transhumanism here). Convictions must be tested, they must be tried, and they must be proven. The only stable foundation for true convictions is Scripture. It is from God’s Word we derive our bedrock beliefs which stand against the crashing waves of the world. His revelation in Scripture is what guides us each step of the way. This type of conviction, my friends, is what I am saying we need to bring back. We need to ground ourselves in Scriptural living out of deeply held and divinely revealed convictions!
As we look at the great halls of history, they are lined with men and women who stood faithfully upon Christian convictions. How we admire the Apostle Paul for standing against the Jewish rejection of Christ and the paganism of Rome. We look with astonishment at the believers of the early church who Christ used to proclaim the Gospel amidst the heavy heel of persecution. They were bloodied, beaten, bruised, and killed, yet Christ gave them the courage to stand and they did so for the sake of His name. Our admiration is fixed upon believers of past ages who, like Athanasius, were seemingly willing to stand against the entire world for the cause of Christ. Such courage, such conviction, such love for the Savior is admirable. But, how many of us look at the examples of such faithfulness, while simply living with laziness, timidity, and fear our entire lives?
You see the examples of believers in the biblical accounts, and through history, are not simply for us to look at for mere head knowledge. No, we must be spurred on to follow their example so far as they followed Christ and were faithful to Him. However, such men who take that kind of a stand today are often considered a nuisance to be put down. History’s distance serves as somewhat of a barrier for us in our modern era. We like men such as Martin Luther who stood boldly against Catholicism, but when we see someone taking a heroic stand against false religion in our own day, many will label them as simply being needlessly divisive when all they are doing is standing for truth with a heart of love. The great Charles Spurgeon picked up on this reality. The quote here is lengthy, but worth the time:
“Everybody admires Luther. Yes, yes, but you do not want anyone else to do the same today. When you go to the zoological gardens you all admire the bear. But how would you like a bear at home? Or a bear wandering loose about the street? You tell me it would be unbearable. And no doubt you’re right. So we admire a man who was firm in the faith, say 400 years ago. The past ages are a sort of bear pit or iron cage for him. But such a man today is a nuisance and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot or give him a worse name if you can think of one. Yet imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their compeers had said, `The world is out of order but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row and get ourselves into disgrace. Let’s go to our chambers, put on our nightcaps and sleep over the bad times and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.’ Such conduct on their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps and the pestiferous bogs of error would have swallowed all. These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers. Look, you sirs, there are ages yet to come. If the Lord does not speedily appear there will come another generation and another. And all these generations will be tainted and injured if we are not faithful to God and to His truth today.”1
Conviction . . . that is what men of the past had in their era. We love to look at their example, oh, how we enjoy seeing it on full display in the pages of a history book. However, we must ask the question, are we willing to live with courage based upon biblical convictions? Do we look at the courage of Christ and seek to follow it? We see men like John MacArthur and James Coates living with conviction in our era. Many see that example and are spurred on to be faithful and courageous in their life based upon Scripture. However, countless others spurn these examples as being nothing but divisive. The ones who chided MacArthur for standing against COVID lockdowns and the leftist agenda are the same ones who would have decried Spurgeon’s stance against theological liberalism should they have lived in that era. They may read Spurgeon’s example, but the “iron cage” of history is the only thing that makes him palatable to their taste.
Christian, we need to have deeply rooted convictions based upon the teaching of Scripture. We must . . . must live out those convictional truths in our life. Courage must be demonstrated when the world rails against the truth. Love has to be the motivating force of our actions. Truth should be declared and upheld. Sacrifice must be understood as the call of Christ upon our lives. Humility is the adornment of our attitudes in service to God. Convictions grounded in Scripture, not feelings, personal experience, cultural whims, or anything else is what we must be faithful to live out for the sake of Christ.
So, what shall we do in our era? Will we merely admire men of the past who lived with great courage, or shall we seek to actually obey the biblical call to be strong and courageous? Convictions matter, convictions most certainly will be divisive but they will also be unifying. Biblical convictions shall divide you from the world, but they shall unify you to believers committed to God’s Word, and most importantly a right understanding of Scripture brings you closer to God. Let the chiding of the world against Scripture be disdained, may Christ’s judgment be that for which we live!