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Tuesday, August 30, 2011
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"Holding On To Your Convictions"
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of" (2 Timothy 3:14).
I’m hearing it more and more; the continuous assaults on the Bible's teaching. It used to be occasional, but now it’s rapid fire mockery from many directions. Until the last 15 to 20 years Biblical views were commonly held by many and usually respected by most. Even though disobedience has existed since Adam and Eve there was a commonly held sense regarding what constituted right and wrong.
Last night a commentator on a news show (considered by most to be conservative based) touted that those who hold to a particular Bible teaching, "are just plain ignorant." (This happens to be one that I hold.)
Far too many bow at the altar of academia which, for scores of people, now establishes what's reasonable and unreasonable to believe. Increasingly, it's being deemed just plain unreasonable to believe in the “faith once for all entrusted to the saints”. Perhaps that's what Paul had in mind in a Scripture prior to our daily text, "evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).
Today I would like to talk about personal convictions. We hear the word "conviction" a lot these days. It's a talking point in both secular and religious circles. Opposing parties may have strong convictions though their views may stand in stark contrast. Conviction is defined as "the state of being convinced; of having a fixed or firm belief." This word has certainly trickled down from its original meaning, most especially in the political world.
About 25 years ago a well-known politician expressed this view in writing to a constituent when he was in the House of Representatives, "It is my deep personal conviction that abortion is wrong." This same politician has now completely changed his view on this "conviction" and many more I might add. You may think of similar examples, among politicians, theologians and even in your own life, which I hope will lead to you being "convicted" by the Holy Spirit in a theological sense about those subject matters in the Bible that “change not”!
What do you stand for today? What is that which you are convinced of and have a fixed and firm set of beliefs regarding? I believe this is one of the most important questions of life. Today although the expression "having convictions" is bantered about and sounds good, many, including those who claim to be Christians, have convictions that vacillate with the wind. Their views are more established by current notions than a Biblical foundation.
Chuck Swindoll makes a distinction between convictions and opinions with this point; “I’m willing to die for my convictions but I am willing to consider changing my opinions.” These days when many speak of their convictions they merely mean their present opinion which may very well change at any time. They are "tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming" (Ephesians 4:14).
Let us consider Paul's statement to Timothy in today's text. I want to receive it myself and urge you to do the same. "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of." This is in a section designated with the heading "Paul's Final Charge To Timothy".
Paul established two foundations for these convictions:
1) The Source: “Our Godly Heritage” For Timothy “the source” of his biblical faith was from Grandmother Lois and Mother Eunice who passed it down to him from childhood on (2 Timothy 1:5, and 2 Timothy 3:15). Paul discipled Timothy as a son in the faith along with other godly people of his time period. Timothy was a self-studied, earnest student of the Word.
2) The Basis: “The Holy Scriptures” From his infancy Timothy was introduced to “the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
The faith message and lifestyle was passed down generationally to Timothy. This led to his own faith experience based on deep convictions about eternal matters. Today's church needs men and women, young people like Timothy, who will continue in what they have learned and have become convinced of. When barraged with attacks on these foundational convictions we should not weaken but strengthen our resolve to remain firm. Will you join me in being a person of deep Biblical convictions?
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it has been written that he who stands for nothing will fall for anything. Most within our generation stand for very little that has eternal value though we have been given thorough instruction from Your Holy Word to guide our lives, teach us right from wrong, and how to prepare for eternity. We are convinced of these teachings by the Holy Spirit, by men and women of deep faith, and by our own defining experiences in life. Help us to stand unashamedly and fearlessly as people of deep conviction we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Additional perspective on today's topic: I recently had a conversation with an older friend of mine, a man who demonstrates spiritual wisdom, integrity, faithfulness and honorably raised a large family. We were discussing how his son, who is a professor at a nominally Christian college, had a view on a Bible topic which is Biblically incorrect, but is the current academically correct view and probably a necessity in maintaining his position at the rather liberal college he teaches at. Now certainly this is not what my aged friend had been taught to believe but he told me that his son was a lot smarter then he was, essentially implying that his view must thus be the correct one.
We use a term "politically correct" and I think another term is "academically correct". Academic correctness is established by the elite schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton and so forth and then since other schools tend to be "elite college wannabes" even the most unorthodox views may be held in order to be seen as academically respectable. After all if you are in the education field who wants someone from Harvard saying you are ignorant or a moron? For that matter too many in non-educational fields worry about this as well. But Scripture says, "evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."
Sadly this has deeply affected many historically Christian colleges as well, including those in the denomination I have my credentials. Several years ago I was at a chaplain's training seminar and heard a professor at one of our denomination's liberal arts colleges spitefully and I would say even hatefully mock a belief on a matter that I had been taught in one of that denomination's Bible College back in the seventies. In fact many ministers still hold this view. Sadly this summer a decision was made to close that Bible College and consolidate with the very liberal arts college that the professor taught at. That Bible College has been a bulwark against the liberalism creeping into our denomination, especially since it is in our headquarters city. Of course this situation is not at all unique to that denomination. In fact I would observe it tends to be the norm.
Here are some personal understandings I have regarding words on this topic you may find helpful:
Smart - Being "smart" has nothing to do with the amount of education one has. I feel there are smart people who may have none or very little formal education. In some cases this may be because it wasn't an interest, in other cases they just don't have access to formal education such as a tribesman in Africa. Of course there are very smart people who are also formally educated. In addition to this I observe that we may be smart concerning different interests and skills. A person deemed very smart, especially based upon formal education, may have no knowledge or skills about certain matters. Conversely one deemed "not very smart" may be very proficient on a particular matter. I wonder how many professors at Harvard know how to run a farm?
Formally Educated - Having been through various levels of formal education, attaining degrees and so forth. This may or may not mean one is smart and certainly is not an indication of genuine wisdom, let alone spiritual wisdom.
Learned/studied - This is a qualification virtually all can have now, especially with abundant access to information on the internet, books and so forth.
Wise - Wisdom has been described as applied knowledge. This is a quality not entirely related to smartness. Smart people may not be very wise and wise people may not be smart, however they can go together.
Spiritually wise - Knowing "the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." This is the highest form of wisdom and spiritual knowledge.
Note: We realize we have readers in this series who have a high degree of formal education, including friends who went to elite colleges like Harvard, Brown and Princeton. In fact there are several on this list who have earned doctorates from these schools. My point is not dissing formal educational achievement but rather asking you and all readers to consider this topic of "academic correctness" and how it may relate to the Scriptures and the faith once for all entrusted to the saints that we are all to contend for. (See Jude 3)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Jesus I My Cross Have Taken" Video Indelible Grace An outstanding hymn rarely heard today (at least in any church I have been in) written by Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) whose father abandoned him at an early age and never let his son call him "father", the song is a testament to the power of the gospel to address even situations where the rot of sin has spread into family relationships. Consider playing this as you read the lyrics (although this version does not use every stanza).
1. Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.
2. Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
O while Thou dost smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me,
Show Thy face and all is bright.
3. Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me;
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ’tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.
4. Go, then, earthly fame and treasure,
Come disaster, scorn and pain
In Thy service, pain is pleasure,
With Thy favor, loss is gain
I have called Thee Abba Father,
I have stayed my heart on Thee
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather;
All must work for good to me.
5. Soul, then know thy full salvation
Rise o’er sin and fear and care
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father’s smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
Child of heaven, canst thou repine.
6. Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer.
Heaven’s eternal days before thee,
God’s own hand shall guide us there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission,
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
"Arise, My Soul Arise" Video A Charles Wesley hymn
"Lead Me Lord" Video Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
"I Shall Not Be Moved" Video Homecoming Series
For further study on today's topic:
"The New Tolerance vs. Christian Convictions" Article by Josh McDowell
"Christian Convictions and Unpopularity in the Public Square" Podcast by Albert Mohler
Cultivating Christian Convictions" Article by Steven C. Riser
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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