DEVELOPING AREAS OF CONVICTIONS

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HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

First  I belong to Christ alone and follow Him in everything

Romans 14:8, “For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”  We who are true believers don’t belong to ourselves, we don’t own our lives, we don’t do our own thing, we don’t take time off from the church, we don’t take vacations from God, we don’t take breaks from Jesus, we live and die for Him, we are His.

Second Corinthians 5:15, “He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”  We don’t live for ourselves anymore, we live for Him.  We don’t do what we want anymore, we do what He wants.  Our lives are now His. Jesus said so clearly in . . .

John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”  Those who don’t follow Christ and live for Christ in everything are given some frightening and pointed warnings.

Luke 6:46,” Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”  Get this right, friends–if you don’t follow Christ, you are not His child.  And when you fail to follow Christ, you are broken over it, confess it, repent of it and in your heart, you wish you had followed Christ.

Yes, you are saved by grace, and you live by grace–but your life will want to follow Christ because you belong to Him.  Do you have a conviction that your life is no longer yours, but His?  All true Christians follow Christ–and if you are not following Christ, then you need to repent or admit you are not His child.

Second  I believe the Bible alone is the will of Christ

2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”  Inspired means God-breathed, the very words of God, the very words God speaks and means and says.  Therefore, the Bible is absolutely true, and the final authority in my life–period.  Like the bumper sticker reads:  God said it, I believe it, that settles it.  In reality, the truth is:  God said it, that settles it, whether you believe it or not.

To do anything other than what this Book commands would be to sell out.  It is not optional for Christians.  We’re living in a day where people want an opinion.  Being a Bible teacher, there is a lot of pressure to preach opinion–to water down God’s message.  Teachers feel it all the time.  You don’t want to be offensive–you don’t want to sound inflexible, or arrogant or unbending.  But remember, if you’re teaching God’s truth and doing it in love, it’s not your opinion, it’s God’s wisdom–His very words, His will.  Therefore, don’t you dare water it down when the Bible speaks directly.  God help us.  The sell-outs are everywhere.

In I Thessalonians, 4:8 Paul said, “He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God.”  That’s the fire you have in your teaching.  I know no fear when I preach, because I know as long as I declare this truth, I’m declaring the Word of Almighty God, and if you reject it, it’s not me you’re rejecting, but the God who wrote it.  Therefore I know no fear, and neither should you–in teaching or living it.  The Bible has one meaning, and when it’s clear, die for it. The Bible is not a smorgasbord where you pick what you like and skip the rest.

In a day of subtle sell-outs, let’s be those who declare the Bible as the only book inspired by God, therefore absolutely true and the final authority in our lives.  God said in Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”  Let’s study it to live it, then we teach it.  You have to stand for something, or you will fall for anything.

Third  I love the Church as the heart and plan of Christ

The Church is the bride of Christ, it is the body of Christ–we are the sheep and He is the shepherd.  And even though Christ loves His children individually and personally, every one of His true children belongs to something bigger and grander.  We are a part of His body–we together make up His bride, His flock.

Speaking of the Church, Paul says in Ephesians 4:16, “From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supply, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”  We function like gears in a machine.  We function like organs in the body.  We all are a part of something that can glorify God together, that we personally could never accomplish on our own individually.

We together can represent Christ to others far more effectively than we can individually.  The Church is so important, you can’t parent Biblically without the Church, and you can’t fight spiritual warfare without the local church corporately.  Develop a conviction to love the local church.  What’s that look like?  You faithfully serve in the local church, you sacrificially give to the local church, you are relationally knit to the local church.  You say, “No,” to everything possible that keeps you from attending weekly corporate worship, you refuse to tear her members down with your tongue or malign her purity with your gossip or criticism or impure actions, you honour Christ’s appointed under-shepherds, you pray for her efforts to make Christ known locally and worldwide, and you love her people with sacrificial agape love–we gather to love.  What about having a meal with another family you don’t know once per month?

Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us we are a community who faithfully gather, “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the Day drawing near.”  Is there any club, any organization, or any business that has your heart more than the local church?  How can you say you love Christ, and not passionately be committed to His bride?  Do you have a conviction about the local church?  If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

Fourth  I see my marriage and children as my stewardship

Just like the Church, your marriage and family is also a representation of Christ to the watching world.  Husbands and wives must work at being one with each other like God are one, and as each of you are one with your own body, and like Christ is one with His body.

Ephesians 5:28-30, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.”  Love means sacrificial action to benefit another.  We have to sacrifice for our marriages so they display more of Christ.  For most of us, that means making time, giving up personal wants, denying our individual preferences, turning off the phone, walking away from the computer, turning off the TV, not watching the game, getting a date night without the kids to make sure you are pursuing oneness.  The only time your marriage glorifies God is when you delight in, cherish and enjoy each other more than any other person, thing or child–and friends, which takes constant work and commitment.

Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.”  Children are given to you to influence for Christ–they are not yours, they are His.  They are on loan to you, they are going to leave you, and your goal is simple.  Disciple them like the great commandment–teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded them.  Don’t just educate them, don’t merely teach them–but train them, a model for them, show them what it means to follow Christ.

Dads, as they get older, schedule time to take all the kids, and make time to get regular individual face-to-face time with each one.  Always know where their hearts are–help them discover their gifts and strengths, and show them how to deal with their weaknesses.  Model a commitment to use your gifts in the church, and to share the gospel in the world.  This is why Christ gave them to you, so they would bring Him glory.  Do you have a conviction about being one with your spouse, and disciplining your children?

Fifth  I realize faithful service is a part of my calling

In the midst of rebuking religion and false spirituality, Jesus says in Matthew 23:11, “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”  The greatest person here is the servant; true Christians are servants.  We are commanded to serve one another, we are commanded to serve in the Church, and we are even gifted to serve in the Church.  We are supposed to serve our spouses, parents and children, but we must also love the lost with service, with attractive deeds that point to Christ.

The work of Christ is being greatly hindered everywhere because of the reluctance of His children to roll up their sleeves and get personally involved.  There are no part-time Christians.  There are no days off from loving Christ, and there is no unemployment in the kingdom.  There are people who will volunteer for a one-time event, and all of us have been moved at some point by a great need.  But what Christ is looking for, and how we measure maturity is faithful service.  Luke 16:10a, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much.”

The mature servant is a faithful servant, a trustworthy servant, a servant who can be counted on, the one who is dependable, the one who gets the job done without being asked, and without recognition.  Daniel was such a servant.  Later in Daniel 6, when the advisors are looking to find something against Daniel, it says in Daniel 6:4b, “They could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.”

Women Leaders in the church are to be (1 Timothy 3:11), “Women must likewise be . . . faithful in all things.”  In Revelation 2:10, churches that are persecuted are exhorted to “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  Do you have a conviction over being a faithful servant?  What are you doing with your life?  What are you giving your time to?  If you won’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.  Faithfully serve the Lord.

Sixth  I am passionate about my purpose to represent Christ

In heaven, the two things I don’t get to do is sin and share Christ, thus I will give my life to sharing Christ.  The Great Commission is my mission.  Is the Great Commission a convenience or conviction?  Is making disciples an option or obedience?  Have you made a disciple, or are you in the process?

What if Peter and John said (Acts 4:19-20), “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge.  Well, since you are the judges, we will stop witnessing and not say anything more about Jesus, okay guys?  Listen, we’re sorry about the confusion we caused.”

No, they said, “For we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.”  Why?  Simple–witnessing was a conviction.  Are you in the process of going out, bringing others in, and teaching believers to obey God’s Word?  The Great Commission is a commandment–therefore it is to be a conviction.  Is it one of yours?  Stand for something, or you will fall for anything.

Seventh  I respond to authority as I do to Christ

God has placed me under divinely appointed authority for two reasons–my protection and my direction.  God has placed me under divinely appointed authority.  There are a number of them:  employers, parents, government, police, and elders.  All are God-appointed authorities in my life.  He protects me and leads me through those He has placed in authority over me.  Therefore, I will obey those God has placed in authority over me with a joyful attitude until I am required to disobey the Word of God–that is not optional.  That is the Bible.

The word rebellion is not in the vocabulary of the Christian.  In I Samuel 15:23 God says, “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.”  Rebellion is equal to the sin of witchcraft.  Rebellion is the willing exposure of my life to the realm and the power of Satan.  God forbid that I should mimic Satan’s behaviour, when five times he shouted in the face of God with a heart of rebellion, “I will.”  You’ve got to stand for something, or you will fall for anything.

Eighth  I protect my mind since it’s the root of all my behaviour

My brain controls the way I live, and I will not fill it with garbage.  The Satanic lie–“You are what you eat.”  Biblical truth–“You are what you think.”  Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”  I am amazed at how many of us will examine every ingredient we pump into our bodies, but not give a second thought to TV, DVDs, movies, books, magazines or computer images.  Without any resistance, we allow Satan to pump his garbage in.  If you say, “I can handle it,” you’re a liar.  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”  What are you putting into your brain?  If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

Ninth  I fear little compromises for the way they dishonour God

Listen to what Paul says right after he declares God as sovereign–Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Notice verse 14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”  God is working out His plan, and anytime we start complaining, grumbling or arguing, we are attacking the character of God.  God is sovereign, and that means God controls all things.  So when we complain, we attack God’s control–His sovereign design.

When we talk about others inappropriately, when we gossip or slander, when we second-guess people or assign motives, we are acting as if we have the mind of God, acting as if we know people’s hearts, arrogantly asserting our omniscience as if we’re all-knowing.  Therefore, like Satan, we are declaring, “I will be like the Most High.”

The little compromises, or as Jerry Bridges calls them, the acceptable sins, like worry, frustration, discontent, pride, selfishness, lack of self-control, impatience, irritability, anger, slander, gossip, envy, jealousy, judgmentalism and worldliness are all attacks on God’s character.  Therefore, like Daniel, I take those sins seriously.  Do you have a conviction about the way you speak?  If you don’t’ stand for something, you will fall for anything.  Finally . . .

Tenth  I realize I can’t live convictions in my own strength

The most important conviction you must own is the fact that you and I can’t develop or live convictions in our own strength.  Since I am separated from God because of my sin, I must turn to Christ who took the punishment I was due for my sin, by dying on the cross in my place, rising from the dead, and providing a way for me to be forgiven and transformed from the inside out, so I would actually want to live according to the Scripture.  And even as a Christian, I was never meant to live the Christian life in my own strength, I must daily depend upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower me to live for God’s glory.

So, if you are going to stand for something and not fall for anything, then Christ must save you, and the Spirit must empower you.

Author: Patriarch Gregg

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