Summary: Our convictions must be firm in a shifting culture.
Life in the Fast Lane
Convictions: Holding Our Course On Slippery Pavement
Woodlawn Baptist Church
October 24, 2004
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Tonight I want to deal with a subject that is going to be increasingly more important as the day of Christ draws near – and it is this matter of our convictions. On more than one occasion in the Scriptures, the apostle Paul warned churches of the dangers of false teachings and of the importance of holding to the truths of God’s Word. False teachings abound, as do false beliefs, and unless we are a people of sound convictions we will find ourselves slipping down the road out of control, headed for a crash that could have been avoided had we only held our course with determination and sound judgment.
In our text, Paul charged Timothy, the young preacher and his son in the faith to preach the Word of God and to patiently counsel people with sound doctrine. He then told him why. Paul said that the time would come when people would not endure, or put up with sound doctrine. Now remember that doctrine is not a dirty word. It just means a teaching. In other words, people would not tolerate the sound teachings of the Bible. Why? Because they really don’t have any convictions about those teachings.
It is no secret that one of the greatest lies ever accepted by the Lord’s churches is that the success of Christianity depends on how popular it is, and that the kingdom of God and the glory of Christ somehow advance on the back of public favor. Listen to this assessment by pastor and writer John MacArthur,
“Christians have worked hard to position themselves in places of power within the culture. They seek influence academically, politically, economically, athletically, socially, theatrically, religiously, and every other way, in hopes of gaining mass media exposure. But then when they get that exposure—sometimes through mass media, sometimes in a very broad-minded church environment—they present a reinvented designer pop gospel that subtly removes all of the offense of the gospel and beckons people into the kingdom along an easy path. They do away with all that hard-to-believe stuff about self-sacrifice, hating your family, and so forth.”
Are we guilty of such thinking or practices? Do we bend what we believe in order to fit in or find our place in this world? Would we? They’re questions that deserve an answer. As Missionary Baptists, we hold to certain distinctions that set us apart in this world. We are not like most other churches, even many Baptist churches, and for good reason. But talking about beliefs and convictions goes beyond basic doctrinal beliefs about salvation and baptism and church polity to basic decisions about life in general: convictions about what a marriage is, about homosexuality, abortion, education, prejudice, and much, much more.
As we consider this subject tonight, I am going to deal with four questions: What are our convictions? What is a conviction? Does it really matter? and will we stand?
What Are Our Convictions?
Let me firmly assert that we do not hold to Baptist convictions; we hold to Bible convictions. We do not believe certain things because Baptists believe them, but because the Bible teaches them, and if we find that the Bible teaches something else, then we will change to follow the Scriptural position. I have given you a copy of our doctrinal statement, outlining twenty-one of the Bible’s key doctrines. Certainly there are more, but these twenty-one set us apart as being different and distinct. After these, I have added some others that are more ethical in nature. As you follow along, you will notice that I have provided a place for you to decide whether this is a conviction of yours, or whether you consider it to be a belief that you hold to, but it is really more of a personal preference rather than a conviction.
Love one for another as Jesus loves the believer manifests our discipleship, proves our love for God and symbolizes our authority as New Testament churches. Love is therefore the great commandment of the LORD Jesus Christ upon which all others are dependent.