Three Angel's Messages shared with the world

Scale of Conviction

Imagine for a moment, that you are interviewing two potential employees for a job in your company. You give each one a copy of the company's employee manual and ask them to read through it. Then you ask them what they think of the company's mission statement. The first applicant replies "It sounds pretty lofty, but I'm sure I'll get as close to it as anybody else will." The second applicant replies "The company's mission motivates me to do a great job and I am 100% behind it."

Next you ask each one if they would agree to abide by the rules in the employee manual. The first applicant replies "Yes, but of course manuals are always subject to interpretation." The second applicant enthusiastically states "Absolutely!"

These answers are obviously overstated. However, they help make a point. The applicant, who whole-heartedly believes in the company's mission, employee manual, boss and coworkers, is much more likely to get hired. That person has shown that she has strong conviction, which is significantly more appealing, effective and useful to the company.

The benefits of a strong conviction also apply to your Christian life. What do you believe in? What is the strength of your conviction in those beliefs? What if God asked you some "interview" questions. Take a moment to thoughtfully consider your spiritual life. Rate your conviction on a scale of 1 to 10 as you ask yourself the following questions:

Do I believe in God?
Do I believe in the Bible?
Do I believe that Christ died and rose again?
Do I believe that Christ has a church and do I support its mission?
Do I believe in God's power to change my life?

1. What does it mean to have strong conviction?

According to Webster's Dictionary, the word "conviction" means "A fixed or firm belief…The state of being convinced." The word "convince" means "to move by argument or evidence to belief, agreement, consent, or a course of action." So, we could say that to have strong conviction means "To have a firm belief and course of action as a result of evidence."

2. Is it really that important to have strong conviction?

A) God doesn't accept half-heartedness.

1. Psalm 119:2 (KJV) "Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart."

2. Matthew 6:24 (KJV) "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

B) God won't accept being anything less than 1st on your priority list.

Matthew 10:37-39 "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth has life for my sake shall find it."

3. Is 100% conviction out of reach?

Perhaps the Bible seems overwhelming? Many feel as if parts of it were never meant to be understood. Did God intend for us to understand the scriptures and as a result feel fully convinced of the truth? If not, why did he give the scriptures?

A) Ephesians 4:14 "That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive."

B) John 16 13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come."

C) Rev. 1:3 (KJV) "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."

D) II Corinthians 4:6 "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Has anyone ever told you that you should never feel secure in your beliefs and that you should always consider the possibility you are wrong? Of course it is true that we should not be arrogant and foolhardy in our pursuit of truth, assuming we have all the answers or that we are better than others who are also searching. In addition, those who are young in the faith are always wise to listen to those who are mature in Christ. But, you can always have 100% confidence in Christ, His Word and His kingdom. At some point, as you mature in Christ, you can have confidence that you increasingly understand more of the truth. Prayerfully study the scriptures and claim God's promise that you can know the truth.

4. What are some potential pitfalls along the way to conviction?

A) I have conviction but lack confidence in showing it:

1. Hebrews 10:19-23 "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

2. Proverbs 14:26 "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge."

B) Do you feel as though you may be ridiculed for your confidence?

If feeling shy or ashamed, remember that Jesus will stand up for you in front of God and you can do the same here. Matthew 10:33 (KJV) "But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."

1. Romans 10:11 (KJV) "For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."

2. Mark 8:38 (KJV) "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

3. Romans 1:16 (KJV) "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

C) Do you feel you may turn someone off because of your enthusiasm?

As Christians, should we appear confident and be bold in sharing our beliefs? Or does that turn people off or make us seem arrogant? Certainly there is discretion that should be used in how we first approach non-believers. However, enthusiasm that bubbles forth from a TRUE heart, can do great good. Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

D) Is it dangerous to have strong conviction because we may not be open to other truths?

Should we prudently always leave the door open that we may be wrong? Yes and no. If the Bible teaches something, we can be confident in it and we can be safe in building our foundation on it. It IS possible to be confident in your beliefs while at the same time being open to listening to new evidence. At the same, if you continually waver in your conviction because of lack of faith or unwillingness to repent, it keeps you from 100% submitting to truth and Christ.

When the holy spirit leads us to conviction of a Bible truth, we should hold fast to that truth. Additional truth is built upon it. We can have strong conviction of our beliefs and continue to learn more truth from God's word. The danger is in letting go of our beliefs without solid Biblical evidence. II Corinthians 11:3-4 "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus who we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it."

5. Is lack of conviction a fulfillment of prophecy?

Revelation 3:14-16 "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; [15] I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. [16] So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."

Bible prophecy reveals that this message to the Laodiceans especially applies to God's church today; the church existing in the last days before Christ's Second Coming. Do you see signs of lukewarmness throughout God's churches in the world? Do you think that this text applies to the church you go to every week? Does it apply to you? Could a lack of conviction be a form of lukewarmness? God says to Laodicea "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Rev. 3:19).

6. What can we have conviction in?

No matter where you are on the "Scale of Conviction", there is room for improvement. Wouldn't it be wonderful to not only have strong conviction, but to feel "GREAT" about those convictions and confident about sharing them? Then we could break out of the "Lukewarm" environment and become "Hot"!

Let's look at some of the things in which we can have strong conviction, get behind, be proud of, show enthusiasm for, and get excited about.

A) Christ:

What is better than to believe wholeheartedly in Christ! What is our message about Christ?
  1. He died the second death in our place. We share in his sufferings and die the first death, but we do not have to experience the second, eternal death.
  2. He rose from the dead. Christ had the power to raise himself.
  3. He went to heaven. He now lives to continually heal and restore us. Christ's heavenly priesthood is a major teaching of the New Testament and is the center theme in the book of Hebrews. Revelation mentions the heavenly sanctuary 14 times! Hebrews 8:1 (KJV) "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens."
Do we believe in what Christ has done, is doing and has promised to do for us in the future?

B) Scriptures:

What else have we been given that we can get excited about? 2 Tim. 3:16 (KJV) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." The scriptures are a wonderful gift to us. Do you believe in the scriptures? Do you believe 8 out of the 10 commandments? Do you believe in the new testament and not the old? Do you believe in 75% of the scriptures? 90%? How about 99%?

God inspired prophets to write down messages from God. But can we rely on the Bible? After all, mere humans wrote down the words. What if they wrote "Red" where it should have been "Orange"? For example, could Moses have misunderstood God's character and incorrectly have written the books of the law? The same Moses who knew God so well? Deuteronomy 34:10 "But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, who the Lord knew face to face". The same Moses of whom Christ spoke and confirmed: Luke 24:27 "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." If something doesn't fit into our view of God, do we then change the Bible to fit our view? Or should we change our views to fit the Bible? When we come upon something in the Bible that doesn't make sense to us, take these steps:
  1. Read the text in its proper context. In other words, read the whole chapter that contains the verse.
  2. Study other places in the Bible that address the same topic.
  3. Look up the original Greek or Hebrew word to see if it has other possible meanings. We can have complete confidence in the original manuscript written by the inspired prophets.
  4. If we still can't make sense of it, we should not immediately question its inspiration. We should question our own ability to understand it. When we run into interpretation problems, doesn't it make sense to say "It is my problem, not God's".
Luke 24:25 "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

John 5:39 (KJV) "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

John 5:47 (KJV) "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words.?"

Questioning the reliance of the original Bible manuscripts is a dangerous road. It has shown to be 100% accurate in predicting the future and is proven over and over as reliable historically. As Christians, the Bible is something we can and should lift up to others with 100% conviction! John 17:17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. You word is truth."

C) God's Church

Do we support and encourage our pastors? Do we respect his appointment to our congregation? Do we attack and criticize him or do we constructively discuss our differences? Do we leave by the back door before the sermon? Are we thankful that we have a pastor? On the "Scale of Conviction" do we fully support our pastors? This doesn't mean we agree with everything he does, or that he doesn't make mistakes. What is your first reaction when someone says something bad about the pastor? Is it to believe the bad things that are said, or is to give them the benefit of the doubt?

Rev. 1:18-20 (KJV) "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. [19] Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; [20] The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches."

The word angel in this text comes from the Greek word "aggelos", which means, "messenger." In other parts of the Bible the same word is used to refer to John the Baptist in Mark 1:2, the disciples of John the Baptist in Luke 7:24, the disciples of Jesus Christ in Luke 9:52 and the two spies in James 2:25. So, to whom is Jesus referring when he holds the angels in his right hand? Messengers of the church. Church ministers of today fulfill this role. And God is holding them up in His hand. Visualize this and it may help increase your conviction to support the important work of your pastor.

How do you relate to other church members? Is it possible to be firm in our support of one another, yet not always hold the same views? Can we maintain a unified church, and have good feelings of camaraderie, in the midst of differing opinions? It can be a delicate path, but one that we can strive towards. To all who have joined our church and believe in the mission, we have the same foundation. We can feel good about that!

I Thessalonians 5:11-15 "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men."

John 17:21 "That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me."

There are many others who support the mission of the church, including prophets, church founders, school teachers, missionaries, hospital workers, etc. The extent of the work being done by all these various individuals is amazing. Only through the coordination of God's spirit could Christ's mission on earth be achieved through His church. That is something worthy of your support!

6. Where should we stand on the "Scale of Conviction"?

Of course we don't want to be foolhardy, committing prematurely to incorrect doctrine or unimportant theories. And we don't want to become overbearing, behaving rudely, and pushing too hard when sharing our beliefs. However, we ought to be whole-heartedly committed to Jesus! And this translates into being committed to His ways, His Word and His Church. As we strive for spiritual maturity, our position on the scale of conviction can increase and we can become 100% convicted of our Bible-based beliefs and absolutely confident in them to become a sincere and effective witness for Christ.

As when we started, let's again carefully consider our lives as Christians. How do you answer God's interview questions? Rate your conviction on a scale of 1 to 10 as you answer the following questions:

Do I believe in God?
Do I believe in the Bible?
Do I believe that Christ died and rose again?
Do I believe that Christ has a church and do I support its mission?
Do I believe in God's power to change my life?

James 5:8 "You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand."