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Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
I Cor. 15:58
Today's thoughts come more by way of encouragement and exhortation rather than instruction. I want to share some thoughts about internal immovability.
Much is spoken in scripture about the solidity of the word of God and the rock-like nature of our spiritual life and faith. David says, "Forever O Lord, your word is settled in heaven." Jesus tells us to build our lives on rock and not on sand. He also says the kingdom is like a crushing rock, refusing to be broken by what comes against it, while breaking all that it falls upon. Peter speaks of being "stablished, strengthened, settled." If the word and the kingdom are likened to a rock, and our lives are to be coming into conformity with them, what does that tell us about what should increasingly characterize our inner lives?
The longer we live in Christ through this mortal realm, the more firm our certitude of conviction in Christ, of His indwelling, of His direction, should become, not less. But that certitude must consist of the substance of our internal faith, our inner knowing of the Lord through the manifestation of His life and love to our hearts. As Paul says, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts." This inner certitude is not about what we know. Knowledge may increase, but knowledge also changes. We don't establish our certitude on what we think we have come to know. Our firmness of certainty should only be "in Christ." And nothing that changes around us should "rock" that.
In turn, inner certitude of our Life in Christ gives birth to Spirit ordained convictional standards of life behavior and practice. Nothing should rock that either.
Now firmness of resolve, steadfastness, internal immovability in Christ's indwelling Life are virtues not championed today. Similarly, the God-breathed convictions of behavior emanating from that inner Life are not championed either. Rather, we remain constantly challenged by the change of life around us to abandon our firmness of convictions. The culture is constantly changing. Every few years a new philosophy seizes the day. New buzz words and lingo and vocabulary capture the minds of the up and coming generations behind us. Moral acceptabilities especially change. And in abandonment to such flux, there are no more real leaders.
Meanwhile, our resolve in Christ and His convictions do not budge. We become more immovable. And that creates offense in the culture. Deep offense.
Those less rooted in Christ or not at all rooted have trouble with convictional firmness. In fact, society as a whole does not respect conviction. The modern culture does not. The youth culture does not. And the Christian culture that seeks to accommodate world fluidity does not either. Firm conviction is mistaken for pride, for arrogance, for legalism, for a sense of superiority and for unteachability. If you have endeavored to live by the conviction of internal faith in Christ and not by sensitivity to what others may think, then you know what I am talking about. (Yes, conviction in Christ must ultimately trump sensitivity to others, believe it or not.)
One of my favorite Bible stories is the story of the Rechabites in Jeremiah 35. Here is a man, named Jonadab, who fathered a clan, and in course of that upbringing became persuaded of the Lord that his family should not drink alchohol. He passed this conviction on to his clan, and his offspring remained steadfast in their father's conviction. In time, God sent Jeremiah to give the Rechabites a prophetic exhortation to drink alcohol. How interesting is that? And so guess what? The Rechabites said, "Sorry Jeremiah, you may have a word from God, you may be a man of God, but we have a greater conviction from God through our father Jonadab. We can't do it. Again, sorry."
God used that firmness of conviction to in turn convict the people of Judah for failing to listen to His voice through the prophets--who, by the way, are men of conviction. True prophets are men of firm conviction. True prophets seek to erect convictional standards in the lives of their hearers. And they don't apologize for it. (How many true prophets do you know today like that?)
But here is what must be understood. Convictionality is not about "being right." It is only about being faithful. It is always about being faithful to the inner inspired standard. You don't budge. You don't move from what God has brought to bear as conviction in your heart. You stand by it and you stand up for it, and you don't apologize for it no matter what anybody else thinks about it. Maybe the standards of life and culture have changed since God implanted His convictions into you. Does that matter? No, it does not. You still stand firm on the divine conviction, and you let the chips fall where they may.
Conviction and respect for the conviction of others is hard to come by. Most people don't make the decisions they make in life based on conviction. They make them based on what they think. They are not rooted or grounded in the Lord, His heart, or His mind. This is the truth for most of the body of Christ, not just the world. The church is always looking over its shoulder to ask "What does the world think about what I think, and believe and am doing?" And so there is no leadership in that. The church "leads" from behind.
But true prophets and apostles do not lead from behind. They know what God has put in them to declare, and they declare it, and they live by it, and they don't apologize for it, and they don't check to find out which way the wind is blowing before they decide whether they will stand on it. True apostles and prophets will tell you that what was true yesterday in God's sight is still true in His sight today.
What was fornication 3500 years ago, or 2000 years ago or 100 years ago is still fornication today. And the same is true for theft, for covetousness, for adultery, for lying, for murder, for idolatry, for witchcraft and for moral perversity. What was worthy of death 3500 years ago, or 2000 years ago or 100 years ago is still worthy of death. The rock of God's word does not change. The rock of His kingdom does not change. The bedrock convictional apostolic principles of what makes for righteousness in the church and in a society do not change.
So who am I writing for today? I'm writing for the beleaguered apostles and prophets who just need some assistance in standing up for what God has already convicted them about and to say, "Don't move." That has been God's watchword to me especially the last season, and it is His word to any true apostle or prophet. Stay the course. Discern your God-inspired convictions from your own possible entrenchedness of mind, and let Him clarify the difference for you. (God will cure you of pharisaism because He is faithful to convict on all sides of a matter.) But don't yield to all the cat calls from the back benchers who have little conviction of their own and think you should listen to them and think you're a legalist for staying true to what God has commanded you.
Are we all going to agree on our convictions? Quite not. I remember David Wilkerson and his strong stance against alcohol in the church. We of course know that the scripture does not absolutely forbid drinking of alcohol. (Just ask Jeremiah). Yet the man ran on a conviction placed in Him by the Lord and he stayed faithful to it. And he needs to be remembered and admired for his faithfulness to the conviction. The issue was never about whether Wilkerson was "right." It was always about was he faithful.
But in our modern flight from pharisaism, we have lost our sense of conviction over just about anything. That is not what the Lord had in mind by perfecting our understanding of grace. We need to understand that our convictions will never become the law for anyone else, though their differentiations will determine how far or close we can walk with others on the same path. But God wants His true prophets and apostles to start re-discovering the power of conviction. It may be conviction in what you exhort in your church. It might be in what you exhort in your family. It might even be in what you exhort to those of the ungodly ones around you at your work or other environment. True disciple making and mentorship is predicated on the ability to model godly conviction, always in surrender to the Lord's Spirit.
The Lord says, "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Your convictions underlying your life in Christ are not in vain and are not to be departed. "Remove not the ancient landmarks." This is harder for youth to hear who still have to develop their landmarks and convictions. But for those of you more seasoned, even you "fathers" (as John calls us), it's not time for you to be going back and revisiting your entire lifeset of convictions in Christ because a new generation and culture is upon us and “can’t relate” to them! Stick to your guns regardless of what those on the outside have to say about them! Know the limits of the sphere of your influence. Let God show you how to apply your prophetic convictions in every situation and context. Just always stay and abide in the inner Life of Christ that led you to where you came to.
Always stay humble in heart before the Lord. But don't go cheesy on Him! Don't go soft on Him. Hold fast to what He has given you to live by and to impart and model to others. And you will be modeling true leadership. We badly need real leaders in the church right now. We need more Jonadabs. And that requires men and women who know how to live like a rock in Christ and can stay anchored in the inner knowing of His fire when all else breaks loose around us.
So be encouraged. You haven't missed any mark, no matter what "they" say. You are not outmoded. And you are not outgunned. The Lord is with you. Stand strong in the Lord, having done all to stand. And you will see the Lord build a people of equal power of conviction through you—not all of the same conviction—but it will be the Lord's conviction and inner knowing in their hearts all the same. And that is all that will matter. You will be inculcating faithfulness in another generation. And God will be able to build His kingdom on that rock.
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created January 30, 2019