“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9 (NLT)
We all need to be tested, we all need to be refined, we all need to be pruned. It is a process that each believer must experience. Iron needs to be forged, gold needs to be purified by fire, and diamonds must be cut and hewn from cold stone. So it is with our souls and our convictions. The more God allows us to be “crucified,” the greater our convictions will grow, the greater our purpose will be clarified, and the greater our hope will be fortified.
Convictions are not automatic. We cannot receive them from our parents, they must be made our own and this process entails suffering. We may have received good doctrine as children but each child must “learn to bear the yoke while he is young (Lam. 3:27)” for convictions to be formed. There are fewer and fewer real men in Christianity, not because of some ineptness in sound doctrine but because men are following Christian culture instead of Christian conviction. There is no redemptive value in a culture.
Paul was to suffer greatly (Acts 9:16), because he was to preach greatly. You cannot preach with power unless you are a man of great conviction. You may have good lessons but they will be without power, divine power (1 Cor 2:1-5). The reason there are so few true leaders and so many followers is because men are being raised without conviction. Christian men are following the latest evangelical emergent church fad but they are men I would not trust in the battle with me in Afghanistan.
Convictions are more than affirming a doctrinal creed. Convictions are formed when you have bled the doctrine from your very heart and soul and cry out, “My hope alone is in Christ.” It is when there is nothing left of you, no whims, no self-trust, no high ideals. You simply come to the end of yourself knowing Christ must increase and you must decrease (John 3:30). The is the end goal of any and all biblical conviction.
Men, are you ready to let go of success or failure and give your whole life to Christ’s glory?
Do you really know what it means to have conviction run so deep in your veins you want to proclaim Christ without thought of consequence? Or is it hard enough for you just to get out of bed to go to church? If so, chances are you have not partaken in the sufferings of Christ. But for those who have and who are, you are blessed indeed (Matthew 5: 3-11).
“It is a fact of Christian experience that life is a series of troughs and peaks. In his efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, God relies on the troughs more than the peaks. And some of his special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.” -Peter Marshall
Pastor Jared Cox