It would be wonderful if everyone in assembly fellowship were there because of convictions. Sadly, most likely there are a few who are only there for family or for convenience. They will probably leave when it is no longer convenient to stay. I want to write about convictions under three headings: strength in convictions, failure in convictions, and caution in convictions.
Strength in Convictions (2 Chronicles 11:13-17)
We see from these five verses that there is strength in convictions. Here we read of leaders among God’s people who acted courageously and sacrificially for their convictions. The priests and the Levites first lost their jobs, then they were willing to suffer further loss by leaving their suburbs and possessions to go to Jerusalem. Their actions had the good effect of encouraging others in their convictions. We read, “And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their heart to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers” (v16).
A word of explanation might be in order. Jeroboam had set up a golden calf in Bethel and he then instructed the people of the 10 northern tribes that they did not need to go to Jerusalem to worship (as God had instructed in Deuteronomy 12), and thus the 10 northern tribes were led into idolatry from which they never recovered.This led to their captivity over 100 years before Judah. The priests and Levites (who were responsible to teach the Word of God) knew that was wrong, so they paid the price for their convictions by leaving for Jerusalem.
It is no wonder that we read in the next verse, “So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years“ (2Chron 11:17). So we can see that there is strength in convictions! Believers who are willing to suffer loss for convictions from the Word of God are a source of encouragement, a tower of strength, and a well of inspiration wherever they are found. We read, “Buy the truth and sell it not” (Prov 23:23).
Similarly, many others in the Bible are an encouragement to us in convictions.Abraham, the Hebrew midwives in Egypt (Exo 1:15-21), Elijah, Mordecai, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and indeed, all the heroes of faith (in Heb 11), including the nameless ones, serve as encouraging examples, each illustrating that there is strength in convictions.
But I want to emphasize that I am writing about convictions based on the Word of God. I am not writing about mere opinions. Sir Robert Anderson well stated, “Opinions are our own and should not be too firmly held, but truth is divine and it is worth living for and worth dying for. We are not called upon to die the martyr’s death, but we are called upon to share the martyr’s faith.”
We all know that nature abhors a vacuum. Nature also abhors a mental vacuum. When the mind is devoid of truth, it is easily filled with prejudices that may call themselves convictions, but they are not the kind of convictions about which I am writing. I am writing about convictions which are based on the Word of God. We read, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good” (1Thes 5:21).
T. Ernest Wilson told me about the late Mrs. Will Barr of the assembly that now meets at Stark Road in Livonia, MI. She was the first in her family to be saved, and her parents did not like it. When she told her parents that she wanted to be baptized and received into the assembly gathering to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (through which she had gotten saved), her father said something like this, “Because you are of age, I can’t stop you; but, if you do, you won’t be welcome in this home any longer.” That made the decision more difficult. On the Lord’s Day when she was going to ask for baptism and reception, she wept at the thought that her parents, whom she loved, would not want to see her again.
Joe Stewart was at the Breaking of Bread that day, and although he did not know about her situation, God knew. After the Breaking of Bread, he read Psalm 27. It was encouraging to her when he read of the Psalmist’s desire, for she had a similar desire, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple (v4). Verse 10 especially encouraged her. “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” She was forsaken by her parents that very morning. Brother Wilson told her story at her funeral. She surely strengthened every assembly with which she was associated.