Christianity 201

September 2, 2019

Changing Your Convictions: The Positive Side

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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Today we’re back with Stephen and Brooksyne Weber at Daily Encouragement. Their online ministry reaches around the world (probably several times around!) and they do this full time along with being workplace chaplains in Pennsylvania. I want to start with a few lines from the devotional which appeared the day before the one we’re featuring.

“Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. The Lord said to me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel'” (Amos 7:7,8).

…The plumb line is an ancient tool dating back to biblical times used to determine vertical accuracy. Several Bible texts refer to the plumb line and Jesus very likely used a plumb line when he worked as a carpenter.

Everyone needs a standard that will keep them on the right track in life. Everyone needs a plumb line. The Word of God is a timeless plumb line for determining a center line in life…

…Indeed, for so many, truth is like an ocean wave. Paul used the wave as an illustration in Ephesians 4 writing of those who are tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine

From there, let’s jump into today’s reading.

Changed Convictions

Listen to our message on your audio player.

I was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” (Galatians 1:14).

Earlier this summer a prominent writer and one time pastor announced that he had switched sides, abandoning his faith in Christ and joining the forces of the world. This made the news due to his prominence. This causes distress to some and it’s always sad to see this happen. But people have been abandoning the faith ever since Jesus walked on this earth (John 6:66) and the time of the apostles (2 Timothy 4:10).

That’s why there are so many calls to faithfulness in the Bible such as an early message from the apostolic church planters summed up as “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (Acts 14:22). Hebrews 10:23 states, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering“.

In yesterday’s message we shared concerning convictions and the need to hold firmly to what we believe. Our convictions are our deeply held beliefs. But is changing our convictions ever virtuous?

Certainly! After all, when we are converted we change our convictions!

Saul, in his former way of life, had a deep conviction that he was serving God. In his testimony to the Galatian believers he speaks of his zeal, “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:13,14). At that time Saul surely was absolutely convinced he was on the right side.

But at his conversion to Christ on the Damascus Road Saul became a changed man. His convictions had a radical overhaul and even his name changed. We know him not as Saul but as the Apostle Paul. I find it interesting that a possible basis for this name change goes back to the Greek word “pauo”, a verb meaning to stop, restrain, quit, desist, come to an end. (We get the English word “pause” from this word.) The one who had been extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers had a transformation in his convictions.

Yes, our deepest convictions can change both for good and bad. The late Dr. Bernard Nathanson was co-founder of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, one of the most ardent pro-abortion organizations in the country. For many years he was both an abortionist and a national spokesman for the pro-abortion cause, convinced that he was on the right side.

However in a widely reported 1974 article in The New England Journal of Medicine, “Deeper into Abortion,” Dr. Nathanson described his growing moral and medical qualms about abortion. “I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths.”

He eventually made an about face and shared of his change of viewpoint in his book “Aborting America”. He became an articulate voice for the pro-life cause and went on to produce a video titled “The Silent Scream”, which powerfully demonstrates the horror of an early abortion. He states, “the other side, those who advocate abortion, have never successfully challenged the validity of the film”. Dr. Nathanson could clearly explain what led to the change in his convictions!

More recently Abby Johnson, the main character behind the movie “Unplanned”, made a similar change. She was the youngest clinic director in the history of Planned Parenthood, then a life-changing experience turned her into a pro-life activist. She eventually came to see the utter evil of abortion during her time at Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas where 22,000 murders took place over her eight year involvement with that clinic.

People’s convictions can change, both from the wrong side to the right such as Paul, Dr Nathanson and Abby Johnson, but also from the right side to the wrong such as the man mentioned in our lead paragraph. I consider politicians who once expressed a very strong pro-life stand but who have changed to the opposite side primarily due to political expediency. The same is true for other moral issues such as the constitution of marriage. Many of us can remember not that long ago when many politicians expressed their “deep personal conviction” that marriage was between a man and a woman only to make an about face.

Here’s the point. What is the underlying basis for a change in a conviction? Is there a principled basis for this change? Are you holding true to your convictions? If you do at some point change your view on a deep personal conviction can you provide a sound, principled, Bible-based defense on why you changed?

Be encouraged today.

September 6, 2014

Truth in a World of Lies

Today, a topical scripture medley on the subject of truth. These are presented in the approximate order they occur at, but not every entry there is included here. I appreciated that the search was intuitive, and in one verse the word truth wasn’t used but rather certainty. I also found it interesting how many instances of the word truth occur in the writings of the apostle John, in both his gospel and his letters. At the end of today’s scriptures there is an invitation to read a post from last summer in which we looked at Ahab and the prophet Micaiah. If you missed it, or can’t remember it, consider reading it again. Finally, a reminder to many of you that scripture verses here are always in green because the Word of God is life!

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.    John 1:14

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”    John 14:6

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness.    Romans 1:18

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.    John 16:3

So that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. Luke 1:4

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me.”    John 15:23

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.    I John 1:8

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ.    Ephesians 4:15

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.    John 1:17

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.    Hebrews 10:26

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.    Ephesians 4:25

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.    3 John 1:4

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness. Titus 1:1

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.    2 Thess. 2:13

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.   1 Peter 1:22

I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit.    Romans 9:1

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.    1 John 3:18

Who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.    1 Timothy 2:4

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.    1 John 1:16

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.     Romans 1:25

Always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.  2 Timothy 3:7

But those who live by the truth come into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.    John 3:21

Read more: From June 27th, 2013, Truth–The Alternative to Telling People What They Want to Hear includes the video Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns.

February 22, 2014

Truth, Relatively Speaking

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:59 pm
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Today’s devotional is from the website or Christian Fellowship Devotionals,  and was written by Mike Hoskins.  Click to read Relative Truth at source.

2 Tim 3:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?”, scoffing.

The problem we see today has been around for a very long time. The Pharisees wanted to get rid of Jesus so they lied to have Him executed. Unknowingly they where the tools that fulfilled Jesus’ purpose for taking on mortal flesh and being born into this world. Jesus was an enemy to their truth, so they justified their actions. The idea that deity would come and die for mankind is also scoffed at by many today. What is truth? The question is asked because those asking have given up on authoritative, unchanging truth. The idea of a fixed right and wrong today is being trampled under foot by the culture. And we allow it.

absolute truthI saw a recording of a few minutes of a talk show where the host and a guest were talking about how we all must ascend and become like gods, improving as we go until we achieve this god-like state. When a Christian in the audience stood and quoted scripture and presented the truth of the Gospel, the discussion that followed clearly divided the audience. It didn’t get hostile, but there were lines clearly drawn. The truth was defended well that day.

Paul, as a Roman citizen, appealed to Caesar during his discussion with Festus. Paul felt his calling to go to Rome and possibly speak the Gospel before the Roman Emperor. Since the Emperor was considered a deity Paul would be speaking heretical words punishable by death, but Paul felt the call to go and preach. It is believed that Paul either died of old age under house arrest speaking to anyone who would hear him tell about Christ, or that he was executed in Rome. Either way he spoke the truth of Jesus Christ.

What is true today depends very much upon with whom you speaking. But none of that changes truth. Truth is the source of everything that is true. Two plus two equals four is true, but its veracity is founded in truth. Jesus told us that He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the source of all these things. All these things hold together, math for example can be used to accurately describe the physical world and the behavior of objects and forces like gravity, because God is the unifying source of Truth.

The unchanging truth is becoming unpopular these days. Unless we, the church, are willing to stand up for the truth the light we are suppose to be to the world will grow very dim, and the world will become even darker than it is. (Read Rev. chps 2-3)

How willing are we to stand up for the truth? Are we prepared to defend the truth?

“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” George Orwell