I unequivocally prefer listening to preachers, politicians, and CEOs who say what they mean and mean what they say. I have a tremendous respect for people with deep, heartfelt convictions about biblical principles and immortal truth.
Howard Hendricks, former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, once said, “A belief is something you will argue about, but a conviction is something you will die for.” Our convictions determine our conduct. They motivate us to act in certain ways. Some of those convictions should represent hills upon which we are willing to die.
Today, because of the pervasive influence of political correctness we hear far too many mixed messages, ambiguous statements, vague promises, and uncertain sounds.
The Apostle Paul said, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound who shall prepare himself to the battle” (I Cor. 14:8). Uncertain sounds and mixed messages rarely resemble a reveille calling us to arise and prepare for the battle.
At the Sept. 15 meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Committee concerns were expressed over comments made by Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Moore has stated that while he would not go to a same-sex wedding, he would go to the couple’s shower and reception.
J. Robert White, the GBC executive director, protested, “A reception is a celebration of the wedding. There is no way under the sun you will ever find me at such a reception.”
I am appreciative of our Georgia Baptist Convention executive director’s comments, because we need leaders to speak of moral and civic issues with clarity and convictions. Dr. White has proven himself to be a man of conviction and character.
Our convictions determine our conduct. They motivate us to act in certain ways.
On March 1, 1975, in the wake of the disastrous post-Watergate election, Ronald Reagan stood before a disheartened Conservative Political Action Conference and proclaimed, “A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs, which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.”
Here is what Ronald Reagan told the assembled delegates of CPAC that day: “I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, ‘We must broaden the base of our party’ – when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.
“Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?”
Then Reagan added, “It is time to reassert our principles and raise them to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.”
“When the principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then the battle is your calling, and peace has become sin.”
I was proud of SBC President Ronnie Floyd and the 16 former SBC presidents who came out with a bold statement on the sanctity of marriage at this summer’s annual meeting in Columbus, OH.
They stated without any hint of compromise: “What the Bible says about marriage is clear, definitive, and unchanging. We affirm biblical, traditional, natural marriage as the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. The Scriptures’ teaching on marriage is not negotiable. We stake our lives upon the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
Then they concluded their bold statement with these words: “We stake our very lives and future on the Truth of God’s Word.”
In this day of uncertain sounds this is the kind of gallant and intrepid language we need coming from our leadership and from the pulpits of our churches.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, commented, “Biblical convictions are essential for spiritual growth and maturity. What is ironic today is that people often have strong convictions about weak issues (football, fashions, etc.) while having weak convictions about major issues (what is right and what is wrong).
In the first chapter of the book of Daniel we read about Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. First, they demonstrated their firm resolve not to defile themselves with the rich food and bubbly wine offered by the Babylonians.
In Daniel, chapter 2, we learn that Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and taught the king that it was God who gave him dominion and power and might and glory.
In Daniel 3, Daniel’s three friends refused to fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Their faith was tested. They stood on their conviction of faith not to bow down to the image of gold knowing that to refuse to do so meant being cast into the fiery furnace.
You know the story. They wouldn’t bow. They wouldn’t bend. They wouldn’t burn.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego declared their belief in God’s sovereignty and revealed the power of God to the whole world.
In Daniel 6 King Darius issued a decree declaring that those who wished to pray were commanded to pray to him alone and no other. Daniel, who was the first of all the presidents and princes in the kingdom, refused to submit to the king’s edict. Daniel 6:10 states: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
Daniel’s uncompromising devotion to God landed him in the lion’s den, but he dared to obey his Creator and Sustainer.
With respect to Kim Davis, the Kentucky Clerk of Court who refused to grant marriage licenses to same sex couples in Rowan County, Russell Moore contends that since she holds a government position she is required to uphold or execute the law. He makes a distinction between an agent of the state and persons who are being coerced by the state in their private lives.
I know that we are to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s, but when there is a conflict between the two allegiance to God transcends allegiance to the state. Daniel clearly demonstrated that his preeminent allegiance was to God.
Abraham Kuyper stated, “When the principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then the battle is your calling, and peace has become sin. You must at the price of dearest peace lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy with all the fire of your faith.”
We live in a nation that has run amuck with political correctness and the doctrine of tolerance. May God bless us to have faith like Daniel and his three friends and the courage to speak and live in bold colors rather than pale pastels.