the other side.
â€œEvery branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.â€
This Lent we are focusing on the theme of Godâ€™s conviction. Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would come to convict the world â€“ clearly declaring our guilt.
Recognizing the Holy Spiritâ€™s conviction, we have a choice. We can acknowledge and accept our guilt and flee to Jesus. We can declare our faith in him, admit our sin and conviction, and make Him the Lord of our life. In doing that, all sin is forgiven and we have access to the rich treasury of grace and mercy won for us by Jesus.
On the other hand, we can ignore or self-excuse our conviction. We can bury it, and try to fill our lives with the kinds of noise that shuts out the work of the Holy Spirit. When we do that we grow deaf to Godâ€™s call. We condemn ourselves to the coldness of outsider status.
For those who accept Godâ€™s conviction, who put their faith in the Lord, something amazing happens. They move from the conviction of guilt to a conviction in righteousness. This is what happened 120 years ago.
In 1897, a group of church goers moved from the hopelessness of external faith to the deep conviction born of a declaration of faith in Jesus alone. Today we celebrate and recognize that day.
The Christian conviction they experienced, their acceptance of the Lord over â€œgoing alongâ€ transformed their hearts. They moved from an outward conformity – casual agreement and compliance with their Churchâ€™s religious rules – to a deep conviction in what God promised them.
People can casually agree or conform with a lot of things and not be fully convinced of them or even believe any of them. People can go for many years living a lie, being deceived about what they believe and what they practice. It isnâ€™t until they face the winds of affliction that the truth of their beliefs is tested. That is when they find out whether their house is built on the Rock or it was built on the sand.
The faithful of 1897 found Christian conviction built on salvation in Jesus. With that revelation, they faced the onslaught of the enemy, of persecution, trials, and affliction standing on the Rock. They found out that their old conformity could not carry them.
As they did, we must do. The Lord knows our choice. Our challenge is to examine ourselves to see whether we are in Lord. If we have accepted our conviction and live true conviction we, like they, like the Apostles, saints, martyrs, and heroes of the faith, will move mountains, change the world, bear much fruit, and be truly victorious.