Focal Passage: Acts 2:32-41
The word conviction is used in at least two ways in Scripture.
First, it is used in reference to the Holy Spirit’s work of convicting us of sin, righteousness and judgment, so that we might repent and believe the gospel (John 16:8-11). Second, it is used with the notion of someone holding a belief with “great conviction.” The two are connected. The convicted sinner comes to embrace certain truths with great conviction.
Sadly, conviction is on the decline. To hold a belief with “great conviction” can get one labeled as narrow-minded and canceled as intolerant. And since no one wants to be unliked, we too often sacrifice our convictions on the altar of acceptance. We do this to our own spiritual detriment.
To be clear, the Bible forbids us from being a spiritual jerk. Knowing the truth does not give us permission to become a bully. If someone is to be offended, let them be offended by the truth itself and not our own impermissible behavior.
That said, being convicted of one’s sin and holding firm to a set of biblical convictions (affirmations) will bring offense. But what convictions are worth embracing? Acts 2:32-41 gives us the answer.
Gospel convictions (Acts 2:32-36). Peter’s clear gospel message at Pentecost reminds us of the gospel convictions that are essential. First, we are to hold firm to the historical fact that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Second, we are to affirm that Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb, verifying His death as a reality.
Third, we are to affirm that Jesus was bodily raised from the dead, conquering sin, death, hell and the demonic. Fourth, we affirm that Jesus ascended to heaven and is now enthroned in His role as mediator and intercessor. Fifth, we affirm that the Holy Spirit is now dispensing the benefits of the gospel in the life of the repentant sinner and in the life of the church.
Finally, Jesus will return for His church, consummating His Lordship over all things by the power of the Spirit and to the glory of God the Father. By these actions Jesus has made His enemies His footstool.
Without these convictions there is no gospel, no good news, no hope, and no church. We do not have faith in faith; we have faith in the person of Jesus Christ whose life mission is affirmed in the aforementioned historical realities. We hold these truths with great conviction because without them we are hopeless.
Convictional living (Acts 2:37-41). But the convicting power of the gospel also produces a convictional and obedient response.
When the people heard Peter’s message, they were (1) convicted of their sin, (2) desired to know what to do in response to the gospel and (3) were told to first repent (a term for conversion) and then follow the Lord in baptism as a sign of their new life in Jesus Christ. Three thousand responded to the gospel and were baptized.
Their baptism was not salvific, but rather personally symbolic. They were to be baptized not to be saved but because they were saved by Christ alone, their baptism as a vivid picture of Christ (and their) death to sin and resurrection from the dead to live a new life empowered by the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:1-4).
This is where the conviction of sin and embracing gospel truths with great conviction meet: the conviction of sin leads to convictions believed. This formidable duo forms the basis of a life lived for God’s glory, with conviction. B&R