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Conversion and Conviction

David Shin

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David Shin

Pastor, Hillside O'Malley Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Anchorage, AK

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Recorded

  • September 8, 2019
    11:45 AM
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Father in heaven we. Thank you for this opportunity that we have this morning to pause for a few moments to reflect on your goodness and your Holy Word. And Father we need your help I need your help we pray that the Holy Spirit would use. This feeble instrument human words reflecting on the Word of God to apply to our hearts this morning you know what we need today we pray that the Holy Spirit would specifically tailor the message to our individual needs Yes these things in the precious name of Jesus men. Well today we are beginning a new fall series of messages hard to believe it's fall incident but thank you for allowing me to speak at other places this summer and I am back in the pulpit for 10 straight sabots Can you believe that 10 straight Sabbath so I will be here barring any unexpected things but that's the plan and will be journeying through the life of Paul and Paul is one of the most significant contributors to the New Testament. Some would argue the most prolific and theologically new one writer of the New Testament it's hard to imagine the Protestant Reformation taking place without the writings of Paul and specifically the idea that the just shall live by faith so today we want to focus on his conversion. Now as we go through this journey I want to invite you to read the book Acts of the Apostles in addition to the Book of Acts in the Bible this is from Ellen White it's part of the complex series you can find this online it is a rich resource and insight that is complementary to the Holy Scriptures and I'll be referencing that in our study today and as we look at his conversion I want to invite you to go with me in your Bibles to the sermon preached by Steve in the in Acts Chapter 7 verses 51 through 60 the backdrop for this is that Stephen has been chosen as a deacon and he begins preaching the Word of God with power and this is a threat to the religious leaders So he's brought under false pretenses and false accusations to a trial before the religious leaders and in Acts Chapter 7 he begins preaching to the Sanhedrin at this trial you can read this on a Sabbath afternoon Chapter 7 I want to pick up in verse 51 because as many preachers do you notice when your congregation begins to drift people start falling flee maybe or going elsewhere and Steven noticed that his audience was not tracking with him anymore it's not that they weren't paying attention his words were having no effect. So in the midst of his sermon that he's giving to the legislators he stops the line of giving the the thread of Jesus being the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies and he diverges and cuts straight. To the chase. And this is a straight message. Let's pick it up in verse 51 you can notice the media transition if you're reading through Chapter 7 in 51 verse 51 you see you stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and yours everyone suddenly perked up at that moment you can imagine like what how dare you call us that you always resist the Holy Spirit as your fathers So do you which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute and they killed the one who foretold the coming of the just one of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers who have received the law by the direction of the angels and have not kept it 1st 54 when they heard these things they were cut to the heart and they gnashed at him with their teeth but he being for all of the Holy Spirit gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God in Jesus standing at the right hand of God and said look I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man Standing at the right hand of God This is what's happening. Stephen is preaching a sermon suddenly he notices that no one is listening and so he cuts sprite straight to the chase and says look you always resisting the Holy Spirit as your fathers did so do you and when they heard this there was a satanic demonic frenzy that one over the Sanhedrin they were going to kill him that day Stephen knew that he had just signed his death sentence in the book Acts the Apostles. She comments that Steven no longer fear death and filled with the Holy Spirit in that moment that he knew that he was a dead man he had a vision of heaven and God on His throne and Jesus standing at the right hand of the throne of God The Bible tells us that Stephen's face was like that of an angel everyone could see that this man was inspired by God they never forgot that face that face of inspiration looking up toward heaven saying I see Jesus right now standing at the right hand of throne of God in that moment it was a moment for their conversion in the Holy Spirit but notice their response verse 57 then they cried out with a loud voice in the Bible says and they stopped their ears and ran at him with one accord and they cast him out of the city and stoned him and the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of the young man named saw and they stone Stephen as he was calling on God saying The Lord Jesus receive my spirit then he knelt down and cried with a loud voice Lord do not charge them with this sin and when he had said this he fell asleep. This was a difficult time for the early church. This was the 1st Christian martyr. To totally and says that the blood of martyrs is seed. And there was something that happened the Bible says that. I think I had this reference here but let me back up here this is from ex the Apostles page 101 his Stephen's death was a sore trial to the church but it resulted in the conviction of Saul who could not efface from his memory the faith and constancy of the martyr and the glory that had rested on his countenance afterward he was angered by his own secret conviction that Stephen had been honored by God she goes on all of these things had appealed loudly to Saul and at times had thrust upon his mind an almost overwhelming conviction that Jesus was the promised Messiah at such times he had struggled for entire nights against this conviction and always he had ended the matter by of valuing his believe that Jesus was not the Messiah and that his followers were deluded fanatics the memory of that face Stephen's face of an angel and the memory of his final words Lord don't let this sin be held against them that was his final words. Have you ever been convicted before I'm not talking about convicted of a felony. But I'm talking about being convicted by the Holy Spirit. In other words you know deep down inside what you need to do but you don't want to do it perhaps it's breaking off a relationship or absolutes following the Lord in terms of stewardship Perhaps it's an area of your life that God is calling you to surrender but you're convicted and you know in your heart of hearts what you need to do but you don't want to do it in here Saul was he could never erase from his memory the face of that Christian martyr Steven and he was convicted now I want to make a few comments about conviction that's going to be the theme of our message today this is from the book evangelism page $284.00 and $3.00 fresh display of conviction of the grace of God upon the souls of unbelievers is divine I would say the same for believers as well we all feel conviction at different points in our experience now when I was living my life as a young person and apart from the Lord I remember the overwhelming sense of conviction I heard at a camp meeting that my parents dragged me to and I was sitting in the audience not wanting to be there and the message that was talked about was about stealing them out how this person lived a life of of a thievery and met the Lord and felt the impression in the conviction to restore what he had stolen and just before that message I had stolen something. And I sat there and I just squirmed in my chair because of the conviction upon my own heart. We've all felt that moment where the Holy Spirit that still small voice is saying to us this is the decision that you need to make and we know that we need to make it but we don't want to and here it is this is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working now there are different indications or visible manifestations of conviction the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is like the wind you can't see the wind you can't see the Holy Spirit but when the wind blows can you sense that the wind is blowing when the wind blows the tree shakes. And so when you're working with someone or in your own heart and you notice that the tree is shaking you can know that the Holy Spirit is working now here's some positive indicators This is from Pastor Louis Torres on conviction these are positive indications of conviction some people depending on the issue they meet conviction with joy and like Oh praise the Lord about the Sabbath you know stated then oh others sharing in telling other work others this is all evidence a conviction application they personalize it integrated into their personal lives the tears of joy they can't stay away from a study of the Word of God The lighting up of the faith I've seen conviction I'm sharing the word of God with someone and you can see the conviction because their faces shine in radiate conviction. They become friendly questions studying more positive attitude changes lifestyle changes restitution peace they want to pray about it more so these are the types of convictions that I like to see in a Bible study you know these positive indicators tears of joy and in radiance and so forth these are the ones that we just look forward to as we're sharing the word of God But there's also some negative indicators now mind you these negative indicators is not. Indicative that they are not under conviction or or that this is not a positive thing but people respond to conviction different ways depending on where they are in life and even personality in character I have been in Bible studies where I present something and make it. Hopping mad angry at me and I used to personalize that but afterwards after this revelation in the study I realized that it wasn't about me in one of the most liberating things for a pastor was that there is not an a big can see in the 3rd Person of the Godhead. And he's not expecting me to take his place in other words I'm not the Holy Spirit. It's not my responsibility to convict others that's his role or convert others Amen and remember that in your marriages spouses payment God is not calling you to be the Holy Spirit you're to cooperate with the Holy Spirit but not be the Holy Spirit he can do his role we are to sense that so so as the Holy Spirit is convicting in the person responses with anger I step back and say it's not about me he's this person he or she is wrestling with this issue sometimes there's sorrow rejection argument tiers of void INS anger resistance objections refusal to study negative attitudes and changes rebellion denial restlessness in irritability these are all indications of conviction. Now Saul was convicted Saul would later become Paul the apostle he was convicted he could not erase from his memory the stoning of Stephen Now when you are a martyr whether your character is being assassinated or someone is coming against you God can use that very painful experience in your life. To convict somebody and that's exactly what happened here Paul could not erase it and Paul's personality was anger he dealt with this conviction by responding in an angry way desired ages 306 indicates the people the way the people responds to conviction the light of Christ sweeps away the darkness that covers their sins and the need to reform is made manifest while those who yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit begin war with themselves those who cling to sin war against the truth and its representatives. And this is what happened with Saul of Tarsus here it is an ex Shepherd 8 verses one through 3 and Saul approved of killing him and on that day a great persecution broke against the church in Jerusalem and all except the Apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him but saw began to persecute the church going from house to house he drank off both men and women and put them in prison. This is his conversion next chapter 9 versus 3 through 4 read it through very quickly Saul is on his way to Damascus to take more Christians off to Jerusalem and as he neared Damascus on his journey suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him he fell into the crowd and heard a voice say to him Saul saw why do you persecute me note Christ identifies his people with his people Christ suffers with these people he said why are you persecuting me now Paul in another place in the book of Acts gives the account again to Roman official but in this account he adds a line that is found in the original manuscript this is accepted 26 hours 14 we all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic Saul Saul why do you persecute me it is hard for you to kick against the goad some translations say it's hard for you to kick against the pricks Now this is not term that we use commonly today but a prick or a goad was used on oxen to keep them going or to get them going a little bit faster and and Here Jesus uses this analogy perhaps there was a goaded oxen on the road to Damascus from the Bible Commentary The figure is drawn from eastern ploughman's custom of using an iron goad to hasten the slow gait of his oxen it's possible that the scene was actually being inactive be assigned the Damascus Road and that the Lord took it as an apt illustration for his message to the persecutor the divine message suggests that Paul's conscience had been vigorously resisting the appeals of the Holy Spirit in other words he was fighting conviction. I have had sleepless nights. Where I've been fighting conviction have you. Nights where the Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart you need to take this stand you need to make this decision but I followed it over and over again you know what God is calling you to do and so the Holy Spirit was working with Paul and here Jesus says why are you fighting your conscience and this is what X. the Apostles comments on this in that our heavenly illumination in that hour of heavenly illumination sols mind acted with remarkable repeatedly the prophetic records of Holy Writ were opened to his understanding when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus remember Paul was a member of the same Hedron his mind worked with rapid accuracy as he went over prophecy and prophecy and prophecy in his mind connecting the linkage of Jesus to being the Messiah and here was Paul's conversion now I want to mention here as a side note that not every conversion is as dramatic as Paul's some people say hey I don't have a testimony like Paul's and sometimes we have individuals come forward they say look I was this way and I was this way afterwards and it's a dramatic conversion and other individuals are converted but there conversions are a lot more quiet and just because your conversion is more quiet doesn't mean that you're not converted some individuals have been walking with the Lord and hearing his voice all their life and their conversion experience has been one that is gradual and they can't point to a single place where they went from A to Z. over night. But here was Paul's Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle strong magic conversion now I remember my conversion specifically mine wasn't as dramatic as Paul's but mine was was notable I remember kneeling down except in Lord Jesus and the next day I felt like a new creature when I got up in the morning. That next year was a year of marked transformation that was visibly evident especially to my friends and my circle of influence it was the beginning of my walk with the Lord into ministry marked change yours may not be as smart but here was Paul's conversion and he goes from being an individual that was killing Christians to an individual that became arguably one of the greatest Apostles of the New Testament. Here's a point I want to make as we go through this idea of conversion and conviction spiritual understanding is not an issue of the mind it is an issue of the heart. Spiritual Understanding is not an issue of the mind it's an issue of the heart. Was not lacking in terms of intelligence it was not an I.Q. problem it was a NY Will problem and there are times when I'm presenting a Bible study I will walk away from a Bible study. I don't do it very often but there are times when I have met with the person over and over and over again you presented the same themes over and over again and I come to the realisation that this is not an intellectual problem it's not an understanding problem is not an I.Q. problem it's a NY Will problem and the reason why this person does not want to see it is because this is an inconvenient truth it's a truth that they don't want to follow and so I will walk away and I say look you know where I am you call me when you're ready to move in the direction and the Bible says the full has said in his heart there is no God In other words the Bible points out that the the idea of there being no God is not so much an intellectual issue it's a heart issue it's an issue of morality spiritual understanding is not so much an issue of intelligence. It's an issue of willingness to follow the Lord and here Paul was on the road to Damascus suddenly he's converted and then he can see conversion is the prerequisite to spiritual understanding great controversy page 55991 reason why many theologians have no clear understanding of God's Word is that they close their eyes to the truths they do not wish to practice in other words theologians the reason why they can't understand any further sometimes is not because they can't understand Greek or Hebrew the issues not intellectual it's moral. Actually possible very quickly page 119 during the long hours when Saul was shut in with God alone he recalled many of the passages of Scripture referring to the 1st advent of Christ carefully you trace down the perfect prophecies with a with a memory sharpened by the conviction that had taken possession of his mind as we talk about conviction it's can you help me out there and something's wrong like clicker here it seems Lee happens with his fake it here it now. There we go one more back. To regenerate and wow just read this one Christ is a source of every right in Paul's he is the only one that can implant in the heart and need T. again sin every desire to go back to the other when I was reading. Every desire for truth and purity every conviction of our own sinfulness is evidence that the Holy Spirit is moving upon our hearts so conviction is not a bad thing when you feel like you need to make a decision it's evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in your life. Now there have been times when I have thought conviction have you. Have you had a sense that God was calling you to make a decision. A very painful decision and you're like I wish I did not feel this way you can't sleep at night you're tossing and turning you feel a sense of lack of peace lack of joy this is not evidence that the Holy Spirit has left you this is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working with you it's a moment of grace Now some people come to me and say Pastor I'm afraid that I've committed the unpardonable sin. Well if you're worried that you've committed the unpardonable sin you haven't committed be unpardonable sin. The point is. The person that has committed the unpardonable sin no longer cares anymore they become none numb they have become desensitized to the truth and so when you feel that lack of peace you feel that you need to make a change it's evident that the Holy Spirit is working in your life in heart. Vandalism page 229 when persons who are under conviction are not brought to make a decision at the earliest possible period there is danger that the conviction will gradually Where away I've seen this over and over again where I'm sitting with an individual and you can sense the conviction in the room I don't see the Holy Spirit but I can sense the Holy Spirit moving there is visible manifestation I feel in my own heart I can sense in the person's eyes that they need to make a decision they're in a relationship that God is not condoning they're dating someone that they should not be dating they're not returning a faithful time to the LORD whatever it may be I'm stare and I'm letting the Word of God speak and you can sense in their eyes the conviction that they need to make a decision but they don't. I meet with that person 2 weeks later. Same Bible text. And you know that person sometimes says Pastor I don't see it anymore I don't feel like the gods calling me to break off this relationship I don't feel that God is calling me to return a faithful time what has happened has the word of God changed the person has changed and the reality is this every time we don't make a decision we are different person tomorrow than we were today and the next day and the next and we are changed by not making a decision and I tell people look the best opportunity and the best time to make a spiritual decision is always today. Always today you will be a different person tomorrow if you do not respond today. I just read about a notable Christian pastor. That just proclaimed in July. That he no longer believes in Jesus on Instagram the Christian community is shocked and as I've read on Christianity Today individuals reflecting on the falling away of this prominent pastor people are asking how did this happen how can a man that up held Jesus Christ now say that he's no longer a believer and he's apologizing to the Elegy T.Q. community and saying look I'm sorry in the past I condone your lifestyle now how did that happen. And so this man has gone down this path and it did not happen over night. But it was gradually gradual some people wake up and say look how did I ever end up in this position how did I end up here well it didn't happen overnight it came through a series of decisions or in this case a lack of decisions and you will be a different person 51020 years from now if you keep going down this trajectory of fighting the conviction and that's why the Bible says in the book of Hebrews today if you hear his voice harden not your heart it's the best opportunity for a spiritual decision is always today. You know what God is calling you to do I want to fight you to stand with me as we prepare to close here this morning every head bowed and eyes closed I'm going to make a specific appeal this morning this is not a general appeal this is a specific appeal if you have been fighting conviction and God has been calling you to a spiritual decision I don't know what me it may be but you know it in your own heart of hearts perhaps it's in terms of your relationship perhaps it's something that God is calling you to surrender in your life perhaps it's an area in your life that you've been fighting against it's an addiction that has had its chains around you your entire life and you're like Lord I've been fighting this conviction help me willing to be made willing and you want deliverance today and you want to say Lord I surrender this is a specific appeal there's an area of your life that God has been convicting you on and you want to say Lord I'm tired of fighting help me willing to be made willing. You know I say Lord I can't do this any more I want to surrender I want to invite you to come forward this morning for a special prayer and what the Bible says today is the day of salvation you're not assured of tomorrow you don't know if you're going to be alive even if you are alive you're going to be a different person tomorrow than you are today don't let this opportunity pass today if you hear his voice harden not your heart if someone is blocking the just tap the person next to you they'll move this is a spiritual decision here this morning it's a physical act that indicates a spiritual decision who cares what other people think we're all among friends today this is between you and God there's an area of your life that God is calling you to surrender and you want to say Lord. I want to lay this area on the altar this mornings or someone else that wants to come forward today heaven is rejoicing when you come forward that is your consent for God to say look I have authorization to move in now this individual has come forward this is their consent the most powerful thing that you can do in your relationship with God is this is to give your consent and by coming forward you're acknowledging that this morning God bless you my brother God bless you my brother. Let us pray. Father in Heaven Lord we need your help our promises are like ropes of sand. And nor there is this area of our lives that we've held onto that we've cherished that we've idolized and the Lord your spirit has been speaking us to us this morning calling us to surrender. Calling us to be made willing to be willing to be made willing and I pray for all of us here today that your Holy Spirit would do its work I pray especially for the individuals that have come forward today you know our hearts by coming forward we have acknowledged our incapability of dealing with this area but there we are giving our consent for Jesus through the agency of the Holy Spirit to move upon our hearts we accept that by faith this morning regardless of the way that we may or may not feel who we think you praise you in the name of Jesus Christ amen this media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermon leave the W.W.W. audio or.

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