J. Grant Swank, Jr.
NazNet’s froth is overwhelming. That web site is laden with the superficial. Yet if it were true to being “friend” to the Church of the Nazarene, as it states it is, it would fire up the holy convictions.
That church was begun in the blaze of conviction—“holiness unto the Lord is our watchword and song.” That was the preaching point. That was the lifestyle. That was the mission. And there was never a doubt about it.
Yet the voice of conviction is fading from today's pulpit.
Partly because a premium has been put on appeasement, cordiality, management methods, arbitration, dialog, suave and debonair, political maneuvering, relativism, and "don't make waves."
There has been a loss of holiness ethics, biblical understanding, spiritual knowledge and, in general, a washout of black-and-white morality.
Therefore, when one does speak today with the voice of conviction, he may be regarded as hyper in personality. He may be labeled as brash or uncouth, out of step.
It is rather risky today then to speak without compromise regarding biblical truths: tithing, hell as well as heaven, Jesus as the sole hope of salvation, God's Day kept holy, separation from sin, biblical loyalties, sanctified lifestyles, spiritual discipline, daily devotions, fidelity in marriage, honesty in finances and the like.
If and when one does preach on the Bible's fundamental themes, there is the real danger of running into crossfire with certain power plays in the camp.
That is why numerous pulpits have acquiesced to the harmless and hilarious, limp and languid.
Yet when one researches the Bible, he discovers a God with the voice of conviction.
No wonder there is this staccato throughout Scriptures: "Thus saith the Lord." In other words, God’s declaration is a given; it has been revealed from eternity and therefore is not open to question. With that, such revealed truth is conveyed with conviction, no compromise permitted. Simplicity and forthrightness are absolutely necessary in the communication—clear and clean.
When this God pronounces His eternal imperatives, He speaks with gusto through dedicated preachers. Take, for example, the prophets warning Israelis of their backsliding, not tithing, desecrating the Lord's holy day, sexual license, materialistic cravings in neglecting their poor. Not nice topics delivered in soft tones; but all necessary if the prophets were going to be true to God.
Further, when this God implanted Himself in Jesus, that voice of conviction took flesh and dwelt among us—with raised voice on occasion. With stern countenance on occasion. With authority always.
When a preacher speaks with the Jesus-voice of conviction, those who are behaving under God applaud, encouraging such messages to continue.
I can hardly picture Jesus toppling Temple tables in a meek and mild manner. Nor telling hypocrites that they were of their father the devil while wearing a sweet smile.
Can one imagine John the Baptist with a Gentleman's Quarterly profile while castigating Herod for sleeping with a woman not his wife?
And what about Paul's demeanor when preaching to one congregation after
another, warning listeners of zealots plotting to undo his gospel planting?
The Bible is electric with power, riddled with zeal, moving and disturbing with a God who means business, refusing to play religious games to placate.
Why then does today's church find itself so easily comfortable?
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