Friday of Pentecost 25
16 November 2018
"Conviction" is a word we now use primarily to refer to the outcome of a criminal trial. In that use it is entirely negative to be convicted. For example, Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh shooter, is hoping he does not hear the word "conviction" in the future; he has pleaded "not guilty" to the multiple criminal counts against him. Unfortunately, the conviction of sin and the accusation of the law is the odor that remains from the word "conviction" as we use it. However, the Bible also uses the word "conviction" positively. Conviction in the Bible means to be fully convinced.
Conviction comes from God through His Word as a gift of the Holy Spirit. We Christians are convicted about the gospel. This means we trust fully and absolutely the message that proclaims and gives to us salvation. In it there are no accusations. In it there is no law. It does not accuse of sin but frees us from sin and all its penalties. We can be convicted, that is, absolutely certain of what the gospel gives because the gospel's power does not depend on us but upon God. What I think about God is made certain by what He thinks about me. And I know and am convinced about what He thinks about me through the Word of the gospel, expressed in preaching, absolution, and holy baptism.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"It is a right and sure Spirit who makes us sure concerning the will of God, who does not allow us to doubt but carries out what Paul admonishes: 'Let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind' (Rm 14:5). Likewise in 1 Thessalonians 1: 'Because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction' (1Th 1:5). This certitude is necessary in every kind of teaching, especially in sacred teaching. For I must be certain what I am to think about God, or rather what He thinks about me. It was a horrible error of the papal doctrine which caused men to become doubtful of the forgiveness of sins and grace. 'You should acknowledge that you are a sinner,' they said, 'and a sinner of such a kind that you cannot be certain of your salvation.' Thus the whole world was submerged in doubt and in erroneous opinions about God.
"Therefore, one must learn that God is not uncertain, ambiguous, equivocal, and slippery like a wavering reed, but that He is unequivocal and certain. He says: 'I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; I absolve you of your sins, etc.' Here the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit make no mistake; they are not tossed about by the wind but are rocks and Selah, as God is often named in the Psalms because He is absolutely firm. You may rely solidly on Him and say: 'I am holy and saved; I am God's son and heir, because I have been baptized.'"

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis,
1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (ESV)
Lord Christ, I have believed therefore have I spoken. Grant that I might always faithfully share the Christian truth with those who need the conviction of the holy gospel that they too would be certain of Your love for us, which is revealed in Your suffering, death, and resurrection. Amen.
For Lutheran High School North, Houston, that God the Lord would continue to bless the faculty and staff in their calling as Lutheran educators
For all those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, that they would be brought into the light of Christ through the certain conviction of the holy gospel
For Vicar Blake Martzowka, that the Lord God would continue to shower his good Spirit on him as he grows in the gifts ministry and service to the church
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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