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Part of the series: SOWING THE SEED
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CHURCH GROWTH through CONVICTION

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.   When we talk about church growth, we are speaking about our numbers growing and multiplying (Acts 6:7).

 

And the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly:  and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

 

B.   There was a time in our history that church growth was not a problem.  At one point in the early part of the 20th century, we were the fastest growing religious group in the United States.

 

C.   Since the 1960s, this has not been the case.  We do not even make the top ten list today.

1.     Many studies about church growth have been conducted.

2.    Workshops on church growth have spread through the brotherhood.

3.     Churches have turned to all kinds of programs and schemes.

4.    Some have completely forsaken their identity in hopes of attracting the masses.

 

D.   Perhaps we have forgotten that conversion involves two human parties.

1.     There is the sower of the seed.

2.    There is the soil (the heart) into which the seed is planted.

 

E.   As the sowers, we have our responsibilities.

1.     We are going to talk about this today and for the next three Sunday mornings.

2.    God will hold us accountable for them.

3.     But, we must remember that the hearer also plays a significant role.

 

F.    In this lesson, we want to talk about “Church Growth through Conviction.”

 

I.          CONVICTION DEFINED

 

A.   A firmly held or fixed belief

 

B.   Hebrews 11:6

 

But without faith it is impossible to please him:  for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

C.   If there is conviction

1.     One will throw caution to the wind.

2.    One is willing to give up his life.

3.     One cares not about the crowd to whom he speaks.

4.    One knows there is something worth fighting for.

5.    One will persist in efforts regardless of failures and challenges.

II.        CONVICTION DISPLAYED

 

A.   Joseph in the house of Potipher (Gen. 39:8-9)

 

But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand.  There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee because thou art his wife:  how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God.

 

B.   Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan. 3:16-18)

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchanezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

 

C.   Peter and John before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 4:18-20)

 

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered and said unto them, whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

 

III.      CONVICTIONS DELINEATED

 

A.   God exists and created all things (Gen. 1:1; Exo. 20:11).

 

For in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is…

 

B.   God created man with an immortal soul (I Thess. 5:23).

 

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

C.   God has revealed His powerful Word to mankind (II Tim. 3:16).

 

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine; for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…

 

D.   Man sins when he violates the law of God (I John 3:4).

 

Whosoever commiteth sin transgresseth also the law:  for sin is the transgression of the law.

 

E.   Sin carries the sentence of death (Ezek. 3:18).

 

The soul that sinneth, it shall die…

F.    God loved man, and through Jesus Christ cleansed him from sin, and saved him from death (Rom. 5:8-10).

 

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath though him.  For if, when we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

 

G.   The conditions of salvation are found in the New Testament (Rom. 1:16-17).

 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  For therein is the right-eousness of God revealed from faith to faith:  as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

 

H.   Jesus will return one day and will resurrect all the dead (John 5:28-29).

 

Marvel not at this:  for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation

 

I.     All men will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10).

 

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

 

J.    There is an ultimate destination for all men of either heaven or hell (Matt. 7:13-14).

 

Enter ye in at the strait gate:  for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

 

IV.       CONVICTIONS DEFIED

 

A.   When we go forth with our convictions, we must remember that not all hold our convictions.

1.     They will challenge our convictions.

2.    They will fight against our convictions.

3.     They will persecute us for our convictions.

 

B.   John 15:19

 

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own:  but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

 

C.   We see an example of this at the very beginning of the preaching of the gospel.

1.     Peter and John healed the man at the Gate Beautiful in Jerusalem (Acts 4:1-18).

2.    This afforded Peter and John the opportunity to preach about the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12-26).

3.     The Jewish leaders were grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

4.    From this one incident, the apostles suffered

a.    Imprisonment (Acts 4:3)

b.    Rebuke not to speak in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18)

c.    Imprisoned again (Acts 5:18)

d.    Brought before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:27)

e.    Beaten (Acts 5:40)

 

D.   We, too, will be opposed.  We must hold fast our convictions firmly to the end.

1.     Hebrews 3:14

 

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.

 

2.    Hebrews 10:35

 

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.   Convictions are a strange thing.

1.     We all want to believe that we have them.

2.    We all say that we would die for them.

3.     But, the real question is:  “Will we speak to others about them?”

 

B.   Remember what Peter said when standing before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:20).

 

For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.