This is an “encore” post (one of my first posts brought back to light … and edited). Though several years old, this post still stirs me. May its words (and the great insight from Leonard Ravenhill) stir your soul today.
I know this sounds a bit odd, but I love being under the conviction of Almighty God. To be pressed under the thumb of Jesus, to have His piercing gaze and illuminating light bearing forth in my soul. Yet I have found throughout Christendom today, we would rather run and hide from God (see Genesis 3.8-11) than stand in His Presence, holiness, justice, and love. Well . . . we might want to stand in the love . . . if we define what “love” means.
What is so wrong with conviction anyway? We run and hide as if such revealing and painful penetration will end our lives. And in fact, that is exactly what it does. The conviction of God presses the life of the believer for the purpose of removing all selfish and sinful residue from their life. Nothing is held back or hidden. Everything is exposed before Jesus for Him to do with it as He desires. This inevitably means a death to our nature- and replacing it with the very Presence of Jesus Himself. Even the smallest – and what may appear as the most insignificant – area of our lives must be transformed into His likeness. As Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2.20).
Thus, when we are experiencing the conviction of a holy, righteous, loving, and all-powerful God, it is His desire to pinpoint that which is in our lives not under His control or something He must rid us of in order that our lives would be a mirror image of Jesus. There must be nothing within us inhibiting Jesus from living fully and completely in and through our lives.
At times, in my own life, the conviction of God is white-hot and waxing ever greater and greater. Such experiences are painfully rich. Gold is refined in such manor. Gold is placed within the furnace and forced to endure the hottest of temperatures. It is melted down and impurities are expelled. At other times Jesus has used someone or something to pierce my heart and bring forth conviction.
I often read several books at the same time. A while ago I was looking across my shelves for a new book to begin – desiring an engaging work which would stir my heart and focus me upon the brow of my Lord and King. It just so happened to be a book with a fiery-red cover from one of my all-time favorite writers: Sodom Had No Bible by Leonard Ravenhill. I have come to associate the word “conviction” and “heart stirring” with anything Leonard Ravenhill. And this was certainly true for Sodom Had No Bible.
Ravenhill is calling for repentance … within the church. The Bride of Christ has become dirty, impure, and more like the prostitutes within temples of old – rather than the perfect, spotless, holy and blameless, sparkling-white Bride she is to be. While I encourage everyone to race over to your Christian bookstore and have them order a copy for you, or better yet hop on Amazon and buy a copy today, I wanted to quote Leonard Ravenhill from the first few pages I have read.
It is not difficult for me to conceive that with millions of heathen perishing, our pot-luck suppers, our shabby gospel films, our bloodless Church membership, and our nervous witnessing (plus our self-contentment and self-indulgence), would all come in for a scathing denunciation from the white-heat heart of the righteous Son of God….
Ours is now the most chronically unhappy world in history. It would be folly to give an aspirin to a cancer patient, assuring him with lying words that this would cure his malady. Equally criminal is our attempt to appease the soul-hunger of the millions around us by sermons that are not Christ-centered, not born in the burning heart of a yearning preacher, and not wet with the tears of his own travail and anxiety for fallen men….
To stir us sickly saints to rescue the perishing, we need the smell of hell. More than ever we need to cry with Mrs. B.P. Head:Oh Breath of Life, come sweeping through us; Revive Thy Church with life and power. O Breath of Life, come cleanse, renew us, And fit Thy Church to meet this hour. O Wind of God, come bend us, break us, ‘Till humbly we confess our need; Then in Thy tenderness remake us, Revive, restore, for this we plead. O Breath of Love, come breathe within us, Renewing thought and will and heart; Come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us, Revive Thy Church in every part. O Heart of Christ, once broken for us, ‘Tis there we find our strength and rest; Our broken contrite hearts now solace, And let Thy waiting Church be blessed. Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating While harvest fields are vast and white? Revive us, Lord, the world is waiting, Equip Thy Church to spread the light.”
While Leonard Ravenhill may be but a dagger to the heart compared to the sharp double-edged sword of the Word, such words pierce hardened hearts and bring Godly conviction. My prayer is that I would experience as Zechariah declared: “I [the LORD] will refine them as silver and prove them as gold. They will call on My Name and I will answer them” (Zechariah 12.9). I deeply desire to be proven as pure, Godly, and of the highest quality – even if it means the hottest of refining fires. And think of this, pure gold is impervious to tarnish and resists even acid. Sounds a lot like Paul in Ephesians 6.10-11: “Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand and be impervious to the tactics and acid of the devil.”