Dictionaries close out each year by choosing a word of the year. This year these words were chosen by various influential dictionaries: post-truth (Oxford), surreal (Merriam-Webster), and xenophobia (dictionary.com). In a twist to this tradition, I am proposing a word for the upcoming year. My choice is a word that has been bouncing around in my mind for a little while. That word is conviction. It is a word previous generations of believers used on a regular basis. Perhaps we use it less today because we have become less convictional in our faith and living.
The Oxford dictionary includes these statements in its definition of conviction. A firmly held belief and the quality of showing that one is firmly convinced of what one believes.
As I have prayed and wrestled about being more convictional in my life, I have settled on one particular conviction to guide me in the important areas of my life. This is it.
2017 Conviction: The Scriptures are absolutely truthful and trustworthy.
Prayer for 2017: May the Lord grant that I will keep this conviction at the forefront of my mind and in the depths of my heart.
It used to be said that a conviction is not only something to which you hold, but it is something that holds you. I like that. This conviction regarding the Scriptures is not just part of our belief system. It is a truth that has grasped us and will not let us go.
The words in this conviction statement have been carefully chosen. Notice the word absolutely. We live in a time in which the only absolute truth seems to be that there is no such thing as absolute truth. This is the meaning behind the post-truth selection of the Oxford dictionary. Culture has moved beyond truth. If we speak of truth at all, it is my truth or your truth. Those can be opposites of each other. The understanding that the Scriptures are absolutely truthful and trustworthy means that there is a truth beyond what you and I may believe or think.
That the Scriptures are absolutely truthful is a restatement of the theological term inerrant. The Bible is without error. If you have trouble with this, you will have trouble with this convictional statement. The perfect God has revealed himself through a perfect medium.
The Scriptures are also absolutely trustworthy. This conveys the meaning of the theological term infallible. The Bible will never let you down. It will never fail you. You can bank on it. It is the bedrock foundation on which we build our lives.
Based on this conviction statement, I have turned to the longest chapter in the Bible. In verse after verse, God declares that the Scriptures are truthful and trustworthy. In Psalm 119 I have selected verses from which we draw out eight applications for living in 2017 (and beyond). One could take these eight applications as eight resolutions for the new year.
1. Read the Scriptures Daily
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:15)
Take a look at this previous post for the method that I use for choosing what to read each day. (Bible Reading Plan)
2. Pray the Scriptures Devotionally
I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. (Psalm 119:7)
For a fuller understanding of this, take a look at Don Whitney’s book on Praying the Bible.
3. Obey the Scriptures Quickly
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. (Psalm 119:4)
I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. (Psalm 119:60)
4. Memorize the Scriptures Accurately
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)
5. Teach the Scriptures Fervently
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. (Psalm 119:13)
Teaching is one of the primary components of disciple making.
6. Study the Scriptures Theologically
You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. (Psalm 119:68)
Theology is the study of God. To understand God we must understand him as he has revealed himself in the Bible.
7. Learn the Scriptures Historically
Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. (Psalm 119:111)
8. Apply the Scriptures Ethically
Then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word. (Psalm 119:42)
Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. (Psalm 119:73)