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`I believe — help my unbelief!'

   By Dibar Apartian Page 1 2 Good News May, 1981

Do you know the difference between real Christian conviction and mere belief?
Whether you stay in God's Church may depend on your answer!


At the time of his baptism, George (not his real name) said he would never leave God's Church. He would always keep close to God and walk with Him, no matter what happened.

George was a student at Ambassador College. He had waited until his senior year to be baptized because he had wanted to be sure of himself.

That was eight years ago. Today George is no longer with us.

Why? What caused him to turn away from the truth? What made him become an unbeliever? And how can you be sure that you won't follow his bad example?

Are you convinced of your beliefs?

One day the father of a sick boy came to Christ and said, "Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him" (Mark 9:17-18). The man further stated that Christ's disciples had been unable to heal the boy.

"How long is it ago since this came unto him?" asked Christ. The father answered, "Of a child . . . if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us" (verses 21-22).

A pathetic cry from the father, beseeching Christ's help for his son! The man wasn't sure whether Christ would — or could — do anything. But when he heard that "all things are possible" with God, he immediately cried out and said, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (verses 23-24).

DO YOU understand the true meaning of that request? The father wanted to believe, but needed help to dissipate his doubts. He needed help to overcome his unbelief.

Every one of us at times has some doubts. We want to believe — we think we believe — but we are not totally convinced.

If, for instance, you were asked, "Do you believe this is God's Church?", your answer would certainly be, "Yes, I do."

But would you give the same positive answer if you were asked, "Are you totally convinced of it?"

To be totally convinced you must have overcome all of your doubts once and for all. If those who have left the Church had been totally convinced that this is God's Church, they would never have left it.

George, the student at Ambassador College, only believed. He was not totally convinced. That's why he is no longer with us.

There is a big difference between believing and being convinced. Once you are convinced, you have passed the point of no return. You can never go back. you have overcome all your arguments and doubts.


Requires conviction

All of us in God's Church need more conviction, not just simple belief. The difference between one who stays in the Church and one who leaves is the difference between believing with conviction and believing without conviction.

The Bible defines faith as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).

A major part of faith is conviction, a quality some in God's Church lack today. Did you know that the words convicted, convinced and even confute are derived from the same root?

In Acts 18 we learn that Apollos, a Jew, used the Old Testament to prove to his own people that Christ was the Messiah. Eloquent in speech and well versed in the Scriptures, "he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John" (verse 25, Revised Standard Version).

Why was Apollos able to convince the people? The fact that he himself was totally convinced of his beliefs helped considerably.

"For he powerfully confuted [the same Greek word is translated convinced] the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus" (verse 28).

Can you do that? Can you "confute" someone with the Scriptures, as Apollos did, showing that Christ is Jesus? You should be able to if you are totally convinced of this truth, and if you are conquered by the Spirit of God.

Notice the Bible's simple, beautiful description of Abraham's conviction: "No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced [or, "fully persuaded," according to the King James Version] that God was able to do what he had promised" (Rom. 4:20-21, RSV).

This is faith with conviction. It opens all doors and helps you resist all temptations. It overcomes all feelings of discouragement or defeat. If you have this sort of conviction, you can be sure you will always remain in God's Church.


Faith in action

Do you sometimes take the truth for granted? Don't! Make the effort to check up on things, to prove and understand them.

Conviction requires action. It requires effort. Deepening your conviction requires greater effort. You have to work harder, push harder, study and pray more.

Unfortunately, some in God's Church are not doing that. And their belief has no conviction!

One day four men brought a paralytic to Christ. But they could not get near Jesus because of the crowd around Him.

The men knew — they were convinced — that if Christ saw the paralytic He would heal him. Consequently, their task was to find a way to get near Him. They were determined to do their part.

"And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay" (Mark 2:4, RSV).

Imagine! They came right through the roof. Their faith stirred them to action. Removing the roof was not an easy task. It took ingenuity and effort, but they succeeded.

Christ marveled and said, "My son, your sins are forgiven" (verse 5). And the man was healed.

Can you neglect your responsibilities and honestly expect God to do everything for you? Conviction requires much more than folding your arms and passively waiting for something to happen.

The Bible also relates the story of a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for 12 years. She "came up behind him [Christ] and touched the fringe of his garment; for she said to herself, 'If I only touch his garment, I shall be made well'" (Matt. 9:20-21, RSV). Notice! The woman was convinced in her mind that if she

touched Christ's garment she would be made well. She found her way through the crowd to Christ and touched Him.

Christ turned and said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well" (verse 22). And she was healed.

Is your faith without conviction — without action?

God's Church today is on the right track. But each one of us needs conviction to be able to remain on the right track. It is high time we all realize this! Faith requires conviction and action!

Jesus gave us an example in every thing — in attitude, conviction and love. He knew why He was on earth. He was totally convinced of His mission and what His Father expected of Him. We, too, must be convinced of our calling and of our mission. The conviction of Christ must be in us through God's Holy Spirit.


There is a big difference between believing and being convinced.
Once you are convinced, you have passed the point of no return.
You can never go back.
You have overcome all your arguments and doubts. . . All of us in God's Church need more conviction.


A positive attitude

Look how Christ prayed before Lazarus was brought back to life. He lifted His eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me" (John 11:41, RSV).

What a positive way to start a prayer! That's total conviction. Before asking anything of God, Christ stated, "I thank thee that thou hast heard me."

How did Christ know God heard Him? Because of His conviction: "I knew that thou hearest me always" (verse 42). Then Christ added, "I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me."

That was Christ's whole prayer. The only thing left for Him to do was to order Lazarus to come forth. And Lazarus came forth.

If you ever hear Herbert W. Armstrong's prayer when he anoints someone, you will know what prayer with conviction is. Humbly, but boldly and forcefully, Mr. Armstrong claims God's promise of healing. He reminds God that when we repent of our sins and turn to Him in faith, He promises to heal us. All of us need this type of conviction in our prayers.