Two friends came to me this week and told me that they had changed their minds on a very pivotal point of theology and they now agree with me. I was mortified. These are men with more education and experience than it looks like I'll have in a very long time, if ever. I was immediately struck with the weight of what they were telling me. Did the defense of my position convince them of its validity? I had not suggested that their interpretations were wrong; only that I had believed mine to be defensible. I am not comfortable with the idea of having that kind of influence over such men.
Peace came to me when I realized that the Christian is taught not with a convincing argument but rather with convicting acknowledgment. Believers are taught by the Holy Spirit, and He does not argue. He reveals. The Holy Spirit is not interested in whether you are convinced. He simply tells you what is true and expects you to respond appropriately. If you've ever heard me say Jesus is no gentleman, I assure you the same is true for His pneumatic counterpart. He is God, and He will come and go as He pleases.
This brings me peace, because I know that if my friends were originally convicted of their belief, no convincing would have changed their minds. Likewise, if they were merely convinced of their belief, then I could only have convinced them of a different one, and the Holy Spirit will teach them the truth between the two (or in spite of the two) in His own time. However, if they are now convicted, then we can be certain that our theoretical discourses had no consequential part to play in the transformation at all. For the LORD in His will not share His glory. If I played a part at all, it was because the LORD chose in His perfection to reveal His truth through me. Nothing of mine own was at play here.
I do not use this principle as an escape clause to teach whatever I desire without the fear of demagoguery, but rather as the blanket of grace over the fact that I am far too flawed to teach truth at all. Though grace may abound, I must make my effort toward righteousness. I simply do so without fear of eternal reproach when I inevitably fail.
God is good.