In the last two issues of Beacon Lights we have mentioned a few of the errors that have a tendency to creep into conventions, and when left uncombatted, mar what otherwise might be a good thing. We mean that conventions are designed to be and can be good in a three-fold sense of the word. Good they are in the sense that they are proper. “Behold how pleasant and how good that we, one Lord confessing; together dwell in brotherhood, our unity expressing”) Ps. No. 137). This is true, first of all, in the sphere of the local church and, further, inasmuch as possible, on the denominational level. Our conventions help us to achieve this latter idea.
But conventions are also good in the sense that they are beneficial. There are definite fruits to be reaped and profits to be gained by active participation in conventions. We will withhold enumerating these practical and spiritual gains until a bit later while we cite only the fact here.
Lastly, but in no way the least, it may be said that conventions are good in the sense that they are in harmony with the will of God and, therefore, according to His Word. God delights in the youth of His covenant who find fellowship with one another in the truth revealed in Christ Jesus, His Son. It pleases Him in no small measure when the truth of His Word is faithfully expounded by His servants unto youth who, by the visible exercise of faith, absorb it unto the increase of a sanctified knowledge of Him. Upon such conventions He speaks His blessing. It is good to be there!
The question now arises, “How can we succeed in attaining the good of conventions and defeating every error that constantly lurks, waiting an opportunity to gain an entrance where it may perform its destructive work?” This problem is not a new one. Essentially it is the same difficulty that confronts the church in every sphere of her labors. It belongs to the battle she is called to fight against “principalities, powers, the rulers of darkness of the world, and spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). Youth must understand that her conventions are not merely times for fun but are a part of that perpetual and intense battle of faith. Conventions involve a calling, an obligation, responsibilities and duties. How then can youth succeed in this calling and properly meet these solemn duties when they convene annually in convention? What can be done to help them in this endeavor?
In answering this question, we must not only remember but also be deeply conscious of our complete dependence upon the Spirit of Christ. We, of ourselves, can do nothing! Just as it was made evident again and again throughout the history of the children of Israel that it was God alone Who always fought their battles for then, so it must be evident to us that success in our conventions can only be measured by the evidence of the Spirit’s presence and operation in our midst. If God be for us, who can be against us? No opposition of the forces of evil from within or without can possibly nullify His work anymore than the efforts of mere man are able to accomplish it. If only we are made to realize this, we will never boast in our accomplishments but our glorying will be in the God of our salvation. We will not speak of our success but will laud His mighty operations of grace as He turns our sinful and humble efforts into monuments of His praise. We will then give thanks for the privileges and benefits received in convention, realizing our unworthiness of them. And, furthermore, such a consciousness will lead us to reverently to approach the convention privileges, not to abuse them, but to use them unto His glory. That is the first step toward success and, if we misstep here, the entire course we pursue throughout our convention will be one of error.
This truth, however, does not preclude activity on our part. On the contrary, it stimulates sanctified activity! It does not lead us to do nothing but it stimulates in us the desire to do those things upon which the blessing of the Holy Spirit will rest. We understand that the Holy Spirit does not operate mystically but works through means, – good ways and means, and not those of our carnal flesh. This knowledge tells us that the Spirit will not impart the blessing of conventions to us when we race around in our cars to no purpose instead of listening to a prepared exposition of God’s Word. We may be assured that there will be no blessing bestowed through an essay, debate or song that is not given because of lack of preparation,. We know that the business of the Federation, which is the business of all the societies, will not prosper under the blessing of God when, on our part, there is only indifference and lack of interest in Federation affairs. Even when we banquet, the food we consume, in greater or lesser quantities as the case may be, will not be a blessing unto us if we eat and drink only to satisfy our fleshly appetites. We need to remember the words of the apostle, “Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”. And so we can speak of all things!
What then can be done to attain success in convention?
Much in every way!
Not only is it true that every conventioneer is confronted with a God-given task to work for the success of our conventions but this calling rests as well upon parents, the home, societies, the church, the federation, board, the host society and all who are directly or indirectly related to our conventions. We have already intimated some of these obligations but we will have to wait until next, D.V., to enlarge upon them and show concretely what we think can and should be done to eradicate error and to promote the interest of good…better…and the best in conventions!
Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 3 April 1959