Article written by Dr. Christi Butler / Nov. 2015
For the past couple of days I have been writing on the subject of how to live before the Lord with a transformed heart. In the first post I discussed the call of God on every Christian’s life to “be transformed” from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18). In the second post, I discussed the need to have a transformed mind (Rom. 12:2; Prov. 23:7), because what believers think about will affect their hearts. In today’s post I want to talk about God’s motive for desiring that people live with transformed hearts.
Transformation is part of the plan of God for every person. God desires that every person would be conformed into the image and likeness of God. God is working to change people individually, and by doing this, He is working to change the church and the world.
God is not without a plan for redeeming humanity. He is always working in the earth to bring humanity back into alignment with His original intention and purpose. The transformation process God is working out will begin within the hearts of individual believers. From there, God will build a glorious church that will work to transform the world, but if change is going to occur in the earth, it must begin with believers recognizing the need for change.
In an effort to help everyone see the need for change, I want to explain the vision that is in the heart of God for His people. In Ephesians 5:25-27, Paul writes, “25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
From this verse it is evident that God desires to have a church that is “sanctified.” In plain English, this means that God wants a holy church that is set apart for His purposes. God wants a church body that is morally and ethically pure. Furthermore, Paul goes on to explain that God wants a church that is “glorious” and “without blemish.” God wants a church that radiates the light and life of God into the world. God wants a church that is so full of who He is, that the world will stand up and take notice. God wants the world to look at the church and see Jesus.
In Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul expands on this vision for the church a bit more. He says, “11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
So here again the Lord’s will is revealed. God desires to have a church that is built up, fully equipped, and fully mature. He wants a church that has grown up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. If this is the clear will of God, as it has been revealed through the Word of God, then the obvious conclusion is this: the church has some work to do. The church is in desperate need to “transformation.”
For the believer, transformation begins at the moment of conversion and then continues throughout one’s life. Concerning the call to initial transformation through the new birth, Jesus taught about the need to be “born again.” In John chapter 3, Nicodemus approached the Lord and asked him how a person can gain access to the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Being born again is the first and initial step that every person must take if they wish to be transformed in their hearts.
The Apostle Paul goes on to explain that when a person is born again, he / she is spiritually reborn as a “new creation” in Christ. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The Amplified Bible reads, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].”
What a tremendous description of transformation! Faith in Christ causes new birth in the spirit. The spirit becomes a “new creation,” and that new spiritual man has a new spiritual heart. Praise God!
However, being “born again” does not mean that continued growth is not required. All spiritual children are called by God to grow up. Every child has to grow. Therefore, change, growth, and transformation should continue throughout a Christian’s life.
I suppose I will end my blog post for today with this question, “Do you see that growth and change is continuing in your life and in your walk with God? Have you gone beyond the new birth experience and continued to allow the Lord to bring transformation in your life? How is the Lord presently changing you? What fruit is this change producing in your life? Selah. Pause and think on it. Blessings in the Lord and Happy Thanksgiving. This blog will be continued tomorrow.