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Friday, January 31, 2014

Do You Really Believe that Jesus Changes People?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I just realized that many Christians do not believe that Jesus changes people. Maybe that's because they haven't been significantly changed themselves. They believe that He is the Son of God. They believe that they are saved because of His sacrifice. Yet, they don't believe that He has changed them. They believe that any change that has been made is because of their own efforts to change. I believe that this is why they Christians are violating ethical, moral and legal boundaries as much an non-believers. They aren't being changed by the presence of Jesus.

I am convinced that they are being conformed by the world. The desire to comply with others is like an addiction which must be satisfied. Most people hate conflict so much that they will go along in little things until they are going along with big things. They become as the world in the world's thinking and cannot see the will of God as He changes them and others.

Romans 12:2 (ESV)
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

They do not understand God's plan to change them so totally that they stand out from the world. God's plan is to make them into the image of His Son, Jesus. This is the ultimate change in their lives.

Romans 8:29 (ESV)
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Maybe that's why lots of churches preach messages that appeal to the worldly image of feeling good, getting rich and being full of yourself. No one has to change in order to believe this. It even appeals to the world.

1 John 2:16 (ESV)
16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

I watched an ad during a Christian program which touted a Bible code that would make you rich. The ad essentially said that you could have this secret code. I thought of what that was appealing to. It certainly wasn't speaking of changing the individual into the image of Christ. In fact, I could see a lot of non-believers buying this code. I could also see a lot of believers writing Christians off as those who are merely superstitious because of this code. I thought, "Is this what Jesus died for? To make us understand a secret code which will make us rich. If so, why didn't He use it?"

You see, I still believe in the power of Jesus to change lives. I believe He can put marriages back together. I believe He puts forgiveness in hearts which would normally demand revenge. I believe that He makes the most hateful person into the most loving. I believe that He changes lives so much that they resemble Him.

What do you believe?


Anthony Chia said...

What do I believe? Jesus changes people or not? Or more precisely, does Jesus change people on their entry into salvation, and does He want to continue to change such?

When we enter into salvation Jesus changes us, in what way does He change us? Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit who is also the Spirit of Christ is put to indwell us. Scripture also said that we are forgiven of all our sins, and we are cleansed of all our unrighteousness. By this, my understanding is that all our past sins are forgiven us, and we are cleansed of all unrighteousness from them.

To me, strictly speaking there is no such thing as present sins, only past sins, for until a sin is committed, there is no sin yet, and when a sin is committed, it is done, therefore, is past. I do NOT think the theology of our future sins are also forgiven us at our moment of entry into salvation, is correct. What has not yet happened (sin), it may not happen when the time comes. A person's life is NOT a completed movie, being screened whereby the person, like an actor, can no longer change what will be seen in time to come, including sins he will commit or not, in the future.

God only fixes very selectively, events of the future; apart from those which God specifically fixes (like for Jesus, because God had it prophesied, the crucifixion was fixed), the rest happens as the person makes decisions as he moves along, in life. While it is true that God when He looks into your future at the point of entry into salvation, He could see you, say, sinning a certain sin five years down the road, but this snapshot is not static, meaning when God, one year later, looks into your future, he may not see that sin, He had seen, a year earlier. How can it happen? It can happen, because you are expected to grow, and when you indeed grow (with working with God), you may not commit the sin seen a year earlier. If it were not so, why do you bother to go to church to hear sermons to understand the Word, or you study the Word, or do anything about your faith at all. For that matter, why bother with anything meaningful, since "whatever will be, will be!" So, despite Scripture tells us that God changes us, on our coming into salvation, including saying that we have become a new creation, we are NOT changed, in the manner that everything is completed or consummated.

My understanding is that people who teaches God is finished with us, is wrong. Our entry into salvation is just the starting point of a journey of change, a journey of growing in the faith, a journey of living out a righteous living even as we have been made righteous, and a journey of getting to know our God and His ways, and conforming ourselves to His ways, resisting the contrary ways, of the world.

What the overall counsel of the Word is telling us, is, we are to learn to live the life of our new identity - one of the Kingdom of God, no longer one of the world; this is the expectation of God. If it were, we can no longer, as in impossible to, live any other ways, the Word would NOT have repeatedly warned us NOT to: go back to our old ways or the ways of the world (Satan's perpetuated worldview system), or go back to committing of sins.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

God started the changes at our entry into salvation, and He continues to want to bring to completion that which He has started in us (Phil 1:6). Do we have to effort or not? Phil 2:12 said that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Indeed, even as it is God wanting to change us, and we have to effort, our effort-making is NOT to be done by our own strength, but by being led the Holy Spirit.

How do we define "doing by our own strength"? It is when we do something without the approval or blessing of God. So, how do we avoid doing by own strength? We do according to the will and desires of God. When we so doing, why would we not have the approval or blessing of God! We would. Does it therefore, means when we act according to the will and desires of God, we need not expense strength at all? No, it means we have to do our part, and God will know to, and does, His part. Don't listen to preachers who tell you, you should not need to expense strength or effort. No, everything that is meaningful and praiseworthy requires effort or strength; don't be naive or gullible! For one thing, we should know who will be opposing you, if he can, when you are thus doing; yes, the evil principality. Just to resist the contrary ways of the world, requires effort and strength, and that is work (we need to do).

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

I believe Jesus Christ can take a selfish reprobate scumbag, that deserved nothing better than an eternal soak in a burning lake, die in his place, forgive and free him from His Fathers wrath, and invite him to an everlasting sumptuous marriage supper.

Any other added extras are just bonuses in comparison.

I know this because I see this scumbag in the mirror every morning.