God’s Word Transforms Lives
“Transformation occurs when scripture is viewed as a place of encounter with God that is approached by yielding the false self and its agenda, by opening one’s self unconditionally to God, and by a hunger to respond in love to whatever God desires.”
Robert Mulholland, “Shaped by the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation.”
Transformation, the process of change whereby a person becomes progressively more Christ-like (Galatians 6:1 5), goes hand in hand
with Bible engagement.
There are 3 aspects to transformation:
1. Salvation. Transformation does not happen naturally and does not come easily. The prophet asks, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” Jeremiah 13:23. There’s no outside force that can change us to become more like Christ. Something internal is required. Transformation begins when we realize that “the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint” (Isaiah 1:5) and it continues when forgiveness for sin is sought and received (Psalm 13:5) through faith in Christ as “the propitiation for our sins” 1 John 2:2.
The good news in God’s Word is that our hearts can be changed. God reveals and communicates His love for us so that we hear and believe. When the human heart (our integrated value systems, beliefs, experiences, motivations, and the reality of who we are) responds to God’s love, it transcends who we are. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified” Romans 10:10.
Bible engagement is about connecting our hearts with God’s heart. “Our very reading and interpretation of Scripture is shaped by the hearts we bring to the text,” say professors James Wilhoit and Evan Howard. Transformation therefore occurs when our engagement with the Word of God becomes an encounter with Christ. The Apostle Paul alludes to this when he says, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” Ephesians 1:18-19.
2. Sanctification. It’s in our hearts that we unite with God at the deepest level and grow into Christ-likeness. When the heart is cleansed from sin by the word of truth (John 17:17) a right relationship with Christ is formed (Romans 10:10), Christ’s nature lives in us through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16), and love for Christ ensues (Mark 12:30).
God’s Word transforms lives. It’s in and through the transference of God’s Word that our hearts are touched and reprogrammed (Ezekiel 36:26). When, in the power of the Spirit, we interact with the Word, both personally and communally, God speaks into our hearts in ways that nurture us to live only all for Him. In contrast, when we ignore God’s Word, we impair our spiritual development.
God uses His Word to mature us. In order for God’s Word to transform our hearts, Bible engagement requires new postures of authenticity, vulnerability and consecration. It’s only when we open our hearts fully and prayerfully, that God will fully apply His Word – thereby making us new creations with the capacity to worship Him and do good works. Sanctification requires transformed thinking (Romans 12:1-2). *As God renews our minds with Scripture, we begin to think biblically so that we can live biblically.” says teacher and author Janet Pope. To think biblically we must know God’s Word. If we don’t know God’s Word, we won’t know what He wants us to do. If we don’t know what He wants us to do, we open ourselves to the influence of false teachers, our own desires, Satan, and the deceptive philosophies based on the principles of the world (Colossians 2:8).
3. Service. The Bible makes claims on our lives. When God’s Word courses through us, we’re transformed for a purpose. “For we are
God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do‘ Ephesians 2:10.
Bible engagement is more than words; it’s actions. It’s whole-heartedly worshipping, witnessing and working for Christ. “God’s plan
for believers involves total dedication to knowing and following His Word,” insists Pope. It’s all or nothing, Transformation is seen to
be at work in our lives when we obey the Word and live it out every day. It’s not enough to say we love Christ; we must act on the truth
(1 John 3:18). “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them” 1 John 2:5.
Content from Bible Engagement Basics, credit Lawson, SU Canada
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