I am so grateful for the eternal change that was brought into my life as a 26 year old young adult. My life was a wreck in so many ways that I really didn’t have much hope for the future. But in the midst of my despair and helplessness caused by my sin, God intervened in such a way that at times I am still at a loss for words to explain it. But the one thing I do know, God was the One who changed me forever; through His Son Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, for the glory of the Father.
So maybe in writing this I am splitting hairs a little bit, but when I see Christians inadvertently give their gratitude to someone or something else, it concerns me. Sometimes a church or a ministry gets the credit for bringing about change in a person. “Wow! That ministry is so powerful!” Sometimes it is an influential individual like a pastor or a mentor who receives the credit. “That pastor is saving so many people!” Or maybe it is an event or an action that earns bragging rights for impacting a person’s life. “That outreach demonstrated so much love!” While all of these are important to the kingdom and can be used greatly by the Lord to get a person’s attention, like a small pebble being cast at a sleeping person’s bedroom window in the night to wake them up, make no mistake about it they have no power to deliver any individual from the kingdom of darkness. There is only One who can produce this miracle.
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 (NASB95)
We live in a world where people talk about change a lot. We talk about everything from changing our diets to changing our cell phone plans. Some do more than simply talk about changing, they actually implement the necessary disciplines to see change really take place. Maybe we start saving more and spending less so we can move to a better neighborhood. Maybe we become more diligent in our studies so we can get a better job with our college education. Maybe we cut out the people who negatively influence us so we can get our lives on track. While all of these are commendable and strongly encouraged, there is one Betterment Program that came to us two thousand years ago that effects us eternally and required zero effort on our part.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…..And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 14 (NASB95)
This event means that the world will never be the same.
Furthermore, for those who have accepted to walk the path of life that the Word who became flesh offers us, the impact is felt in an even greater way. Because then EVERYTHING changes and is being changed!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NASB95)
This radical transformation from old, weak, unclean, dishonorable vessels into new, powerful, clean, honorable vessels along with the transference from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son is strictly a work that only God can produce.
But what about a powerful church and its ministry? What about an influential pastor or mentor? What about a strategically planned bridge event or acts of charity? Don’t they change people? I would continue to split hairs and argue that they can in no way effect lasting eternal change in a sinful soul. Only Jesus Christ through the truth of the gospel is able to do that. At some point along the journey, whether it is interaction with a ministry, a mentor, or a random act of kindness, if an individual is going to be born again the truth of Christ has to be presented for that lost person’s faith to be applied towards the Lord and His kingdom.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 (NASB95)
“…If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32 (NASB95)
As necessary as churches, pastors, and outreach events are, they are no substitute for the word of the true gospel that proclaims that Jesus Christ has come to save sinners; providing them with a restored relationship with our Creator, an eternal unfading hope, and a radically new direction in life.
Let’s be sure to give credit where credit is due; gratitude where gratitude is due; and love where love is due. Holy is the Lord and there is none beside Him.
“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.'” Revelation 5:11-12 (NASB95)