Understanding Christianity: Transformation

What do Christians believe? Why is the cross the symbol of their faith? In this series Pastor Tim Schouten of the Prince George Canadian Reformed Church explains some of the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. Questions? Email pastortim@pgchurch.ca.

In this last article, we’ll explore what the Bible teaches about spiritual transformation.

As mentioned in earlier parts of this series, Christians believe that the basic human problem is sin, and the separation from God that sin brings. The root cause of all sin is pride – the desire to be like God. We have a drive to be at the top of the heap, to win the rat race. This drive is the source of envy, anger, gossip, abuse, murder, rape, lies, racial tensions, war, genocide, and every other evil.

As terrible events pass across our screens almost every day, the variety of these events demonstrates that the basic problem is not religion, ideology, racism, or lack of education. Instead, these things are the result of the pride that lives within each one of us, however subtle it may be.

The Bible teaches that we are slaves to pride (and its results), and that the greatest human need is to be freed from this slavery.

The gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ is that this freedom is possible and available. Through faith in Jesus Christ, people are not only freed from the penalty of their sins, but also from the power of their sinful nature. The Holy Spirit of God comes to unbind them from their captivity and set them free.

The New Testament teaches that the Holy Spirit brings the presence of God into a believer’s heart and begins a process of spiritual transformation. This process is sometimes referred to, in the original Greek, with the word “metamorphosis.”  Our present life, as good as it may be, is like the life of a caterpillar. We were made for something better – to fly like a butterfly. We can’t do this on our own, but the Holy Spirit gives us wings.

The Christian challenge to the world is that we would be honest with ourselves about our spiritual condition. The Christian gospel to the world is that this spiritual condition has a remedy: there is freedom in Jesus Christ. We can be released from our pride and ridiculous strutting about. We can be released from our obsession with ourselves, from our anger with God, and from the penalty and power of sin. We can be set free to “glorify God and enjoy him forever,” as God intended for us in the first place.

Within this life, Christians see many results of the Holy Spirit’s transforming power. By God’s grace, they grow in humility and love. Nevertheless, sin still clings to them. That is why the ultimate Christian hope is in the future, on the day when they (so to speak) become a butterfly. Christians believe that this will happen when they die, or on the day that Jesus comes to this world again. They will then be brought into the presence of God and their hearts will overflow with everlasting joy.

This is the great Christian hope, and is a good note on which to end this series. Thanks for reading. I pray that God will bless you by what you have read.

Author Rev. Tim Schouten

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