God in His wisdom has provided everything that we need for “life and godliness” (2Pet 1:3). God has given us: His Son as the only way of salvation (John 3:16); His Holy Spirit to guide us (John 16:13); and His Word to instruct us in righteousness (Psalm 119:105).
For Christians, our desire should be a renewed mind that seeks to be led by the Spirit of God. As our minds are renewed, we will be transformed more into the image of Christ.
But what tools does God use in this transformation process? Let us look at some of those now.
- Bible Study for Information and Revelation
The importance of the Word of God for personal transformation cannot be overestimated. The Bible is God’s complete revelation for mankind, and is NOT to be added to or taken away from (Rev 22:18,19).
We can read or study the Bible in two basic ways. The first is to gain knowledge. This can be referred to the logos Word or written Word. The word logos is Greek for “word”.
To gain knowledge is to learn facts and information found in the Bible, such as:
- Divisions of the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament; prophetic books, historical books and poetic books)
- The names of the books of the Bible
- Dispensations or ages of the Bible
- The Covenants of the Bible
- Stories and parables of the Bible
- Personalities and characters of the Bible
- Chronology and history of the Bible
Learning the things listed above will help us to gain the proper perspective on, understanding of and reverence for the Bible. We will learn about the nature of God, His holiness and sovereignty. We will become familiar with His promises and provisions. At the same time, we will learn what God expects of us. We will learn that we are to be holy and set apart for His purposes.
When we study the Bible in this way, we are gaining knowledge from the “logos” Word (written) and laying a foundation for the next level, which is understanding.
Understanding of the Word of God comes through illumination (revelation). There is another Greek word for “word” and that is rhema, or the spoken word. This refers to the spiritual nature of the Scriptures.
The Word of God is not just a collection of religious-sounding words. It is Spirit-breathed, living, powerful and spiritual. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
Because of the spiritual nature of the Bible, the Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures to “speak” to us – Spirit to spirit! As we are reading or studying the Bible, the Scriptures can suddenly come alive to our understanding. It is as if God by His Spirit is speaking directly to us through His Word about something specific that concerns us.
God speaking to us through the Scriptures should be common among born-again Christians, because they are spiritual and the Scriptures are spiritually inspired (2Tim 3:16). Theologians like to say that the Holy Spirit “illuminates” the Scriptures to give us understanding that is not simply intellectual, but spiritual. It becomes a personal, and often life-transforming, revelation of truth to us. A natural man (one not born again) is unable to receive this spiritual understanding (1Cor 2:13-15).
During these devotional times in the Word, the rhema Word becomes life-changing. There is no doubt that God has shown you something profound and personal just for you. You realize that God is revealing a life-impacting truth to you through the Scriptures.
Remember, you are not just to gain knowledge; you are also to get understanding (Prov 4:7). It is important to respond to the understanding you receive in an appropriate manner. This might mean you should repent, forgive someone, change a habit or behavior, freshly receive God’s love, or many other responses.
Decide that you want more than just knowledge (logos) from the Word of God. Sensitize your heart, and pray for and pursue revelation and understanding (rhema).
- The Importance of Prayer
Prayer is an important transformational tool, especially when it is understood that prayer is a dialogue between you and God.
Often we are taught to pray as a means of making our petitions known to God. We ask, but then we fail to listen in return. We do not expect God to speak to us.
But prayer is not a one-way communication. Prayer is a dialogue between a believer and God. You speak and God listens; God speaks and you listen – each taking turns to speak and listen. God often has something to say to us if we will listen expectantly in faith.
As we study the Scriptures, we should be praying for understanding and revelation. As we are reading, we should be asking God, “Lord, what does this mean?” Our attitude should be that of expecting the Holy Spirit to illuminate, reveal and make clear His truths.
Sometimes there are obstacles to our ability to hear God clearly. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the obstacles so that we may repent, overcome and move forward in our relationship with Him.
- The Importance of True Worship
The word worship is defined as “adoration and devotion to God”. Worship is central to fulfilling God’s call upon our lives and to representing accurate theology. But most importantly, worship is something that God desires from each one of us.
In its primary meaning, “worship” is not about an outward form, but is “spiritual worship”. Jesus, while speaking to the woman at the well, says, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23).
While God’s definition of worship has never changed, many today have focused on other meanings of worship. For example:
- A style of music, such as “worship music”; or,
- The activity of going to church (“I attended a worship service on Sunday”).
Both of these concepts of worship are valid. However, if they become our primary definition of worship, we run the risk of replacing the primary meaning of worship with a secondary one. It becomes easier to occasionally enjoy good worship music than to lead a daily lifestyle devoted to God.
Worship is not a part of the Christian life; it is the Christian life! “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service [or worship]” (Rom 12:1).
True, heartfelt worship is essential to victorious Christianity. We need the “Spirit to spirit” communion with God that can happen only as we bow before Him and adore Him. Our outward worship must come as a direct result of what is inside – a heart fully submitted to God as Lord and King. Otherwise, our worship will be just a form without power, “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2Tim 3:5).
How do we discern the difference between the outward form and the inner heart of worship? What is the measure of “true” worship?
Spiritual worship is more than a once-a-week offering in church. Spiritual worship should reveal our daily submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, and our desire to be obedient to Him. The true measure of spiritual worship is found in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “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 by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The most important fruit of ministry is transformed lives. As pastors and leaders, we need to provide a regular environment where people can meet with God in worship. There must be time given to express praise and honor to God, and then to wait upon Him to work in the lives of people. True spiritual worship is complete submission to Christ’s Lordship and openness to His presence at work in our daily life.
- The Importance of a Commitment to a Church
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb 10:24,25).
The local church is not a building; the church is an assembly of believers united under One Head, Jesus Christ (1Cor 12; Eph 1:22-23).
When leading (or attending) a church, there are three essential things that should be present:
a. The church must be Bible-based.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:20,21).
There are several ways to discern a Bible-based church. The teachings will all come from text and verses from the Bible. The congregation will be carrying and using their Bibles. The pastor and leadership will be faithful students of the Word of God, living their lives in accordance with the Bible.
There are no books or any other form of media that can substitute for, add to or subtract from God’s Word. The foundation for all teaching in a spiritually healthy church will be the Word of God.
b. The church must be doctrinally sound.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2Tim 4:3,4).
Any doctrine that is taught or modeled must have its foundation in the Word of God. A church should have a “Statement of Faith” that lists the doctrines they believe in, supported by biblical references.
c. The church must recognize the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1Cor 6:19).
Beware of any attempt to add to the finished work of grace by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. The easiest sign to alert you to this deception is too much concern with the trappings of the law – an over-emphasis on rules and regulations of behavior, dress and speech, rather than on inward, spiritual transformation.
This emphasis on outward form is known as “legalism”. It is a vain, outward attempt to substitute for the genuine, inward transforming work of the Holy Spirit: “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3).
God is not looking for conformity, which is only outward change. God instead desires genuine transformation, which is change from the inside (the heart). This inward change will, however, often result in changes of behavior and even in the outward appearance (Col 2).
We can be confident that the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with His tools of renewal and transformation – the Bible, prayer, worship and church – is able to accomplish a powerful transforming work in anyone who will submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He will never give up on us, if we will not give up on Him: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day” (2Tim 1:12).