8. Transformation

See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 for the rest of this series.

The Bible promises to transform people’s lives.

Some mistakenly believe that a person needs to get his act together and be a good person before he can come to God. This isn’t true. As Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”

Jesus loves people wherever they are morally or spiritually. But he also loves them enough to not leave them in that state. Instead, Jesus offers everyone the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Only through him, can we live in a way that pleases God.

Even in the Old Testament, God stated that he would transform those who chose to follow him.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV).

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Apostle Paul assures believers that God has made them new: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (NASB).

When someone decides to follow Christ, his transformation isn’t a one-time event. Granted, some new believers do experience a dramatic change at conversion. For most, however, transformation is a lifelong process. Paul pointed this out to the Roman church:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the will of God, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NASB).

Real change in people’s lives demonstrates the power of God’s Word, the Bible.

Transformed Lives in History

When people allow the Word of God to shape them, great things can happen.

  • Saul of Tarsus, a zealous young Pharisee, aggressively strove to stomp out the early followers of Christ. But Jesus, the Word of God, spoke to him on the road to Damascus. The persecutor of the church became the defender of the church.
  • When Martin Luther read his Bible, he discovered that we are saved by grace not works. This biblical teaching contradicted what the Roman Catholic Church taught. Luther’s discovery of God’s grace not only changed his life, but his teaching of grace without works changed Western Europe as well.
  • John Newton, the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” captained an English slave ship. A storm led to his accepting Christ as his Lord, and he transformed from a slave trader to an abolitionist. As William Wilberforce’s pastor, Newton helped end the slave trade in the British Empire.

Transformed Lives in Recent Times

  • A stone-age tribe in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador, once known as the Aucas but call themselves Wodani, nearly speared themselves into extinction. When they accepted the gospel, their culture changed from one of death to one of life.
  • My mailbox and inbox receive newsletters from various missionary organizations. These are filled with stories of individuals and people groups whose lives have been restored through the message of the Bible and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Transformation on the Yakama Reservation

In August 2018, my 14-year-old daughter and I had the opportunity to serve for a week with Sacred Road Ministries (SRM). This mission organization (PCA) ministers on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington State. The founder of SRM selected the small town of White Swan on this reservation because it was listed as one of the top ten most impoverished communities in the United States.

When the Granberrys, the pastoral family, arrived in June 2003, the local high school had a 65 percent dropout rate. The classes of 2017 and 2018 had an 80 percent* graduation rate.

The Yakama nation has a high suicide and murder rate. Yet, no one associated with SRM has committed suicide in over ten years.

The staff and volunteers of SRM love the Yakama people through acts of service and Bible teaching to the youth and children.

Prepping a house for painting (photo by Lorinda Newton)

During our stay, we spent our days painting a grandma’s house and cleaned up her yard. In the late afternoon, we played and loved on preschool and elementary kids for two hours during Kids Club. The club ended with the telling of an account from the book of Acts.

Photo by Susie Maxfield

Much pain still exists on the reservation, but many children have hope that their parents and grandparents have never experienced. The Bible has taught them that Christ loves them and will never abandon them.

Slowly, this emotionally and spiritually broken people group is experiencing restoration. They are being transformed by the power of God’s word.

Do you have a transformation story? Share it in the comments.

If you found this series on the reliability of the Bible helpful or if you have any questions, please write a response in a comment.

*Statistic based on my memory.