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This Article is part 2 of a series on Transformation. Part 1 can be read here.

To walk with Jesus in this life we have to allow God’s word to transform us, and this transformation involves 3 steps that we walk through again and again.  The movements are: Repent, Believe, Abide.  These three movements can be found in Luke 9:23, “Then he (Jesus)  said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

3 movements:  1. Turn from your ways 2. Take up your cross daily 3. Follow Me

This is a cycle.  It’s daily; it’s moment by moment.  And if you think about it, the movement always begins in your head, moves down to your heart, and then is lived out through your hands.

Let me explain that a little bit more.  Step 1: Turn from your ways: this is repentance.  It’s admitting that you’ve believed lies and that you’re lost.  It’s coming to Jesus with a humble heart and saying, “My way doesn’t work, Jesus.  Would you teach me your way?”

Isn’t that freeing just to say?  My way doesn’t work, Jesus, would you teach me your way?

But what’s next?  After we repent of lies, we must believe, actually walk out, the truth.  Jesus says that you then take up your cross… daily.  He commands us to carry around with us the instrument of our death.  Why?  Because this is our daily walk of Faith.  When the bible talks about belief, it almost always suggests an action, that something has changed.   Jesus says in the next verse, Luke 9:24, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”  Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

And it’s important to remember that this is an act of the heart.  1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your HEARTS, set apart Christ as Lord.”  We live from our hearts, and we love from our hearts, and the throne of our lives resides in our hearts.  And since this is an act of the heart, it means that real change in life has to happen in the context of relationships.

This is why we encourage disciples to be in a small group:  to create a safe place where people who know your story, who you trust and who you connect with, can encourage you daily to live for Jesus;  to do the hard work of radically reorienting your life around the words and ways of Jesus.  I don’t know about you, but this is the hardest part for me.  It is a daily battle to surrender my heart to Jesus, and one that I’m so thankful that I don’t have to do alone.

The people who I love the most are the ones who love me enough to ask hard questions, and constantly remind me to submit my life and heart to Jesus, and to let His words and truth shape my reality.

The last movement is to simply follow.  It almost seems odd that Jesus even has to say this.  Like, if I’m going to deny myself and take up a cross, then following is the least of my worries… but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had God do something powerful in my life, or show me some great truth, and I’m feeling awesome and filled with the Spirit and I’m ready to go change the world, and I’m sprinting ahead… and after awhile I finally look around and realize… I’m all alone.  And Jesus is standing there right where we started.

If you turn from your ways and repent, then walk in obedience to God’s word, and then if you stay close to Him, if you follow where he leads, if you abide in Him, then you will be transformed and begin to love like Jesus.  And when you love like Jesus, you will change the world.

Jesse Dukes is part of WDA’s Next Generation Staff and also serving as the Discipleship Minister and  worship leader at Legacy Christian Church in Senoia, GA.

Part 2 of 2

This article is part 2 of 2 on the topic of transformation.  If this article has been meaningful to you consider the following WDA resource on this topic, “Disciple Building: A Practical Strategy”.  You can visit the WDA Store under Leadership Manuals.  

 

When I was growing up, I dreamed of one day becoming a Nuclear Physicist.  To answer your question, yes, that does make me a gigantic nerd. I’m still not exactly sure where this dream came from, but I know that I was always amazed by the power that nuclear energy represented.  I remember being so intrigued by the idea that by manipulating this infinitesimal speck, an atom, you could power an entire city.  Another thing that always fascinated me about nuclear energy was the fact that such great power also comes with the possibility for great danger.  It’s not advisable for humans to be in the presence of radioactive materials unprotected, because they emit radiation that has the power to transform our bodies on an atomic level.  To be in the presence of a radioactive material is to change, but not for the better.  It’s effect on humans is sickness, mutation, cancer, and ultimately death.

In a very similar way, to be in the presence of God is to change.  God is the source of all power. His power is omnipotent, meaning it’s the power that powers all other powers; He is all powerful.  Nuclear power and the gigantic blazing torch that is our Sun are both tiny flickering flames in comparison to the Power of God.  Psalm 62:11 says, “Once God has spoken; twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God.” (NASB)  And much like radioactive materials, God’s presence has a profound impact on any who draw near to Him.  But by contrast, to be in the presence of God is to change for the better.  In Exodus 34, Moses goes up on a mountain and speaks to God, and when he returns the Bible says in verses 29 & 30, “His face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.  When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.” (NIV) As a result of being in the presence of God, Moses’ face shone with the glory of God.

But the Bible tells us that the glory of God eventually faded from Moses’ face, and everything eventually went back to business as usual.  The transformation was not lasting.  If you are in the presence of radioactive materials, you need special clothing to wear that will protect you from the harmful radiation; and in the same way, the Bible says that to stand in the presence of God, we must wear special clothing as well.  We must wear the clothing of righteousness.  But what’s incredible is that this is something that we can’t do for ourselves. Our best efforts at righteousness, or self-righteousness, always end up woefully short, and in fact, further complicate matters because we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are covered when we are not.  Imagine walking into a nuclear power plant with the special “Atomic Shorts” that you bought online, “Guaranteed Full-Protection or your money back!”  You’re not only in grave danger, you’re doubly lost because you don’t even know it!

But thanks to God, there is a covering available for us, and it is the one found in Jesus Christ.  In fact, Jesus is literally the covering himself!  Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (NASB) This covering is called the Atonement of Christ, which literally means a state of “at-one-ment” or joining, or unity with God. The word for atonement in the Hebrew is the word kaphar which in its most basic form means: to cover, and carries the connotation of being brought close in an embrace.

So in order to see transformation in our lives, we have to continually seek to be in the presence of God. The only way that we can remain in the presence of God is through the Atonement of Christ, wearing His righteousness as our covering.  When you repent of your brokenness and sin and put your faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection as the source of your righteousness, you begin that amazing transformation.  And what is even more incredible is that Christ is the actual result of the transformation as well.  Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”   This isn’t something that happens immediately, but it’s a process that involves actions that we take and miraculous things that God does.  As we daily “clothe ourselves with Christ” (see Romans 13:14) we become more and more like him.  That is the mystery and majesty of God, if you will just put yourself in His presence, you will change for the better.  “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Then you may ask, “How do you ‘go’ into God’s presence?”  It may be a better question to ask, “How can you ‘leave’ God’s presence?” because He’s everywhere!!  David wonders in Psalm 139:7, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”  So in a very real way, we are always able to be in the presence of God.  The question is whether or not we will hear His voice when He speaks to us.  Hebrews 3 warns us against hardening our hearts to God’s Word and refusing to listen when He speaks. “As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.'” Hebrews 3:15

While God can and does speak to anyone at times, the best way to learn to hear God’s voice is through His word, and specifically by reading and meditating on the words of Jesus.  Jesus perfectly heard His Father’s voice all throughout His life.  He also perfectly obeyed His Father at all times because of His love for the Father.  Jesus says in John 14:24, “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

Whether or not we obey the words of God is of huge importance.  But, it’s also of huge importance to note that we cannot get “closer” to God by obeying His commands, our faith in Christ is the only thing that allows us to approach God.  You cannot “earn” your way into God’s presence, or “work” your way into a better relationship with God.  But refusing to obey God’s Word is an act of rebellion, and that will naturally draw you away from God.  Also, as you obey God, you will come to know Him more, and trust Him more, and the Bible promises both present and future blessings for those who obey God.

Jesse Dukes is part of WDA’s Next Generation Staff and also serving as the Discipleship Minister and worship leader at Legacy Christian Church in Senoia, GA.

Part 1 of 2

This article is part 1 of 2 on the topic of transformation.  If this article has been meaningful to you consider the following WDA resources on this topic “Disciple Building: A Practical Strategy”.  You can visit a WDA Store under Leadership Manuals.