Editor's Note: This is the transcript of my recorded Bible study under this title at Truthtellers.org.
Skeptics of Christianity claim that conversion is, at best, no more than an emotional experience willed by self-persuasion. Any change that follows is purely human. No One is on the other end of the new relationship.
How are we changed by trusting in Christ?
Few will deny that everyone enters this world with an ego that is self-serving and self-protective. This is viewed as healthy. Just as it is good to have two mountain goats vying for the right to breed the next generation, banging their heads together, so in business, the arts, and education, a strong ego is viewed as normal and actually necessary. Only a very weak, malformed or even mentally ill person will cry out, like an abused wife, to another and abdicate the right to direct their own destiny. Yet that strange, unnatural submission is exactly what the Sovereign God requires of us. And since He is Perfect Love, we actually enter true freedom and life by surrendering to Him.
But we cannot do this alone. Jesus said it is impossible to give our lives and wills in trust to God without the Holy Spirit’s aid. The self-centered, rebellious human will instinctively says, "I can save myself. I can be good without God. And I can have pleasure rather than pain if I direct my life intelligently." It is counter to nature itself when a soul does humble itself and cry out to God, "Lord, save me or I perish!" It is in fact a miracle. It is a reversal in the motivations of a human being—a reversal that is especially miraculous when it lasts beyond a crisis, when it lasts for years, for decades, even for a lifetime. This is a change made possible only by God’s firm hands molding us as we cooperate by deciding to trust only in Him, not ourselves.
Let’s go back to the original assertion by the world that there is no real change when someone is converted to trust in Christ. The simple fact is that when a person can deny themselves and trust in Christ, they have been changed.
As long as we continue to do what is atypical of mankind and cry out to God, seeking His will over our own, we remain transformed: a new creature in Christ. Of course, the same will that freely chooses to cooperate with God’s Spirit can reverse the decision. Apostate Christians may even go into a state of amnesia and actually deny they ever were changed or ever had a profoundly life-altering experience. But the fact remains that if you ever sincerely trusted in Christ, you were, at least temporarily, changed for the better. This is very important because Satan's desire is to cast doubt on the power of God to really change us. It is also to cast doubt on our own power to cooperate with God to effect lasting spiritual change. Satan will tell us that if we have sinned in the course of our Christian experience we can no longer be restored to Christ; we can no longer experience redemption even if we were changed in the beginning. We have to arm ourselves against these predictable accusations and insinuations of Satan that something is wrong with God's ability to change us or with our ability to be redeemed. Satan tells us there is some kind of deficiency in our unique situation which makes it impossible for us to stand on the fact that we have been changed by the power of God working with our will. Satan may say we are too bad to be saved. Maybe he will say we are demon possessed and therefore are in a different category than other people who can expect hope in life. Maybe Satan will tell us we somehow lack the necessary moral character to be transformed, or maybe we have sinned the unpardonable sin; we have sinned against too much light and therefore cannot be changed. Or we do not have the necessary sincerity to be different from what we are. Maybe because we cannot feel the necessary emotions or intense hatred against sin at this time in our lives, we are no different than we were and cannot be changed in the future. These are a number of predictable ploys Satan brings against the Christian who has been changed by Christ's power. Satan, above all things, hates the fact that we have sincerely cried out to God and continue to do so, and he will try every one of his arsenal of tricks to try to make us stop.
The apostle Peter was changed repeatedly as he came toward Christ, usually on a very bumpy road. He made many strong professions of faith, yet he had a persistent tendency to revert back to sight, reason, fear, human wisdom and basic desire for survival. When Nathanael came to Jesus, Jesus looked at him and said, "Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no guile." That was about the last mention of Nathanael. He was just too perfect to deserve a lot of attention. There exist Christians who through influences we do not know are precocious spiritually. Perhaps they are assisted by good genetics or benefit from the intercessions of others or have received great grace from God at an early age. In contrast, Peter was everyman for all ages. He was mortal, failing, weak like the rest of us. Yet the redeeming thing about Peter is that, though he failed, he always got up and cried out again to Christ, "Lord, save me!" Let's turn to Luke 22:31 where Jesus says:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”33 But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!”This is typical behavior of Peter, impetuous, quick to vow, quick to give advice, quick to hurl himself out of boats and walk on water in profession of loyalty to Christ. There is a mix in Peter of devotion, sincerity, idealism, courage, heroism, along with a great receptivity to fear, panic, fear of man and death. Knowing all this Jesus said,
34“I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance.
55 After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them.
56 And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with him, too.”57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”58 A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”59 After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.”60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.”62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry…”
…and[Esau] said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!35 And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.”36 Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
37 But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to himas servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?”38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” So Esau lifted his voice and wept.
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, “Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, And away from the dew of heaven from above.
41 So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
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Call the Congress Hotline at 1-202-224-3121 and ask for a Senator’s office. I suggest you say: “Please don’t vote for the “Equality Act” S788. It will help end free speech for Christians making them criminals if they criticize Homosexuality”.
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