Foundations Part 4
God begins to fix us on the inside.
Living right begins with believing right - our behaviour is a direct result of what we believe. Being a Christian is about much more than changing the way you behave or philosophy, it's about transformation. When we are saved, our relationship with God is restored and he begins to fix us on the inside. However simply knowing God doesn't make us good citizens with perfect behaviour - instead God begins the journey of transforming our character by working on us from the inside.
"The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment, but the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime."
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
"Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognise that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognised as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him."
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (Message)
Transformed through God's Word.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
Though written by men, the Bible is God’s Word to man and therefore holds weight and authority. God is the master author and the final edit. Thankfully today access to the Bible has never been easier and more people than ever have the opportunity to hear God speak to them through it, allowing His Word to transform them personally.
The Bible contains 66 books divided among the Old and New Testaments. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. The word testament simply means "covenant" or "contract."
The Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by over 40 different authors from all walks of life: shepherds, farmers, tent-makers, physicians, fishermen, priests, philosophers and kings. Despite these differences in occupation and the span of years it took to write it, the Bible is an extremely cohesive and unified book.
"Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things."
It was written over a period of some 1,500 years, from around 1450 B.C. (the time of Moses) to about 100 A.D. (following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).
Knowing that the Bible is God speaking to us, it makes sense to read the Bible every day. Just imagine how your life would change if you heard from God each day.
Reading your Bible.
The Bible is a big book and can be quite daunting when you first pick it up. Understanding how to read it is important and will help you get the best out of every time you open it.
Reading your Bible daily will give you clear direction (Psalm 119:133), wisdom in our everyday (Psalm 119:99-100), provides a source of comfort (Psalm 119:49-50) and change you (Hebrews 4:12; Romans 12:2).
The Bible was originally written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek. Today the Bible is translated into many different languages including English. The Bible has been translated into English many times and each fits broadly into one of these three categories below. Choose one you enjoy and begin reading it daily.
Some Bible versions translate as literally word-for-word as possible. They take the Hebrew and Greek words and translate them into the closest corresponding English words as possible.
Examples of Word-for-Word translations include: The King James Version, The New King James Version, The English Standard version, Revised Standard Version.
Some Bible versions translate less literally, in more of a thought-for-thought method.
Examples of Thought-for-Thought translations include: The New International Version, The New Living Translation, The Amplified Bible, New English Translation.
Others paraphrase and can be used to gain a different perspective on the meaning of a verse, but they should not be used as a primary Bible translation.
Examples of Paraphrase translations include: The Message Bible, The Good News Bible, The Living Bible.
Bible on your smart phone.
YouVersion is a simple to read Bible that brings God's Word into your daily life. You can download the free YouVersion Bible App in many different versions onto your mobile device so you'll have your Bible with you no matter where you go. You'll also find daily Bible reading plans to help you get started.
Fix your attention on God and His Word and let Him change you from the inside out.
"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
Transformed by The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God. He is a person (not an 'it' or 'force'). He is our counsellor, He guides us in truth and gives us gifts to help us contribute to his purposes through the church.
Jesus introduces the Holy Spirit in chapter 14 to 16 of the book of John
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you and will even be in you!"
The personhood of the Holy Spirit is affirmed by His role as the third person of the Godhead. He is coequal with the Father and the Son of God. Only a being who is equal to God and possesses the attributes of omniscience, omnipresence and eternality could be defined as God.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"
The Holy Spirit lives in you.
He is present in the world to make people aware of their need for Jesus Christ and He lives in every Christian. He provides Christians with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth and guidance in doing what is right. He gives every believer spiritual gifts and as Christians we seek to live under His control daily.
"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit"
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies."
The Holy Spirit empowers you.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The Holy Spirit gives us the power of God to carry out what God has called us to do. The Holy Spirit brings God's presence into our lives and leads us into all truth. Because of The Holy Spirit we can flourish in life; be empowered as a witness in our personal world; equipped to build the church.
The key to Jesus’ overcoming life was that he operated in the power of the Holy Spirit without measure. The outcomes of his life were spectacular because his spirit was filled with supernatural strength which overflowed across every area of His life.
"For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit"
The power of the Holy Spirit is supernatural; He miraculously empowers us to live a life less ordinary.
The Fruit of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit works in us to develop Godly attributes and character. The Bible calls these the fruit of the Spirit. The word fruit is used frequently in the Bible to denote what God expects of our character. The fruit of the Spirit is God’s expectation in our lives. Although many people emphasise the experiential, external and emotional dimensions of being filled with the Holy Spirit; the Bible emphasises the internal work of producing fruit that flows from a changed inner world.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Transformation is a journey.
It's important to remember that Christianity is a lifestyle, a journey we must work on every day. We are to constantly acknowledge our limitations and weaknesses and turn Jesus in times of need.
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."
The goal of our transformation is to be mature in our faith and more like Jesus. Maturity in your faith is nothing to do with how long you've been a Christian, your gifts, your age or even how much knowledge you have. It's about consistently putting God first and living for him.
"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."
"He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ."