Am I wrong to want more than justification? Am I wrong to want more than forgiveness of sins? Am I wrong to want more than deliverance from hell and the guarantee of heaven? Am I wrong to want more than adoption?
Because I do.
I want to be changed. I want to be saved; not just from the penalty of sin, but from the power of it. I want a clean heart, and mind, and eyes, and mouth, and everything else. And I don’t mean just “cleaner” but “clean.” I don’t mean just external behavioral change; I mean real heart change. That’s the “radical” I want; radical transformation.
Why? Why do I want such transformation? And why should every Christian want the same?
1. To demonstrate the power of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16; Matt. 1:21). If the Gospel is only about the grace of forgiveness, then no one will ever know about it. Oh yes, we can personally enjoy the wonderful assurance of justification by faith. And we can talk all we like about it, with tremendous joy. But no one can ever see it. There’s no proof, there’s no evidence.
But when someone is metamorphosed, when an ugly life and character becomes beautiful, then the power of the Gospel isn’t just an idea, a truth, an emotion, or all talk. It’s concrete, it’s undeniable, it’s impactful. It draws attention to the power of God in the Gospel. It truly is the power of God to salvation.
2. To gain a hearing for the Gospel (John 4:39-42). When a person is transformed by the Gospel, people want to know why. They want to find out what’s behind it. What explains this? Change opens ears and shuts mouths. It wins arguments and silences objections.
3. To become more like Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). Isn’t that the whole point of the Gospel? To re-create us in God’s image? To conform us to the image of God’s Son? Do we have to wait until heaven for that?
Sure, most of it will happen there, when we are totally and perfectly changed in the blink of an eye and made like him. But it begins here. And we want it to do more than just begin. We want to be image-bearers of Christ in this world. If we have seen His beauty, we want the world to see it too, and we have the privilege and responsibility of showing Him forth.
4. To shine light in a dark world (Matt. 5:14; Phil. 2:15). The more we become like the Light of the world, the more light there will be in the world. We don’t want to be just fireflies do we? We want to be lighthouses.
5. To please God (1 John 3:22; Heb. 13:16). We want to please our children, our parents, our wife, our husband, our boss, our neighbor, and many others. Do we not then want to please God? Of course we do. But how do we do that? Has God left us in the dark about how to please Him? Not at all; He’s provided innumerable verses to guide us in how to put a smile on His face.
6. To enjoy a sense of progress (2 Pet. 3:18; 1 Pet. 2:2). Whatever area of life we look at, few people want to stagnate. Whether it’s a sport, our weight, our education, our jobs, our homes, we have an inbuilt desire to grow, to develop, to progress. Although it’s never as fast as we want, with honest self-examination we can detect spiritual changes that encourage us that we are heading in the right direction by the indwelling power and work of the Holy Spirit.
7. To enjoy communion with God (John 14:16,21). Growth draws God to the soul. He loves to make Himself known and felt to His growing children.
8. To get assurance of faith (James 2:14ff; Heb 12:14). No holiness, no heaven. If no one can see any change in my life, or if the change is negative and backwards for a sustained period of time, I have good reason to question and doubt my salvation. But if the old ways are weakening and new ways are strengthening, I have good reason to conclude that my salvation is of the Lord.
A few days ago we looked at reasons why we don’t change. I hope these eight reasons help us win the argument.