Tag Archives: Resurrection

The Transforming Gospel

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The late Charles Colson was notorious for being President Nixon’s “hatchet man,” “a dirty tricks artist,” and for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.  But later on in life, he became primarily known for founding Prison Fellowship, an outreach to inmates, as well as, Breakpoint ministries, a popular weekly radio broadcast.  What caused this radical transformation in Colson’s life was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is a powerful and transforming reality.  When an individual hears and embraces the Good News about Jesus Christ, their life is immediately and eternally changed.  This Truth is apparent in Mark 2:1-12.  Through Jesus’ interaction with a paralytic, this man’s life was spiritually and physically transformed.

Mark 2 begins with Jesus preaching to a mass of people that swarmed upon the disciple’s house where he was staying.  At this same time verse 3 reports that a group of men carried a paralytic to this house with the hopes of Jesus healing their friend.  Unfortunately, due to the crowd, they were prohibited from getting inside.  Determined to reach Jesus, they made their way to the roof.  There a hole was created big enough for the four men to lower the paralytic down into the house and into the immediate presence of Jesus.  It is at this moment in the paralytic’s life when he was powerfully transformed.

Upon seeing the situation unfold in front of him and being impressed by the men’s faith, verse 5 records that Jesus simply turned to the paralytic and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  With this straightforward comment, this cripple’s life was transformed spiritually.  In that exact moment he went from being a sinner, who was a child of wrath, into a forgiven saint, who is a child of God.

God’s transformation originates in the spiritual realm. Specifically, in order for true personal transformation to occur, sin needs to be eliminated.  This can only occur through a individual’s faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to “take away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29).  The Scriptures declare that those who believe in this Gospel are indeed “a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

After spiritually transforming the paralytic, Jesus sensed the religious leaders criticizing the legitimacy of his actions.  In order to verify his claims, Jesus responded in verses 10 and 11 by countering, “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.'”  With this straightforward comment, the paralytic was transformed physically.  In that exact moment he went from being a cripple, who was dependent upon others, into a healthy and active individual, who could take care of himself and even others.

Spiritual transformation always manifests itself.  Those individuals who hear and embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ; their lives – in some way, shape, or form – will come to express their faith.  This is trajectory of every believer.  Christians will be transformed physically.  Romans 8:29 states that Christians are currently being “conformed to the image” of Jesus Christ.  As sin is identified and removed, new Christlike traits are applied and cultivated in believers’ lives.  The following verse, Romans 8:30, furthers this Truth and states that Christians are destined for glory.  All believers will be resurrected from the dead in the future.  And just like the paralytic, all evidences of sin will be removed at this time and their physical bodies will be transformed and made imperishable, glorious, and powerful (See 1 Cor. 15:42-29).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful and transforming.  It transforms individuals both spiritually and physically.  As the Gospel removes sin and molds people’s lives into the image of Jesus Christ, others will take notice.  And as with the paralytic, people will notice their transformation, be amazed, and say “we never saw anything like this” (v. 12).

 


The Doctor of doctors

ERThis past week, I had the flu and was kind and generous enough to give it to the rest of my family.  Let’s just say, it was a long week in my household.  On Friday of this past week, Mr. Mike Ilitch, a local legend and owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers, passed away.  It proved to be a tough weekend in the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit.

The Bible makes it clear that sickness and death are the result of sin.  Romans 5:12 states, “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”  God never designed nor desired death and sickness to be a part of His Creation.  Since their entrance into the world, God has been working towards eliminating them and remodeling Earth.  In fact, the Bible describes God’s New Earth in eternity as a place where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?!?

In Mark 1:29, Jesus arrived at Simon and Andrew’s house after worshiping in the local synagogue.  Shortly after entering their home, Jesus was informed that Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed with a terrible fever too sick to even get up.  Mark then reports in verse 31 that Jesus, “came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her.”  And just like that, with a simple touch and caring gesture, the fever was instantly removed and her health was completely restored.

Jesus is the Doctor of doctors.  The Bible teaches that God is working through Jesus to remove death and sickness from Creation.  The Gospels contain numerous records of Jesus healing the sick and curing the diseased (see Mark 1:34).  There are also several reports that detail how Jesus brought the dead back to life (see Mark 5:35-43 and John 11:38-44).  All of these cases demonstrate that Jesus is truly the source, sustainer, and redeemer of life.

God is not only working through Jesus to heal those in Creation, but He is also working through Jesus to restore Creation to its original design.  Jesus spoke of his cosmic calling in Revelation 21:5, “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.'”  In renewing the world and everything in it, Jesus is focused on eliminating the root cause of sickness and death.  He is zeroed in on eradicating sin.  The Bible declares that when Jesus died on the cross and victoriously came back to life, a fatal blow was delivered to this archenemy.  In Romans 8:20-21, Paul uses an anthropomorphism to talk about how Creation anticipates sin’s final eviction, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the the children of God.”       

Before the world’s final destiny arrives, the Bible states that those individuals who come to view Jesus as the Doctor of doctors and submit to his care will begin to experience this ultimate reality beforehand.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).  This verse does not teach that Jesus’ believers are instantly immune from sickness and death, but that Jesus has immediately freed them from the death grip that sin had on their life.  This passage also points to the Truth that believers are now exposed to this new life and will ultimately experience it completely when they too – just like Jesus – are resurrected from their graves.  “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who give us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56-57).

In a world that is marked by death, sickness, and even the flu, this is truly Good News.  People need to know that Jesus is the Doctor of doctors.  Only he can truly provide the remedy for their real sickness.  Only he can heal them and the world from sin.  As Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).