Summary: This is a sermon primarily about how the Bible transforms people. For brain candy, we’ve included delightful facts on the Bible’s uniqueness.

[This sermon is contributed by Hal Seed of New Song Church in Oceanside, California and of Hal is the author of numerous books including The God Questions and The Bible Questions. If you are interested in The Bible Questions Church-wide Campaign, please visit and watch Hal’s video at]

"Can the Bible Make Me Better?

The Bible Questions, Part 3

2 Kings 22-23; Romans 12:2

We are learning these days about the most important book ever written. Last week we learned that it’s a book like no other book. No other book was written like this one, preserved like this one. No other book has been more greatly loved, or anticipated, or resisted than this one.

During these next four weeks together, we are going to learn things from and about the most important book in history. Our learning will come from several angles. During church, I’ll talk about facts and passages that hopefully will make this book come alive to you, and make you want to read it for yourself.

During the week, we’ll be reading Monday through Friday from The Bible Questions book. If you missed last week, you are just five short chapters behind. Set aside an hour today and you can catch up with us!

Along with sermons and readings, we are all investing in a small group some time during the week. From my experience, small groups are the center of lifechange. What I learn from a sermon or reading is good, but it’s even better when I get a chance to share what I’m learning with others. And what the pastor says, or the author says may be right on, but those guys are professionals, they’re paid to be good. In your small group, you’ll hear insights from people who are good for nothing (smile). I think you’ll find their insights more inspiring than anything I say on Sundays or most of what you read in The Bible Questions.

So, if you’re just joining us, or haven’t gotten into a small group yet, I hope you’ll jump in today by signing up for a group (you can do that in the lobby after the service), and grabbing a copy of the book and entering into one of the most life changing adventures you’ll ever experience.

With all of that, are you ready to do some learning today? [Ready]

Here are a couple more uniquenesses of the Bible:

It was the first major book to be translated into a foreign language.

• In 250 B.C. the Old Testament of the Bible was translated from Hebrew to Greek. The translation is called the Septuagint, and is still available today.

It was also the first book to be printed on a printing press.

• In 1440, Johann Gutenberg, a diamond polisher, invented the printing press. By 1455 he and his colleagues had produced “The Gutenberg Bible”.

It was the first book to be telegraphed.

• On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse coded Numbers 23:23, “What hath God wrought!” (KJV) from the chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court to Albert Vail at the B & O Railroad depot in Baltimore, Maryland.

It was the first book on the moon.

• On July 20, 1969, before exiting the Eagle lunar space module, Buzz Aldrin pulled out a Bible, a silver chalice and sacramental bread and wine. He read the Bible before putting a foot on the moon.

This week I want to talk to you about one more intriguing thing about the Bible: how it can make you a better person.

Turn to your neighbor and say, “The Bible can make you better!”

If the person is your husband or wife, say, “Actually, nothing can make you better.”

Then say, “But the Bible can make ME better!”

Thomas Jefferson said “I have always said… that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better homes, better citizens, better fathers and better husbands.” – Thomas Jefferson

Was Jefferson right? Can the Bible really make me a better person? And if so, how does it do that?

Let me give you seven ways today, and then talk to you about how this happens on a practical level.

A. How the Bible Makes Me Better:

One way the Bible makes me a better person is…

1. It inspires me.

When I read the story of David killing his giant enemy with nothing but five stones and a sling, I start to think that maybe I can conquer the giants in my life too.

When I read about Daniel rising to become Prime Minister of a large foreign country, I think maybe I can do a little more and go a little farther too.

I read about Moses’ delivering 2 million people from slavery, Esther preventing the genocide of her people, Elijah calling out the prophets of Baal, Ruth’s unswerving loyalty to her mother-in-law, Stephen standing up to the Sanhedrin, Paul facing beatings and imprisonment and Jesus going to the Cross on behalf of the sin of the world… and I’m inspired. My dreams get bigger, my determination gets stronger, and my adrenaline flows like Rocky every time he yells, “Yo Adrian!”

People who read the Bible just get inspired by it.

Then another way the Bible makes me better is…

2. It encourages me.

I’ll find myself in a crisis and read Romans 8:28, which says…

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

And I’ll think, “Well, I love God. So the situation I am facing is not the end of the world! The Lord knows what’s going on, and He will bring the resources of heaven to bear on this. What’s happening to me is not final. God’s going to make something good come from this pain!”

Or I’ll do something boneheaded and worry that God won’t care for me anymore, or that the government or a business or a bully or whatever entity I’ve offended will wipe me out. And then I read Paul’s words from prison, where he says…

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

And I think “That’s right! I’m not alone in this! God is with me, and no one is as strong as He is or as committed to my cause as He is. God is for me.” And I’m encouraged.

Or I read a little farther in the very same chapter, where Paul says…

“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

And God’s Spirit in me whispers, “You too, Hal. You too! Nothing can or will separate you from Me!” Often, when I put my head into the Bible, I’m feeling like I’m six feet under. And when I raise my head afterwards, I feel like nothing can stop me because of what I’ve just read about God’s faithfulness and love for me.

And some of you know exactly what I’m saying, because it’s happened to you too.

A third way the Bible makes me better is a less-comfortable one. Because sometimes, when I read the Bible, it reminds me of the less-than-perfect parts of my character and calls me to change. Sometimes, when I read the Bible, the Bible reads me.

3. It reads me.

Hebrews 4:12 says,

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.“ Hebrews 4:12

Sometimes when I read the Bible, God’s Spirit whispers, “The truth about you is, you’re shallow.” Or, “You’re lazy.” Or, “You like to take shortcuts.” The Spirit convicts me that I can be better.

One of the greatest descriptions of how the Bible can make me a better person is found in 2 Timothy 3:16, which says…

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I call this passage,

The 2 Timothy Road: because it follows a pattern like someone getting onto a road and then running off of it and getting back on again.

Repeat this after me:

The Bible is useful... [The Bible is useful…]

For teaching… [For teaching…]

For rebuking… [For rebuking…]

For correcting… [For correcting…]

For training in righteousness… [For training in righteousness…]

The 2 Timothy Road says that the first thing the Bible does is it teaches me.

4. It teaches me. It teaches me the way to live.

The histories and prophecies and wisdom and letters of the Bible describe for me how and why caring about others is better than just caring about myself. It describes the virtues of character and things to be avoided – things that will hurt you and hurt other people if you pursue them.

In effect, the Bible says, “This is the road. Walk on it.” That’s teaching.

But, inevitably, we wander off the road. So the next thing the Bible does is rebuke me.

5. It rebukes me.

It says, “Hey! You’re off the road.” (Hebrews 4:12 says, “It judges the thoughts and attitudes of your heart.”)

Then it corrects me.

6. It corrects me.

It says, “This is the way to get back on the road.”

And, once we’re back on, it trains us in righteousness.

7. It trains me.

It says, “This is the way to stay on the road.”

So the Bible not only inspires me and encourages me and reads me; it teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains me. And if you knew anything about me, you’d say, “And you need all those things, Hal.”

When I read it, the Bible makes me a better person.

This week, in your small groups, you’ll read about a man named Haddon Robinson. Haddon grew up in a gang neighborhood in New York City, where he learned all sorts of rough ways. In Haddon’s teenage years, someone introduced him to Jesus Christ and the Bible. It read him and inspired him and encouraged and taught and rebuked and corrected and trained him.

Haddon liked the Bible so well, he went to graduate school to study it, and eventually earned a doctorate in communications so he could effectively communicate the Bible to other people. Today, Dr. Haddon Robinson is one of the most admired men in American Christianity. The Holy Spirit and the Bible made him better.

During your reading this week, in chapter 8, you’ll read about Francis Kamau and the church he planted in a sordid neighbor in Nairobi, Kenya. Francis planted his church in an area rife with bars and brothels. Now, ten years later, most of those bars and brothels are gone because the influence of the church and the Bible on the neighborhood. The Holy Spirit and the Bible made a neighborhood better.

A story you won’t find in your reading this week is the story of a Norwegian named Hans Hauge [How-gah]. Two hundred years ago, Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe. She was ruled by her Danish neighbors and most people were poor fishermen or subsistence farmers. Every time there was a famine, people starved to death. Today it is one of the wealthiest. It had one of the highest illiteracy rates. Now it has 100% literacy.

How did this happen? Hans Hauge brought the Bible to Norway, and the Bible made it better.

Say, “Hans Hauge”. (How-gah)

In 1796, Hans Hauge became a Christian and started reading the Bible. It taught him that God wanted him to love his neighbor as himself. So he started distributing Bibles in every village and he started 1,000 home Bible study groups. He was censured by the government for preaching without a license, but Hauge read in the Bible that believers should build each other up, so he just kept doing what the Bible told him to do.

Author Loren Cunningham writes,

“As Hauge delved into the Bible… he found the Bible packed with principles for everything humanity faces…. He preached that all we own and all that we are come from God. The Lord expects us to be good stewards of what he has given us.” – Loren Cunningham

To help the poor find jobs, Hauge built a paper mill and a stamping mill, a bone mill, a flour mill, a tannery, and a foundry. He learned how to print books and started a publishing business. As people learned to read, they read the Bible, and the Bible made them better. So, over the next several decades, the nation rose to prosperity.

Hauge was arrested eleven times in seven years. Finally, in 1804, he was imprisoned. But his work carried on. Hauge’s followers pursued independence for Norway. They helped draft a new constitution in 1814, making Norway one of the freest nations on earth.

Can the Bible make you better? The Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit can make an entire nation better!

But how does that happen? How does God use the Bible to change people?

B. How the Bible Transforms People:

The Apostle Paul explains it in Romans 12:2. He says…

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

The Bible transforms your mind.

Let’s stop here for a minute friends. Because this may be the most important thing you’ll learn today. – And maybe this month, and maybe all year: Transformation begins in your mind. What you think about and how you think about it shapes your behaviors and your attitude every minute of the day.

If you get up in the morning and read an inspiring story about somebody who walked a little old lady across the road, you’re more likely to walk a little old lady across the road. If you read about an employee who got away with something sneaky at work, and that person is painted as a hero in the story, you start thinking about doing something sneaky at work.

Master this concept and you’re on the road to mastering your life:

2. What you think about is what you eventually become.

So Paul says, “If you want to be a better person, don’t conform to how things are done in this world.” – Don’t do what you see the guy in the next cubical doing. ”Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Say this after me:

What you think about [What you think about]

Is what you become [Is what you will become.]


What you think about [What you think about]

Is what you become [Is what you will become.]

Most of you know that I was involved in the sport of swimming as a kid. Some summers I spent up to 7 hours a day in the pool with nothing to do but think about except how far I was swimming. When the coach said, “Swim a 1,650,” which is the swimming equivalent of a mile, I had to do the math and think, “Okay, that’s 66 lengths of the pool.” Then, how do you keep track of how far you’ve gone while you’re swimming? I would do math in my head. I’d swim a lap and say, “Okay, 66 more to go. If I stay at this pace, what will my time be?” “If I swam one second faster for each lap, then what would my time be?”

If I lost track of how far I’d gone, I’d think, “What’s my time so far, and what pace am I on?” Then I’d divide the time by the pace and get the distance. Doing that for 14 years made me very good at math. I finished all the math courses my high school had by my junior year and tested out of the college math requirement.

What I thought about, I eventually became.

Since I became a Christian, I’ve spent a lot of time reading, studying, and thinking about the words of the Bible. As a result, most of my thoughts these days are about things the Bible talks about: helping other people, growing God’s kingdom, partnering with the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s purposes here on earth, like they are fulfilled in heaven.

“Do not, do not, do not” the Bible says, “conform to the pattern of this world, but let your mind be transformed by renewing it with good, positive, right, godly thoughts on a regular basis.”

Read this out loud with me:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

The Greek word for “transformed” here is our English word, “metamorphosis” – like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. To be “metamorphosed” is to be transformed from the inside out – and the Bible says that happens by renewing your mind – by changing your thinking.

Change your thinking, change your life.

Change your thinking, change your life.

Say that: 3. Change your thinking, change your life.

Reading the Bible renews your mind. Renewing your mind changes your life. That’s how the Bible inspires you and encourages you and reads and teaches and rebukes, corrects and trains you. That’s how the Bible makes you better.

Because what you think about is what you will eventually become.

If you want to become a better athlete, spend time on your sport. If you want to be a become a better writer, spend time reading books on writing and taking classes on writing and practice writing.

If you want to become a better person, you spend time reading with the person who knows exactly how to make you better. That’s God, and these [hold up a Bible] are his thoughts for you.

In the Bible God documented principles of how to live and how to love. He recorded stories of better ways to respond to situations. He detailed ideas for living better.

Now, anyone who grew up playing with Transformers and Decepticons knows that when they are “transformed” from machines to robots, they stay that way until they are deliberately changed back.

But, the verb tense Paul uses for “transform” in Romans 12:2 is in a tense that means continuously being transformed in the Greek. Being transformed is a continuous action. When Paul says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” he’s really saying, “be transform and keep being transformed. Keep thinking about right things, keep listening to right stories, keep feeding your mind healthy concepts.”

That’s why people who start reading the Bible never stop reading it. We need continuous input so we don’t change back to the patterns of this world, because the patterns of this world are always playing themselves out right in front of our eyes. So, if we stop thinking God’s thoughts and start letting our minds be transformed by Wrestle Mania, or The Kardashians, we eventually start acting like wrestle maniacs or Kardashians.

Are you following this?

This is why Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy – think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

And this is why some of us find it very challenging to read the Bible. Because most of us know intuitively that change starts with our minds. – And we don’t like to change, even though we want to change.

When you read the Bible, it will change your thinking and that thinking will change your patterns, and that’s a good thing. But for whatever reason, we resist change. So you wake up in the morning, and there’s a Bible on your bed stand. And you know, if you read it, it will change you.

And Satan whispers, “Don’t do that! Check Facebook instead. Surf the web instead. Go for a run instead.”

The Bible says, in Ephesians 6:12, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against … the spiritual forces of evil in this world.” The struggle starts with our mind.

But listen! - the more you absorb Scripture into our mind, the more you will want to absorb Scripture into your mind! Because by reading Scripture you will become more like Jesus. And Jesus loves Scripture.

So all this week, I’m going to ask you to read a chapter of The Bible Questions each day. And at the end of every chapter, there’ll be a short passage of Scripture to read, and some questions from the passage for you to think about. Read and think about that passage. Then attend your small group and discuss together there what you’re learning. And this will, in a small but significant way, make you a better person.

In the book of Daniel, Daniel and his three best friends are in exile in the empire of Babylon. They’re recruited into the king’s counselor-in-training program and they go through everything that all the boys from all the other captured nations go through. But at the end of their palace training, when they go before the king for their official graduation interview, he says, “You four are ten times better than any of the other counselors in my kingdom.”

How did they become better? They studied Scripture. Eventually, Daniel became the Babylonian Prime Minister. Just like a Jew named Mordecai became Prime Minister of Persia in the book of Esther, and like Joseph became Prime Minister of Egypt in the book of Genesis. They studied the book and it made them better.

So can the Bible make me better? Yes. All I have to do is read it. Will you read it with me this week? [Yes!]

Let’s pray.

By the way, if you find yourself being helped by Scripture, it’s not too late to invite a friend to get helped too. I encourage you to invite a friend to join us next week. To make the invitation easier, you might give them a copy of The Bible Questions ahead of time. It’s a good conversation-starter, and if they’ve got the book, when they come, they’ll feel more like an insider.

Hal Seed

The Bible Questions Campaign Kit is available at