Summary: This is the fourth of a 4 part series comparing the early church of Acts 1-5 to today. This message looks at the idea of transformation through being "born again".
Pt 4 ¡V Transformation Theology
Over the last three weeks we have been looking at the early church as described in the book of Acts. I won¡¦t take time to read those passages again but I encourage you to read them Acts 2-5.
It¡¦s clear in these passages that something happened to these people to make them who they were. Remember these people who are coming to Christ ¡V many of them are the same people who called for his execution just a few short months before. Now they are standing in testimony to His being the Christ ¡V the Messiah of God. What happened to these people to induce such a change? I believe it is the same thing that happened to change a scraggly bunch of misfits who afraid of their own shadow and who just didn¡¦t get it ¡V into a band of missionaries who evangelized the entire known world. I believe it¡¦s the same thing that transformed a cold hearted, murdering, religious zealot like Saul ¡V into the man we know as the Apostle Paul. I also believe that it¡¦s something that the modern church has lost interest in. What is it?
For the answer to that let¡¦s look back at a conversation between Jesus and a man named Nicodemus. You may not recognize all of this conversation but I¡¦m sure at least one part will be familiar to you.
In this conversation we find the heart of what I call Transformation Theology. Nicodemus a Pharisee comes to Jesus in the night. He wants answers but doesn¡¦t want to lose his position, or compromise his power to get those answers. I love the way Jesus handles Nicodemus. Nicodemus comes and fumbles through some kind of introduction and says ¡§We know that you have come from God¡K¡¨ Jesus almost cuts him off here ¡V before he can even ask a question ¡V Jesus says ¡§Nicodemus, unless you are born again you won¡¦t see the kingdom of heaven.¡¨ Imagine with me the shock on Nicomdemus¡¦ face. He is a scholar ¡V a teacher of the law ¡V the expert on Hebrew doctrine and practice ¡V the enforcer of the codes of conduct ¡V he is the one who says who will and will not see the kingdom of heaven. Yet this is the first time in this very religious man¡¦s life that he has ever been confronted with Spiritual Truth.
Jesus then goes on to describe a process that was missing in Nicodemus¡¦ life and I believe too often is missing in ours.
The process looks like this:
1) We are formed ¡V this is a natural process instituted by God. A process in which husband and wife are joined in bearing of children. A child is formed in it¡¦s mothers womb. A biological process where two cells are joined into one ¡V the genetic substance from mother and father joined to form the life of their child. The child will take on the characteristics of mom and dad. (my eyes, your ears, etc.) It is also a supernatural process ¡V the creation of life is more than the joining of two cells ¡V Psalm 139 clearly brings God into this creative process ¡V ¡§For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother¡¦s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.¡¨ Life is a precious thing ¡V the joining of two into one ¡V the design and artistry of God molded in a mothers womb. Far from the inanimate tissue that so many talk of today ¡V this is the miraculous formation of a unique unrepeatable creation of God.
2) The Problem ¡V We are Deformed. What God created, designed, and ordained to be Holy and beloved ¡V is twisted by and deformed by sin. Since Adam we are born with a deadly disease ¡V a crippling disease called sin. It distorts and deforms God¡¦s plan for his creation. Look around you at Eden destroyed. God¡¦s creation deformed by sin. War, murder, pollution, disease, hatred, violence, destruction, ruined relationships, corrupted values, rampant immorality, wounded people ¡V this is the result of sins deformity. Eden didn¡¦t look like this and Heaven doesn¡¦t look like this. God created man to be with Him ¡V created Eden as the garden of man¡¦s delight ¡V but man is now cast out of Eden. Deformed and depraved the heart of man now is filled with idolatry, enmity, and strife. We are born with it ¡V and we soon choose it of our own volition. Sin has deformed what God has created.