Monday, November 22, 2010


Perhaps you have heard the advertisement for something called "The Total Transformation System." Its creator claims that it can somehow bring a rebellious and unruly child into quiet submission, with results experienced in as little as 30 minutes. Needless to say, I won't be buying his product. There is only one "Total Transformation System" and it belongs to God. It’s called the gospel.

Before we can appreciate the full measure of the gospel's transforming ability we need to appreciate the extent of man's sin problem. As a result of the fall every man is born a sinner (Rom. 5:19; Rom. 3:23). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Man is helpful to resolve his sin problem (Rom. 5:6; Eph. 2:1).

It is also helpful, however, to our appreciation of the gospel's transforming power, to reconsider the events related to the fall of man. Adam and Eve were created in the "image" of God. What is meant by the term "image?" The meaning of the term and the results of the fall both help us to answer that question. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament the word "image" "basically refers to a representative, a likeness." There is a visual component to this definition. There was, for Adam and Eve, some visual correspondence to God. This understanding is affirmed by what happened to them after the fall. They saw themselves "naked" and took immediate steps to deal with the problem. What else could account for their nakedness, but the loss of some kind of God-imparted glorious covering?

Their response is instructive. They "sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loin coverings" (Gen. 3:7). Their man-devised response to their sin problem was the best that their sin-darkened minds could come up with. Their response is emblematic of all the misguided efforts of man ever since in dealing with sin. Fig leaves are no substitute for a God-imparted glorious covering. The religious efforts of an unredeemed man are "like a filthy garment" before God (Isa. 64:6).

God has a better way. "And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21). Two elements of this act are especially noteworthy: 1) God clothed them by grace. They didn’t come up with the plan. They expended no effort. They had done nothing to merit it; and 2) God clothed them through sacrifice. "He made garments of skin for Adam and his wife." These garments would have required a sacrifice, a sacrifice that looked to the future sacrifice of the Lamb of God. That covering was not the glorious one they had previously enjoyed, but it looked forward to a future one.

The gospel alone can restore unto man what was lost in the fall. "It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:16). The gospel saves "to the uttermost those who draw near to God" (Heb. 7:25). Through the gospel--through faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross--a person is forgiven, transformed, and set on a course to heaven. These things take place per God’s design--by grace, through sacrifice. This glorious gospel represents "the power of God and wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:22-24).

The gospel imparts no half-way salvation. It doesn’t just save a man from hell, it saves him to heaven. It doesn’t just clean up his behavior, it changes his heart. It doesn’t just make him a good churchgoer; it prepares him for Christ’s presence. It changes a man from the inside-out. It is a transformation from one state of glory unto the next: 2 Cor. 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Christ's saving work is culminated in the glorification of the believer in Christ. Phil. 3:21: "(He) will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself" (Cf. Col. 3:4; 2 Cor. 4:17-5:4). It is this very work that is said to be "exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:19-20).

Are you enrolled in God’s "Total Transformation System?" Have you trusted in Christ for salvation (Acts 16:31)? Fig leaf coverings and white-washed tombs are no substitute for the transformation empowered through the "glorious gospel of the blessed God" (1 Tim. 1:11). "To Him be the glory in the church to all generations forever and ever. Amen" (Eph. 3:21)!

Pastor Jerry

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