Transforming Lives for Christ INTRODUCTION What does it mean to be transformed? Webster’s dictionary says that transform means to change in composition or structure. Hasbro introduced American to the Transformer toys in 1984. Transformers were alien robots who could disguise themselves as vehicles. There were good Transformers called Autobots and evil Transformers called Decepticons.
People have long been fascinated with the concept of transformation. Many people today are actively seeking to transform themselves physically with a rigorous regimen of diet and exercise. Others are trying to transform themselves intellectually through education. Some are attempting to transform themselves internally through spirituality.
The Bible tells us that the greatest transformation happens when we come to faith in Jesus Christ. Rather than changing our outward appearance, we are transformed at the core of our being. Paul tells us, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that we become new creations on Christ. This process of transformation is a cooperative effort between the Holy Spirit and the believer. The believer must intentionally yield to the transforming power of God within them. So Paul writes, in Romans 12:2, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
As followers of Christ, we have been invited to become agents of God’s transforming power. As our lives are transformed, by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to assist others in their journey of faith. Bethel exists for this purpose; to transform lives through the love of Christ.
Study 1: 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 An essential component to being agents of transformation is understanding the barriers to transformation. It is only as we understand what stands in the way that we can effectively help one another move forward.
1. Paul begins by referring back to the example of Moses found in Exodus 34:29-35
a. Why did Moses have to put a veil over his face?
b. What does this say about the effects of Moses’ experience?
2. Paul equates Moses’ experience with the experience of his contemporaries.
a. What does Paul say is their spiritual condition?
b. How was the Law contributing to this?
c. What is necessary for the veil to be removed?
3. Paul turns to the transforming power of God in people’s lives.
a. What happens spiritually when a person turns to Christ?
b. What is the impact of the Spirit coming into a person’s life?
c. How is the believer’s experience different from Moses’ experience?
1. What are some barriers that hinder your transformation?
2. In what ways can religion become a veil that hides the glory of God?
3. What can you do to remove the veil that hides God’s glory?
4. What does it mean for you to cooperate with the Spirit?
5. What are some practical evidences of a spiritual transformation taking place in your life?
6. What does it mean for you to reflect the Lord’s glory in ever increasing measure?
Study 2: 2 Corinthians 4:1-7
Paul shares his particular role in God’s transformation process.
1. What is Paul’s attitude toward the ministry he has been given?
2. In verse 2, Paul sets out his strategy.
a. What does Paul say he refuses to do?
b. Why might Paul have had to make this clear?
c. What is the heart of Paul’s strategy?
3. Paul talks about the resistance he faces.
a. To whom is the truth of the Gospel veiled?
b. Why can they not see the light of Christ?
4. Paul declares the core of his message.
a. What is it that Paul was preaching?
b. How does the transformation process work according to Paul?
c. What is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God?
MAKE IT PERSONAL
1. What can give us the confidence to be agents of transformation? 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
2. What are some “secret and shameful” ways that people misuse the Gospel?
3. How can we guard against getting caught up in the misuse of the Gospel?
4. What are some ways that Satan blinds the minds of people today?
5. In what ways can you shine the light of Christ into your corner of the world?
Study 3: 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 Paul was always careful to remember who he was and what his proper place was, in the scheme of things.
1. Paul describes believers as jars of clay.
a. What are some of the implications of this image?
b. Why does Paul use this image?
2. Paul talks about what it is like to be a jar of clay.
a. How do the contrasts that Paul uses reinforce verse 7?
b. How would Paul’s images be an encouragement to the Corinthians?
3. What does it mean to carry around the death of Jesus in our body? Why is this important?
4. What does Paul mean by “being given over to death”?
5. In what ways would the struggles of Paul be life for the Corinthians?
MAKE IT PERSONAL
1. What does it mean to you to be fragile, like a jar of clay?
2. Why is admitting being fragile hard for some people?
3. How can knowing and embracing the all-surpassing power of God help us to face the struggles of life?
4. What does it mean for you to die with Christ so that you can live in Christ?
5. How does Jesus reveal himself to us in our struggles?
6. How can your struggles be an encouragement to those around you?
Study 4: 2 Corinthians 4:13-18 Paul talks about his confidence to continue to serve Christ in a difficult world.
1. Paul makes reference to Psalm 116:10. Read all of Psalm 116.
a. How does this Psalm add depth to what Paul is writing?
b. What is the source of Paul’s confidence and strength?
2. In what ways are Paul’s struggles a benefit to the Corinthians?
3. How can struggles overflow with thanksgiving to God?
4. What reason does Paul give for not losing heart?
5. On what did Paul put his focus? How was this a positive motivation for him?
6. How did Paul keep the events of his life in proper perspective?
MAKE IT PERSONAL
1. Paul was able to tap into the riches of Scripture to help him face his daily struggles. How can the Bible be a source of encouragement and strength for you?
2. God often allows us to go through challenging experiences.
a. How can Paul’s words help us face these challenges?
b. How can the way we face our challenges be a blessing to others? 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
3.What circumstances in life cause you to lose heart?
4. How can viewing our challenges through the lens of eternity help us to overcome the temptation to lose heart?
5. Paul called his trials “light and momentary”. Look at 2 Corinthians 11:22-29.
a. How would you describe Paul’s life experiences?
b. How can you develop the attitude that Paul had?